Everything You Need to Know About Weight Loss Programs ― Including Which Is Best for You

If you need to lose weight, you may be thinking about trying a weight loss program.

Following a weight loss program can be the most effective way to lose weight in the short term, but the best weight loss programs also offer long-term benefits beyond quick weight loss.

The most successful weight loss programs help you develop a deeper understanding of nutrition and healthy lifestyle habits that serve you and your health for life.

But how do you know which is the most effective weight loss program? Will an online weight loss program work? Should you choose a physician’s weight loss program … look for the fastest weight loss program … or opt for a healthy food program?

This post is intended to help you:

  • Know what to look for in a successful weight loss program
  • Clear up confusion over differences in weight loss programs
  • Understand how the best at home weight loss programs work
  • Review some of the highest rated weight loss programs

11 elements of a successful weight loss program

When you’re researching weight loss programs, the Internet is a good place to start. There’s a lot of information about weight loss programs online. But the mistake most people make is starting with a search for the “best weight loss program.” The truth is, it’s impossible to say which weight loss program is best.

At Ambra Bio, we don’t claim that our program, The LOVIDIA Way, is the best weight loss program for everyone. Weight loss is extremely personal. Every person loses weight differently, and the weight loss program that works best for your husband, your sister or your best friend may not work well for you.

So, the real question isn’t what’s the best weight loss program, but what’s the best weight loss program for me? And the answer usually comes down to which program has the features and philosophy that will make it the easiest weight loss program for you to adopt and live with.

We’ll delve into personal factors to consider when choosing between programs and help you sort through differences in the best rated weight loss programs in the following sections. But first, here is a quick checklist of some underlying elements that all of the most effective weight loss programs have in common.

  1. Realistic expectations

Avoid any “rapid weight loss program” that make too-good-to-be-true claims such as, “Lose 30 pounds in 30 days.” You’ll just be setting yourself up for disappointment. Better to choose a program that sets realistic expectations for your weight loss results — usually 1 to 2 pounds per week (though your weight loss may be faster at the start of a program) or 5 to 10 percent of your starting weight within 6 months.

  1. Ease and convenience

The number-one reason people “give up” on weight loss programs before reaching their goals is not lack of willpower ― it’s because they’ve chosen a program that’s inconvenient or difficult to follow. They’re too busy to keep up, or they just get tired of doing everything that’s expected of them, whether it’s measuring portions, counting points or going to meetings.

In general, the “best weight loss program for me” is usually the easiest weight loss program for you to fit into your life. That’s one reason why at home weight loss programs, and online weight loss programs in particular, are the best choice for many people.

However, convenience can be a double-edged sword. For example, while programs that use prepackaged meals are convenient and easy to follow, they also can be monotonous. Which leads us to …

  1. Freedom of choice

You are bound to fail at any extreme weight loss program that forces you to constantly fight cravings and hunger or is so monotonous that you feel bored or dissatisfied.

The best weight loss program is one that’s easy to stick with in terms of allowing you to eat foods you enjoy ― one that offers a satisfying menu with a range of food options and advocates sensible eating habits, with small changes and smart substitutions you can live with comfortably for the long haul.

  1. Strong educational component

Following a healthy nutrition program for weight loss will help you develop a deeper understanding of how your body burns food for fuel and how different types of foods and food combinations affect your metabolism and impact weight gain and weight loss.

The goals of any nutrition program for weight loss should be to imbue you with a better instinctive sense of healthy food choices and portion size so that you can eventually know how to live and eat in a healthy way without relying on a weight loss program.

  1. Focus on overall health

The most effective weight loss programs focus on your overall health and lifestyle habits, not just what or how much you eat. Seek out a program that pays attention to the role of sleep, stress management and daily exercise in weight loss and weight management.

  1. Customizable

Losing weight is not a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits all undertaking. You are unique, and the weight loss diet program you choose should be flexible enough to suit your personality, overall health, any medical conditions you have or medications you take, your food and exercise preferences, and your goals.

When considering a weight loss program, you’ll have to ask yourself questions such as:

  • Do you prefer an online weight loss program?
  • How much and what sorts of exercise do you enjoy?
  • Are there health concerns that will prevent you from following a particular food or eating regimen?
  1. Personal coaching/support

Riding a bike is easy … once you know how. But when you were a child, chances are that someone had to show you how to do it, someone who held the seat and guided you down the street before letting go.

Learning to think, eat and live like a thin person really is a skill, and mastering any new skill is light years easier when you have the support and guidance of someone who knows what they are doing. That’s why the best online weight loss programs now offer personal coaching as either standard feature or at least an optional choice. A coach can guide you down the street until you’re ready to “ride” on your own, providing personalized advice on diet and exercise as well as much-needed motivation when the going gets rough.

  1. Safe to follow

No amount of weight loss is worth risking your long-term health. Be sure to speak with your doctor before beginning a weight loss diet program so he or she can determine if you are healthy enough to change your eating patterns and exercise habits.

Your doctor should also review the details of the program to make sure it won’t aggravate any existing medical condition you have such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, or interfere with medications you’re taking.

Keep in mind that the fastest weight loss program is seldom the safest weight loss program. Everyone wants to lose weight as fast as possible, but losing weight too fast carries serious health risks, and rapid weight loss programs have inherent dangers, from nutritional deficiency to gallstones.

The safest weight loss program always stresses gradual weight loss, not quick results. Losing weight too quickly is not only dangerous, it also virtually assures you will put the weight back on. Which leads us to …

  1. Sustainable for the long-term

If you’ve been on a quick weight loss program in the past, you are probably familiar with the dreaded rebound effect.

You may lose weight, but at one point, any extreme diet becomes unlivable, and when you start eating “normally” after your metabolism has adjusted to a crash diet, you are prone to gaining back all the weight you lost … and then some.

When you lose weight gradually, you have a much higher likelihood of reaching your goals and keeping the weight off. That’s why you should choose a program that does not require unrealistic food restrictions you find unappealing or force you to starve yourself.

  1. Based on solid nutritional science

It seems like every few months, another new fad diet lights up the Internet. We’ve seen the Cookie Diet, the 5 Bite Diet, the Master Cleanse (Lemonade) Diet, the Baby Food Diet, the Cabbage Soup Diet, the Grapefruit Diet and even the Cotton Ball and Tapeworm Diets.

What’s wrong with eating a tapeworm or cotton balls soaked in orange juice? Well, not only is it extremely dangerous ― there’s also zero scientific evidence that it helps you lose weight. Any serious weight loss program is based in nutritional science that follows the basic weight loss recipe of balanced nutrition, calorie restriction and regular exercise to create a calorie deficit.

  1. Proven results

When deciding on a nutrition program for weight loss, don’t rely on a program’s website or marketing materials. Check to see if the company has conducted clinical trials to study the effectiveness of the program and whether they’ve published the results in peer-reviewed, scientific journals. Look for how much weight the average person loses and how long they keep the weight off.

What’s the best weight loss program for me?

Answering the question, “Which weight loss program will work for me?” requires a bit of soul searching. In addition to the specifics of a particular weight loss program ― the features and food options associated with a weight loss diet program ― there are also a slew of personal factors to consider, including:

  1. How much weight you want to lose
  2. How long you are willing to keep at it
  3. Your personal motivation/reason for wanting to lose weight and the strength of your desire
  4. Any medical conditions you have or medications you are taking that might impact your results or be affected by the requirements of a weight loss program
  5. Your food preferences and ability/willingness to adjust your eating habits
  6. Your exercise habits

6 questions to ask when evaluating weight loss programs

Beginning a weight loss diet program should not be an impulse decision, and you don’t want to dive in blindly. People often believe they’ve “failed” on weight loss programs because they lacked willpower or because of some flaw in the program itself, but the truth is that the number-one reason people don’t have success on a weight loss program because the program simply wasn’t the best choice for that particular individual.

So, choosing the weight loss program that’s right for you is the first priority. Here are some questions to help you zero in on the program that’s best for you:

  1. What food can I eat, and will I be happy eating this way?

You’ll need to make sure the program lines up with your personality and food preferences ― for example, whether you would rather eat packaged foods, follow a meal plan, or get general guidance on nutrition while making your own choices about what to eat.

There are certain benefits and advantages to weight loss programs that offer packaged foods. Everything is perfectly portioned, taking away all the guesswork ― but these types of programs also are often boring and expensive. You have to ask yourself if you’re prepared for the monotony of eating microwaved meals for the next three months, six months, or however long it takes to reach your weight loss goal.

  1. Will it be easy/convenient for me to follow?

As a health and wellness company, we’ve seen so many people burn out on programs that are too complicated. When people start out on a weight loss program, they are full of hope and enthusiasm, ready to take on any task, whether it’s prepping and measuring our food, going to meetings or counting points. But by week three, they’re tired of dealing with the “grunt work.”

That’s why we designed our program, The LOVIDIA Way, to avoid both the monotony and drudgery typically associated with healthy food programs for weight loss.

Unlike diets that force you to eliminate certain foods altogether or restrict how many calories you consume every day, the LOVIDIA Way simplifies weight loss with “Eat-Less Days” where you eat one-third of the calories you normally eat. But no foods are off limits, and you always get to enjoy at least one “normal eating” day between Eat-Less Days.

Based on nutritional science, we’ve found this approach to be both a safe and effective way to lose weight, as well as a program that is convenient and easy to stick with.

  1. Is it safe for me?

When reviewing weight loss programs, follow the mantra of health care providers around the world: “First, do no harm.” If something seems potentially unsafe, trust your instinct rather than falling for the hype.

Look at the 5 Bite Diet, for example. The basic premise is that you can eat anything you want, as long as you don’t eat more than five bites of it. So, in theory, you could eat cake for breakfast and pizza for lunch, as long as you eat small portions.

This is obviously an extremely flawed approach that has a high risk of nutritional deficiency. When you restrict calories, you absolutely have to strive for nutritional balance. That’s why the safest weight loss programs focus on are based in nutritional science and emphasize eating nutrient-dense foods.

  1. Does it offer the level of support that’s best for me?

One of the most often-overlooked and undervalued features of weight loss programs that more and more people are coming to recognize as indispensable is personal coaching.

Whether it be one-on-one, online, over the phone, or in a group setting, studies have shown that people tend to stick with a program longer and are more successful in reaching their weight loss goals when they have counseling and support.

Unfortunately, not many commercial weight loss programs offer personal coaching. For example, most meal delivery programs don’t have any coaching or counseling component. Members are left to “go it alone.”

Other programs, such as Weight Watchers, offer coaching, but only as an upgrade at an additional cost. At Ambra Bio, we feel so strongly about the positive impact of personal coaching the we made one-on-one coaching sessions a standard feature of The LOVIDIA Way.

  1. How much will it cost?

To some extent, the program you choose will depend on what you can afford and how much you are willing to spend to reach your goals.

When beginners look at weight loss programs, they often look at only the initial or week-to-week cost of the program. Don’t make that rookie mistake. Instead, look at the total cost, from beginning to when you reach your goals. Be sure to check for any optional fees such as membership fees, meetings, meals and snacks, coaching and counseling, and online support.

With The LOVIDIA Way, everything is included in one monthly price. We want to make sure customers are getting the “full program” so they can get the best results possible.

  1. Where’s the proof that it’s effective?

Weight loss programs are full of promises. They know that people who are struggling with their weight are easy prey for bloated claims like, “Lose 15 pounds in 3 weeks.” In theory, weight loss program beginners could actually lose as much as 5 pounds a week, depending on how much water their bodies have stored up.

But what you really want to know is how successful people have been at reaching their goals and keeping weight off long term. Look for published results from clinical trials. A good weight loss program should be able to offer evidence that it is effective at promoting slow, steady, sustainable weight loss.

Also check to make sure clinical trials used the base program. Popular weight loss programs will sometimes sponsor studies where they give participants benefits such as one-on-one counseling that aren’t part of their standard programs.

Read the results of The LOVIDIA Way clinical trial.

What about online weight loss programs?

Online weight loss programs can be extremely effective. We shop online, pay bills online, work online, and stay in touch with family and friends online, so it only makes sense that we would also lose weight online.

Most people enjoy the convenience of being able to access information 24/7, without having to schedule appointments or travel to meetings.

With an online weight loss program, you can lose weight on your schedule and your terms. Answers are always just a click away, whether you’re preparing dinner at home, eating at a restaurant, shopping at the grocery store, or wherever you are.

Hybrid programs like The LOVIDIA Way that combine online access with personal coaching are especially effective because they offer the best of all worlds ― instant access from anywhere, at any time, coupled with one-one-one counseling and guidance.

For more information, read our dedicated post on online weight loss programs.

A review of popular weight loss programs

It may be helpful for you to see key features of some of the best-rated weight loss programs side by side, so you can assess which fit best with your personality and preferences. Here’s a review of how some popular at home weight loss programs work:

Weight Watchers

  • Foods and beverages are assigned “SmartPoints” values
  • Members can eat what they want, but stick to a daily points target based on their gender, weight, height and age
  • Exercise is not a must, but members are encouraged to earn “FitPoints” through exercise
  • Base membership includes the online-only program
  • Members can upgrade, for an additional cost, to include meetings and/or personal coaching
  • Several studies suggest Weight Watchers is more effective for weight loss than “self-help” approaches  

Atkins

  • Restricts consumption of sugars and simple carbohydrates such as white bread, potatoes and rice
  • Members buy packaged, low-carb meal kits, frozen meals, shakes, bars and treats
  • Does not cover lifestyle aspects that influence weight such as sleep, stress and exercise
  • No coaching available
  • A review of clinical trials suggest “limited” effectiveness and “modest” weight loss

Nutrisystem

  • Focuses on lean protein, high-fiber foods and low-glycemic carbs
  • Members buy “perfectly portioned” packaged breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks and eat six times a day ― a small meal or snack every two to three hours
  • Does not cover lifestyle aspects that influence weight such as sleep, stress and exercise
  • No coaching available

The LOVIDIA Way

  • All customers get personalized coaching as an included feature
  • Coaches provide individual guidance to help customers reach their weight loss goals and adopt new lifestyle habits that will benefit their overall health
  • No foods are off limits; instead, the program emphasizes smart food choices, healthy food swaps, and “Eat-Less Days”
  • Up to several days a week, customers eat only about one-third of their typical daily caloric intake
  • To avoid monotony and resetting basal metabolic rate, customers always get to enjoy at least one “normal eating day” between Eat-Less Days
  • Lovidia Hunger-Control Supplements, bars and hearts reduce hunger and cravings to improve program adherence
  • Proven effective in a clinical trial to reduce body weight, as well as improve blood pressure and key metabolic factors

As you can see from just these few examples, there are both similarities in the way the highest rated weight loss programs work as well as significant differences.

Are weight loss programs effective?

Most popular commercial weight loss programs are effective and safe ways to lose weight ― at least in the short term ― as long as you strictly follow the guidelines of a program.

However, you have to keep in mind that people seldom achieve the kinds of results promised in advertising for even the most effective weight loss programs. The before-and-after pictures used in weight loss diet program advertising are “best case scenarios” ― outliers whose results have far exceeded what is typical for dieters on a weight loss program.

A review of clinical trials involving four popular commercial weight loss programs ― Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers and Zone ― suggested that their efficacy/effectiveness was “limited” and that weight loss was “modest.”

What’s more, the numbers used in advertising for rapid weight loss programs are based on people who have been monitored and counseled by the company every step of the way and have not deviated one scintilla from the guidelines of the program. Again, this is not typical. Most people don’t have the benefit of constant guidance and will struggle along the way with any weight loss food program ― which is perfectly okay. But most of us shouldn’t expect to get the optimal results highlighted in advertising designed to show a weight loss program is effective.

In other words, weight loss programs are effective, but they aren’t always as effective as they are billed to be because weight loss companies have made a calculated risk that it is more profitable to over-promise and under-deliver.

And that is really too bad, because it leaves dieters feeling let down, frustrated, or even like failures when they don’t see the rapid, dramatic results they were promised.

The bottom line: For a weight loss program to be effective, you have to be patient, commit yourself, and stick with it.

Why weight loss programs don’t work

There are several reasons why weight loss programs don’t work.

Be wary of any program that makes you spend hours upon hours juicing, blending, sprouting, cutting, chopping and rehydrating food!

In general, it is best to avoid any “rapid weight loss program” that relies on extreme measures such as juice cleanses or banning entire food groups to deliver fast results.

The fastest weight loss program is not always the safest weight loss program, and programs that focus on short-term results seldom are the best for keeping weight off.

Many studies have found that strict food and calorie restrictions that make rapid weight loss programs work often lead to intense cravings and feelings of hunger and deprivation, making it difficult to stick with a program long-term. As a result, even the best healthy weight loss programs have a high burnout rate.

That’s why The LOVIDIA Way is built around the our advanced-formula supplement, Lovidia Hunger Control to significantly reduce both hunger and food cravings associated with calorie-restricted eating. By making weight loss more comfortable, Lovidia Hunger Control makes it easier to stick with your program, reach your goal weight, and begin a new, healthier life.

It’s also the reason why The LOVIDIA Way includes personal coaching with one-on-one motivation and support. Your LOVIDIA Way weight loss coach can walk you through the program step by step and offer personalized guidance to ensure you reach your goal in the safest, fastest way possible.

A coach will:

  • listen to you
  • challenge you
  • keep you focused
  • give you direction
  • help you discover solutions to any challenges you encounter

When you have someone who really believes in you and wants the best for you, you will move forward faster.

The final reason why weight loss programs fail is that they don’t give you the tools and knowledge you need to eat and live to maintain a healthy weight.

Programs that rely on making people eat packaged foods for short-term weight loss results often lack the educational component necessary to help customers learn how to eat to maintain their weight loss once they inevitably leave the program. You can’t expect to eat pre-portioned microwave meals for the rest of your life ― it’s unpleasant and expensive.

That’s why the most effective weight loss programs like The LOVIDIA Way have a strong educational component, so there will come a day when you don’t need the program! Isn’t that the ultimate goal ― to make a healthy lifestyle a matter of habit?

To review, the most common reasons why weight loss programs don’t work include:

  • Intense cravings
  • Feelings of hunger and deprivation
  • Slower-than-promised weight loss
  • No coaching/lack of motivation and support
  • Too expensive to stick with long-term
  • Inadequate education

Talking to your doctor about weight loss

Before you undertake a major lifestyle change like beginning a weight loss program, you should discuss your options with your physician or health care provider.

You may need to initiate this conversation! A recent study found that, for a number of reasons, patients’ weight-related issues often go undiagnosed and untreated. Your health is too important to ignore. If your doctor hasn’t brought up your weight, you need to take control.

Make an appointment specifically to discuss your desire to lose weight. During your visit, your doctor can determine your body mass index (BMI) to see whether you’re overweight or have obesity, and then review a weight loss management program.

Write out your questions and concerns and bring them to your appointment. Items you’ll want to talk about include:

  • Whether any medical conditions you have or medications you take may be causing you to gain weight or make it difficult for you to lose weight
  • Whether you have any health-related dietary restrictions that would conflict with a particular weight loss program or make a weight loss food program unsafe for you
  • Whether there are any types or amounts of exercise you should avoid because of your health

Where to go from here: next steps

Now that you have a good understanding of the differences between popular weight loss programs, you can decide which at home weight loss program will work best for you.

If you’re ready to get started, you can learn more about The Lovidia Way.

As noted above, we recommend that you speak with your doctor of health care professional before undertaking a major lifestyle change such as starting a weight loss program, so you can understand how losing weight may affect your health.

You also will find more information on weight loss programs in the related posts below:

2018-11-07T13:44:15+00:00

About the Author:

Matt is a Los Angeles-based writer with more than 25 years’ experience researching and creating articles on health, fitness and nutrition topics.