What Are the Best Diet Plans?

Americans like their food. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend more than $7,700 per year on groceries and going out to eat, and food is the largest household expenditure. Clearly, all that food leads to dieting on a large scale. It's no surprise, then, that the weight-loss industry reached a new high of $72 billion in 2018, according to MarketResearch.com.

Key Takeaways:

  • Food and eating out is the largest household expenditure for most Americans.
  • Many weight-loss programs are app-based and offer calorie tracking, fitness tracking, and online coaches.
  • Noom and WeightWatchers are examples of app-based weight-loss diet plans.

Understanding the Best Diet Plans

It would be nice to be rich and have personal trainers and nutritionists on speed dial to help us lose a few pounds. Today, however, nutritional guidance is available in the form of an app, not speed dial, for many weight loss programs. Here is a run-down of seven popular plans, their features, and the cost.

Noom

On its website, Noom claims to be the "last weight-loss program you'll ever need." Noom also claims to provide "a trainer, nutritionist, and health coach all in one place." Noom is an app that logs what you eat, tracks your progress, offers the ability to chat with other Noom subscribers or dieters, and provides access to health and wellness coaches. Noom costs a minimum of $45 a month, according to Goodhousekeeping.com.

Nutrisystem

Nutrisystem offers a variety of low-glycemic meals and snacks delivered to your door. According to DebraMoorhead.com, a diet comparison blog, for women, the basic plan with pre-selected food costs $284.99 per month, and the cost for men is $324.99. Other plans include the Core plan, which allows consumers to select their own meals and is $309.99 for women and $349.99 for men, Uniquely Yours with favorite packs and over 145 meals is $349.99 for women and $389.99 for men, and Uniquely Yours Plus, which is $389.99 for women and $429.99 for men. Nutrisystem also offers a vegetarian plan and a diabetic option.

What you get:

  • Food delivered to your door
  • Personalized counseling
  • Online support

Medifast

Medifast claims to be a doctor-developed program that focuses on providing protein to maintain lean muscle mass. Plan followers eat every two or three hours on this diet. The cost is around $341 a month with meals shipped to your doorstep for free. The plan offers over 65 meal options.

What you get

  • Food delivered to your door
  • Food journal
  • Plan guide
  • Dining out guide
  • Blender bottle

Jenny Craig

Jenny Craig offers calorie-counting weight-loss counseling either at one of their local centers or online, and they supply pre-packaged food delivered to your door. You select your own foods from a menu, and the price depends on what you pick. According to the Jenny Craig website, the cost is around $25 a day with customized programs for women, men, diabetics, seniors, and teenagers. Clients are encouraged to supplement Jenny Craig meals with their own fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy products, and whole grains. It sounds much more expensive than the competitors, but the company claims to wean clients off Jenny Craig foods once they lose half their targeted amount of weight. At that point, participants must learn to carefully select their own food.

What you get:

  • Food delivered to your door
  • Personalized counseling
  • Online support

Atkins Diet

The Atkins Diet is a high-protein, carb-counting approach to weight loss. The plan's new book, "The New Atkins for a New You: The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight and Looking Great," by Eric C. Westerman, Stephen D. Phinney, and Jeff S Volek guides you through the program. The list price for the paperback book is $11. Atkins features high-fiber, low-carb bars, shakes, and other foods that are available in many grocery stores for $5 to $15. Atkins food is not required to complete the program.

What you get:

  • A book
  • Optional food you buy on your own
  • Online tools

South Beach Diet

The South Beach Diet is a high protein, low-carb diet. The new book, "The South Beach Diet Supercharged," by Arthur Agatston and Joseph Signorile, is the latest edition to the library of South Beach branded books and cookbooks touting the weight loss program.The latest paperback book is $7.50. The South Beach Diet offers various plans, all of which are keto-friendly. The one-week body reboot kit is $99.99, with flat-rate shipping of $4.99. The Gold Plan is a four-week plan that costs $10.88 a day, and the Platinum Plan with shakes costs $11.87 a day.

What you get:

  • Food delivered to your door
  • A free app to track your progress
  • Easy DIY meal recipes.

Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers, or WeightWatcher Reimagined, offers three different plans. A digital-only plan for $3.07 a week, a workshop for $6.92 a week, or virtual group coaching at $5.38 a week.The digital-only plan's app tracks your meals, gives meal ideas, and provides fitness and mindset content. Users also have access 24/7 to live coaches and the ability to chat to other WeightWatchers members on the companies exclusive social network. The workshop plan adds a weekly in-person meeting with a coach and local members. The virtual group coaching option provides all of the former options along with one-on-one support through the WeightWatchers app. 

What you get:

  • Online tools
    Optional food you purchase on your own
  • Online and live coaching

When it comes to weight loss, high prices do not necessarily mean better results. Choosing the right diet program involves more than just comparing prices. Other considerations include the quality of the products, customer service and, ultimately, whether or not the plan can actually work for you.