Some Weight-Loss Program Works

There are Weight Watchers, Atkins, South Beach and Paleo. There’s Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, the Grapefruit Diet, Skinny Bitch Diet and more.

Hundreds of thousands more.

In fact, there are so many that Americans spend an estimated $42 billion each year on weight-loss foods, products and services.

With so many diets out there, and so many people wanting to lose weight, how do you know which diet is right for you?

So many people are tempted to go on fad diets that promise quick weight loss—those 20 pounds you gained over a year, gone in just two weeks!—but there are some things that are important to know.

First things first. You need to slow down and realize that there are a few components to a healthy weight-loss program (note the word “healthy”).

To succeed at losing weight, you need these four things:

  1. A reasonable and realistic weight loss goal. It’s best to aim for losing one to two pounds a week, says the Mayo Clinic.
  2. A reduced-calorie, nutritionally balanced eating plan.
  3. Regular physical activity. Government recommendations for adults are two hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) each week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (like brisk walking), plus two or more days of muscle-strengthening exercises.
  4. A behavior change plan so you can stay on track with your goals.

This is not breaking news, but many people ignore these facts:

  • Calories count; so do portions.
  • Nutrition counts, too.
  • Just a small amount of weight loss yields big health benefits, like lowering your risk of heart disease, for example.
  • Your goal should be to develop good habits that will carry you through your lifetime. A short-term “diet” means you’re either “on” it or “off” it. Think instead of changing your way of life and becoming a “healthier” person.
  • Have a discussion with your health care professional before you begin.
  • Keep in mind that studies show it’s easier to stick with a weight-loss plan when you have some form of social support, whether it is a diet/workout buddy or a structured group, like Weight Watchers.

Think about people you know who have managed to lose and keep (that’s the harder part) the weight off. “Successful losers”:

  • Get regular physical activity.
  • Reduce their calorie and fat intake.
  • Eat regular meals, including breakfast.
  • Don’t let small slip-ups turn into giving up and a large weight gain.

In short, the reality of it is that virtually any healthy diet will work—if you stick to it. So, pick the one that will be easiest and least challenging to stick to, say researchers of a study that found just that. But it’s important that the diet, whatever it is, meets all of your nutritional needs.