Participants in a study published last week in the Journal of Medical Internet Research who entered their meals and physical activity in online diaries at least once a month for roughly two years were more likely to lose weight—and keep it off—than others who did so less diligently.
Who doesn’t need a helping hand when it comes to losing weight? In fact, a Brown University study found that online weight-loss programs that were based not only on good medical information but also offered feedback from a professional were more successful for dieters than those that were only information-based. To find the best of the leading diet sites that offer solid advice and support, the Good Housekeeping Research Institute examined the 10 most popular, assessing the sites’ questionnaires (to be sure they’re analyzing your needs properly), experts’ credentials, variety and value of diet recommendations including reasonable expectations for weight loss, Internet privacy policies, and ease of site navigation. We’ve also noted if these sites have a fitness component (if that’s more what you’re after, see our Top Fitness Sites). Keep in mind: Before starting a new diet, consult your physician.
($12 monthly, $85 for a year).
A food and exercise database linked to a personal diary converts meals and activities into calories so you can visualize if you’re hitting your weight-loss goals. A drag-and-drop interface makes meal plans easy to create, even for the least technologically savvy. Guidance to successful meal planning is provided. March believes that its weekly progress charts and graphs can motivate dieters.
($65/13 weeks, with a minimum 5-week nonrefundable charge of $25)
Run by Duke University’s Diet and Fitness Center Residential Program, this site has a total well-being approach. Articles and tools address every aspect of health with regard to weight loss (nutrition, fitness, attitude, and behavior) to find the right diet strategy that fits into your lifestyle. It also gives users realistic goals, doing the best job of explaining the healthiest rate of weight loss and how to keep it up.
The program includes daily snacks and dessert, so you won’t feel deprived. However, there are initial diet restrictions. In the first two weeks, the diet prescribes omitting grains, sugar, and fruits, which could be discouraging to some. The site also offers good expert feedback — something you won’t get from just buying the book. While one-on-one counseling is available for $3 per week, you can post on the “Ask the Nutritionist” message board for a fast reply. The site also includes the South Beach Diet Fitness Club, consisting of Pilates-based core movements with pictures and step-by-step video instruction.
It’s supported by ads that run the gamut from hotels to granola bars, but get-slim-quick gimmicks are blessedly absent. The focus is on meeting simple goals: eat less, exercise more. March advises her clients to take advantage of the site’s nutritional planning tools. Users can create meal plans based on calories and dietary restrictions, plan meals up to a week in advance, and save favorite meals to a daily log.
Select what you feel is best for you.