The 3 Most Effective Weight Loss Plans

A person wearing striped socks weighing themselves on a scaleWhat are the best weight loss plans?

Let’s see…just some of today’s most popular diet plans include Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and Nutrisystems, as well as a few do-it-yourself (DIY) plans such as the Atkins, Slim Fast, and the South Beach Diet.

According to studies, the ones that tended to be the most realistic, and therefore were easier to maintain, include:

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1. MyFitnessPal. MyFitnessPal is a free smart phone app and website that helps you monitor your daily eating and fitness activities, essentially operating as a powerful journal. The app received the top satisfaction scores, and even though Weight Watchers was chosen by four out of 10 Consumer Reports’ readers, its scoring on satisfaction is not as high as MyFitnessPal.

2. Weight Watchers. The popular weight loss plan scored the highest ratings for commercial plans. Medifast was the runner-up, followed by Jenny Craig. Weight Watchers received top scores for allowing a variety of foods and for encouraging calorie awareness, exercise, and consumption of fruits and vegetables.

3. Dealing with the underlying cause of weight gain.  Mental health experts repeatedly identify emotional factors as not only an important factor in clients’ weight problems, but also the major barrier to overcoming them. To help combat these factors and achieve healthy weight loss, doctors recommend three strategies:

  • Cognitive therapy. This helps people identify and correct dysfunctional thoughts that lead to unhelpful emotions and behaviors. For example, someone who eats a cookie at a party might blame it on a lack of willpower, conclude she’ll never get the weight off, then proceed to eat more cookies. Cognitive therapy would teach the person to think of the cookie as a one-time-only slip-up, because everybody makes mistakes.
  • Problem-solving.  A patient who says he’s too tired after work to go to the gym might consider, with the therapist’s help, alternatives such as a run or walk at lunchtime or working out in the morning or on weekends.
  • Mindfulness training. This approach trains people to allow negative thoughts and emotions to come and go without dwelling on them, and instead concentrate on living and enjoying the moment.

Though primary care physicians were the most common partner cited, the psychologists found that colleagues specializing in weight issues, nutritionists, and registered dietitians were the most helpful in addressing weight issues.

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