Best Online Weight Loss Programs of 2019 - Diet Program Reviews
We have reviewed online diet services for the past 11 years. In our most recent testing, we compared nine services by evaluating each program's features and having volunteers try out the services. We have determined that Weight Watchers is the best program overall because it truly helps you make dietary and exercise changes to improve your lifestyle and keep extra weight off for the long run. It comes with helpful tracking apps and boasts a strong online community where you can learn and share ideas with other service users.
Editor's Note: We removed the Biggest Loser Club and eDiets from our side-by-side comparison because these services are no longer available. You can still read our original reviews, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating these product's information.
Weight Watchers uses a calorie counting system to help you control the foods you eat. It also has a strong online community so you can learn from others and share healthy ideas with them.
Diet.com offers many of the same benefits as Weight Watchers but at a more affordable price. There are several fitness videos on the website to help you exercise specific areas of your body.
The South Beach Diet
The South Beach Diet helps you eat plenty of lean proteins by providing meal delivery services. There are also dozens of online tools to help you stick to your diet.
|Product||Price||Overall Rating||Diet & Fitness||Tracking Capabilities||Community||Help & Support||Price Per Month||Shortest Plan Available||Initial Charge||Service Satisfaction||Custom Meal Plans||Dining Out Guide||Suggested Substitutions||Exercise Plans||Exercise Tips||Virtual Trainer||Allergy Options||Vegetarian Options||Gluten-Free Options||Personalized Recommendations||Portion Control Tools||Shopping List Tools||Tracking & Reports||Weight Tracker||Food Log||Activity Tracker||Calorie Counter||Nutrient Intake||BMI Calculator||Progress Reporting||Mobile App||Custom Homepage||Community Support||Online Support Groups||Social Media||Weight Loss Challenges||Blogs||Dietitian Consults||24-Hour Support||FAQs||Educational Articles||Telephone||Message Board|
|Weight Watchers Online||View Deal||5/5||9.8||9.5||10||10||$19.95||1 month||$39.95||90%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||80%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||100%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Diet.com||View Deal||4.5/5||9.5||9.5||9.3||9||$39.90||1 month||$39.90||90%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||75%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||95%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|The South Beach Diet||View Deal||4.5/5||9.5||8.5||7.8||10||$20.00||3 months||$65.00||90%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||90%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||90%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Jillian Michaels||View Deal||4.5/5||8.5||9||8.8||9||$20.00||3 months||$65.00||75%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||80%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||60%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Food Lovers Fat Loss System||View Deal||4/5||8||9||7.5||10||$19.96||3 months||$64.87||65%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||75%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||80%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Nutrisystem||View Deal||4/5||8.5||9.5||6.8||8||$274.99||1 month||$274.99||75%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||80%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||25%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|DASH for Health||View Deal||4/5||8.8||9||6.5||8||$13.00||3 months||$39.00||60%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||90%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||50%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Paleo Plan||View Deal||3/5||7||5.3||5.8||7||$15.00||1 month||$15.00||40%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||10%||✓||10%||✓||✓||✓||✓|
Weight Watchers doesn't prohibit specific foods as some other services do, so you can eat all the foods you love and still lose weight as long as you control your intake.
Foods are given a certain point value, which is determined by how many nutrients it provides. As long as you stay within your point limit, you should lose weight. Weight Watchers is known for having a large community that is active and vibrant. You can attend weekly meetings near you or online, and the Connect app gives you further opportunities to connect with other users. If you want additional assistance, you can pay more for personal coaching. Like with many other online dieting services, there is a start-up fee in addition to the monthly payments.
Our testers found this service to be very motivating and satisfying. Part of this motivation comes from company-hosted weight loss challenges, exercise plans, portion control tools and a dining-out guide. Weight Watchers doesn't provide a calorie tracker since it works on a points system, which makes it different from most other diet services out there. It helps you track your eating and activity, and it allows you to view progress reports, but there are no exercise tips.
Diet.com doesn't cost as much as Weight Watchers but still provides lots of effective dieting tools. Perhaps the strongest aspect of this service is the fitness aspect.
There are multiple online videos that help you work on specific muscle groups, which complements the dieting nicely. This company offers diet management tools as well as fitness and weight tracking to motivate you and keep you on track. While these tools are online, they aren't offered through an app since this company doesn't provide any apps. Diet.com's fitness plans are varied so you can choose one that fits your comfort level. There are also 16 different diet plans to help you select the perfect one for your body type and level of fitness.
There are plenty of online tools to help you stay motivated, and you can also reach out to the company or other users to get suggestions and share tips. There is a blog with articles from certified fitness experts to give you exercise ideas. Unfortunately, this program does not come with shopping list tools to help you stay on track with your dietary plan. Should you need to contact the company, you will need to do so during business hours since it doesn't have 24-hour assistance.
Best for Meal Delivery
The South Beach Diet helps you control your caloric intake by reducing the amount of carbs you eat – especially sugar.
It works in three different phases. The first phase takes two weeks and helps you eliminate cravings for starches, carbs and sugars by removing them from your diet. It replaces these foods with plenty of lean proteins and low-fat dairy foods. Phase 2 allows you to reintroduce some foods previously prohibited back into your diet with the intention of having better control over your eating habits. You stay in this phase until you reach your weight goal. Phase 3 allows you to eat all types of food in moderation; this should become the healthy lifestyle you will live by from now on.
To make food choices simpler, this program delivers meals directly to your door. While this means very little food preparation is required, it also makes this one of the most expensive dieting services on the market. Unfortunately, there is no food substitution guide. To keep you on track, you can contact nutritionists weekly to ask questions and receive tips. Our own tester was able to lose 10 percent of her body weight within two weeks using this program. The biggest downside to her experience was not being able to access progress reporting through the company.
Best Tracking Capabilities
The Food Lovers Fat Loss System emphasizes portion control and specific food combinations as the keys to losing weight. Rather than limiting calories by restricting certain foods, you have small, balanced meals and healthy snacks six times per day.
The program teaches you to combine lean protein with “slow carbs” and “fast carbs” to boost your metabolism and burn fat. Its on-the-go tracking feature helps you log meals and snacks, with an emphasis on portion control. The Food Lovers app is easy to use and is available for both Android and iOS platforms. Its emphasis is on food versus fitness guidance, so you won’t find much information about exercise. Using the Food Lovers Fat Loss System requires advanced planning and can be challenging if you’re not well-organized. Membership options include a home-based system, an online program and a premium service.
Best Workout Tutorials
This weight loss program features television personality Jillian Michaels from “The Biggest Loser.” Its tutorials are led by Michaels herself, with her no-nonsense brand of motivation.
It has a strong emphasis on consistent exercise and encourages dedication to daily workouts. You can also log physical activities such as sports participation, walking and even cleaning. By browsing activities in the program’s fitness tracker and logging how much time you spent exercising, you can estimate and record the calories you’ve burned. Michaels promotes a diet high in protein and low in fat and carbohydrates. While her program provides instruction on healthy eating habits, it doesn’t give you much information about portion sizes or ingredient substitutions. However, it does provide a detailed weekly meal plan, and complete nutritional information is included with every recipe. For support in achieving your goals, the program’s online member community includes message boards and blogs where you can interact with other participants.
Why Trust Us?
We have been reviewing online dieting services since 2006. In our most recent testing, we assigned a volunteer to each of the dieting services and tracked their experiences to see how effective and motivating each plan was. The best online weight loss programs help you maintain healthy habits over a long period, so we considered systems that don’t force you to make changes so drastic that they lead to dramatic weight loss and subsequent weight gain to match it. When you need to lose weight, a good diet plan can help you achieve your goals for improved health. The best online weight loss programs offer various diet and fitness options as well as a multitude of trackers, which is why we looked for programs that provide a variety of tools and tracking abilities.
How We Tested
We used a group of 10 volunteers to see just how well each program motivated and interacted with its members. Our testers were each assigned to a dieting service, and we had them keep track of their experiences in a dieting journal. We also tracked whether they lost weight on the plans. Each of our volunteers stayed true to their diets in order to provide a fair comparison across the board. Companies that helped our volunteers lose weight scored higher than programs that weren't as effective. Our volunteers provided us insight into their experiences with the plans, which we converted into a service satisfaction percentage.
Even if you have specific health or weight loss goals, you may have no idea what type of program will yield the results you're looking for, especially if certain diet programs have failed you in the past. For this reason, we were specifically interested in the motivational aspects of each service. Programs that provide more motivation through the community, weight loss challenges, tools and tips scored higher than programs that didn't offer these features. The number of tools and motivational features also helped us determine whether or not the price of membership was warranted. While we didn't score programs based on their membership fees, we did note whether or not they were on the costlier side of the spectrum.
What to Consider When Choosing an Online Diet Service
Managing how many calories you eat and how many you burn is the essence of a diet. While it is helpful to consider both food and fitness when selecting a diet, most people take in much more food than they can ever hope to burn off. That makes the food portion of each plan especially important. We looked for services that make it easier to eat right, with recipes, recommendations and personalized food plans.
Program Pricing: How to Navigate the Numbers
The price of online diet services varies widely depending on your subscription level, whether food delivery is included and on how many premium or consulting services you choose to add on. We found costs ranging from under $15 per month on the lowest end to more than $300 per month.
Because services show membership pricing outlined by the day, week or month, it’s hard to make side-by-side comparisons. Also, some sites require you to input personal data to request a pricing quote, and most sites have promotions that lower the price per month if you sign up for a longer period. Although it takes some time, the best way to determine how much a service will cost is to communicate with service providers directly.
Diet & Fitness: Meal & Exercise Plans
Above all, we prefer the plans that helped our testers lose weight and motivated them enough to validate the price of membership. You'll want a service that has a good balance between encouraging good eating habits and inspiring daily exercise. Its tracking and reporting system should also be easy to use.
Tracking Capabilities: Resources That Keep You on Track
The best way to stick with your diet and know if it is actually working is to comprehensively track your progress. Any online weight loss plan you consider should provide tracking tools that allow you to record your weight, meals, exercise, nutrient intake and other factors. Reporting tools such as line graphs that display your weight loss are also important to help you gauge your progress and results. Most programs should provide a mobile app to help you manage your diet and exercise no matter where you are. Some diet programs include a mobile app to track both food intake and exercise. The best will also sync directly with Fitbit, Apple Heath and other fitness tracking devices.
More on Personal Care
Community: Feel Like Part of a Team
The support of others can play a vital role in losing weight and maintaining your health. Look for an online weight loss program that boasts a vibrant, active community you can participate in. Elements that mark a strong community include message boards, member blogs and weight loss challenges sponsored by the service to encourage and energize members. Online weight loss support can come from the service as well as fellow dieters facing the same challenge.
Help & Support: Can You Find It Online?
Weight loss programs online should be simple to use, with websites that are easy to navigate. You should have no trouble finding and accessing various tools and features within the service, and customer service representatives should be easy to access by phone, email and live chat if you do have any questions. The best websites also provide FAQs, knowledgebases and articles to help you use the service and diet effectively.
What is the Most Effective Weight-Loss Diet?
A $70 billion industry has grown fat off answering the question of what is the best way to lose weight. Scientists at the University of Toronto studied 59 weight-loss research articles and clinical studies from 48 randomized control trials to answer this question, and their conclusion was simple: The best diet is whatever you can stick to. The scientists found that each diet program produced similar weight loss on average. The success of the diet was based on how well the participants were able to adhere to it. Ultimately it doesn't matter if the diet is low-carb, high-fat, paleo, vegan or a point system like Weight Watchers; the most effective weight-loss diet is the one you’re able to stick to in the long term.
Thus it's best to avoid thinking about a weight-loss diet in terms of a temporary diet designed to help you get to your goal weight. Doing this only sets you up for failure. You’ll either fail to adhere to the diet and never reach your goal weight, or you’ll regain the weight after you’ve reached your goal weight. This is biggest reason why most people regain the weight they lost. Albert Matheny, a dietitian cited in an article about the University of Toronto study, sums it up perfectly, "You didn't gain 20 pounds overnight. It took time. The same goes for losing 20 pounds. Consistency and change of lifestyle over the long term is what leads to health and weight-loss success.”
For the best chance of this consistency, try the following:
- Start with small changes: Drastic changes to your lifestyle don’t usually last very long. By making small changes to your diet, those changes have the smallest impact on your everyday activities and this makes it easier for the changes to become permanent.
- Don’t be too restrictive: To lose weight, you have to be somewhat restrictive in your diet. However, if you’re too restrictive, you’re at a higher risk for failing. It’s good to be flexible in your diet.
- Talk to others about your progress: By including others in your weight loss journey, you’re able to get positive reinforcement for your new lifestyle changes.
- Recognize triggers: If you have a history of binge eating when you feel stressed or depressed, it’s worth spending time with a therapist to help recognize those things that trigger you to overeat.
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