Few things are more discouraging to someone on a weight-loss plan than the oft-cited statistic that 95% of people who lose weight will regain it within a few years. The difficulty in sticking with a long-term weight-maintenance plan is one of the main reasons that weight-loss programs fail. To uncover clues to successful weight loss, researchers have been collecting information on people who have lost weight and successfully kept it off for many years. This project, known as the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), records what these people did to achieve their goals.
The HMR program’s approach makes the top of the list of best diet plans because the Decision-Free plan suggests you can lose up to 66 pounds in 26 weeks. You could also drop 37 pounds on its Healthy Solutions option. The Decision-Free diet is a medically supervised, very low-calorie diet of shakes and snacks; Healthy Solutions includes shakes, snacks, entrees, and your own fruits and vegetables. You should expect to exercise plenty to lose the most weight; you can also sign up for health coaching to boost success. The convenience is a plus—but you will get a very limited choice of foods and aren’t allowed to drink alcohol or eat out. And remember: You risk gaining weight once you go back to real food. Check out these 42 tips for losing weight fast.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests subtracting 500 to 1,000 calories from your usual intake each day to lose at a healthy rate. First, keep a food diary to estimate the number of calories you currently eat, then subtract the calories to determine your weight-loss calorie needs. For example, if you currently eat 2,300 calories a day, to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week you need to reduce your intake to 1,800 calories or 1,300 calories a day, respectively.

Plan your meals ahead of time so you make healthy choices. When dining out, check the menu online and decide what you will order ahead of time. Ask for dressings on the side and opt for foods that are baked, broiled or steamed versus foods that are fried or in creamy sauces. Avoid the chips and bread baskets that can add unnecessary calories to a meal.


While some people respond well to counting calories or similar restrictive methods, others respond better to having more freedom in planning their weight-loss programs. Being free to simply avoid fried foods or cut back on refined carbs can set them up for success. So, don’t get too discouraged if a diet that worked for somebody else doesn’t work for you. And don’t beat yourself up if a diet proves too restrictive for you to stick with. Ultimately, a diet is only right for you if it’s one you can stick with over time.
SOURCES: WebMD Feature: "With Fruits and Veggies, More Matters." 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines. Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author, The Pocket Idiot's Guide to the New Food Pyramids. Elaine Magee, MPH, RD,author, Comfort Food Makeovers. Brian Wansink, PhD, professor and director, Cornell Food and Brand Lab, Ithaca, N.Y.; author, Mindless Eating. Barbara Rolls, PhD, professor of nutritional sciences; and director, laboratory for the study of human ingestive behaviors, Penn State University; and author, The Volumetrics Eating Plan.
The degree to which exercise aids weight loss is open to debate, but the benefits go way beyond burning calories. Exercise can increase your metabolism and improve your outlook—and it’s something you can benefit from right now. Go for a walk, stretch, move around and you’ll have more energy and motivation to tackle the other steps in your weight-loss program.
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Becky Duffett is a contributing nutrition editor for Fitbit and a lifestyle writer with a passion for eating well. A former Williams-Sonoma cookbook editor and graduate of San Francisco Cooking School, she’s edited dozens of cookbooks and countless recipes. City living has turned her into a spin addict—but she’d still rather be riding a horse. She lives in the cutest neighborhood in San Francisco, spending weekends at the farmers’ market, trying to read at the bakery, and roasting big dinners for friends.
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