An Overview of Three Popular Weight Loss Programs

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If you haven’t heard of Weight Watchers, NutriSystem or the Atkins Diet you must be living in a cave somewhere deep in Afghanistan. These three staples of the weight loss industry have clinics, products and websites, all with the purpose of helping people lose weight. The real question is, however, do any of them actually work? Studies and consumer reviews are mixed as to the efficacy of these programs. In fact, studies seem to indicate that no program is better than any other, and that programs in themselves may produce their own set of difficulties for people. Here is a candid overview of these three popular programs.

Weight Watchers
Weight Watchers has been around for a very long time. The company first incorporated in 1963. Based on a group support method of encouragement, Weight Watchers tries to encourage its ‘members’ to make lifestyle changes that will help them lose weight. Exercise and healthy portion size are key aspects of this program.

Weight Watchers is also constantly re-inventing its program, moving from calories, to measuring to a point system to track what people eat. Upon seeing the new point system one friend quipped ‘oh, starve by numbers!’ By attempting to change the way people view food, Weight Watchers hopes to create life long changes that will lead to losing weight and keeping it off. Counselors encourage meeting attendance and public confession, which can be very uncomfortable for private people.

Perhaps the best thing about Weight Watchers is that you eat normal food. You don’t have to buy prepackaged meals, eat strange things or avoid any food in particular. The whole idea is to teach the individual to eat responsibly. For those that stick with the program strictly, it can work very well.

NutriSystem
Like many of the other pre-packaged systems of weight loss, NutriSystem devises an eating plan based upon information the client provides. As we all know, we are not necessarily as honest as we should be when it comes to eating issues. You get to pick from a selection of eating plans, and then either customize your menus or have NutriSystem send out a premixed selection.

For ease and convenience there is nothing like having a pantry and freezer full of boxes. You heat them up and eat; done. There doesn’t appear to be much flexibility in how your calories get planned though. Even overweight people weigh different amounts, are different heights and eat differently. This is a one size fits most kind of plan. There are also complaints that the food is reminiscent of the old high school cafeteria selections, and that customer service is poor or non-existent. These kind of programs don’t require people to make conscious decisions about their eating habits, and that is a big deficit.

If you want the ease of not having to think about eating, but still knowing that food is available and preplanned, NutriSystem, and other programs like it may work for you.

High Protein Diets
One of the most recent diet crazes has come from the medical field, more or less. Dr. Atkins began his work on weight loss in the 1970s, but his ideas didn’t catch on until the late 1990s. This diet plan suggests that eating plenty of protein and fat, and skimping on carbohydrates is the way to lose weight. This concept is contrary to everything that the medical field had been saying about weight loss, so it was received with great skepticism.

Still, high protein diets do seem to work. The science behind the success seems to be that proteins and fats take much longer to digest, therefore you feel full for a longer period of time. The down side is that you just don’t get enough nutrients and must supplement heavily, and if you are not very conscious about your food choices you will rapidly develop problems with cholesterol.

If you are a hard core carnivore, this is the diet for you, as long as you make sure that your carbohydrate intake is high in vegetables to help give you some dietary balance. The chief complaint is that high protein diets get very boring, very quickly. Questions about long term effects of eating so much protein are still being analyzed.

No matter what weight loss program you choose, reducing what you eat, making good food choices and getting yourself moving are the keys to success. Pick a program that suits your lifestyle and personality and your odds of success will increase.

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