Diet Programs

If you have decided to slim down a little bit, then you may be considering joining a weight loss program to help you drop those pounds. There are a number of different weight loss programs available throughout the United States, many of which offer excellent tips and support systems that can help you to lose the weight and keep it off. But how do you know which program to join? And do these diet programs really work? Here is the lowdown on some of the most popular weight loss programs.

Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers is currently one of the most popular diet programs out there. Developed in the 1960s by an American, Jean Nidetch, Weight Watchers has since expanded to more than 30 different countries worldwide. And with millions of participants, including Sarah, the Duchess of York, Weight Watchers has gained a lot of credibility for providing its participants with nutritious and healthy food while helping them to lose weight and keep it off.

How Does It Work?

Weight Watchers helps men and women to lose weight by getting them to become more aware of their calorie intake and expenditure. While they offer different types of weight loss programs, one of their most popular is the Points System.

The Points System assigns a specific number of points to every type of food, based on serving size, calories, fiber content, and fat grams. The Points System also assigns a negative number of points to various exercises that people perform during the Weight Watchers program. At the end of the week, you tally up these points and try to come in under your total weekly point allowance. This overall point allowance is based on your current weight and your weight loss goals. Weight Watchers also provides weekly meetings to help support you through your weight loss experience.

Does It Work?

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people who had followed the Weight Watchers Points program for two years lost an average of about six pounds. Those who also attended Weight Watchers meetings were found to be more successful, losing an average of 11 pounds after two years.

Pros and Cons

The Weight Watcher’s program offers a number of useful benefits for dieters. A particular pro about this diet is that no single type of food is restricted or banned. Instead dieters can choose to eat any type of food, as long as it’s in moderation. Additionally, Weight Watchers promotes healthy eating habits and portion control, both of which are essential to long term weight maintenance. However, many participants find that the Weight Watchers Points System involves too many calculations. Additionally, meetings can become very competitive and quite expensive–weekly meetings cost $12 and require an initial registration fee of about $15.

Jenny Craig

Founded in the mid-1980s by a woman named Jenny Craig, the Jenny Craig weight loss program is extremely popular throughout the United States and Canada. It is also growing in popularity throughout Australia and New Zealand, and has recently spiked the interest of a number of celebrities, including Kirstie Alley, the companies official spokesperson. The Jenny Craig program aims to help participants lose weight and keep it off by providing simple meal planning tips and personal counseling.

How Does It Work?

The Jenny Craig program encourages weight loss by providing participants with a completely pre-planned meal guide that is based on individual weight loss goals. There are a variety of plans to choose from and each is tailored to help you lose weight slowly and steadily. Participants follow the daily meal plan that is provided to them, by purchasing and eating special prepackaged meals from the company. Once you have reached the halfway point in your diet, you begin to cook your own meals three or four days a week, based on the menu plan and recipes provided by Jenny Craig.

Additionally, participants are provided with weekly, one-on-one counseling session and weigh-ins. Consultations are also available over the phone or via email. These counseling sessions are there to help motivate you and encourage you to adopt long-term healthy habits, such as portion control and healthy exercise.

Does It Work?

To date, there have been no studies performed on the effectiveness of the Jenny Craig diet. The only information available on the diet is anecdotal, so it is impossible to say whether or not the diet is effective in the short or long term.

Pros and Cons

Many participants love the fact that the Jenny Craig diet provides them with prepackaged meals and recipes. This can help to take the guesswork out of dieting and eliminates calorie counting and other calculations. Additionally, weekly consultations can help to motivate you when the going gets tough. However, Jenny Craig consultants are not required to have a certificate in nutritional therapy or health management, so they may not fully understand the effects that the diet could have on you. Additionally, membership and the cost of food can be quite elevated. Monthly costs for Jenny Craig can be as high as $400, which means that not everyone will be able to afford this program.

Slim Fast

The Slim Fast plan was developed by the company Unilever, which creates and markets a variety of different nutritional supplements and weight loss products. Known for its use of the Slim Fast Shake, the Slim Fast plan has now be redesigned to include a wider variety of supplemental products as well as healthy food that you prepare for yourself.

How Does It Work?

The Slim Fast plan works by reducing the number of calories that you take in. Instead of eating three normal meals, you substitute two meals with a replacement milkshake or protein bar. Each of these supplements contain 220 calories and additional vitamins and minerals that you will need to stay healthy.

Following the plan is a relatively simple one. Everyone who follows the plan has a shake or protein bar for breakfast. Another shake or protein bar is then eaten at lunch, along with additional food that you prepare on your own (such as half a turkey sandwich or a cup of yogurt). Participants then eat a healthy dinner that they prepare themselves, which consists of around 500 calories (Slim Fast defines this as ¼ of a plate of protein, ¼ of a plate of starch, ½ of a plate of vegetables). You continue on this diet until you have reached your weight loss goals. Additional fruit and vegetable snacks are allowed, depending upon your height and weight.

Does It Work?

According to some studies, the Slim Fast plan is effective when it comes to long-term weight loss. A study presented in 2003 by the North American Association for the Study of Obesity concluded that those who followed the Slim Fast plan were thinner than control groups who did not participate in the plan. The study found that those who followed the Slim Fast diet for 10 years, weighed 30 pounds less than men and women of the same height and age who did not follow the plan.

Pros And Cons

The Slim Fast diet is one of the easiest diets to follow, as it requires little planning and preparation. It can be very convenient to follow at work or when on vacation, because the supplements are easily portable. However, eating a shake or protein bar at two out of every three meals can become boring and expensive: shakes and bars cost approximately $2 each.

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