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Best Weight Loss Programs

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by JJ Virgin Weight Loss Programs Contributing Editor

All weight loss programs claim to get results, and many of them do. For most people, the journey is easier with weight loss tools like full, healthy meal plans, prepackaged foods, personalized coaching and online support. Compare diet requirements and motivating weight loss tools to find the program for you.

Compare Reviews for Top Weight Loss Programs

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Nutrisystem
Read 3,881 Reviews

Provides meal programs for weight loss starting at $10.18 to $13.93 a day. Clients typically lose 13 to 15 pounds in the first month, then 1 to 2 pounds a week. Includes weight loss support app, NuMi.

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Beachbody
Read 483 Reviews

Provides healthy weight loss programs with fitness instruction starting at $39 for a three-month program. Includes easy-to-follow meal plans, recipes, fitness guides and workout calendars. Lose up to 15 pounds in three weeks.

toll freenumber(800) 870-0427
Noom
Read 11 Reviews

Provides weight loss recipes, personalized diet coaching and community support through weight loss app for $45 a month. Offers a 14-day free trial period. No specific food restrictions. About 80% of users report weight loss.

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WW (Weight Watchers)
Read 2,622 Reviews

Offers personal weight loss programs starting at around $3 a week. Provides in-person or online coaching. Access recipes and track progress with points system. Lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. Gives a free seven-day trial.

The Mayo Clinic Diet

Provides health weight loss programs with diet app for $5 a week. Offers free seven-day trial period. Expect to lose 6 to 10 pounds in the first two weeks, then 1 to 2 pounds each week after.

Jenny Craig
Read 508 Reviews

Delivers prepackaged meals for weight loss starting at around $15 a day. Dieters typically lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. Find weight loss support and inspiration with a dedicated personal consultant through app.

Slim-Fast
Read 97 Reviews

Weight loss smoothies and shakes intended to replace one to two meals a day. Costs about $75 a month. Find keto, gluten-free and diabetic weight loss formulas online and at national retailers.

Medifast
Read 313 Reviews

Choose from three diet programs priced from $323 to $460 a month. Expect to lose 2 to 5 pounds a week. Plans come with protein-packed meals and snacks with optional smoothies, shakes and bars.

LA Weight Loss Center
Read 266 Reviews

Pick from three weight loss plans that include breakfast meals, meal replacements, properly portioned snack bars and dietary supplements. Priced at $307.40 to $438.25 per month, with 40% to 50% discounts for regular auto shipment.

Herbalife
Read 219 Reviews

Offers weight-management programs starting at around $120. Products include nutritional meal replacement shakes, herbal tea concentrates and other supplements to support losing weight. Available through independent dealers.

BioSlim
Read 128 Reviews

Offers a 30-day supply of herbal diet pills starting at $89.85. Intended to supplement prescribed diet and exercise plans. Weight reduction program results vary.

Personal Trainer Food
Read 125 Reviews

Delivers prepackaged meals for weight loss starting at around $19 a day. Weight reduction program includes guidance from diet coaches and community support groups. Typical weight loss is 2 to 4 pounds a week.

bistroMD
Read 40 Reviews

Delivers weight loss meals starting at around $20 a day. Lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. Gluten-free, diabetic, menopause and heart health meal programs available. Includes support through online weight management programs.

Diet-to-Go
Read 9 Reviews

Delivers prepackaged meals for weight loss starting at $121.99 a week. Expect to lose 1 to 3 pounds each week. Provides vegetarian, diabetic and keto options. Meal programs for weight loss include diet analysis and coaching.

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Orgain

Offers protein shakes, powders and bars designed for weight loss and everyday nutrition. Vegan and dairy-based organic protein powders start at $2.99 per single-serving packet or $29.99 for a larger canister.

Dukan Diet
Read Expert Review

Offers weight loss plans and coaching for $29.99 a month. Includes access to nutritionists and unlimited motivational support. Clients typically lose 4 to 7 pounds in the first 10 days on this high-protein, low-carb diet.

Optavia
Read Expert Review

Delivers weight loss meal plans that start at around $400 a month. Clients typically lose about 12 pounds in 12 weeks. Reduction programs include an online diet, exercise coach and weekly community support calls.

Optifast
Read Expert Review

Provides medically supervised weight reduction programs starting at around $20 a day. Patients lose up to 30 pounds in 26 weeks with diet shakes, bars, soups and supplements. Offers free weight loss consultations.

South Beach Diet
Read Expert Review

Provides high-protein, low-carb and low-sugar meals starting at around $10 to $13 a day. Clients typically lose up to 6 pounds in the first week, then 1 to 2 pounds a week after. Provides free diet analysis.

What is a weight loss program?

A weight loss program is a regimen for diet and exercise. The best diet program for weight loss helps you achieve healthy lifestyle changes and provides guidance on food and nutrition to support short- and long-term weight management.

How do weight loss programs work?

Weight loss programs offer guidance and support based on your personal dieting goals and nutritional needs. The most effective weight loss programs often require more homework but provide a better fit than one-size-fits-all plans.

  • Guidance on food and nutrition: Ask yourself if you want the bulk of your diet to be frozen meals and prepackaged snacks or if you prefer the flexibility of cooking meals and occasionally eating out. Diet plans sometimes rely on meal replacement shakes to provide healthy nutrition. Some weight loss programs, such as Medifast and Nutrisystem, deliver frozen entrees and prepackaged snacks for easy portion control. Others create personalized meal plans and provide recipes for dieters to cook themselves.
  • Exercise requirements: Dieters have the most weight loss success when a healthy meal plan is combined with an exercise routine. Some weight loss plans focus entirely on diet, but most safe weight loss programs incorporate exercise directives and lifestyle strategies that naturally speed up your metabolism, which helps you lose weight and keep it off.
  • Weight loss support: The easiest weight loss programs include community support. Regularly connecting with fellow dieters helps many people stay motivated. Online and in-person workshops and forums are also a great way to find new dieting tips and learn about weight management tools.

Some weight loss programs rely on mobile applications for meal planning, counseling and support, while others provide in-person workshops. In-person group meetings are regularly scheduled at community centers or businesses. Participants can engage in group discussions, breakaway groups or one-on-one sessions with other members or program counselors to discuss realistic weight loss goals.

Types of diets to lose weight

What works for one dieter doesn't always work for another, which makes it tricky to find the right diet for you. For many people, the first step to finding the healthiest weight loss program is having an honest conversation with their health care provider. A doctor or nutritionist can help you decide if a low-carb and high-protein diet, low-fat and low-calorie diet, plant-based diet or meal replacement diet is the best personal weight loss program for you.

High-protein, low-carb diets
High-protein, low-carb diets replace starches and sugar with lean protein. Cutting carbs and sugar works because it tricks your body into burning fat for energy, which causes weight loss. Some of the most popular low-carb diet plans include Atkins, South Beach Diet, The Dukan Diet, FODMAP, paleo and keto weight loss programs. Diet plan reviews typically indicate that carbohydrate-restricted diets can be very effective for short-term weight loss, but it can be difficult to sustain long-term results using them.

Low-carb, high-protein foods

  • Chicken
  • Salmon
  • Avocado
  • Eggs
  • Leafy green veggies
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Peas
  • Green yogurt
  • Protein bars

Foods to avoid

  • Processed meats
  • Grains
  • Pasta
  • Legumes
  • Cereal
  • Corn
  • Potatoes
  • Bananas
  • Beer
  • Juice
  • Soda

What diet advocates think: Diet plans low in carbohydrates and high in protein are excellent for people who want to change their overall eating habits. Eating high-protein foods also protects against muscle loss and increases your metabolic rate, which in turn increases calories burned. According to a 2018 obesity treatment study, side effects of a low-carb diet can include halitosis, headache and constipation.

Low-fat, low-calorie diets
Most low-fat, low-calorie dieters eat 800 to 1,200 calories per day and limit dietary fat to fewer than 50 grams. Some low-fat diet plans completely eliminate trans fats as well. Popular low-calorie and low-fat diet plans include Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), Ornish, Health Management Resources (HMR), WW, Volumetrics and The Biggest Loser diets.

Low-fat, low-cal foods

  • Lean meats
  • Whole grains
  • Fruits
  • Fish
  • Mushrooms
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Apples
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Oats

Foods to avoid

  • Oils
  • Butter
  • Mayonnaise
  • Fatty meats
  • Cheese
  • Chocolate
  • Packaged sweets
  • Fast food
  • White bread
  • Peanut butter
  • Flavored yogurt
  • Fruit juices
  • Alcohol

What diet advocates think: Some weight loss studies indicate that low-fat diets are less effective for rapid weight loss than low-carb diets. Ultra low-calorie diet plans can leave you feeling uncomfortably hungry most of the time, plus “low-fat” snacks are often full of sugars and refined carbohydrates. Never attempt an extremely low-calorie diet without consulting your doctor — there are serious health risks if you eat fewer than 800 calories per day.

Plant-based diets
Plant-based diet programs for weight loss encourage vegetarian and vegan meal plans. Some of the healthiest weight loss plans are plant-based diets that include raw, organic and whole foods and avoid animal products. Diet plan reviews are favorable for the Pritikin diet, macrobiotic diet, Eco-Atkins diet and Engine 2 diet. Many of the best weight loss programs, like Diet-to-Go, Nutrisystem and WW, offer vegetarian-friendly meal delivery for weight loss as well.

Plant-based foods

  • Fresh fruit
  • Green veggies
  • Eggplant
  • Mushrooms
  • Whole grains
  • Uncooked grains
  • Beans
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Seeds
  • Coconut oil
  • Legumes
  • Tofu, seitan and tempeh
  • Non-dairy milk substitutes

Foods to avoid

  • Meats
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Alcohol
  • Prepackaged snacks
  • Processed foods
  • White bread
  • Baked goods
  • Starchy vegetables
  • Sugary drinks
  • Animal products

What diet advocates think: Plant-based diets require more effort and planning than many other options but are overall effective. Be aware, however, that it’s easy to overload on carbs, which won’t help with weight loss. Iron from plant-based foods is harder to absorb, so a vegan or vegetarian plan may not be a good option for dieters who are already at risk of anemia.

Cleanse diets
Cleanse diets, sometimes called detox diets, are short-term, restrictive weight loss plans. Some cleanse diets emphasize nutrient-rich foods, while others replace meals with liquids and herbal supplements. The all-natural weight loss program Whole30 is a cleanse diet that replaces all sugar, dairy, grains and alcohol with fruits, vegetables and lean protein. Juice cleanse diet programs for weight loss, such as the Master Cleanse or lemonade diet, replace all meals with liquids and herbal supplements.

Cleanse diet foods and drinks

  • Organic vegetables
  • Unsweetened fruit juice
  • Herbal teas
  • Unrefined oils
  • Plant-based milks
  • Chia seeds

What to avoid

  • Processed foods
  • Sugar
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Gluten
  • Alcohol
  • Animal products

What diet advocates think: Cleanse diets can support fat loss in the short term. Still, no studies prove these diets work for weight management or even removing toxins from the body, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Take caution with cleanse diet programs and be aware that unpasteurized juices and detox supplements could be harmful to your health.

Meal replacement diets
Many of the easiest weight loss programs rely on meal replacements. Meal replacement diets work by replacing one or two meals each day with low-calorie, nutrient-rich shakes and bars. Many meal replacements are supplemented with vitamins and minerals to burn fat. Meal replacement diets like Nutrisystem, Medifast and Jenny Craig provide many options for replacement shakes and bars as well as prepackaged meals for weight loss.

Meal replacement foods

  • Plant-based protein
  • Lean meats
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Dried fruits
  • Oats
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Supplemental minerals

What to avoid

  • Sugar
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn maltodextrin
  • Chemical preservatives

What diet advocates think: Meal replacements are a convenient weight loss tool for busy professionals who don’t have time to plan out every healthy meal, and studies show they are effective for temporary weight loss. When comparing meal replacement labels, look for options with at least 10 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber per serving. Avoid meal replacement options with more than 400 calories or more than 4 grams of added sugar and saturated fat.

LabelCompany nameLogoContactSummary
Best for low-fat dietsRead Reviews
LabelCompany nameLogoContactSummary
Best for high-protein Visit website
LabelCompany nameLogoContactSummary
Best meal replacements(888) 716-2946 Click to Get Started

How to choose a weight loss program

When choosing a weight loss program, think about times in the past you successfully completed a goal and what motivated you. As you compare weight loss plans, ask yourself if you want the flexibility of cooking your own meals or the convenience of a prepackaged meal delivery plan. The best weight loss program provides motivation, long-term support and safe diet plans that work with foods you enjoy for a fair price.

To find the best weight loss plan for you, follow these steps:

Find diet plans that work
Find a program that requires you to follow a weight loss meal plan while keeping track of the foods you eat and how much you exercise. Avoid weight loss programs that seem too good to be true, because they probably are. According to the Federal Trade Commission, some red flags include promises to cut weight without exercise, guaranteed weight loss in a specific area of your body and claims that you can eat as much of whatever you want.
Consider dietary preferences or restrictions
Think about whether the foods on a given diet are things that you generally enjoy. If you hate eating greens, you won’t like a diet filled with salads — but if you have a sweet tooth, a diet that substitutes milkshakes in place of meals might be exactly your speed. Those with food allergies or sensitivities could find restrictive diet plans difficult or impossible to follow. Some of the best weight loss food plans ship vegan or diabetic-friendly options meals straight to your door, while others require you to shop for very particular ingredients.
Think about what will motivate you to lose weight
Every person has different motivations for success. Think about how you have met other important goals or quit bad habits in the past. Would you be more likely to succeed using social media, in-person meetings or expert counseling using text messaging, phone calls or email? Research shows that social support, whether in person or online, helps people lose weight.

The best diet program to lose weight incorporates ongoing support to help keep weight off. Some plans emphasize quick upfront results, but maintaining fat loss is just as important as losing it. Pick a plan that provides the tools and strategies you need to stay lean for the long haul, such as Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem or WW.

Select a diet plan that’s healthy for your budget
The cost of weight loss programs varies depending on whether food is included. Programs that regularly ship prepackaged meals for you to prepare at home can cost more than $1,000 per month. More affordable weight loss programs cost a little as $5 to $10 per month but require you to do your own grocery shopping. Find a program that delivers the results you want without straining your wallet.

Best weight loss programs for women

About 2 in 3 women are overweight or have obesity.

Dieting is difficult for everyone, but women can feel like the odds are stacked against them. New moms often struggle with weight after pregnancy, and the lack of sleep doesn't help. Busy professionals have limited time to spend on elaborate meal plans. Since people’s metabolisms slow with age, it’s even harder for post-menopausal women to lose weight.

Most effective programs for losing weight are flexible because they were designed with busy, successful women in mind. An effective weight loss program for women maximizes your dieting efforts and keeps you on track toward your goal.

Many women have success with natural weight loss programs like WW, DASH, The Mayo Clinic or low-fat, low-calorie diets like Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig. More restrictive diets, such as keto, get results but are difficult for some to maintain over time.

LabelCompany nameLogoContactSummary
Best for new momsRead Reviews
  • Cook your own meals; optional snack bars
  • In-person and online support
  • Personal coaching for $3/week
LabelCompany nameLogoContactSummary
Best for busy adultsRead Reviews
  • Prepackaged meals delivered to your home
  • Includes weight loss support app
  • Starts at around $15/day
LabelCompany nameLogoContactSummary
Best for women over 50(888) 716-2946 Click to Get Started
  • Easy to prepare meals and snacks
  • Includes weight loss support app
  • Starts at around $13/day

Best weight loss programs for men

About 3 in 4 men are overweight or have obesity.

The good news is that men lose weight faster than women because their higher oxygen intake and testosterone levels allow for easier muscle gains and fat loss.

Low-carb, high-protein is the best diet to lose weight for men who want quick results. Keto and paleo diets are popular, but sustainable results vary. Some of the best men’s weight loss programs for long-term weight loss maintenance are also marketed to women. Jenny Craig, WW, Nutrisystem, Medifast and Diet-to-Go provide customizable meal plans with personal coaching that are effective for men and women.

Most experts don’t advise programs for losing weight that eliminate carbohydrates and dietary fat. Instead, look for a good balance of lean protein, slow-burning carbs and healthy fats to find the most effective men’s weight loss program.

Research shows that finding the best weight loss program for men isn’t that different from finding one for women. The best weight loss diet for men and women who want long-term results is a balanced one. Balanced diet plans like the DASH, Mediterranean and The Biggest Loser diets don’t restrict any specific food but encourage dieters to make smart decisions that lead them to healthy weight loss.

LabelCompany nameLogoContactSummary
Best for bachelors Visit website
  • Packaged meals shipped to your home
  • Lose up to 3 pounds/week
  • Meals + support starts at $121.99/week
LabelCompany nameLogoContactSummary
Best for dadsRead Reviews
  • Flexible meal plans with point system
  • Lose up to 2 pounds/week
  • Weight loss support starts at $3/week
LabelCompany nameLogoContactSummary
Best bang for your buckRead Reviews
  • High-protein meals and snacks
  • Lose up to 5 pounds in first 2 weeks
  • Meals + snacks starts at $323/month

What is the best way to lose weight?

The most tried-and-true weight-loss tactics are reducing calories and extending workouts. Try these and 30+ more tips to lose weight fast.

Replace sugars and starches with lean proteins and vegetables
Switching to a high-protein diet boosts your metabolism and reduces food cravings, which helps you feel full throughout the day. Plus, calorie-counting is less important when you eat fewer carbs. To burn fat fast, opt for mostly healthy fats, lean proteins and slow-burning carbs.
  • Healthy fats: Plant-based oils (olive, soybean, vegetable and walnut oils), avocados, seeds, nuts and nut butters
  • Lean protein: Grilled white meat (lean pork, chicken and turkey breast), fish, eggs, tofu, Greek yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, beans, protein shakes and meal replacement bars
  • Slow-burning carbohydrates: Apples, bananas, cauliflower, whole grain pasta, whole wheat couscous and eggplant
Drink eight to 10 glasses of water each day
Most drinks that aren’t plain water are just empty calories. You should cut soda, juice and milk from your diet and stick to zero-calorie water. The benefits of drinking water for weight loss include less bloating, avoiding dehydration and reducing thirst, which often leads to mistaken hunger. Diet apps and programs for losing weight make it easier to track how much water you drink each day.
Make exercise part of your daily routine
Even regular 15-minute walks or jogs through your neighborhood help speed up weight loss. Try to find ways to exercise when you’re not at the gym — take the stairs instead of the elevator or park far from the front door when out shopping. If you already exercise, you can add time to your routine or adjust it to include an extra day of training.
Get a full seven to eight hours of sleep each night
Sleep deprivation kills your will to exercise and drives you to eat quick pick-me-up foods that boost energy with fat-causing carbs and sugars. Try going to bed 15 minutes earlier every night until you’re getting a full seven to eight hours of sleep.
Try intermittent fasting for weight loss
Occasional fasting forces your body to tap into fat storages. You can eat your regular diet most of the time and drastically reduce your intake part of the time. The 5:2 diet is a popular intermittent fasting diet that suggests eating regularly for five days of the week and eating fewer than 500 calories for two days of the week. The 16:8 diet is similar, but you choose an 8-hour window when you can eat healthy meals and snacks while fasting (and sleeping) the remaining 16 hours of the day.
 

Benefits of losing weight

If you’re currently overweight or obese, losing 5% or more of your body weight comes with a variety of benefits. Healthy weight loss programs emphasize lifestyle changes that help you burn fat more easily, which in turn benefits your body, mind and bank account.

Even losing just 10 to 20 pounds benefits your physical and mental health. You’ll live longer by maintaining a healthy weight, which reduces the risk of depression, anxiety and certain diseases. Dieters reap even more benefits when their weight loss program emphasizes healthy habits like quality sleep and drinking more water.

Health benefits of losing weight
Weight loss is linked to healthier skin and hair. Plus, you’ll sweat less. Additional physical benefits of losing weight include:
  • Reduced risk of heart disease, hypertension, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers
  • Reduced symptoms of osteoarthritis and sleep apnea
  • Improved mobility and fertility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Less acid reflux
  • Less back and joint pain
  • Less severe allergies
Psychological benefits of weight loss
Being overweight can cloud the way you see yourself and the world. The benefits of weight loss and exercise include better self-esteem, more confidence and a better sex life. Losing weight can also benefit your taste buds — many successful dieters report foods taste better than they did before. Additional mental health and emotional benefits of losing weight include:
  • Increased vitality
  • Reduced stress
  • Reduced depressive symptoms
  • Improved body image and hormonal balance
  • Better memory
Financial benefits of weight loss
You’ll save money on future health care bills thanks to improved blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Most successful dieters also cook at home more often, which reduces the amount of money they spend eating out.
  • Lower medical bills
  • Lower transportation costs
  • Fewer prescription medications
  • Less eating out

Weight loss questions and answers

How can I lose 10 pounds in seven days?
If you already have a significant amount of weight to lose (50 pounds or more), you can lose up to 10 pounds in one week by following strict dietary guidelines and a cardio workout regimen. Drastic changes in your regular lifestyle, specifically aerobic exercise and a sharp decrease in calories, causes fast weight loss. The hard part is maintaining your weight loss.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports weight loss is best obtained slowly and steadily with a program that includes physical activity. Losing 1 to 3 pounds per week is a healthy weight loss goal for most people.

What foods help burn belly fat?
If you want to lose belly fat fast, eliminate all trans fats and alcohol from your diet and add bananas, yogurt, berries, oatmeal, green tea, almonds, apple cider vinegar and whole grains to your shopping list. Foods rich in potassium and probiotics stop the blood sugar spikes that tell your body to store fat around your midsection.
What is the cheapest diet program?
Vegetarian and low-calorie diet programs are usually, but not always, the cheapest. The cost of your diet program depends on the level of support and guidance offered and whether the program includes meals and snacks. For example, you can start WW for $3 per week, but you have to do your own grocery shopping. On the low end of programs that provide food, Nutrisystem provides meal delivery and support for around $10 per day. On the high end, The Zone Diet costs about $50 per day for meal delivery.
What is the best online weight loss program?
Noom, Beachbody and Lose it! are three of the best online weight loss programs. Dieters on other weight loss programs, like WW and Nutrisystem, use apps to log meals, track exercise, access healthy meal plans and find dieting support. For more about the best online weight loss programs, read our picks for the best weight loss apps.
What diet pill really works?
Diet pills that work contain active ingredients intended to burn fat, decrease appetite and reduce fat absorption. Fast weight loss pills typically include caffeine, green tea extracts and medically proven weight loss supplements like pyruvate and glucomannan. Some of the best diet pills right now also contain garcinia cambogia.

Caffeine and green tea extract help increase metabolism, pyruvate may help decrease body fat and glucomannan is a natural dietary fiber that helps feed the good bacteria in your intestines. Garcinia cambogia contains hydroxycitric acid (HCA). Studies show HCA inhibits fat-producing enzymes in some animals, but evidence that garcinia cambogia is effective for weight loss remains inconclusive.

Side effects of prescription and over-the-counter diet pills can be severe, especially if you’re sensitive to caffeine. The most common side effects of diet pills include digestive problems, diarrhea, blurred vision, headache, nausea, insomnia, anxiety and irritability.

How can a beginner start losing weight?
The best weight loss plan for beginners combines a low-calorie or low-carb diet with daily exercise. For more information, check out 31 weight loss tips to help beginning dieters lose weight fast.
Are meal replacement shakes good for weight loss?
As with many foods, there are healthy meal replacement shakes for weight loss and others that make promises they don’t fulfill. Some meal replacement shakes that promise “pure protein” have the same nutritional value as a milkshake, so it’s important to research options before purchasing.

Rather than counting calories, check the actual ingredients to see if the formula includes real food and enough fiber. Skip meal replacement shakes for weight loss that include artificial sweeteners and preservatives. For more about meal replacement diets, read about our top picks for the best meal replacement shakes.

Keep in mind that the best times for meal replacement shakes for weight loss are hurried mornings when you’d otherwise skip breakfast and when you need a quick meal before exercising.

How long does it take to lose weight?
Most people can expect about 2 to 3 pounds of healthy weight loss a week through dieting and regular exercise. On average, a dieter needs to lose 8 or 9 pounds before other people begin to notice results, which takes closer to a month.
What is a fad diet?
A fad diet is one that gains rapid popularity for a time and then falls out of fashion. Most fad diets are food-specific or revolve around a gimmick. For example, the cabbage soup diet requires you to eat only cabbage soup for each meal for a week. The paleo diet, which limits what you can eat to what was available during the Paleolithic Period, is also considered a fad diet. More recently, diet advocates have also classified the alkaline diet, which is based on the hypothesis that the acidity of foods affects your body’s pH balance and that a higher pH leads to weight loss, as a fad diet.
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Weight loss program expert reviews

Nutrisystem

Portioned meals and snacks delivered every four weeks starting at $9.40 a day. Plans are tailored for men or women and include vegetarian-friendly and diabetes-safe options. Phone and online support is available.

  • Specialty programs: Nutrisystem for Men addresses the weight loss needs of men. Nutrisystem D is designed for prediabetes or Type 2 dieters and includes access to certified diabetes counselors.
  • Menu options: Dieters can choose from more than 150 breakfast, lunch and dinner options, including snacks, shakes and frozen foods. More than 90 vegetarian offerings are also available along with a vegetarian plan.
  • Goal weight maintenance: Nutrisystem Success helps users maintain healthy eating habits with customized meal planning and portion-controlled, premeasured food containers.
  • Free shipping: Free FedEx shipping is available on all orders within the continental United States. Customers using auto-delivery also get 35% off every order and reminders to choose food.
  • Support: Counselors are available via phone, email or online chat every day from 7 a.m. to midnight, except Christmas and Thanksgiving. Nutrisystem’s website, social media and app provide food tracking, tips, recipes and news.
  • Quick start: All plans (except those for diabetics) include Turbo Takeoff, a special first week of meals and snacks designed to burn fat and jump-start weight loss.
Read 3881 Reviews
Medifast

Two programs feature home-delivered, 30-day, easy-prep, prepackaged food kits. No refrigeration or freezing. Prices start at $299. Supplements optional. Food journal, guides, blender bottle included.

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Personal Trainer Food

Diet meal delivery service sends high-protein, low-carb, flash-frozen meals to your door monthly, starting at $12 a day. Choice of three plans. For small freezers, delivery available every two weeks.

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Herbalife

High-calorie meals are swapped for protein shakes while metabolism-boosting tea, vitamins and supplements are introduced to your diet. Three programs are available ranging from $119.05 to $229.30.

Read 219 Reviews
Slim-Fast

Two meals a day are replaced with protein and fiber-rich shakes, bars or cookies and combined with post-meal, low-calorie snacks. One week of shake mix starts around $7. Supplements also available.

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WW (Weight Watchers)

Food and activity is digitally tracked starting at $4.22 a week with access to online recipes, a members-only community and 24/7 expert chat. In-person workshops and personal coaching is optional.

  • Food choice flexibility: The SmartPoints system assigns all food and drinks a number and each user a personalized budget. More than 200 foods (like fruits and vegetables) are zero points and don’t have to be tracked or measured.
  • Rewards program: A free WellnessWins rewards program allows members to earn points for everyday healthy behaviors, like meal tracking, activity and weight loss. Rewards include clothing, gift cards and accessories.
  • Eat packaged food: Scan the barcode of packaged food with the Weight Watchers’ app to determine its SmartPoints value and add it to your diet.
  • Personalization: Work on your own or opt to attend weekly group workshops in your area or interact online with a coach of your choosing, available for unlimited one-on-one phone sessions.
  • Shop online or in stores: Weight Watchers’ brand products, including food and snacks with assigned SmartPoints values, are available online or in grocery stores nationwide.
  • Best of those who like to cook: Members can access a growing database of over 4,000 recipes filtered by meal time, SmartPoints value, prep time and dietary needs.
Read 2622 Reviews
Jenny Craig

Members meet in-person with a consultant or receive one-on-one support via phone or video chat while portioned meals and snacks are home delivered for about $20 a day, plus the cost of enrollment.

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Beachbody

Fitness, nutrition and support are combined in a comprehensive weight-loss program featuring workouts, meal plans and coaching. Stream or buy classes on DVDs, along with supplements, gear and apparel.

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Optavia

Weight loss programs start at $400 per month and include prepackaged meals delivered to your home. A cross-disciplinary Scientific Advisory Board guides the selection of available weight loss programs.

  • Food delivery:: Optavia’s weight loss programs include delivery of prepackaged Optavia Fuelings to your home.
  • Optavia Fuelings: Optavia Fuelings contain vitamins, minerals, protein and probiotics to encourage weight loss or maintain a healthy weight.
  • Nutrition coaching: Optavia’s coaches guide dieters through their weight loss journeys and encourage sustainable, healthy habits.
  • Community support: Programs include weekly community support calls.
  • Weight loss results: Dieters can expect to lose about 1 pound per week for 12 weeks.
BioSlim

Herbal supplements are used in conjunction with food and activity plans. Adult kits are $89.85 for ages 13 and up. Youth kits for ages 7–13 are $59.85 and contain chewable tablets. Refills available.

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South Beach Diet

Weight loss programs start around $10 per day. Four-week plans include high-protein, low-carb, low-sugar meal delivery.

  • Multiple weight loss plans: Select from three different four-week weight loss plans or the Diabetes Gold Plan, which was designed to help lose weight while managing Type 2 diabetes.
  • Body Reboot Kit: A one-week kit for dieters who want to lose fewer than 10 pounds costs $99 plus flat-rate shipping.
  • Menu options: South Beach Diet meals include turkey sausage and eggs, grilled chicken sandwiches and Italian-style meatballs. For snacks, diets eat fudge graham bars, deli slices and fruit.
  • Keto-friendly: South Beach Diet is not “strict keto,” but it is keto-friendly. Keto-friendly diet plans deliver 40 to 50 grams of net carbs per day.
  • Weight loss results: Most dieters can expect to lose up to 5.8 pounds in the first week, then 1 to 2 pounds per week after that.
Dukan Diet

Weight loss programs starting at $29.99 per month. Programs include personalized instructions for dieting.

  • Four-phase weight loss plan: Dukan dieters complete programs in four phases: attack, cruise, consolidation and stabilization.
  • Personalized coaching: Get access to coaches, nutritionists and unlimited motivational support through live chats.
  • True Weight concept: Dieters calculate their “true weight” based on gender, age, bone structure, highest weight, desired weight and additional factors.
  • Eat real food: The Dunkan Diet doesn’t require you to eat frozen meals or prepackaged snacks.
  • Weight loss results: Most Dukan dieters can expect to lose 4 to 7 pounds first 10 days.
LA Weight Loss Center

Program combines pre-portioned breakfast meals with snack bars and your own modified diet. Monthly plans start at $307.40 and include a juice cleanse. Meal replacement shakes and supplements optional.

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Optifast

Medically supervised weight loss programs start at around $150 per week. Meal replacement shakes, bars and soups are very low in calories to encourage ketosis. 

  • Weight loss phases: Optifast weight loss programs have three phases: active weight loss, transition and maintenance.
  • Weight loss supplements: Optifast chewable vitamins and minerals are designed to encourage weight loss.
  • Food delivery: Prepackaged foods are delivered to your home.
  • Online support: Dieters have access to weight loss support tools, personalized plans, meal trackers and exercise trackers.
  • Compatible with surgery: Special programs are designed to help patients lose weight before bariatric surgery.
  • Weight loss results: Most patients lose an average of 30 pounds in 26 weeks.
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JJ Virgin Weight Loss Programs Contributing Editor

Celebrity Nutrition & Fitness Expert JJ Virgin is author of New York Times bestseller “The Virgin Diet: Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days.” She is also the best-selling author of “Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy” as well as a prominent TV and print media personality.

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