“Diets that really work,” is an article appearing in the print version of Consumer Reports that’s already mailed out to subscribers, where 9,000 readers rate 13 commercial and/or do-it-yourself diet plans and tools. The article covered apps such as MyfitnessPal, a free smart-phone application and website that did better than any of the commercial diet plans, including Weight Watchers, according to the Consumer Reports magazine article. See the site, Free iPhone Calorie Counter, iPhone Calorie Tracker | MyFitnessPal.
Most dieters are social beings and get more out of attending meetings than do-it-yourself plans that leave you alone, if the do-it-yourself plans aren’t working for the most social of the dieters. Socializing at support meetings also can help dieters follow their plans.
The report also rated the do-it-yourself Paleo diet based on a book that shows dieters how to eat lean meats and seafood, vegetables that aren’t starchy (because starch turns to sugar in the body) and avoid diary products, cereal grains, processed foods, and legumes such as lentils and chick peas. The Paleo diet is supposed to bring you back to your ancestral diet before agriculture existed. But what if your genes and blood type changed so that your blood is so thick now, not like your ancestor’s blood was 50,000 years ago when the world was type O, the thinnest blood type? How far back in time do genes for clogged arteries go? See, The Paleo Diet System site.
Or what if you no longer have all those cholesterol receptors on your liver that your ancestors had in cave man days? In any case, the Paleo diet does keep you from eating starchy fillers such as white pasta and starchy potatoes, processed bread, cake, and cold cereals. For people with thin blood such as type O and B, low carb is good, but not no carb. Vegetables need to be plentiful as long as they’re dark green leafy vegetables, celery, carrots, and some fruit such as blueberries and blackberries.
Commercial diets, prefab meal plans, and pre-packaged foods
Then the Consumer Reports article looked at the commercial diet plans and pre-packaged foods such as provided by Weight Watchers. About 43 percent of respondents told Consumer Reports magazine that they signed up for Weight Watchers, the second most popular plan.
Other plans reviewed in the article were the four commercial diets such as the Atkins diet (very low carb), the Medifast diet where the weight losers did lose a lot of weight, and the diets from Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig. The results on how much weight did the readers lose focused on the four commercial diets mentioned in the article:
1. Jenny Craig
4. Weight Watchers
Also check out the online site, “302 Complaints and Reviews about Nutrisystem.” The Consumer Reports article also noted that men lost more weight than women on all the plans rated. The most weight was lost by men on Medifast. The men lost 20 to 43 pounds in the article’s table, “How much weight did readers lose?” And the women lost 14 to 40 pounds on the Medifast diet. The article notes that 9,000 readers rated 13 diet plans, which includes the do-it-yourself plans.
Those do-it-yourself plans included the Atkins Diet, the Glycemic Index Diet, a variety of other low-carb diets other than Atkins, the Mediterranean Diet, and the website and application tool called MyFitnessPal. Other diets that were rated from the do-it-yourself category were the Paleo Diet, the Slim-Fast Diet, the South Beach Diet, and SparkPeople. Two of the diets had insufficient data regarding the median number of months the reader was on the particular diet noted.
Do-it-yourself diet plans and online tools versus commercial diets
In the do-it-yourself diet category which are not listed as commercial diets, the free online tool, MyFitnessPal (Free Calorie Counter, Diet & Exercise Journal | MyFitnessPal.com) had second from the largest number of pounds lost. For example, men on this ‘diet’ tool lost 10 to 30 pounds and women on that plan lost 4 to 18 pounds, much less than the men lost in pounds.
The largest number of pounds lost was on the Paleo diet, where men on the Paleo lost 10 to 32 pounds, but women on the Paleo diet lost only 6 to 20 pounds. What the study revealed was men lose more weight on these diets than women did.
For women, the Atkins Diet (very low carb) had women losing 8 to 25 pounds and men losing 15 to 30 pounds. The point is you have to define your own eating style, adjust your expectations, and keep track of calories and what you eat when. Eating at night raises the chances of you gaining more weight than if you ate your main meal in the afternoon.
Some people don’t like to cook and buy prefabricated meal plans instead
A lot of dieters don’t cook. They’re used to eating outside the home, usually in restaurants or even fast-food eateries. Three of the commercial diets rated in the Consumer’s Report article of February 2013 (available now in print) rated the prepared food high, for example the Jenny Craig Diet, the Medifast Diet, and Nutrisystem. If you are too busy to cook, you should know the readers did give high ratings to these prepared food package firms. Those diets have portion-controlled meals and foods such as bars and shakes.
Some people don’t like processed foods such as bars and shakes and won’t eat prepared foods because they are on special no-added salt diets or don’t want the ingredients in the bars and shakes. Check out the ingredients to see whether you’re sensitive to anything in any type of prepared food item, bar, or shake or are concerned about what’s in the linings of canned foods and shakes.
Just ask the company you choose what goes into the food or the can, the shake or the bar? Find out if the meals are prepared for you or whether or not you can order no salt or any specific ingredient to be added to the food. For example, if you’re allergic to rosemary (or any other type of edible plant or seafood), make sure it’s not one of the herbs in your food.
The taste of various meal replacements rated by readers
If you read the Consumer Reports article, you’ll find out what readers say about the taste of various meal replacements. Some people rely on the advice from their plan when they diet. You can learn the difference between meals and meal replacements such as Slim-Fast which uses meal replacements and is in a different category than Jenny Craig which provides prepared foods.
Some people like to diet themselves and others integrate advice from their diet plan company with do-it-yourself foods. Still other readers combined foods from different diet plans. If you don’t like to cook, check out the prefab meal plans, the Consumer Reports article suggests.
Psychologists weighed in on overeating in the Consumer Reports article
The article also has a section on eating and negative emotions. Some people take a cup of decaf green tea and add a spoon of unsweetened cocoa powder or raw cacao powder to it when they want the taste of chocolate and the benefits of green tea but not the sugar and not too much caffeine.
The psychologists in the Consumer Reports article discussed cognitive therapy for people who eat the wrong food for emotional reasons, feel guilty, and then proceed to eat more of the same type of sweets such as chocolate bars with sugar to make themselves feel better or calmer.
Psychologists also suggested problem-solving aimed at overcoming barriers to weight loss such as alternatives to exercising in a gym, and mindfulness training. Mindfulness trains participants to allow negative thoughts and emotions to come and go without holding the thoughts for long in your mind. You’re taught instead to concentrate on enjoying the moment. Living in the moment also is used to keep older people enjoying minute to minute each day instead of dwelling on the passage of time or what the future holds as you age.
What readers will get most out of the Consumer Reports article is how to prioritize your diet and lifestyle changes and if you use a diet plan such as Weight Watchers which has meetings, you get the most out of the plan. Consumer Reports looked into the survey results for Weight Watchers because so many respondents used the plan. About two thirds attended the meetings, and respondents suggested you attend the meetings if you’re on that plan.
What readers liked most about Weight Watchers, the respondents reported, is that it had taught them self-control strategies. In any case, the Consumer Reports survey are ratings based on the responses of 9,376 subscribers.
The ratings are noted on the panel of the 2012 Annual Questionnaire by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. Check out the site, How We Survey – Consumer Reports. Also check out the 2010 survey, Healthy diet – Consumer Reports Online. See another survey, In the Largest Survey of its Kind, Consumer Reports Found 83% of the most successful dieters said they lost weight entirely on their own. Also check out, 2012 Food & Health Survey: Consumer Attitudes toward Food Safety, and the 2011 report, Jenny Craig Tops Consumer Reports’ Diet Rankings – CBS Chicago.
What the plans that were surveyed actually measured
Do-it-yourself plans: based on books, apps, or general diet concepts.
Commercial plans: based on a set cost, membership fee, and/or required purchase of food.
Initial weight loss and maintenance scores: based on satisfaction of readers with the plan used – how helpful the plan was in keeping the weight down.
Fruits, vegetables, calorie awareness, and exercise scores: based on how well readers thought the plan encouraged positive behaviors.
Food variety: based on whether the plan allowed enough variety and favorite foods of the individuals.
Reader score: reflects the mean score for overall satisfaction with the diet plan, including cost, ease of use, and weight loss. A score of 100 means the reader was completely satisfied. Other scores include very satisfied, fairly well satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied on average. Check out the magazine article in Consumer Reports for more information and a guide to the survey on pages 26-29. Your public library usually has copies each month of Consumer Reports magazine. Look for the February 2013 issue or ask when it will arrive.
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