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The Best Ways to Lose 20 Pounds
Nutrisystem is the best diet plan I have ever tried. I was always afraid of going on a hard core diet plan because I did not want to give up great tasting foods. Nutrisystem truly is a great plan. Lots of variety and deserts. The heat-and-eat prepared meals and snacks contain roughly 55 percent "good" carbs, 25 percent protein, and 20 percent fats; like Jenny Craig, you add fruits, vegetables and dairy.

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The TV ads, filled with celebrity endorsers and regular people holding out their enormous "old jeans" make the diet plans sound terribly tempting.

Although a new FTC rule now requires testimonial ads to cite typical results, the looming question still remains: Which of these diet programs are worth your money? To find out, MoneyWatch analyzed eight of the biggest diet plans.

Three are support-only plans that don't require you to buy their food, and five are food-delivery plans. We interviewed leading nutritionists and weight-loss professionals, pored through clinical studies, and tallied up membership fees and food costs to determine the ones most likely to help you slim down and to see how much you'd pay to drop 20 pounds.

Our favorite for value and efficacy is Weight Watchers , designed to help you change your eating habits for good. Nutrisystem is the least expensive meal delivery plan we reviewed Medifast is cheaper, but you have to provide one meal a day on your own. And the silver-spoon award undoubtedly goes to In The Zone Delivery , a white-glove service for people who'll spare no expense to drop the pounds.

Here's how the plans stack up. See the handy chart at the bottom of the page for a side-by-side comparison. The oldest national weight-loss program, its members rave about the encouragement they get at weekly meetings led by former Weight Watchers dieters.

Nutritionists praise the portion-control points system: Each food is assigned points based on its serving size, calories, fiber, and fat; and no foods are forbidden. Your point allowance is based on your weight, height, gender, age, and activity level. A recent clinical study in the New England Journal of Medicine linked group counseling sessions to weight-loss success.

That explains why Weight Watchers has impressive short-term results. A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed participants lost an average of about 5 percent of their body weight 10 pounds in six months. Two years later, they had kept about half the weight off.

To help members stay on track, Weight Watchers encourages them to attend meetings until they've stayed within 2 pounds of their goal weight for six weeks. After that, you get free lifetime membership. The company says members using its online tools in addition to attending meetings lost 50 percent more weight than those going to meetings alone.

Cost to lose 20 pounds: We looked at two plans from eDiets - one that offers support alone, and another with meal delivery. You can choose from among more than 20 diet plans, including ones for diabetics and vegetarians. Online tools let you set goals, plan menus and generate shopping lists. There's no face-to-face support, but you get support through online message boards and a mentor program that connects newbies with an experienced member. Also, you can reach a registered dietitian or personal trainer by phone at any time.

The optional meal delivery service offers freshly prepared, calorie-controlled meals delivered by FedEx. But telephone support has some evidence in its favor: Yes, it's a bargain for round-the-clock support.

For about the same money, other services offer better track records. For the first two weeks, you eat three extremely low-carb meals a day plus mandatory snacks. After that, you gradually add "good carbs," such as fruits and whole grains. You can customize menus, search a database of more than 1, recipes and get a personalized shopping list. There's online support from staff dieticians and members plus daily motivational emails.

Studies have shown that after one year, carb-restricted diets led to greater weight loss and increased heart health than low-fat diets. However, the advantage disappeared over the long term. How much can you expect to lose? Figure on 8 to 13 pounds during the two- week kick-start phase, then 1 to 2 pounds a week thereafter. It doesn't cost much, but you don't get as much support as with Weight Watchers or eDiets. The Zone diet is mostly meat, fruits, and vegetables.

I am on my 10th day on Nutrisystem and I absolutely love it! The food is great and a lot better tasting than Jenny Craig. I have lost 8 pounds so far and am really excited. I have 65 more to go to reach my goal weight. The website is full of good information and tons of motivation which I need and love!!

Anyone can do this diet. At 32 years old, I had surpassed pounds and went on a diet with Slimfast Shakes and low fat dinners that I made. I was single at the time and had the time to prepare my own meals and exercise vigorously for about an hour 5 days a week. Needless to say, I did lose 40 lbs in 3 months, but it was hard work and I was always hungry. I'm now 40 years old now and after several failed starts I decided to give Nutrisystem a go.

Being married with 2 children, my time is much more limited now. Nutrisystem is perfect for this reason as I don't have to count calories — it's all done online for me. The meals are reasonably good and you can pretty much choose the meals you want. The first month I went with the default menu and selected the meals I liked best for the second and third month.

I'm following the menu strictly and my caloric intake is around calories a day. All in all, I have been on the diet for 42 days and I have lost 23 lbs and 3 inches off my waist! This program is well worth it! I needed to go on a diet.

I had gained 25 pounds over the last year and I could not fit into any of my clothes. I did not want to go buy a whole new wardrobe when I already had a perfectly good one. With Nutrisystem I have access to a website that allows me to track my weight loss progress. I enjoy logging onto the website and seeing how far I have come. I also get support from the website.

I enjoy almost all of the foods Nutrisystem has to offer. They all taste pretty good. The best part of Nutrisystem is that I have lost weight with a program that is extremely easy to follow. I liked many aspects of the diet; however, I thought the food portions were too small.

Maybe I'm too used to supersizing everything? The Nutrisystem plan does work though. When I was using the plan I lost about fifteen pounds. The plan was also very easy to follow.

I did not have to weigh out food. I did not have to count calories. I did not have to figure out which foods to eat to lose weight. I just had to follow the instructions that came with the plan and eat the food that the plan provided me with.

When I joined the Nutrisystem plan I also received 24 hour access to the Nutrisystem web site where I could chat with someone for support daily if I needed to. Haven't used it, but its nice to know its there for me. The food was just as tasty as pre-cooked frozen meals you buy in the grocery store. I enjoyed many of the foods that Nutrisystem offers. The desserts and snacks were delicious. The dinners are done very nicely with foods that are very tasteful and full of flavor.

The breakfasts were good I especially liked the pancakes. The lunches were also good. The thing I did not like about Nutrisystem was that the portions of foods they provided were too small. The program is extremely easy to use. Any man can join the program and expect to lose weight easily. I joined the plan and Nutrisystem sent me dieting tools, instructions on how to use the plan and great tasting foods.

I also have access to Nutrisystems website. The website includes chat rooms, blogs, and group discussions about dieting. The website is a great place for me to go to receive support. I have not felt this energetic in awhile. I now have the energy to get through the day without feeling so tired. I even have enough energy to work out. Without the Nutrisystem plan I would still be overweight, unhealthy and unhappy. Without Nutrisystem I would still be eating unhealthy and gaining weight instead of losing weight.

I joined Nutrisystem two and a half months ago. When I first started the program it was an adjustment I had to get used to. I was used to overeating all of the time. With Nutrisystem the food portions are designed to be just right so a person gets the nutrition he needs and still loses weight.

I had to get used to eating the right sized portion instead of overeating. Once I adjusted to eating differently the plan started to really work. The plan is easy to follow and comes with instructions on how to do so.

I am losing weight easily. I am feeling healthier every day. I am enjoying the foods I am eating, and I am enjoying the compliments I am receiving on my weight loss. I joined the Nutrisystem plan because I knew I was headed in the wrong direction with my body weight. I decided to start going to a gym. However, I did not know how to start eating right.

I pick the food I want to eat from the menu that Nutrisystem provides. Nutrisystem also shows me how to plan what to eat for the day. The foods are really good. I love some of them, like most of them and only disliked one or two items out of the whole menu. One of my favorite foods from Nutrisystem is their Mexican style tortilla soup, it's great.

As far as diets go Nutrisystem is a great plan. When I was on the Nutrisystem plan it worked for me. I lost weight, learned to eat healthier and felt great. Nutrisystem is also extremely easy to follow.

The plan comes with easy to follow instructions on how to use the program to work for you. When I was on the plan my wife and children would eat their food while I ate my Nutrisystem food. Her food was hard to resist; however, I stuck to the Nutrisystem plan because their food also tastes good.

I ate good food every day. Foods such as blueberry pancakes, blueberry muffins, honey mustard pretzel sticks, beef stew and broiled beef patties. Nutrisystem truly does go to great lengths to help make losing weight easy. I wanted to lose 20 pounds, but ended up shaving off 30 pounds thanks to Nutrisystem. Nutrisystem is the best diet plan I have ever tried.

I have tried to diet a few other times in my life but I could not stick to the diet. With Nutrisystem I do not have to learn recipes. I do not have to learn to eat better foods. I do not have to count calories. I do not have to weigh food. With Nutrisystem all I have to do is follow the instructions and eat the foods Nutrisystem supplies. When I joined Nutrisystem I was afraid the food would taste terrible as I had read a review online saying so.

Of course there are a few foods that do not suit my taste such as the eggs frittata; however, most of the foods are delicious. For breakfast I can eat pancakes, blueberry pancakes, cinnamon buns or oatmeal. There are many other breakfast foods to choose from also. For lunch I can eat hearty minestrone soup or choose from many other menu items. Nutrisystem also offers great dinners, snacks and desserts.

Following the Nutrisystem plan is easy and I am seeing results. I wish the weight melted off easier, but it took a while putting it on and so I expect it'll take time getting it off too. I had tried losing weight on my own a few times but it was too hard to count calories and weigh out all of my food what a time sucker! I always got discouraged about losing the weight. With Nutrisystem I have not became discouraged because Nutrisystem makes the plan so simple to follow.

While it's not fresh food the meals are frozen , it still just as great tasting. Speaking frankly, I was really afraid that I would hate the Nutrisystem food. I gave the food a try thinking it would taste like cardboard. However, I was completely wrong, the Nutrisystem food is delicious. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and all my snacks provided by Nutrisystem are tasty. My wife loves me being on the Nutrisystem diet too. She is very impressed with the progress I have made losing weight.

Thanks for your visit, Marsha. It is still okay to use what is provided to help you eat balanced, and if you find that you either maintain or lose, you would simply increase quantities. Many would love to be in your shoes: Thanks again for stopping by. There's a great app for iOs and Android called Fat Secret not affiliated terrible name, but great app. You can scan bar codes of the packages your food comes in, enter fruits and vegetables, and it knows most foods at most restaurants.

I've found it really helpful in keeping my protein levels up when I'm working out regularly - while still keeping calories down. I have been searching for a mid-afternoon snack that would not add tons of calories.

Thank you for suggesting one. I also appreciate all of the suggestions and directions you have given here. I know the snack was not the primary focus of the article, but it just happened to be what I needed most right now. Cynthia, controlling snack portions and how often we eat snacks is so key to weight loss and maintenance Glad it was helpful! Your very welcome, I'm glad that it was helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions. I love your article, but I'm not seeing the Free Food List that you've mentioned several times.

I must have overlooked it. Can you tell me where it is, please? In the section just above the blue book explaining how NutriSystem works. You will find links to various resources, including the one you mentioned, read the section and you'll see it. If you continue to have trouble, let me know. I'm glad you enjoyed the article! Any vegetable juice that does not have a lot of added sugar, corn syrup, etc. In fact you may want to learn to juice or liquefy your own vegetables using a juicer or NutriBullet or Ninja.

I have used NutriBullet and am not using the Ninja, I like to have the pulp of the fruit or vegetables with my drink.

Nutrisystem Comparisons