Don’t Waste Your Money: Which diets really work?

Posted at 8:49 PM, Jan 02, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-02 20:49:14-05

More than two-thirds of American adults are overweight, even obese. So at the top of many New Year’s resolutions is the dreaded “D” world—diet.

To find the best, Consumer Reports’ surveyed 9,000 of its subscribers and asked about their real-life experiences with 13 popular ways to lose weight. A free app called MyFitness Pal was top rated. People who used it said it made them very aware of how many calories they were consuming and how much they were exercising. They also liked how it helped them maintain their weight loss.

MyFitnessPal has useful features such as a barcode scanner that automatically enters the amount of calories per serving. You can also track how many calories you burn while exercising. And on its website you can get encouragement from others using the program.

Another do-it-yourself diet that did well in Consumer Reports’ survey is called the Paleo Diet. It instructs dieters to eat what cavemen ate—lean meats, seafood, fruits, and vegetables and avoid processed foods and dairy products.

In addition to the do-it-yourself diets such as MyFitnessPal and the Paleo Diet, Consumer Reports also rated commercial diets, which you generally have to pay to join and in some cases buy their prepackaged food. Nutrisystem was the lowest-rated commercial diet. More than a third of those surveyed who tried it didn’t like the plan’s food.

Among commercial diet plans, Weight Watchers scored much higher—higher than Jenny Craig. It works a bit differently. You don’t have to buy their food, and you can eat whatever you want within their points limit. You can attend Weight Watchers meetings and track your diet online.