Weight WatchersThis is one of the most popular diets in the world, probably because there's no such thing as taboo food. The diet is based on portion control and involves weekly support meetings; you can also do the program online.
The Flex plan means each food is assigned a point value and you can eat anything as long as you stay within your allotted points. The Core plan involves a preapproved list of foods. While there are plenty of Weight Watchers food items on the market, they are optional.
Registration is between $15 and $20, depending on location. Weekly meeting fees range from about $10 to $15, again, location-dependent. The standard monthly plan for Weight Watchers Online costs $46.90 the first month and $16.95 for subsequent months. Plan to lose one to two pounds per week for 20 weeks to reach a 30-pound weight-loss goal.
Total cost: $214.80 to $299.80, depending on location, or $97.75 online, not including food.
The Zone DietThis well-rounded plan is based on a 40:30:30 ratio of daily calories obtained from carbohydrates, proteins and favorable fats. While you can buy a book and follow the diet independently, why not do it like the stars by opting for In The Zone Delivery. The service delivers a customized daily supply of food (three meals and two snacks) to subscribers in most metropolitan areas by 6 a.m. each day.
Signing up for the 30-day plan will cost $39.99 per day plus a shipping charge, which is $3 for customers in most cities and $10 for those in other areas. If you just want to try it out for two weeks, you'll be paying $44.99 per day plus shipping. The average Zone dieter loses between eight and 10 pounds per month, and it will take three or four months to drop 30 pounds.
Total cost: $3,869.10 to $5,158.80, which includes $3 per day for delivery.
Free adviceThese diets are just the tip of the iceberg -- the options for losing weight are endless. Keep in mind that this article isn't an endorsement of any of the programs listed. Before committing to any system, research the company, talk to your doctor and ask questions.
Questions to ask before signing up:
- What are the costs for membership, weekly fees, food, supplements, maintenance and counseling?
- What's the payment schedule?
- Are any costs covered under health insurance?
- What is the refund policy?
- What are the health risks?
- How many participants succeed in reaching their goal and keeping off the weight?
- What kind of professional supervision or counseling is provided?
It's also important to be realistic. Ask yourself if you can afford the program and if it fits your lifestyle. If you have the motivation, but not the means, don't fret. Instead, consider the age-old method for losing weight: Reduce the number of calories you take in while exercising to increase the amount you burn off.
Michelle Warren contributed to this article.