Is weight loss your New Year’s resolution? Survey ranks best diet plans
By Jay Keller
The findings listed how respondents, both men and women, rated overall satisfaction with the programs, the number of pounds lost and the average number of months spent following the diet.
Respondents also confirmed that there was a “weak relationship between actual weight loss and subscribers’ satisfaction with the various diets.”
Overall, the survey again confirmed that men shed more pounds than women but both still reported losing a similar percentage of their starting body weight. This is especially true for men who began their diet heavier, so Consumer Reports advises to “look at percent of starting body weight lost, not pounds lost.”
For the majority of these programs, dieters replace “regular” meals with pre-packaged food products and are supplemented with fresh fruits, vegetables and, sometimes, dairy products.
Respondents who found success with meal-replacement diets generally do not have time to cook everyday and found they were challenged by adding to their routine food preparation such as cutting and cleaning veggies or making lunches ahead of time.
Medifast was the most effective commercial diet in terms of number of pounds lost and time spent on the program, according to the survey.
Respondents who used Medifast reported staying on the program for at least six months. Typically, men lost betwen 20-43 pounds and women lost between 14-40 pounds.
Many were also very critical about how the pre-packaged food tasted and said the programs were more expensive than they were led to believe.
Editors named nine “do-it-yourself” weight-loss programs: Atkins Diet, Glycemic Index Diet, Low-carb diet (other than Atkins), Mediterranean Diet, MyFitnessPal, Paleo Diet, Slim-Fast, South Beach Diet and SparkPeople.
Many of these diets are built around eliminating or restricting major categories of food, especially cutting carbohydrates, starches and sugar.
The Paleo Diet, also known as the “Caveman Diet,” ranked high in reader satisfaction where most men and women spent about seven months following the program. Male readers reported losing 10-32 pounds on average while women said they lost 6-20 pounds.
The majority readers who reported using “do-it-yourself” diets spent at least five months on these programs with some staying engaged up to nine months.
In all nine programs, men lost at least 10 pounds and women lost at least five but the duration of time spent on the program ranged between five to nine months.
Additionally, male and female readers generally scored these programs low in satisfaction when it came to dietary variety and the inclusion of favorite foods.
Weight Watchers was by far the most-popular program but many respondents listed “participation in group activities and use of online tools” as important successfully achieving weight-loss goals.
Health experts maintain that dieters should target losing between one to three pounds per week and advised them to “get moving.” Lifestyle changes, strategies for controlling urges and exercise will bring long-term satisfaction.