Best Commercial Weight Loss Programs

Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.
Measuring Waist

Effective weight loss generally requires you to pick a weight loss program that you can stick with long term. Though there are many fad diets out there that claim to help you shed pounds quickly, a few commercial weight loss programs are deemed effective for long-term success - and backed by research.

Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers is one the most well-known commercial weight loss programs - and one of the most effective.

Weight Watchers offers online weight loss counseling, opportunities to attend weekly meetings, and assigns points to foods to help you reduce your overall caloric intake.

Jenny Craig

The Jenny Craig commercial weight loss program is also safe and effective, according to a study published in 2010 in the International Journal of Obesity. Furthermore, the Jenny Craig program ranks #3 in the U.S. News World Report list of top weight loss diets.

The Jenny Craig program emphasizes prepackaged meals that are low in calories and fat, and generally restricts caloric intakes to 1,200 to 2,000 calories daily, according to the 2012 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Atkins Diet

While the Atkins diet can be fairly restrictive, at least initially, research has shown that it's often effective for weight loss. A study published in 2014 in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that low-carbohydrate diets, such as the Atkins diet, lead to significant weight loss in people who are overweight or obese.

The Atkins diet severely restricts carbohydrates initially, but then gradually adds carbs back into the diet over a period of time. This diet focuses on:

  • High-protein foods like meat, poultry, fish, eggs
  • Lower-carb dairy foods
  • Non-starchy veggies
  • Plant-based oils

Eco-Atkins Diet

The Eco-Atkins diet is a version of the Atkins diet that is low in carbohydrates, but consists of entirely plant-based foods (vegan diet). A study published in 2009 in the Archives of Internal Medicine reports that following an Eco-Atkins diet not only leads to weight loss, it also helps lower blood cholesterol, blood pressure, and your risk for heart disease.

The Eco-Atkins diet consists of proteins found in gluten, soy and nuts and focuses on non-starchy vegetables and plant-based oils.

Medifast 5 & 1 Plan

Using Medifast weight-loss plans, specifically the Medifast 5 & 1 plan, is an effective way to shed pounds and body fat, according to a study published in 2013 in the International Journal of Obesity. Researchers who conducted this study describe the Medifast 5 & 1 weight loss plan as being a nutritionally balanced, portion controlled, low-fat plan. The plan also controls your carb intake and allows you to eat:

  • 5 Medifast meal replacements
  • One lean and green meal containing lean protein and vegetables

Slim-Fast

The Slim-Fast diet is rated #7 among top weight-loss diets, according to U.S News and World Report. In addition, a study published in 2013 in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine reports that commercially available meal replacement product Ultra-Slim Fast is safe and effective for weight loss.

The Slim-Fast weight loss plan, which should help you lose 1 to 2 pounds per week, consists of:

  • Two Slim-Fast meal replacements
  • One 500-calorie well-balanced meal
  • Three 100-calorie snacks

Slimming World

Slimming World is another commercial weight-loss plan that is effective for weight loss even after 12 months, according to the 2014 study published in The British Journal of General Practice. Researchers who conducted this study report that Slimming World actually led to a slightly greater weight loss than Weight Watchers after a 12-month time period.

Slimming World diets offer 7-day vegetarian and non-vegetarian healthy reduced-calorie menus that help you shed pounds. Healthy foods included in this diet are those that boost satiety such as vegetables, fruits, rice, pasta, potatoes, eggs, fish, poultry and lean meats.

Tips for Comparing Weight Loss Programs

While numerous commercial weight loss programs are effective, the best choice for you is based on a variety of factors.

Lifestyle

The type of lifestyle you lead can help determine which type of commercial weight loss diet is a good match for you. For example, if you're very active, severely cutting your carb intake during the initial phase of the Atkins diet will likely have negative impacts on athletic performance, but Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig or Slimming World may work for you. If you're always on the go and don't have time to cook meals, diets that emphasize pre-packaged meals or meal replacements, such as Slim-Fast, Medifast or Jenny Craig, may be your best bet.

Budget

Commercial weight loss programs aren't generally free, especially when you add in the cost of pre-packaged meals or meal replacements if the diet calls for it. Below are some typical costs associated with commercial weight loss plans.

Plan Cost
Weight Watchers Online $32 per month, or $64 for three months
Jenny Craig $39 per month plus the cost of meals
Atkins Diet Free starter kit plus the cost of food
Medifast 5 & 1 Free welcome kit plus the cost of meal replacements
Slim-Fast Free online registration plus the cost of shakes and snack bars
Slimming World Online

$45 for a 3-month silver membership, or $65 for a 3-month gold membership

Food Preferences

Your food preferences can help determine which weight-loss plan you'll be able to stick with long term, and which plans to avoid. If you prefer real food over meal replacement shakes and bars, Medifast 5 & 1 and Slim-Fast weight loss plans may not be for you. If you have a difficult time giving up carbohydrates, the Atkins and Eco-Atkins diets likely aren't a good match. If you don't enjoy the taste of pre-packaged meals, Jenny Craig might not be your style.

Slimming World and Weight-Watchers are good selections for people who enjoy healthy well-balanced meals, but simply need help with calorie and portion control.

Your Best Option

The bottom line is that all of these diet work when followed properly because they help you reduce your overall caloric intake. The best weight loss program for you is one that matches your food preferences and accommodates your budget and lifestyle.

Best Commercial Weight Loss Programs