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The Pros and Cons of Commercial Diets

Posted Aug 17 2011 2:00pm

DIR-Round By Brandi Koskie for

Healthy eating plans—like fit bottoms—come in all shapes and sizes. There are thousands of them. Sounds astonishing, right? At , we’ve reviewed more than 2,000 and sometimes feel like we haven’t scratched the surface. At some point they all start to look the same, but there are those that stand out and have had loyal followings for years.

woman-on-scale While there are countless that cite nothing more than watching what they ate and exercising more to get them to their goal (love this!), others find that a packaged, commercial weight-loss plan is best suited for them, especially in the beginning when they’re trying to get healthy and aren’t sure where to start. If you’ve thought about joining one of these, be sure to shop around. Healthy eating plans are like anything else—they are not a universal fit, and you ultimately want to make sure you’re getting you money’s worth.

Here are a few things to consider about three plans that stand-out as the popular kids so far in 2011.

Weight Watchers

Just shy of a 50th anniversary, Weight Watchers is often considered one of the most flexible and practical weight-loss plans on the market. You’ll rarely find a “best of” list where they aren’t holding the top position. Join online, in weekly meetings, through corporate wellness programs, or follow a library of books published by the brand.


  • Suitable for men and women
  • PointsPlus Program allows complete flexibility in eating choices, no restrictions
  • Supports at least moderate exercise but is not a cornerstone of the plan
  • Healthy eating habits are practical and manageable long-term
  • Reasonably affordable


  • Tracking PointsPlus could be time consuming
  • Online program eliminates social support of meetings
  • Men’s program not available in meetings, only online
  • Not a structured format

Jenny Craig

Another veteran of the weight-loss market, with 28 years of experience helping men and women lose weight, Jenny Craig is a go-to for celebrities in need of slimming down. The Jenny Craig program is based on meal delivery, meaning they ship pre-portioned meals to your home and offers one-on-one counseling in person or via phone.


  • Personalized meal plans
  • Serves dietary needs of diabetics, vegetarians , Kosher
  • Wide variety of foods available for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks
  • Personalized fitness plan
  • Counselor support maintains accountability


  • Shelf-stable, not fresh, foods
  • Incur additional cost by supplementing fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, and whole grains
  • May be cost prohibitive
  • Not sustainable on a long-term basis

South Beach Diet

The low-carb craze seemed to have died down when the last of the Y2K bottled-water stock piles were drank, but South Beach Diet continues to be a sought-after plan for weight-loss. Unlike other popular low-carb diets, this actually eliminates heart-damaging saturated fats and teaches healthful eating in moderation. For no more than the cost of the book, or for a low membership fee for access to the online program, South Beach Diet is very accessible.


  • Supports clean eating , void of processed foods, saturated fat, and refined sugars
  • Continual research that was most recently updated in 2008
  • Created by a medical doctor who specializes in cardiac health
  • Maintenance plan is available
  • Supports a fitness regimen


  • South Beach Diet-branded foods are not much better than other processed foods
  • Does not support vegetarian-dietary needs
  • Restrictive nature of removing carbs, including fresh fruit, may not be sustainable
  • Much debate over the validity of low-carb diets


While the FBGs always say “diet is a four-letter word,” these healthy eating plans can be good for the right person in the right situation. Tell us, have you tried one of these diets? Did you like it? Have success? Stick with it for the long-term?

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