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      December 16, 2019

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Popular Diets

  1. Weight Watchers
  2. Nutrisystem
  3. South Beach Diet
  4. Keto
  5. Paleo Plan
  6. Atkins
  7. Meal Plan Map
  8. Whole 30
  9. Medifast

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Best Popular Diets

What's the best Popular Diet? For those who'd like to drop a few pounds or maybe even shed 100 or more, there's no shortage of services promising to make that dream a reality. Are there any diets that actually work?

The good news is yes, there are many weight loss programs with a solid track record of helping people redefine their relationships with food, learning what and how much to eat, and making changes that aren't just a temporary low number on the scale. But as you've probably noticed, every popular diet seems to have a different approach to shedding unwanted pounds.

Continue reading below reviews

Best Reviews

2019

Popular Diet Reviews

5 stars
Noom

NOOM

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Cost:

Introductory price: $100 for 2 months

Total price varies depending on program length

TopConsumerReviews.com Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award Noom bills itself as "the last weight loss program you'll ever need". And, for thousands of people, this popular diet absolutely delivers on that promise. Although Noom is newer on the market, this app has already made a huge impact on the industry with its psychology-based approach to losing weight.

The Noom program was designed not just by the usual team of nutritionists and other weight-loss experts, but also by professionals who specialize in motivation and the way people think. You'll see that from the very first experience you have with Noom, as you enter your information to set up your personalized plan. For example, you'll be asked whether or not you need outside influences to succeed, if you feel motivated or anxious when people push you to stretch your comfort zone, and so on.

As you use the Noom app - there's no desktop version, FYI - you'll see some of the standard tools included with most weight loss programs: meal tracking, weight logs, sample recipes, and so on. Noom also counts your daily steps, either by the built-in sensors in your phone (which is usually wildly inaccurate) or by syncing with a device like a Fitbit or iWatch (much more accurate).

From there, you'll start to see why Noom is our highest-ranked diet. Each day starts with a task list: not just tracking meals and steps, but also tackling some of the reasons that are often behind overweight through quizzes, articles, and self-reflection exercises. Do you have scale anxiety? Do you ever find yourself eating because you're stressed, happy, or just eating out with friends? How does your relationship with food change on a cellular level as you lose weight? Noom uses psychology and fact-based nutritional, exercise, and lifestyle advice to guide you through your unique journey towards wellness.

Ideal for those who:

  • Are looking to make a lasting lifestyle change
  • Need 1:1 guidance and encouragement from a goal coach
  • Want lots of flexibility with what they eat

Not ideal for those who:

  • Want to count macros (amounts of protein/carbs/fats)
  • Are trying to lose weight quickly (such as for a wedding or other event)
  • Don't like using Smartphone apps

You won't find a rigid meal plan when you use Noom. Instead, this program focuses on the nutritional value of your food, breaking everything you eat into green, yellow, and red foods. Despite what you may have just thought, green foods aren't "good" and red foods aren't "bad": the colors represent how calorie-dense each food is, to help you get a sense of where you are focusing your eating. The program helps you try to work more green and yellow foods into your diet (because most of us need absolutely no help enjoying things in the red category!), but you aren't required to. Your daily calorie amount is set based on the information you enter in your profile, and any exercise you enter will give you half of the calories you burn back into your daily allotment. So, if you take an Orangetheory Fitness HIIT class and your monitor says you burned 450 calories, your available amount for that day will increase by 225. That's great motivation to put some effort into your workout!

Another big perk when using Noom is the access you get to a goal coach. After you fill in your profile, the information is used to match you with your own personal cheerleader/motivator/whip-cracker (if that's how you roll). Your goal coach checks in with you at least once a week, to see what goals you're working on and what obstacles you've encountered. He or she can see everything you've logged on the app, so they can give you specific feedback on any area you'd like to tackle. Having that one-on-one interaction makes it more likely you'll be successful, especially if you are honest with your food and activity logs.

Your profile also gets you matched with a group of other "Noomers" who started the program around the same time as you. You can participate in this group as much or as little as you prefer; a separate group coach posts challenges like "What will you do to set yourself up for success this weekend" or "What new fruit or vegetable will you incorporate into your meals today", and group members cheer each other on, give advice, and shout their victories.

In the past, Noom offered a 14-day free trial. However, when we went through the sign-up process recently, we were asked how much we thought was reasonable to pay for that two-week period (given that it costs Noom "just over $18 to provide each trial"). Options ranged from $1 to $18.37. When we selected $1, we were given a price of $99 after our 2-week trial. The price didn't change when we selected other dollar amounts for the trial.

Here's where Noom's pricing gets interesting. There's a spot on the Custom Plan Reservation page for a discount code, so with a little searching online, you may be able to get the program for less money. We got much deeper savings by taking the trial and then waiting before committing to the paid program. There may have been seasonal promotional pricing in place at the time we signed up, but because we didn't sign up for the paid plan immediately, we wound up getting a year of access to Noom for just under $150. You may have to play the waiting game a bit, though: we kept getting emails offering us access at a lower price, and we went through several rounds of those emails before getting the price (and the timeframe) we wanted.

We really appreciate that Noom's aim is for you to not need the app anymore! In other words, their team wants to give you the tools you need to "graduate", using the knowledge and self-awareness you gained to maintain your new healthy weight or to keep progressing towards your goals. We found that after we had used the app for 20 weeks, it shifted dramatically towards that focus: we still tracked our food and exercise daily, but we only were asked to weigh in once a week instead of daily, and the learning tasks were much less involved (more of a refresher of topics learned earlier on in the program).

If you are looking for a magic pill to help you lose weight, you won't find it using Noom (or any other popular diet plan, really). However, if you love the idea of having a 1:1 goal coach, a diet where no food is "off limits", and breakthroughs that will help you understand your relationship with food and exercise, you won't find a better program. Noom is affordable, encouraging, and is extremely effective in helping users make lifestyle changes that actually last. Whether you're looking to lose 10 pounds or 100+, Noom is the best of the popular diets on the market and can get you there. They earn our highest rating.

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4.5 stars
Weight Watchers

WEIGHT WATCHERS

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Cost:

$3.07/week for Digital (Online-Only) plan

$6.92/week for Workshop + Digital (in-person + online) plan

$12.69/week for Personal Coaching + Digital (online + personalization)

Prices may vary depending on where you live

When you think of a popular diet, chances are good that Weight Watchers is the first name that comes to mind. And, rightly so: for more than 50 years, this program has helped people around the world to lose weight and improve healthy habits.

You may also know that Weight Watchers - recently rebranded as WW - has gone through several formats over the years. Your parents may remember the days of weekly weigh ins, while your friends might have used it during the days of "points". How is WW approaching dieting now?

As their website puts it, "WW welcomes anyone who wants to build healthy habits - whether that means eating better, moving more, developing a positive mindset, focusing on weight...or all of the above!" The company says that you can look forward to more changes in the upcoming weeks and months that will incorporate that more holistic approach to health and weight.

Ideal for those who:

  • Want a reliable program with a long history of success
  • Are looking for flexibility in what they eat and when
  • Might want some face-to-face accountability and encouragement

Not ideal for those who:

  • Want a prepackaged meal system
  • Aren't willing to track what they eat
  • Have not had success with Weight Watchers in the past

WW's current structure uses the SmartPoints system, which will guide you to eat more fruits, veggies and lean protein, and reduce your consumption of sugar and unhealthy fats. You'll get a certain number of SmartPoints in your daily food budget and can use them on any food you want to eat. And, just like some mobile phone plans, you can "roll over" your unused daily points to another day (like a special occasion meal out or birthday party). Plus, WW has a database of more than 200 "ZeroPoint" foods that you can eat without tracking or portioning.

Weight Watchers has three subscription levels to choose from. Pricing may vary depending on where you live, so take the amounts below as a general idea:

  • Digital-Only. Not interested in group meetings and just want access to WW tools? This is the plan for you, at $3.07/week. You'll be able to track your food and activity levels, set personalized goals, sync with fitness trackers, get 24/7 online chat support, and access to the WW online community.
  • Workshop + Digital: Workshop is what used to be known as "meetings" and are weekly group get-togethers designed to give you in-person support and accountability. You'll still get all of the online tools in the Digital package, but you'll also get guidance and private check-ins with a Wellness Coach, plus guidebooks and other printed materials. This plan costs $6.92/week.
  • Personal Coaching + Digital: maybe group meetings aren't your thing, but you still want some one-on-one encouragement and gentle prodding. This package removes the "Workshop" component while adding in a dedicated coach of your choice, unlimited 1:1 phone sessions, plus personalized action plans and skill training. This package is priced at $12.69/week.

If you're thinking about signing up for WW, look for a promotion called the "Triple Play". At the time of our review, they were offering a free month, free cookbook, and no $20 joining fee when purchasing a membership plan. That's a great way to try out the WW program and see if it fits your life, and 30 days is long enough to decide if it's a program you can use for long-term lifestyle changes.

One part of the new Weight Watchers diet that is truly exceptional is their WellnessWins rewards program. As you develop healthy habits like weigh-ins and meal tracking, you'll get "wins" (they don't call them "points" because that's used in your food tracking!) that can be exchanged for prizes. For example, 1500 wins gets you a 90-day starter membership to Aaptiv or a 24-oz tumbler, while 4000 wins lets you choose among prizes like a 9-cup box from Daily Harvest or custom-fit insoles from Wiivv. We haven't found any other popular diet plan that gives you tangible rewards for accomplishing your healthy goals, and we love it!

Weight Watchers is one of the best diets for changing your eating habits and making lifestyle changes once and for all. It does require you to have the discipline to be honest about what you eat, but this diet has all of the tools and support you need to make that easy. This is a fantastic choice for weight loss and overall health improvement.

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4.5 stars
Nutrisystem

NUTRISYSTEM

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Cost:

Plans start at $284.99 for 4 weeks of meals

If you're looking for a well-rounded diet plan that doesn't require you to restrict any particular type of food, Nutrisystem is the top choice. Unlike many diets that focus on low carbs, high fat, or some other approach, this program helps you lose weight simply: by eating less while still getting a wide range of foods and flavors.

As a side note, Nutrisystem bought South Beach in 2015 - so if you notice some similarities between the websites of these two popular diet plans, you'll know why!

People using Nutrisystem to lose weight see drops of, on average, 11.6 pounds and 8 inches in the first month alone. More realistically and over the long term, this diet plan should help you experience a consistent weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week, which is what most health professionals say is a healthy, sustainable goal.

Ideal for those who:

  • Want the convenience of chef-created, easy-to-prep delivered meals
  • Don't want to count calories, measure food, or weigh in
  • Want to eat familiar foods without big restrictions (for example low carb, no fruits, and so on)

Not ideal for those who:

  • Can't afford to spend $300+/month
  • Want to learn to prepare healthy meals

There are four available Nutrisystem plans, all of which come with a money-back guarantee within the first 14 days after delivery:

  • Basic: starting at $284.99 for 4 weeks, this plan includes a pre-set menu of Nutrisystem's most popular foods.
  • Core: starting at $309.99 for 4 weeks, Core gives you a wider range of foods to choose from.
  • Uniquely Yours: starting at $349.99 for 4 weeks, this plan gives you even more menu variety, including frozen food options.
  • Uniquely Yours Plus:starting at $389.99 for 4 weeks, this gives you high-protein shakes as part of your meal and snack options.

There are also plans specifically for men, customers with diabetes, and vegetarians. You'll find the links to those options at the bottom of the main plan page, or in the scrolling bar at the top.

With Nutrisystem, you should expect to eat six times a day (and the men's program includes an extra snack). A sample day's food might include low fat cheddar cheese and a turkey sausage/egg muffin for breakfast; mixed nuts, Greek yogurt with fresh blueberries, or white cheddar popcorn for snacks; cheese tortellini and a side salad for lunch, and turkey medallions with broccoli for dinner.

As we browsed the Nutrisystem site, we got a discount offer of $25 in a pop-up, so keep an eye out for any extra savings they may give you. There was also a promotion offering free FedEx shipping and shakes at the top of the page. Bear in mind that the pricing on all of Nutrisystem's meal plans assumes that you're opting into their auto-delivery program. You can pause, update, or cancel that automatic shipment at any time.

Each shipment gives you an easy-to-follow meal plan that tells you exactly what to eat and when. Alternately, you can use the NuMi app to bring your meal plan with you no matter where you are.

Some of Nutrisystem's packaged meals do include frozen meals and snacks. If you're not home at the time of delivery, you'll find your food packed with dry ice that keeps it frozen for up to 8 hours.

We love that Nutrisystem offers help for customers who might want some expert guidance on their weight loss journey. Click on the Let Us Help You link at the bottom of the page; there you'll find email and toll-free number info for Nutrisystem's Dietary Counselors, Program Consultants, and Weight Loss Counselors who can give you support and motivation, advice for meal plan adjustments for special dietary needs like food allergies, and more.

Because of this popular diet plan's track record of success, simple approach to portion control and weight loss, and convenient doorstep delivery, Nutrisystem continues to be our favorite pick among diets based on premade food.

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4 stars
South Beach Diet

SOUTH BEACH DIET

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Cost:

Plans start at $289.99 for 4 weeks of meals

South Beach is one of several popular diet plans that focus on a lower-carb, high protein approach to losing weight. However, the company's approach is less restrictive than similar plans (Keto, Paleo, Atkins). With South Beach, you'll be aiming for 40-50 net grams of carbs per day, depending on the phase you're on, and you won't be aiming for a state of nutritional ketosis like traditional Keto plans require.

In the first phase of South Beach, you'll jumpstart your weight loss with high-protein, low-carb foods designed to reduce your sugar and starch cravings. In the second phase, you'll add in "good" carbs from fruits, whole grains, and more vegetables, plus two DIY breakfasts, lunches, or dinners each week - to help you learn how to eat healthy for a lifetime. Once you hit your weight goal, you'll learn how to enjoy all foods in moderation and eat happy and healthy for good.

Ideal for those who:

  • Like the convenience of prepared foods with the flexibility of occasional DIY meals
  • Are interested in Paleo/Keto/Atkins without as many restrictions
  • Don't mind spending a little more for an all-in-one plan

Not ideal for those who:

  • Are on a tight budget
  • Don't like the low carb approach to dieting
  • Want to do most of the cooking for themselves

South Beach offers three 4-week diet plans. With each plan, you can choose "Chef's Picks" (recommended for your first order) or pick your own menu:

  • Silver: the most basic plan, which includes 4 weeks of breakfasts, lunches and dinners. This plan sells for $289.99 for women and $329.99 for men.
  • Gold: this plan offers a wider menu variety, including junk-free snacks. This plan sells for $329.99 for women and $359.99 for men.
  • Platinum: the most robust of the three plans, this package also includes 20 Simply Fit shakes. This plan sells for $359.99 for women and $389.99 for men.

If you look under the Plans tab, you'll also find a Diabetes Gold plan. This is your best option if you are managing Type 2 Diabetes.

Every plan comes with free FedEx shipping. Be aware that it is only available within the continental US and can't be shipped to PO boxes or military addresses.

To save the most money, you'll want to sign up for South Beach's auto delivery program. (In fact, the pricing on the website assumes that you're signing up for auto delivery and gives you that price as the default). Also, when we went to leave the South Beach Diet website, we got a pop-up offering a discount of $50 if we placed an order in the next 60 minutes. There was also a promotion at the top of the page offering free shakes with our order.

The foods included in all South Beach plans actually sound like meals you'd enjoy - and if the hundreds of user reviews for each food are any indicator, they taste good! For example, the Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast has a 4.5-star average over 800+ reviews, and the Turkey Sausage & Egg Muffin looks just like what you'd get at your favorite fast food restaurant.

Overall, South Beach is a solid choice among popular diets. Nutritionally balanced meals, flexibility and convenience are all strong positives for choosing this plan for your weight loss goals.

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3.5 stars
Keto

KETO

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Cost:

$19/month

$38/quarter

$114/year

Have you heard people talking about using a Keto diet to lose weight fast? Keto is a popular diet plan that focuses on getting your body into a state known as "ketosis": in other words, helping your body use fat instead of carbohydrates for energy.

Under a Keto diet, most of your calories come from fat : 75-85% of your daily calories! You'll get another 10-15% from protein, and only 5-10% from carbohydrates.

Ideal for those who:

  • Love high-fat foods like avocados and eggs
  • Have struggled to lose weight using other methods
  • Aren't looking for a long-term change in their eating habits

Not ideal for those who:

  • Already struggle with high cholesterol
  • Want fruits as a regular part of their diet from the start
  • Can't be extremely consistent with following a restrictive eating plan

Using Meal Plan Club is a good way to help figure out what to eat when following a Keto diet. If you subscribe to their service, you'll get a full plan complete with recipes and a shopping list delivered to you each week. These recipes will always have 30 or fewer ingredients, with 20g or fewer net carbs each day. All of the recipes are dairy-free. You can subscribe on a monthly plan for $19, a quarterly plan for $38, or a yearly plan for $114.

This service comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you give it a try and decide that it's not the right diet for you, or you don't love the recipes and shopping lists, you can get a full refund with no questions asked within the first 30 days of your subscription.

So, does following a Keto diet work? People who have lost weight following this popular diet report that they experienced fewer cravings: they didn't feel the need to eat sugary, carbohydrate-loaded foods, and their overall calorie intake was less.

While going on a Keto diet might help you lose weight, especially for those that have insulin resistance, diabetes or struggle to get the pounds off, the diet is controversial for the traditionalists. Most people using a Keto diet will slowly add back healthy fruits and starchier vegetables, once they've achieved a certain level of weight loss. Like many diets, Keto can be healthy or not healthy depending on how you choose to use it.

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3.5 stars
Paleo Plan

PALEO PLAN

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Cost:

$9.99/month

$49/six months

$89/twelve months

14-day risk-free trial

You've probably heard people at the office, at school, or at the gym raving about how much weight they lost while "going paleo". What is a paleo diet? In a nutshell (pun intended), this popular diet seeks to imitate the types of food people ate before the time of the Agricultural Revolution: in other words, meats, seafood, eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables, and some nuts and seeds. Sound good so far?

Here's what you won't find in the paleo diet: refined sugars and grains, dairy, trans fats, high glycemic-index carbohydrates, and processed foods. Why? These foods may be related to weight gain, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other health problems.

Ideal for those who:

  • Love eating meat, seafood, eggs, fresh vegetables and fruits
  • Have time to shop and cook
  • Need a diet plan that's effective for diabetics

Not ideal for those who:

  • Don't eat meat
  • Aren't willing to give up refined sugar, grains, and dairy
  • Don't enjoy cooking

You might be thinking, "Well, great. I'm all for a good steak, but I can't eat that three times a day. How on earth can I go paleo' for every single meal and snack?" Here's where Paleo Plan comes to the rescue.

Paleo Plan gives you a "complete paleo meal planning system", to make it as hassle-free - and tasty - as possible to follow your eating plan. With your subscription, you'll get a menu via email once a week with 3 meals and a snack for each day. The menu comes with shopping and prep lists, and every recipe can be customized to match your dietary needs, family size, and preferences. Your menu may include omelet muffins for breakfast, creamy bacon and parsnip soup for lunch, slow cooker turkey meatballs with cauliflower rice for dinner, and a chili-lime broiled avocado for a healthy snack.

You will also appreciate that all of the meals in your Paleo Plan are designed to use up all of the ingredients on your shopping list, and sometimes your meals will incorporate leftovers from previous days' recipes: great ways to minimize waste and have much easier prep time.

Paleo Plan definitely won't break the bank. All of their diet plans come with a 14-day risk-free trial, so you'll know exactly what you're getting before you commit to a subscription. You can pay month-to-month for a subscription fee of $9.99. If you want to save 20%, a 6-month subscription costs $49, or get a 25% savings by selecting the 12-month plan for $89.

This is a great option if you want to try a paleo diet or just need some structured input and recommendations for your paleo-style eating plan. Will it help you lose weight? Maybe, maybe not. There's nothing built into this popular diet plan that is specifically structured to do that. For example, if you eat five avocados and 16 oz. of steak every day, you won't have a food tracker to show you how many calories you're taking in. Most nutritionists agree that, in order to lose weight, you need to use more calories in a day than you get from what you eat - so you might need extra tools if your focus is weight loss.

Many people who try paleo experience weight loss at first, but then it tapers off. Some say that it's because of boredom: they miss having a glass of milk and a cookie, and there's only so much bacon you can eat before you get tired of it. For a lot of people, the paleo diet doesn't have the variety of food they're looking for, making it a challenge to adapt to this lifestyle for a lifetime.

But, if you've decided that you want to try it for yourself, Paleo Plan is a great resource to help you add a wider range of recipes to your repertoire, and that could help you accomplish your weight loss or other health goals on the paleo diet.

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3 stars
Atkins

ATKINS

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Cost:

All plans and tools are FREE

Meal kits, bars, shakes and treats available for purchase

Atkins is one of several popular diets that focus on reducing carb intake (along with paleo, Keto, and several others). This approach was created in 1963 by Dr. Robert Atkins, a cardiologist who observed that restricting carbohydrates helped with weight loss while not leaving his patients always hungry for more food. So, this approach has been around for decades and continues to be a plan that people often try when looking to lose weight.

Ideal for those who:

  • Already know they need/want to control their sugar/carbs intake (diabetics)
  • Want a choice between plans for those who need to lose 40+ pounds, less than 40 pounds, or maintain their current weight
  • Want access to free plans and tools

Not ideal for those who:

  • Like eating fresh fruit on a regular basis
  • Aren't willing to cut back on sugar/carbs
  • Want direct coaching from health/fitness professionals

The Atkins site offers a lot of helpful tools - at absolutely no cost. That makes this popular diet a great choice for people who want to change their eating habits in a low-carb way but don't want to pay for an expensive membership-based plan. On the site, you'll find these tools and more:

  • Mobile app: track your food on the go
  • Carb counter
  • Meal plans and shopping lists: with a quick-start option for people who don't like to cook and a standard option that combines homemade recipes and Atkins products
  • Trackers: record your exercise, body measurements, and weight
  • Discussion boards and groups: connect with other people eating the Atkins way, get strategies and tips for success, and ask questions

On the Atkins site, you'll also find plans that are specific to your weight loss goals. Atkins 20 is for people who have more than 40 pounds to lose or for those who are prediabetic or diabetic. The 20 means that you are limited to 20 grams of carbohydrates per day. During the first phase of this plan, you'll only be allowed to eat "foundation vegetables" (no starchy ones), healthy fats like avocado, proteins and most cheeses, along with nuts and seeds. As you progress through the program, you'll gradually add in foods like Greek yogurt, berries and melon, legumes, and tomato juice.

As you might guess, the Atkins 40 plan is for people who have less than 40 pounds to lose, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or who want to have a wider range of foods to choose from. That 40 also means that you're aiming for 40 grams of net carbs each day.

Finally, if you want the widest variety of food choices and are looking to maintain your current weight, you would select the Atkins 100 diet plan. This gives you 100 carbs per day. While it's still recommended that you choose foods from the "acceptable" list and avoid/limit sugar and refined carbs, this plan doesn't have any foods that are truly off-limits.

One way to simplify this plan is by purchasing Atkins products. You can get entire meal kits, frozen foods and meals, shakes and bars, and even treats that all fit within the approved carb ranges required by the Atkins diet. You can often find these products at your local grocery store, but the Atkins store is the easiest way to find everything they offer (except for the frozen foods!).

How does Atkins measure up when it comes to weight loss? If you're trying to break a sugar addiction, control your diabetes, or already a fan of low-carb eating, Atkins could be a good match for you. But, most people find this plan overly restrictive, especially since it cuts out most fruits and grains. People usually lose weight quickly on this plan, but have a hard time sticking to it for a long time.

On the other hand, the Atkins site offers a lot of helpful tools for free - so even if you don't follow the plan 100%, you can still use those tools to help keep an eye on your food intake and lower your overall consumption of sugar and carbs.

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3 stars
Meal Plan Map

MEAL PLAN MAP

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Cost:

$9.95/month

Free 1-week trial

Meal Plan Map wants to help you in your healthy living and weight loss goals by making meal planning and prep less overwhelming. This program's customized meal plans come with an easy-to-use Smartphone app that lets you make your grocery list (and check things off right in the store), update the number of serving sizes, and track what you eat. You'll also get access to fun community challenges, trackers for your weight and exercise, and much more. According to the creator of Meal Plan Map, Charlie Dayment, this popular diet plan "takes the guesswork out of making a healthier lifestyle change."

Ideal for those who:

  • Want convenient tools for meal planning, shopping, and nutrition/fitness tracking
  • Aren't looking for a rigid diet plan
  • Love to cook and want a wide variety of foods and recipes to choose from

Not ideal for those who:

  • Need a strict routine to stay motivated
  • Want maximum convenience (pre-made meals, delivered right to your door)
  • Aren't disciplined and willing to invest some time in learning how to meal plan/prep

Play the video under "See in action!" to get an idea of how Meal Plan Map works before creating an account. Because this diet is so different from the other services in our review, we strongly recommend that you take advantage of the free 1-week trial before subscribing for $9.95/month. To get started, you'll need to choose a plan from one of the six offered on this program:

  • Healthy Weight
  • Healthy Heart
  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Diabetes-Friendly
  • Hypertension-Friendly
  • Diabetes + Hypertension-Friendly

We love that Meal Plan Map isn't just a diet program for weight loss, but also includes people who might want to change their eating habits for other health reasons.

As you create your weekly meal plan, it's easy to swap out recipes you don't like, choose different ingredients, or generally customize what you need for you and your family's eating habits.

We like that this app syncs with Fitbit and several other popular trackers, making it even more streamlined to stay on top of your healthy habits and keep your data in one place.

So, why does Meal Plan Map only earn a "good" rating of 3 stars? In our opinion, this diet plan makes it easy to get overwhelmed. We're pretty experienced with weight loss programs and apps, and for someone who is already frustrated with losing weight, Meal Plan Map might feel too unstructured. "How many calories should I eat? How do I know that the recommended amount is right for me?" There might be too many options, tweaks, and customizations available on this platform for the average dieter to feel confident in their choices.

Also, many of the features offered by Meal Plan Map are included with some of today's more popular, free fitness and tracking apps (such as My Fitness Pal and SparkPeople). If you're just looking for some help with planning meals and like having extra tools like exercise and water consumption tracking, you may want to look at the no-cost options currently available before committing to Meal Plan Map.

In short, there's nothing wrong or bad about the Meal Plan Map system, and it could be a very useful tool if your main need is extra guidance for meal planning. But, if you're struggling to lose weight and don't like to spend time shopping and cooking, this diet probably won't work for you.

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3 stars
Whole 30

WHOLE 30

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Cost:

$30 for first month, $15/month thereafter

$49 for the first quarter, $36/quarter thereafter

$99 for the first year, $84/year thereafter

Whole30 is a popular diet plan that requires major changes in your eating habits. But, for those who have benefited from putting it into practice, this approach to food can be life-changing.

If you suffer from allergies and/or sensitivities but haven't quite figured out what's causing the problem, struggle with conditions with no apparent cause, or have had trouble losing weight no matter how hard you've tried, Whole30 has been effective for millions of people like you.

Ideal for those who:

  • Are struggling to identify allergens and want to figure out sensitivities
  • Can make a 30-day commitment
  • Enjoy meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, and natural fats

Not ideal for those who:

  • Aren't ready to make HUGE changes to their everyday diet
  • Want a long-term plan for changing their eating habits
  • Aren't willing to give up all added sweeteners, alcohol, grains, legumes, and dairy

Whole30 is designed to change your relationship with food, increase your energy, and change your cravings over the course of 30 days (hence the "30" in the name). There are several extremely important rules you will need to follow in order to be successful on this popular diet:

  • Eat real food. In other words, the closer to the way the food is in nature, the better it is for you. (Think raw vs. stewed tomatoes, ground beef vs. hot dogs) Whole30 prioritizes meat, seafood, eggs, plenty of vegetables and natural fats, lots of herbs, spices and seasonings, and some fruit.
  • Don't eat ANY of the "forbidden" foods. The list is long, and may be too daunting for all but the most dedicated health-seekers: no added sugar (not even substitutes like stevia or xylitol), no grains, no legumes (which also means no peanut butter), no dairy (from cows, goats, or sheep), no sulfites/carrageenan/MSG, and no junk food!
  • Don't weigh yourself or take any body measurements for the whole 30 days.
  • NO cheating. Not for a special occasion, not as a "slip", nada, for the entire month. Because you may be trying to figure out which of the most commonly-allergenic foods are causing you problems, you'll reset the clock if you have bread, corn, or dairy even one time, and you'll wind up feeling like this program was a total failure.

With all of those rules and can't-eats, it's easy to understand why someone would want help in planning and preparing for a Whole30 month! That's where Real Plans comes in. Your subscription lets you choose a start date and the length of your program (minimum 30 days, of course), and how many breakfasts, lunches, and dinners you want help planning.

This service is 100% customizable, within the accepted parameters of the Whole30 program. Maybe you absolutely hate asparagus or already know you're allergic to eggs, so feel free to set those preferences right away.

After your first 30 days, Real Plans helps you work on your 10-day reintroduction: in other words, gradually bringing back in some of the no-no foods as you determine if you are sensitive to each of them.

Best of all, this system generates shopping lists based on the meals you've selected. Go to your pantry first to check off whatever you already have, too. And, if you've finally figured out which type of mustard is "Whole30 approved", you can add a photo of any specific ingredient so that you don't have to read the label over and over again. (Next level pro tip? Real Plans integrates with Instacart, so you can get all of your Whole30 ingredients delivered right to your doorstep).

Pricing for this popular diet plan is reasonable. If you're taking the cautious approach and just want to subscribe for a month, you'll pay $30 for Month 1 and $15/month for every month after that. Ready to commit for a little longer? Choose the $49 quarterly plan, which drops to $36 per quarter after the first 3 months. If you're feeling particularly gung-ho - or if you've done Whole30 in the past and know it's the right thing for you, but you just need some structure - the annual plan is the best deal at $99 for a year and $84 for every year afterwards.

In general, Whole30 is probably the only popular diet plan that can be a game-changer for people who want to identify food sensitivities by eliminating the most likely suspects. And, Real Plans is one of the best resources available for taking as much of the planning and preparation stress off the table.

But, for the average person, Whole30 is HARD. The list of things that you can't eat is long, and if we're being honest, most of us are too lazy or unmotivated to give all of them up completely for an entire month. If you stick to the plan, you might lose a bunch of weight - but that might be from not having anything you WANT to eat, not just from finding out that you've had a food sensitivity all along. For many people, Whole30 is an interesting (and difficult) experiment, but not a sustainable change for the rest of their lives.

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2.5 stars
Medifast

MEDIFAST

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Cost:

30-day meal kits start at $299

Medifast was developed by a physician in 1980 and has been recommended by more than 20,000 doctors over the last 35+ years. This popular diet plan focuses on low-fat protein and fiber for quick weight loss without being overwhelmingly hungry.

Medifast is one of the most convenient plans available today, because it uses premade foods for the majority of what you eat on a daily basis. If you hate spending time in the kitchen, or find yourself standing in front of the refrigerator feeling frustrated at having to come up with something to eat, this could be a good choice for you.

Ideal for those who:

  • Want the simplicity of pre-packaged meals and snacks
  • Don't want to count calories, carbs, or log meals
  • Want to lose a lot of weight quickly

Not ideal for those who:

  • Prefer making most of their meals from fresh ingredients
  • Want to learn how to select healthy foods on their own
  • Are looking for a lifelong eating plan

There are three separate plans in the Medifast system:

  • Medifast Go: "fast results for busy people". Each day consists of 5 prepackaged Medifast meals, plus one "lean and green" meal you prepare yourself.
  • Medifast Achieve: "steady, gradual weight loss". This plan offers more flexibility, with 4 Medifast Meals, 2 "lean and green" meals and 1 healthy snack each day.
  • Thrive by Medifast: this is the plan for maintaining your goal weight. This consists of 3 Medifast meals, 2 "lean and green" meals, and 1 balanced meal you create yourself.

Also, if you have any special dietary requirements - gluten-free, vegetarian, nursing mother, and so on - you can get help from a Medifast team member to help get the plan that's exactly right for your needs. Just call the toll-free number on the site to get started.

Medifast is surprisingly affordable. The 30-day kits for the Go and Achieve plans are priced at $329 and $299. (If you think about it, you probably spend at least that much on groceries already). You'll still need to do a little bit of shopping for your "lean and green" meals, but other than that you'll get everything you need in your kit.

For the biggest cost savings, you'll want to sign up for the Medifast Advantage loyalty program. If you place an order of $149 or more and select "automatic meal delivery", you'll be enrolled in their free rewards program. You'll get rewards of 5-10% on your purchases that can be applied towards subsequent orders, plus free shipping on orders of $250 or more (or $5 flat rate shipping on orders between $149-$249.99). This automatic shipment program can be cancelled at any time.

Medifast has a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you're not 100% satisfied with your results, the meal products, or any other aspect of this diet plan, you can get a full refund (minus any shipping and handling fees).

When it comes to weight loss, Medifast is one of the best options for proven, quick results. If you like the idea of not having to track and measure what you eat, but instead just "grab and go" with prepackaged foods, this could be a good solution for your short-term weight loss goals. On the other hand, if you want to learn how to eat healthy for a lifetime or prefer to eat fewer processed foods, Medifast isn't the right diet plan for you.

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Continued from above

Some diet plans will tell you that you have to count every calorie, while others want you to focus on eating more whole and unprocessed foods instead of tracking what you eat. Whichever plan you select, it's important to make sure that it's a program you can realistically follow, based on your current lifestyle. For example, if you frequently travel for work, can you stick to a diet that requires you to cook with hard-to-find ingredients and a full spice cabinet on hand?

And, unless you just want to drop a dress size for an upcoming school reunion or other event, you probably want to find a plan that helps you make sustainable changes for a lifetime. It's easy to do something drastic for a week or even a month, but to avoid the yo-yo effect of fad dieting, you should be honest with yourself about what changes you are able and willing to make - and which ones just aren't the right fit for your personal needs, preferences, and goals.

As you consider the many popular diets offered today, how can you figure out which ones will be the best fit? Here are several criteria to keep in mind:

  • Cost. What will you pay for the diet plan? Is it a one-time investment, a monthly subscription, or some other pricing structure? Does it give you a good value for your money?
  • Time Required. How much effort will you need to put into following the diet? Are your meals premade and delivered, or should you expect to spend a lot of time in the kitchen?
  • Customer Feedback. What do "real people" have to say about their success (or lack of it) when following this diet plan? Most sites will show you their best-case results, but what can an average person expect in terms of weight loss and other health benefits?
  • Personalization. Just like clothes aren't truly one-size-fits-all, neither is dieting. Does the diet plan have a way to customize their recommendations for food, exercise, and more? Do you get any one-on-one input from a coach, nutritionist, or even through an online community of other people using the plan?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best popular diets available today. We hope this information helps you find the right plan to help you smash your weight loss goals!

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