The 8 Best Weight Loss Programs of 2023

There is no one path to healthy and sustainable weight loss. You can dive into a crash diet or handcuff yourself to a treadmill, but short-term results aren’t worth the health risks of reckless approaches to weight management. Weight loss happens through a caloric deficit — whether that be via nutrition or exercise — and there are plenty of thoughtful and effective programs amid the liquid diets and detoxes clogging your timeline. They require an open mind and a little bit of work, but the results amount to more than just losing some belly fat.

Before padlocking the pantry, ask yourself why you want to lose weight. If you’re missing your old abs or want to increase your agility, you’ll probably want a more fitness-oriented plan. If you’re hoping to fit back into an old pair of pants or squeeze between two buildings that are really close together, you’ll likely benefit more from a diet-focused plan. No matter your goals, we’ve compiled a list of the best weight loss programs that will help you reach them in a realistic timeframe while imparting tools that can help you in the long term. 

Best Weight Loss Programs of 2023

How We Tested the Best Weight Loss Programs

Whenever possible, BarBend’s team of fitness experts and personal trainers downloaded the apps, followed the steps, and hit their goals to ensure they were getting as much value as possible from the weight loss programs on this list. Our multi-point methodology evaluates factors like value, resources, and customer satisfaction, with an emphasis on the functionality, accuracy, compatibility, and availability of each plan’s accompanying app. 

Best Weight Loss Program Overall: WeightWatchers 






Weight Watchers




Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers uses a science-based points system to help users track more than just calorie intake so they can lose weight and develop better long-term habits. Plans start at just $10 a month. 

Specs

  • Price: Starts at $10 a month
  • Focus: Nutrition
  • Meal Delivery: No
  • Tech: Compatible with iOS and Android devices, as well as many smartwatches and fitness trackers

Pros

  • Time-tested weight loss program with no food restrictions
  • Science-based points system tracks more than just calories
  • User-friendly app syncs with smartwatches to track physical activity
  • Provides coach-led group sessions that assist with accountability

Cons

  • Lack of restrictions may not provide enough structure for some users
  • Tallying points can be tedious

We’re with Oprah on this one — in a crowded field, WeightWatchers is the best overall weight loss program. WeightWatchers works to cultivate community as it teaches users how to keep tabs on their consumption habits — all without breaking the bank. Plans start at $10 a month and there are frequent flash sales. Also, it’s got science on its side — a 2013 study found that WeightWatchers users were more than eight times more likely to lose up to 10 percent of their body weight over six months than those trying to diet solo. (1)

The process begins with a quick quiz that determines your metabolism, weight loss goals, favorite foods, and familiarity with nutrition, among other factors. Within minutes, WeightWatchers will provide you with a food plan and weight loss timeline tailored to your individual goals, tastes, and fitness level. Many programs consider just calories, but WeightWatchers embraces food’s complexity by factoring the protein, fiber, fats, and added sugars that make up everything we ingest. Using this approach, WeightWatchers assigns everything you eat a point value.

How does this impact you? Well, each day you’re given a Points Budget. Nothing is off-limits in terms of what you can or can’t eat, but if you plan on indulging you’ll have to balance it with what WeightWatchers deems ZeroPoint foods, which have no impact on your Points Budget. If that sounds ominous, it’s not — there are more than 200 ZeroPoint options available, including fish, chicken, eggs, beans, and popcorn. 

If you’re still struggling with your Points Budget, WeightWatchers allows you to score extra points by tracking your physical activity and exercise. You can also take advantage of WeightWatchers’ own line of meals and snacks if you want more structure and have extra cash on hand. Premium members can also attend coach-led group sessions both online and in person. Several customer reviews cite the WeightWatchers community as integral to their weight loss. 

While reviewing the program’s “extremely easy to use” app, our tester noted how WeightWatchers works to make these healthy options more appealing by placing a massive library of more than 11,000 recipes right at your fingertips. The goal is that by identifying and becoming more familiar with these options, you’ll slowly but surely change your old eating habits to make more room for more nutrition, leading to sustainable weight loss. 

Best Sustainable Weight Loss Program: Noom 






Noom




Noom

Noom combines psychology and behavioral science with traditional weight loss features like meal and activity tracking, personal coaches, and online communities to help customers adopt a healthier lifestyle. 

Specs

  • Price: Starts at $70 a month
  • Focus: Nutrition
  • Meal Delivery: No
  • Tech: Compatible with iOS and Android devices, as well as many smartwatches and fitness trackers

Pros

  • Eschews strict diets for a psychology-based approach that emphasizes incremental weight loss and better habits long term 
  • Provides personalized weight loss timeline and suggested calorie range
  • User-friendly app compatible with Android and iOS fitness trackers
  • Instead of restricting foods, the app categorizes them for you by caloric density

Cons

  • Psychological approach might not benefit those who desire a more rigid plan
  • Logging food and exercise may be laborious for some users

It took seven years for Noom’s creators to create and refine their vision for a weight loss program that would eschew strict, shame-based dietary methods for a more thoughtful and humane approach built around psychology and human coaching. Noom tracks your meals and activity, but the program’s main goal is to change the way you think about food and your own relationship to it. Noom’s no crash diet. The goal is incremental change — one to two pounds a week — that lends itself to the cultivation of new habits that can help you keep the weight off for the long haul. “It is very different from other apps that I have tried,” says our tester. “It cares about your goals and weight loss, but more about why you eat what you do.” 

After downloading the app, you’ll be asked how much weight you want to lose, which is common among weight loss programs. From there, you’ll field questions about your daily activity and fitness level, but also more psychological queries related to topics such as stress and body image. Your answers will result in a customized weight loss timeline and suggested daily calorie range. 

We’re big fans of Noom’s sleek, user-friendly app, where you’ll see your daily calorie limit and log your meals and activities. Logging can be laborious, but the app works to ease the load with its growing food database. There are no restrictions to what you can log — Noom isn’t interested in policing your diet — but the app will categorize your entries by color. 

Green foods, which include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and non-fat dairy, are the least calorie-dense. Yellow foods are moderately calorie-dense (think various meats, dried fruits, and starchier vegetables like corn), while red foods (think fried foods and alcohol) are the most calorie-dense. This format proved helpful for our tester, who over time began naturally gravitating to more “green” foods, which is exactly the kind of health-conscious habit Noom is working to cultivate.

Noom offers multiple payment options, but monthly and annual plans cost $70 and $209, respectively. That’s an investment, for sure, but Noom’s mission is to help you change the habits that led you to a weight loss program in the first place. What you gain from using the app is meant to stick with you even after you cancel your subscription. 

Read our full Noom Weight Loss App Review.

Best Weight Loss Program for Coaching: Future






Future Online Personal Training




Future Online Personal Training






Future Online Personal Training


Future offers online personal training in every facet of fitness. Every client gets a certified fitness professional who will prescribe training programs, follow up daily to assess progress, make program adjustments as needed, and offer accountability.

Specs

  • Price: Starts at $150 a month
  • Focus: Fitness
  • Meal Delivery: No
  • Tech: Compatible with iOS and Android devices, as well as many smartwatches and fitness trackers

Pros

  • Virtual personal trainer app provides accountability and workout plans
  • Tailors workouts to your fitness goals and home gym set-up
  • Intuitive, well-designed app makes it easy to connect with coaches
  • Impressive array of trainers with diverse backgrounds

Cons

  • Can feel impersonal since your trainer isn’t watching you exercise
  • Though cheaper than a personal trainer, $150 a month is still a hefty investment
  • You need a smartwatch to utilize some of Future’s best features
  • App doesn’t have a nutrition component

The journey to weight loss can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re interested in hiring a personal trainer, but don’t have the money or your schedule isn’t conducive to one, Future is an option you should consider. 

After answering a few questions about your personal preferences and goals, Future pairs you with a personal trainer who will work directly with you to design fitness routines and weight loss regimens you can do in your own home with the equipment you have on hand. Three different BarBend testers fired up the Future app and all of them were pleased with the experience, with each noting that the varied backgrounds of the coaches was a nice touch. 

They also liked that a user’s journey begins with a FaceTime call with their assigned coach, which allowed the coaches to take a look at their home gyms so they could better customize their workouts. (No equipment? No problem. There are always bodyweight workouts.)

We found the app intuitive and well-designed. Connecting with a coach via chat was never an issue and individual exercises are presented via helpful audio and video demonstrations. “I really think the ease with which you can communicate with your trainer and how clean everything operates is what sets this app apart,” says one of our testers. 

It should be noted, however, that the workouts are pre-recorded and your trainer isn’t live with you as you exercise. This might feel impersonal to some, and our testers feel that distance could impact the sense of accountability we’re meant to get from the coaches. That said, the app will automatically send video of your movements to your coach if you’d like any notes on your form. You can also provide feedback after workouts, and our testers loved how their coaches incorporated that feedback when designing future workouts.

This level of personalization will cost you. Future will cost you $150 a month, which is less than you’ll pay for a personal trainer but a lot more than a non-personalized fitness app like Peloton, which begins at $12.99 a month. Also, while it’s not required, Future’s full potential can only be unlocked if you’ve got a smartwatch, which allows the coach to see your stats and progress. 

Most Flexible Weight Loss Program: WeightWatchers 






Weight Watchers




Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers uses a science-based points system to help users track more than just calorie intake so they can lose weight and develop better long-term habits. Plans start at just $10 a month. 

Specs

  • Price: Starts at $10 a month
  • Focus: Nutrition
  • Meal Delivery: No
  • Tech: Compatible with iOS and Android devices, as well as many smartwatches and fitness trackers

Pros

  • Flexible weight loss program caters to many dietary needs and busy schedules
  • No food restrictions
  • Library of more than 11,000 healthy recipes incorporates cuisines from around the world
  • Syncs with smartwatches and other devices to automatically incorporate physical activity into your weight loss tracking
  • Plans tailored to those with diabetes and taking weight-loss medication like Ozempic
  • Audio, large print, and braille options available

Cons

  • Keeping tabs on your meals and activity can be laborious
  • Too much freedom can be overwhelming for some trying to lose weight

There are plenty of disciplined weight loss programs that draw a sharp line between what you can and can’t eat, but those types of diets deny many of life’s simple pleasures, from a slice of birthday cake to a celebratory cocktail. There are no rules about what you can or can’t eat while on WeightWatchers, which utilizes a science-based points-based system that helps you structure your meals and snacking with more intention.

That freedom is key to WeightWatchers’ flexibility. The program doesn’t want you to change your tastes so much as discover healthier ways to indulge them. When you sign up and share your weight loss goals, you’ll also let WeightWatchers know some of your favorite flavors, so it can recommend highlights from its library of more than 11,000 nutritious recipes. If you’re willing to slip on an apron, it’s unlikely you’ll find yourself eating the same three meals every day. In fact, its list of ZeroPoint foods, which have no impact on your Points Budget, include more than 200 options, such as fish, chicken, eggs, and non-starchy vegetables. 

You’ll keep tabs on your points via the app, which our tester found “extremely easy to use.” We love how it can sync with Apple’s Health app, as well as smartwatches and fitness trackers like Fitbit. By doing so, you can easily track your activity and sleep habits. Syncing your device to the app allows the app to automatically factor exercise into your Points Budget, allowing you to score a few extra treats throughout the week. Points are awarded to users based on the intensity and duration of their physical activity, whether that’s walking, running, or rearranging the furniture in your living room (that’s a workout, too). 

WeightWatchers’ flexibility extends to the kinds of programs it offers. If you’re struggling with diabetes, there’s a plan for you. There’s also a plan for those taking weight-loss medications like Ozempic and Byetta. Also, as our tester notes, WeightWatchers programs come in a variety of different formats, including audio and Braille, to accommodate those with special needs.

Best Traditional Weight Loss Program: Nutrisystem






Nutrisystem




Nutrisystem

Nutrisystem delivers breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options that have been portioned for weight loss directly to your home. Though it’s a more structured weight loss program, Nutrisystem also has an app where you can better customize your experience. 

Specs

  • Price: Starts at $299 a month
  • Focus: Nutrition
  • Meal Delivery: Yes
  • Tech: Compatible with iOS and Android devices, as well as many smartwatches and fitness trackers

Pros

  • Convenient weight loss program for those who simply want to be told what to eat and when
  • Provides breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options portioned for weight loss
  • Prepackaged meals require no cooking, just heating up
  • Optional app provides added guidance based on your goals and metabolism

Cons

  • Much more expensive than other weight loss programs, with plans starting at $299 per month
  • Meal options may lack variety for more adventurous eaters

Not everyone has the time or desire to invest in weight loss programs that ask you to track meals and physical activity while also preparing their own food (and, you know, living the rest of your life). Nutrisystem adopts a more traditional approach by shipping users a monthly supply of packaged meals that are dense in protein, low on the glycemic index, and, according to Nutrisystem, “perfectly portioned for weight loss.” 

Since you’re paying Nutrisystem to prepare your meals, this program costs significantly more than others on this list. As of this writing, plans start at $10.71 per day, which comes out to $299 per month after factoring in Nutrisystem’s auto-delivery discount. Plans are available for men, women, partners, and senior citizens, and you can save a few extra bucks by committing to two or three months in advance. 

Though Nutrisystem doesn’t challenge users to interrogate their old habits like Noom and WeightWatchers, it aims to teach users about healthy portion sizes and introduce them to recipes that can help keep the weight off after they’ve reached their goal and are back to preparing their own meals. You can find those recipes on the program’s optional NuMi app, which can also provide guidance on what meals to eat on what days based on your weight loss goals and metabolism.

Customer reviews note the convenience of Nutrisystem, as well as how pleased they are with the delivery process and the weight they’ve lost on the program. Some, however, note that if you’re with the program for more than a few months you’ll likely desire more variety from the menu. Also, the meals were designed to be microwavable, so if you don’t have a microwave you’ll want to consider other warming options. 

If you’re looking to lose weight in a way that doesn’t involve counting calories, Nutrisystem might be the best option for you. Just know, however, that sustainable weight loss requires long-term changes. Nutrisystem is best used as a way to jumpstart your weight loss journey and gather ideas for how to keep it off when you’re back to making your own meals. 

Best Budget Weight Loss Program: WeightWatchers






Weight Watchers




Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers uses a science-based points system to help users track more than just calorie intake so they can lose weight and develop better long-term habits. Plans start at just $10 a month. 

Specs

  • Price: Starts at $10 a month
  • Focus: Nutrition
  • Meal Delivery: No
  • Tech: Compatible with iOS and Android devices, as well as many smartwatches and fitness trackers

Pros

  • Budget-friendly, with plans starting at $10 a month
  • Personalized nutrition plan no food restrictions
  • User-friendly app with food, weight, and sleep tracker 
  • Access to more than 11,000 healthy recipes 
  • Syncs with smartwatches and other devices to automatically incorporate physical activity into your weight loss tracking

Cons

  • Coach-led workshops not available via the basic plan 
  • Food and activity tracking can be tiresome for some

For some, financial investment in a weight loss program is an added incentive to making sure you see results. If you don’t have that option, you’re in luck. WeightWatchers, our pick for the best overall weight loss program, is also the most budget-friendly option on this list. 

Plans start at $10 a month, though that requires a 10-month commitment to the program. If you’re not ready for that kind of obligation, you can try out three months for $15 a month. A single month option is available for $43, which is just $2 less than the three-month option (it’s also unlikely that you’ll find your groove or see significant results after just a month). 

Still, no matter which option you choose, WeightWatchers will customize a nutrition plan for you and provide you access to the app’s food, weight, and activity trackers, barcode scanner, and vast library of more than 11,000 healthy recipes. You’re also free to engage with WeightWatchers’ robust digital community. 

Some other weight loss programs begin at $70, $150, and $299, making WeightWatchers the easy pick for the most cost-effective weight loss program. It’s worth noting, however, that access to WeightWatchers’ coach-led workshops and community support requires a premium membership, which begins at $19 a month. Also, none of this includes WeightWatchers’ line of food products, which are optional but a handy resource for those looking to maximize their Points Budget. 

Best Personalized Weight Loss Program: Noom






Noom




Noom

Noom combines psychology and behavioral science with traditional weight loss features like meal and activity tracking, personal coaches, and online communities to help customers adopt a healthier lifestyle. 

Specs

  • Price: Starts at $70 a month
  • Focus: Nutrition
  • Meal Delivery: No
  • Tech: Compatible with iOS and Android devices, as well as many smartwatches and fitness trackers

Pros

  • Customizes a weight loss timeline and suggested calorie range based on your physical and psychological needs
  • Supplies daily lessons tailored to your specific weight loss goals
  • Suggests alternatives to your most calorie-dense cravings
  • Health coaches can answer questions related to your individual weight loss journey

Cons

  • Too much freedom can be overwhelming for those who prefer more structure
  • Doesn’t count macros

Weight loss is different for everybody. Bodies are unpredictable, and a routine that works for one person isn’t guaranteed to work for the next. Noom has a number of features that aim to personalize each user’s weight loss journey, beginning with an introductory survey that asks about your weight loss goals, physical makeup, and fitness habits in addition to psychological concerns related to topics such as mental health and body image.

By taking all of these considerations into account, Noom provides you with a customized weight loss timeline and daily calorie goal, as well as a series of short videos, exercises, and tasks tailored to your answers. In lieu of one-size-fits-all menus and macro-counting plans, the program works to instill better, healthier habits in the areas where you struggle. As one of our testers noted, Noom’s approach isn’t just about losing weight, but rather developing the “tools to keep it off indefinitely.”

Noom’s app is filled with features that cater to your personal weight loss journey. Once you begin logging meals, for example, the app will automatically save the foods you eat regularly in a “favorites” section for easier tracking. We also like how the app provides healthier options for more calorie-dense snacks. “If I want to eat ice cream, I search up alternatives and it gives me other options to satisfy the same cravings,” says our tester. 

Noom also provides every user with a health coach who checks in twice a week. You don’t need to wait around for them, though. Our tester notes that you can “literally ask them any question” and that their coach generally replied within a few hours. This resource is especially helpful when the answers you’re finding online don’t speak to your own weight loss struggles. 

Though Noom is rich in resources, its lack of restrictions and emphasis on psychology lends itself to more personalization. Of course, too much freedom can be limiting for those who like a little more structure in their lives, so if you’re not interested in a more cerebral approach to weight loss you may want to look elsewhere. 

Best Weight Loss Program for Meal Delivery: Nutrisystem






Nutrisystem




Nutrisystem

Nutrisystem delivers breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options that have been portioned for weight loss directly to your home. Though it’s a more structured weight loss program, Nutrisystem also has an app where you can better customize your experience. 

Specs

  • Price: Starts at $299 a month
  • Focus: Nutrition
  • Meal Delivery: Yes
  • Tech: Compatible with iOS and Android devices, as well as many smartwatches and fitness trackers

Pros

  • Relieves users of meal prep by delivering prepackaged meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Provides the structure of knowing what to eat and when
  • More than 100 meal options that are rich in lean proteins and healthy fats 
  • Prepackaged meals require no cooking, just heating up

Cons

  • If you don’t have a microwave, you’ll need another option for heating up meals
  • Meals may be lacking in variety for some
  • Pricier than other weight loss programs, with plans starting at $299 per month

If the kitchen’s your least favorite room in the house, Nutrisystem is for you. The program, a trusted brand in weight management products since its inception more than 50 years ago, relieves you of at-home food prep by providing nutritious meals and snacks designed to help you manage your portions and lose weight. 

Meals arrive once every two to four weeks, and several five-star reviews remark on how timely and well-packaged the shipments are. You can let Nutrisystem choose what you’ll be eating, or you can curate your own lineup of dishes from more than 100 available options. 

You’ll find the most variety on the dinner menu, which includes pizzas, pastas, and meat dishes, but the lunch menu has a decent selection of wraps, soups, salads, and bars. The breakfast menu is slimmer, but still includes waffles, cereal, and pancakes, and snacks include sweet treats like ice cream bars, cookies, and cupcakes and salty bites of popcorn and cheese puffs. Overall, Nutrisystem designs its foods to be rich in lean proteins and low on the glycemic index. 

If the program feels impersonal, the accompanying NuMi app can make suggestions on what you should eat and when you should eat it based on your height, weight, age, and activity level. The goal is to provide users personal calorie goals that can help them avoid plateaus when the scale stops moving in the right direction. You can also use the app to access step-by-step digital guides, weight loss coaches, and healthy recipes that can help keep the weight off after you reach your goal. 

How We Chose the Best Weight Loss Programs

Our picks encompass a variety of budgets and approaches, but we also wanted to make sure that each considered customization and sustainability. Here are some factors we considered.

Cost

On our list, we have programs ranging from $10 a month to $299 a month. That’s a big range, and it speaks to the variety of weight loss programs available. The less expensive options rely on you to make the most of the tools they provide, which typically include an app, a tracking system, and plenty of motivational materials. The more expensive options take the onus off the user by providing prepackaged meals that relieve them from having to count calories or prepare their own food. 

Sustainability

There are healthy and unhealthy ways to lose weight fast, but for most people the best path to a flatter tummy is a deliberate one. Each of our picks work to gather personal, metabolic, and, in some cases, psychological data to customize weight loss plans with realistic timelines. Weight loss can be incremental, but studies have shown that “the most successful diets involve slow and steady changes.” (2) All of these picks, even the ones that offer prepackaged meals, work to encourage users to consider how they’ll change their eating and exercise habits even after they reach their weight loss goals. 

Customization

Since bodies react to food and exercise differently, we worked to recommend programs that take into consideration your age, height, weight, fitness level, and experience with nutrition. Wellness journeys can vary from person to person, and the last thing you want to feel when trying to lose weight is alienated or overwhelmed. 

A senior person stretching at home on an exercise mat.
Credit: Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock

All of our picks have some level of customization, from metabolic adjustments to personalized recipe recommendations to FaceTime calls with a coach or trainer. Also, several programs on this list can sync their apps with fitness trackers and smartwatches for greater personalization and more accuracy when tracking physical activity.

Accessibility

We sought to provide recommendations for adults of all ages, lifestyles, and mobilities. While some of these programs are fitness-forward and app-based, others provide accessibility with home deliveries and options that cater to the blind and deaf.

How Much Do Weight Loss Programs Cost? 

There are free apps available like MyFitnessPal that can track calories, workouts, and water intake, but if you’re looking for the structure and accountability of a customized nutrition plan you’ll have to open your wallet. Thankfully, there are several weight loss programs with plans that start at under $20 a month. 

If you’re looking for a meal delivery service, the monthly cost will rise significantly. That’s because you’re paying for a month’s supply of prepackaged meals and snacks. Those plans can cost roughly $299 to $399 a month, though you’ll want to weigh that cost against what you’ll be saving in grocery costs. 

Benefits of Weight Loss Programs

The best weight loss programs provide structure, accountability, and flexibility to an effort that can feel overwhelming. Sustainable weight loss comes via a caloric deficit that’s achievable through a combination of nutrition and exercise, and these plans help give you the tools to find the balance that’s right for you. 

Develop Better Habits

Scroll Google, Instagram, or YouTube and you’ll find a few dozen influencers who claim to have unlocked the secret to weight loss. The truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all plan. Losing weight and keeping it off requires addressing deeply-ingrained behaviors around food and physical activity. While many weight loss programs incorporate trackers and calorie goals, they also use those tools to help users distinguish between healthy and unhealthy foods, as well as identify patterns in their consumption habits. 

Counting calories of a meal with an app.
Credit: Okrasiuk / Shutterstock

On average, you’ll likely lose around one or two pounds a week using these programs. That may seem slow, but the deliberate pace is important in cultivating new habits. By seeing how the programs categorize particular foods, users can hopefully develop a better understanding of what foods offer the best bang for their buck in terms of nutrition and satiation. The hope is that they’ll naturally begin gravitating towards those foods and taking advantage of the vast library of healthy recipes provided by the programs. If they continue doing so after they reach their weight loss goal, sustaining their desired weight becomes that much easier. 

They’re Tailored to You

If you’ve been frustrated by elimination diets or particular workout regimens in the past, know that many modern weight loss programs work to personalize their nutrition plans by taking into account your metabolic and fitness level. Furthermore, you can sync many of the programs’ apps with fitness trackers and smartwatches so they can more accurately factor your physical activity into the plan. 

If you’re worried about having to completely abandon your indulgences, fear not. A number of modern programs empower the user to recognize their own consumption habits by not restricting any foods. This offers a sense of freedom that allows you to ease into the program without worrying about someone smacking you with a ruler the moment you reach for a red velvet cupcake. Over time, you’ll hopefully start seeing what habits you can change in a way that’s more edifying. 

You’re Not Alone

Sure, you’ll spend plenty of time plugging your meals and physical activity into trackers, but most weight loss programs understand the importance of community when it comes to health. Some programs organize virtual and in-person support and accountability sessions, while others provide personalized health coaches that are available to provide advice and motivation. Even if you’re trying out a virtual personal trainer, there are options available that include FaceTime calls and real-time chats with your coach so you’re never left to sweat it out alone. 

What to Consider Before Signing Up For a Weight Loss Program

Choosing the best weight loss program is as much a psychological decision as a practical one. Functionality and price matter, but so, too, does each program’s specific approach to weight loss. Since you know your mind, body, and habits better than anyone, it’s best to look inward when choosing which program is best suited to your circumstances.

Your Weight Loss Goals

Before signing up for a weight loss program, ask yourself why you want to lose weight. Are you trying to break out of some bad habits? Or is it about feeling self-conscious ahead of an imminent vacation? The best weight loss programs aren’t designed to help you lose weight quickly, but to develop a more intentional relationship to food that can result in better habits for sustained weight loss. If you’re looking to drop pounds fast, a weight loss program likely isn’t for you. 

Your Time

Weight loss requires sacrifice, but not everybody can totally disrupt their lives on their path to self-betterment. Most weight loss programs are flexible in that you can engage with them on an app during your downtime, but they still require you to log everything you eat in addition to your physical activity. 

Healthy foods rich in protein.
Credit: sweet marshmallow / Shutterstock

Apps often have shortcuts like barcode scanners, food databases, and compatibility with fitness trackers, but the tracking process is still a significant time investment. Similarly, unless you’re paying for a meal delivery service, it’s likely you’ll be spending more time in the kitchen trying out new recipes. If you want the plan to work, you’ll need to make the time for it to work its magic. 

Price

Weight loss programs aren’t like a set of free weights — one is not more expensive than the other because it’s made from better materials. Some of the most effective programs, after all, are also the least expensive. When it comes to weight loss, price tends to depend on how empowered you’d like to be in the process. 

If you’re just looking for some basic tracking tools to better keep tabs on your diet, there’s an assortment of free apps available, as well as more structured ones that begin for as little as $10 a month. If you’re looking for more direction in the form of personal training, hands-on nutrition coaches, or home-delivered meals, you’ll likely end up paying anywhere between $100 and $400 a month. 

Dietary Restrictions

If you have dietary restrictions or food sensitivities, you’ll want to take that into consideration before signing up for a weight loss program, especially if it’s one that involves food delivery or meal planning. Nutrisystem, for example, will work to accommodate dietary restrictions when they can, but there are some conditions, such as soy or peanut allergies, that will make you ineligible. Regardless, you’ll want to talk to your doctor or health care provider before taking the plunge. 

When a program has no firm rules about what you can or can’t eat, as in the case of WeightWatchers and Noom, they’ll often work to accommodate special diets by including vegan and gluten-free options in their recipe libraries. 

Final Word

Weight loss programs require time, sacrifice, and a willingness to change the way you approach health and nutrition. If you feel you’re ready for that kind of commitment, ask yourself why you want to lose weight and whether you’d like to achieve it through diet or fitness. There are options for both, after all, though the majority of weight loss programs are focused on cultivating better eating habits. 

Another big question is how much freedom you’d like to have in the process. Some programs have no restrictions and allow you to see the results via their individual tracking systems. If structure is what you crave, you might take more comfort in home-delivered meals that relieve you of having to lord over the stove. We’ve scoured the reviews and taken test rides on our picks, but you might want to do the same before making a decision. The good news is that you can typically take an introductory quiz on a program’s website or even embark on a free trial to ensure it’s a good fit.

FAQs

What’s the best weight loss program?

It’s hard to argue with WeightWatchers, the Oprah-approved titan of the weight loss industry. WeightWatchers’ points-based program encompasses more than just calories, allowing for a more complex portrait of what foods pack the most nutritional punch. It’s also personalized to each user, allows freedom thanks to its lack of restrictions, and utilizes a user-friendly app that syncs with most smartwatches. 

Do any weight loss programs actually work?

Weight loss programs are like relationships — the more you give, the more you get. While not everyone’s biological makeup will respond to them, you can absolutely lose weight and gain a better understanding of food and meal planning by committing to a nutrition plan. 

Which weight loss program is the cheapest?

WeightWatchers is the most budget-friendly weight loss program, with plans starting at $10 a month. 

References

  1. Johnston, Craig A., Rost, Stephanie, Miller-Kovach, Karen, Moren, Jennette P., Foreyt, John P, “A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Community-based Behavioral Counseling Program” (2013). The American Journal of Medicine. 126(12). 1143.E19–1143.E24
  2. Koliaki, Chrys, Spinos, Theodoros, Spinou, Marianna, Brinia, Maria-Eugenia, Mitsopoulou, Dimitra, Katsilambros, Nicholas, “Defining the Optimal Dietary Approach for Safe, Effective and Sustainable Weight Loss in Overweight and Obese Adults” (2018). Healthcare. 6(3). 73

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