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The Best Weight Loss Programs to Try in 2022

If you're looking to lose weight—and keep it off—these weight loss programs are your best bet.

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Are you finding yourself at the crossroads of managing your busy life but wanting to be healthy? One size does not fit all when it comes to finding the best weight-loss programs. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to figure out which program is best for you.

We are skipping the fad diets that restrict essential nutrients and are giving you our 'best picks' for weight programs that promote health, support behavior change and create sustainable lifestyle changes.

Our guide will help you select the program that is right for you and give you some guidance on how to have a safe and healthy relationship with weight management programs.

If you have underlying concerns like body dysmorphia, disordered eating or an eating disorder, please consult your doctor before beginning a weight loss program. Therapy or a more psychological approach to weight management may be needed.

Our Picks for the Best Weight Loss Programs:

Tips to Select the Best Weight Loss Program for You

According to Dan Greenwood, Ph.D., RD, a clinical nutrition expert and the former president of the Minnesota Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, all weight loss programs can help you lose weight, but their sustainability differs. To avoid weight loss program cycling or yo-yo dieting, which can have health consequences, it is crucial to find the right program. To pick the best program for you, we’d suggest the following.

Cost

What is your budget? Some programs have membership fees, require purchasing pre-packaged frozen meals and/or recommend more expensive types of food like lean proteins, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Accessibility

Can you physically obtain the food suggested by the program? Accessing food may be difficult if you live in a food desert where it is difficult to purchase fresh produce. Or do you have a disability, learning, vision, or hearing impairment that changes how you take in, process or acquire information? If so, consider programs with options like in-person consultation, video learning modules, or screen reader compatibility.

Health Literacy

You may have heard about financial literacy, but have you heard about health literacy? Health literacy is your ability to find and understand information to create informed health-related decisions and you need a certain amount of health literacy to follow many diets. For example, do you understand terms like macros or calorie density? “Health literacy is also about knowing how to prepare, store, and combine food to make nutritionally balanced meals,” says Sara Schoen, a registered dietitian and health education coordinator. Some programs offer a lot of flexibility in what you’re able to eat, but that can be confusing for people who need more guidance on which foods to eat and how to combine them. So it’s essential to consider what you need or need to learn to succeed.

Current Lifestyle

“You need to be able to integrate the changes you want to make into your current everyday life,” Schoen says. To do this, consider your current lifestyle. For example, how busy are you? Can you do the program with your kids and family? You need a program that meets you where you are at in life.

Food Triggers and Allergens

When selecting a program, it's important to identify if you have a food trigger or allergen, like gluten or dairy intolerance, says April Prunty Ph.D., RN, nurse and weight stigma expert.

Goals

“Get clear on your goals and why those are your goals. If your goal is to lose weight, ask yourself — why do you want to lose weight?” Prunty says. Having a clear sense of why you’re making a change can help you stick to a plan, even when you’re not feeling motivated. Relatedly, do you need outside accountability or social support to help you meet your goals?

Our Top Picks:

Overall Best Weight Loss Program: Noom

Consider Noom if you:

  • Need help with working on your relationship with food
  • Want a long-term lifestyle change
  • Want to lose weight safely and sustainably
  • Want a personalized program
  • Need vegan or gluten-free options

Noom aims to use a holistic and psychology-based approach to help you change your food behaviors and lose weight by offering daily learning sessions and tools to help users manage diet, stress, sleep and exercise.

(Is Noom right for your weight loss goals? Read our full review.)

You start the Noom program by completing a quiz that will calculate your daily calorie needs based on factors like sex, age and current weight. This creates your ‘calorie budget’ and a plan (around 16 weeks long) to help you achieve your goals. The calorie budget is set at the pace of losing one to two pounds per week.

Noom does not restrict any foods, but as you log your food, as required by the program, Noom labels food your food choices by color. Food is given a red, yellow or green color based on the food’s caloric density. If foods have similar caloric density like brown or white rice, Noom will recommend the whole grain option. This is to teach you which foods are better and to create appropriate portions.

  • Red means that you should be eating the food less frequently or having a smaller portion. For example, red meats, desserts, nuts and nut butters.
  • Yellow means you should proceed cautiously or only have moderate-sized proportions — for example, lean meats and starches like grilled chicken, low-fat dairy products and avocados.
  • Green means eating more of or having larger-sized proportions. For example, fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

“Any diet program is only as effective as the holistic approach it takes, Noom can help counsel you on sleep, stress reduction, and set exercise routines…While weight loss is great, changing lifestyles is preferred,” says Dan Greenwood Ph.D., RD.

Does Noom work? In a study of almost 36,000 people, 77.9% of users lost weight with Noom over nine months, with 22.7% of people losing more than 10% of their body weight. You can read more about the science supporting Noom here.

This program is not for you if you:

  • Are concerned about cost
  • Want to lose weight quickly
  • Don’t have time to track food and engage in learning sessions
  • Don’t have a smartphone or tablet

Cost: You can sign up for a free seven-day trial to test the program. Otherwise, you can select to pay month to month ($60 per month) or pick how many months you’d like to do from two to twelve (one-year membership is $16.50 per month.) Pricing includes a personal one-on-one health coach, recipes, weekly meal planning, and access to the Noom app to track weight, water, food, exercise, glucose levels and blood pressure.

Try Noom for Free

Runner-Up Best Weight Loss Program: Future

Future app

Consider Future if you:  

  • Need help creating an effective exercise plan 
  • Benefit from one-on-one support and accountability 
  • Want a cost-effective version of personal training

If you've struggled with the exercise portion of a weight loss plan in the past, the Future app might be the help you need. This app pairs you with a personal trainer, who will create customized workout plans to help you reach your goals. 

To start, you'll fill out a questionnaire that asks about your previous workout experience, current limitations, and preferences. You have the opportunity to mention any specific interests you might have (options include prenatal/postpartum health, injury prevention, and nutrition, to name a few). The app will also ask questions about what you're looking for in a coach (such as gender, energy level, intensity and more). It'll then suggest a few coaches to choose from. You can either pick one of these, or peruse the complete list of coaches to make your own choice. 

Once you're matched with a coach, they'll schedule an introductory FaceTime call to get acquainted and learn more about your goals. Then, they'll create a customized workout plan for you. You'll receive an updated plan every week, with new movements and explainers on how to do them with correct form. You'll be able to reach out to your coach at any time for clarifications, or to check in about how you're handling the workouts. If you're not sure about your form, you can even send videos of you doing the moves for feedback. 

The app does require an Apple Watch (series 3 or newer) and is currently only available for iOS. 

This program is not for you if:

  • You prefer in-person workout instruction
  • You are on a tight budget
  • You are an Android user

Cost: Future costs $149/month. While this is an investment, it's significantly cheaper than most in-person training. (According to Women's Health, coaching can range from $50-$500 per hour, depending on your instructor's location and level of experience.) If you don't love Future, you do have the option to cancel your membership within the first month for a full refund. 

Try Future Now

Best for Community Support: WW

Consider WW if you:

  • Need individual and/or social support to meet your goals
  • Want a vegan diet or vegetarian options
  • Want to lose weight sustainably and create a lifestyle change
  • Want a personalized program

Weight Watchers aims to help you lose weight by tracking points and staying within your daily point budget.

The program starts by asking you a series of questions about yourself and your lifestyle. Then it's ‘PersonalPoints Engine’ creates a personalized food list and point budget. Points are assigned per food based on protein, fiber, fats, sugar and calories. So what you can eat and how much you can eat depends on your daily point budget.

No foods are off-limits, but WW discourages eating highly processed foods or foods high in added sugar and saturated fats like candy, sugary drinks, chips and processed meats.

According to Schoen, what makes WW unique is that it focuses on community, by offering in-person and virtual group support. Members can join a 30-minute group workshop every week in-person or online, to communicate with coaches and fellow members about their roadblocks, challenges and victories. Studies have shown that community support can be helpful for diet adherence. WW also acknowledges that social factors like family, culture, and celebrations impact our diets and eating habits, so it offers a guide to dining out.

Does it work? According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, WW participants are more likely to lose weight than those who just received weight loss education.

This program is not for you if you:

  • Don’t have time to track points
  • Have a tight budget

Cost: Pricing varies and depends on which diet plan you select and the plan's duration. You can choose the: Digital ($22.95 per week), Digital + Unlimited Workshops ($44.95 per week) or the Digital + One-on-One Coaching plan ($55.95 per week). Promotions available. Be sure to read the fine print regarding startup and early termination fees. All memberships include access to the WW app.

Try WW Now 

Easiest Weight Loss Program to Follow: Nutrisystem

Consider Nutrisystem if you:

  • Don’t want to count calories
  • Need help with portion control
  • Don’t want to cook or don’t have time to grocery shop and prep meals
  • Don’t want to focus on exercise as part of your weight management journey
  • Want a program to take out all of the guesswork

Nutrisystem aims to help you lose weight by eating six (three meals, two snacks and one dessert) pre-packaged and portion-controlled meals per day.

This program uses a combination of high protein foods and low-glycemic nutrition to control hunger and steady blood sugar. The brand’s marketing claims that you have the ‘freedom to indulge,’ but it's their low-calorie version of favorite foods like waffles, burgers, pizza and ice cream sandwiches.

To get started with Nutrisystem, you first select which plan is best for you. You can select from plans designed for women, men, partners, diabetics or vegetarians. Then it will ask you some personal questions to create a plan and menu options. To simplify navigating the program, you will receive a printed guide in your first shipment that maps out what to eat and when to eat.

You will only consume Nutrisystem meals and meal replacement shakes during the first week to jump-start your weight loss journey. During the second week and thereafter, you will continue to eat Nutrisystem meals and snacks but will learn how to add some basic groceries like lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables, and fiber-rich carbs to fill out your meal plan. Once you meet your goals, transition to the Nutrisystem Success plan where you still eat some Nutrisystem foods, but also include meals on your own. Depending on your approach, you could cook dinners and all your food on weekends on your own, for example.

Does it work? According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine Nutrisystem participants are more likely to lose weight in three months than those who just receive weight loss education.

This program is not for you if you:

  • Want in-person meetings
  • Are on a tight budget
  • Are vegan
  • Have soy or peanut allergies
  • Lack freezer space

Cost: The program cost varies widely because there are many diet plans available. Special plans exist for women, men, vegetarians, diabetics and partners. Within these plans are three additional plans: ‘Basic,’ ‘Uniquely Yours’ and ‘Uniquely Yours Max.’ Plans range from starting at $9.99 per day to $14.64 per day. A ‘Complete’ six-month program is available for $1799.99 for women and $1899.99 for men. Each program includes fully prepared food, the NuMi app, weight loss coaching and free shipping. Nutrisystem also offers promotions and discounts, so costs may vary.

Try Nutrisystem Now

Best for Long-Term Adherence: Mayo Clinic Diet

Mayo Clinic Diet

Consider the Mayo Clinic Diet if you:

  • Want a sustainable lifestyle change
  • Want to develop more healthy habits
  • Want to shop, prep, and cook your meals
  • Want a variety of meal plan options
  • Don't want to count calories or points
  • Want to include exercise as part of your plan

The Mayo Clinic Diet aims to help you create a sustainable change in your diet and lifestyle by uncovering your motivation, working on habits and following the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid.

The Mayo Clinic Diet fully recognizes that weight management isn’t just about the number on the scale. It was developed by a team of experts from the Mayo Clinic. The program works to uncover your motivation so that you can overcome setbacks, optimize your personal habits, manage your stress, set appropriate goals, exercise for at least 30 minutes per day and improve your sleep hygiene.

The initial program is 12 weeks long but can extend for as long as needed. The program occurs in two phases.

  • Phase 1: Lose it! This phase is meant to jump-start weight loss and is fairly restrictive, but it only lasts two weeks. In this phase, you can’t eat out, drink alcohol, eat while watching TV, eat heavily processed foods or eat sugar that doesn't naturally come from fruit. This phase also focuses on developing key habits, including which habits to lose and keep.
  • Phase 2: Live it! This stage starts in week three and is meant to continue for life so that you can permanently meet your goal. This phase is not about cutting out foods, but about learning portions. Here you’ll learn about the importance of portion sizes, healthy food choices, menu planning and exercise.

The program uses the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid to help users make better food choices. At the base of the pyramid are fruits and vegetables, then whole grains, protein and dairy, fats and then sweets at the top. The program focuses on eating more foods from the bottom of the pyramid, stating you can have unlimited fruits and vegetables.

Using the pyramid, the Mayo Clinic Program has developed five meal plans or menus to choose from: the Original Mayo Clinic Diet, Higher Protein, Healthy Keto (think traditional high-fat, low-carb keto, but with the addition of vegetables, berries and some beans), Vegetarian and Mediterranean.

Does it work? The only research about the Mayo Clinic Diet comes from the Mayo Clinic and it hasn’t yet been published. However, the diet is rooted in research and clinical experience and the principles behind the diet have been shown to cause weight loss and have other health benefits.

Cost: The program's cost depends on how long of membership you select. You can sign up for a month-to-month ($49.99 per month) membership, a three-month membership plan ($39.99 per month), a six-month membership plan ($29.99 per month) or a twelve-month plan ($19.99 per month). It also offers promotions and discounts, so pricing may vary. All memberships receive the same benefits. You can also purchase the Mayo Clinic Diet book for $27.99.

Try the Mayo Clinic Diet Now

Best for Fighting High Blood Pressure: DASH Diet

Consider the DASH Diet if you:

  • Want to specifically address heart concerns by lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Don’t want to pay membership fees
  • Desire an overall more healthy way of eating
  • Want to improve overall health, not just lose weight
  • Want a program approved by the American Heart Association

The DASH diet aims to help you use commonly found food to create a nutritional diet that supports heart health.

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet, or DASH, is a proven and consistently recommended program to lower blood pressure. The program uses foods commonly found at your grocery store and has online tools to help you get started. The first step is determining your daily calorie goals based on your sex, age and activity level. Your caloric goals then determine how many servings of each food you should include in your diet.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says the DASH diet focuses on eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, reduced-fat dairy products, poultry, beans, nuts and fish. The DASH diet limits sodium, sweets, sugary drinks, and food high in saturated fat like some meats, high-fat dairy and some oils. No food is technically restricted; it is more about making healthier choices.

Does it work? Multiple studies have shown that the DASH diet can also help you lose weight, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

This diet is not for you if you:

  • Don’t want to cook
  • Don’t want a self-guided approach to weight management

Cost: You can access information about the diet and print out guides for free, but food costs will vary depending on where you live. You can also purchase DASH-specific cookbooks from several authors.

Try the DASH Diet Now

Best for Mostly Plant-Based Eaters: Flexitarian Diet

Flexitarian diet

Consider the Flexitarian Diet if you:

  • Desire a predominantly vegetarian diet
  • Don’t want to pay membership fees
  • Want an environmentally friendly diet
  • Don’t want to count calories
  • Are looking to reduce the amount of meat you eat

The Flexitarian diet aims to help you lose weight by eating a primarily plant-based diet with some meat.

Also known as a semi-vegetarian diet, the Flexitarian diet is predominantly vegetarian but includes meat or fish around three times a week. If you consume meat and fish, it should be wild-caught fish or organic, free-range, grass-fed beef or poultry. No food is technically off-limits, but sugary drinks and highly processed foods should be limited.

The Flexitarian diet falls within Greenwood’s recommendation of eating five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Basically, every time you eat, you should include fruit or vegetables. He also says that a bonus to the Flexitarian diet is that reducing meat intake is environmentally friendly.

Does it work? In addition to helping with weight loss, the Flexitarian diet can reduce blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

This program is not for you if you:

  • Don’t want a self-guided approach to weight management
  • Don’t want to cook
  • React strongly to a high-fiber diet

Cost: There is no official Flexitarian diet resource, but you can find diet guidance for free online. Fresh produce can be more expensive, but cutting back on meat may help save money as vegetarian protein like Tufo is cheaper than meat.

Try the Flexitarian diet (Free)

Best for Flexibility: Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean Diet

Consider the Mediterranean Diet if you:

  • Enjoy food prep and cooking
  • Don’t want to pay membership fees
  • Have a desire for a long-term lifestyle change
  • Want a program approved by the American Heart Association

The Mediterranean diet aims to help you improve health by eating large amounts of plant-based food, fish, and olive oil.

The Mediterranean diet is based on the eating habits from a few areas within the Mediterranean. It’s very flexible—people who follow this diet can expect to eat a lot of plant-based foods and consume unsaturated fats, or healthy fats, instead of saturated fats.

According to the American Heart Association, the diet is typically characterized by using olive oil as the primary source of fat, choosing fish and poultry over red meat, eating fruit as dessert, eating cheese and yogurt daily, and eating more plant-based foods and whole grains that are locally sourced. The Mediterranean is also one of the few diets that includes red wine as part of the program. While no food is off-limits, highly processed foods should be avoided.

The Harvard Medical School has a great resource on how to bring the Mediterranean diet to your plate, including switching out a processed snack for a handful of nuts, switching your cooking oils to olive oil and beginning or ending each meal with a salad.

Does it work? The Mediterranean diet can help people lose weight, reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's, and lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

This program is not for you if you:

  • Don’t want a self-guided approach to weight management
  • Don’t want to cook

Cost: There is no official Mediterranean diet resource but you can find free diet guidance online. You can also purchase diet-specific cookbooks from several authors.

Try the Mediterranean Diet Now

Best for Pre-Made Food: Jenny Craig

Consider Jenny Craig if you:

  • Don’t have a lot of time to shop or prepare meals
  • Don’t want to count calories
  • Need help with portion control
  • Want to continue to eat popular foods like pasta, pizza, cupcakes, and ice cream.

The Jenny Craig diet uses pre-packaged portion-controlled food to help you cut calories and lose weight.

Like WW, Jenny Craig also has brick-and-mortar locations all around the US. However, Jenny Craig does not offer group meetings. Instead, Jenny Craig focuses on one-on-one sessions with consultants to help you meet your goals.

The program has three stages. The first stage lasts one week and you only eat Jenny Craig food. During the second stage, starting at week two and ending once you meet your weight loss goal, you transition into eating more home-prepared meals and snacks. Once you meet your goal you move into the third stage, the weight maintenance stage. Over the course of four weeks a consultant will help you set a new calorie goal and reduce the the number of Jenny Craig meals you eat per day to just one Jenny Craig meal and snack.

During the program, you eat six times a day — three meals, two snacks and one dessert. You only eat from 8 am to 8 pm and fast throughout the night.

Jenny Craig foods are made with ‘high-quality ingredients for a healthier lifestyle’ and include common foods like lasagna, pizza, cupcakes and ice cream. Each meal is 300 calories or less and meets your nutritional needs without using high-fructose corn syrup, MSG, artificial colors, sweeteners and trans-fat.

Does Jenny Craig work? In a study looking at commercial diet plans, participants who did Jenny Craig had more sustained weight loss at twelve months than did people in the control group.

This program is not for you if you:

  • Enjoy eating out frequently. You can only eat Jenny Craig food, fresh fruit, veggies, and reduced-fat dairy in the first stage.
  • Are vegan
  • Have a tight budget
  • Need a community support system
  • Lack freezer space

Cost: There are three plans available: The ‘Simple’ plan starts at $13.99 per day, the ‘Essential’ plan starts at $21.99 per day and the ‘Max Up’ plan starts at $29.00 per day. The ‘Max Up’ plan will give you a week of food, activity plans, and personal coaching. There is also an additional monthly membership fee to access a consultant. Promotions and discounts are available, so pricing may vary.

Try Jenny Craig Now

Are Weight Loss Programs Bad for You?

It depends.

While a healthy diet is for everyone, not all programs suit everyone. You should consult with a ​​nutritionist or registered dietitian prior to making any drastic changes to your diet or exercise regimen. People who are pregnant or nursing, have a history of disordered eating or body dysmorphia or are diabetic, especially insulin-dependent, should work closely with a primary care provider before starting a weight loss program.

What if Food Insecurity Is an Issue?

According to the US Department of Agriculture, in 2020, 10.5 percent of US households were food insecure or had difficulty accessing enough food for their families. If you are experiencing food insecurity, need help meeting your daily dietary needs or need help getting connected with resources, Schoen recommends reaching out to your local clinic or food shelf to connect with resources in your area.

What Are the Best Weight Loss Programs For Women?

The best weight loss programs are effective for both men and women; however, most women have hormonal changes that can cause weight gain or make shedding extra weight more difficult. If weight loss programs aren't producing the results you're looking for, work with your OB/GYN or primary physician to identify any hormonal imbalances or medications that may be hindering your weight loss goals.

How to Have a Healthy Relationship with Weight Loss Programs

A healthy relationship and understanding of weight management programs is important so that you avoid yo-yo dieting and weight cycling. Our experts have some great tips to help you:

Pick a program that meets you where you are.

“Engage with a program that reflects your personal preferences and things or food you enjoy,” says Prunty. This also means that you should prioritize accessibility. “Programs are only as helpful and sustainable as their accessibility,” says Schoen. Not being able to access the food or information you want or need may also cause unnecessary stress.

Reframe your perspective on food.

“Recognize that food is not the enemy; food sustains life,” says Prunty. Reframing how we view food and the role of food has in our lives changes our perception of food from a negative transaction, to a positive transaction. Greenwood adds that “food is one only piece of health.”

Relatedly, “avoid fad diet plans that completely restrict food groups,” Prunty says. “You need to understand what it means to cut food groups.” For example, unless you are lactose intolerant, completely restricting dairy products can greatly reduce your intake of calcium, a critical mineral for bone health.

Challenge your relationship with your weight.

“Don’t let weight be something you think about every time you take a bite. You are more than what the scale says,” comments Dr. Greenwood. Weight is influenced by many factors so it is important to approach weight management holistically and to think about how your stress and sleep are impacting your health.

The Takeaway

You may have noticed a theme: The best diet programs function on the basic premise of fewer calories, portion control and increasing fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins while limiting sweets, sugary drinks and highly processed food. To optimize your health, supplement your weight loss journey with stress management, sleep hygiene and physical activity. There is not a one size fits all weight loss program, so understanding yourself and your bodily needs is important in choosing the best diet program that is right for you.

Prices are accurate and items in stock at time of publishing.

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