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Guide to Cheap Diet Plans





The best cheap diet plans are designed to change the way you think about food and the amount and type of foods you eat. Our top choice is Weight Watchers†(starting at $18.95/monthly online membership).

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This diet program allows meal flexibility and guides you toward a sustainable target weight through online and/or in-person support, information, and self-help tools. Second-place spots on our list of top weight loss plans belong to the†South Beach Diet†(starting at $7.99/book; $4/weekly online membership) because of its reasonable approach and good results and the SparkPeople (free) program because of its focus on nutritious food, healthy living, and strong peer community. The Atkins Diet†(starting at $10.88/book) doesn't make the cut as a good cheap diet plan due to concerns about its impact on followers' health and ongoing weight maintenance.†Nutrisystem (starting at $229.99/28 days food delivery) sinks due to cost and complaints about quality of the prepared and delivered food even though some dieters swear by the positive outcomes.

When researching cheap diet plans we assessed results as reported in online reviews, the level of support provided dieters, and whether the plans help keep the weight off. We also looked at how restrictive they are in terms of food choice and, of course, the impact on your budget.

From the get-go you can choose among different types of inexpensive weight-loss plans, including book-based or membership/support plans or a diet-food delivery program. The deciding factors are likely to involve your budget and what you know about yourself. Can you make healthy food choices with guidance from a book or informative articles, nudging from like-minded peers, interactive websites, recommended recipes and menu ideas? Or, do you need to remove choice from your diet and eat only what's deposited at your doorstep?

Once you settle on a broad category, you'll find dozens of diet plans, each with its own structure and attitude about weight loss. Many companies behind these plans also produce a line of branded low-calorie food products sold in supermarkets.

Weight Watchers: Small steps can mean big changes

Book-based diet plans, such as Atkins and South Beach, are comparatively cheap. You buy the book once, follow the game plan, and control your own food costs. These weight-loss plans require a certain amount of willpower every time you step into the grocery store and in front of the stove. Some, such as Atkins, are also associated with websites that offer access to community and interactive tools; absent such web support, you're on your own.

Membership/support diet plans, such as Weight Watchers, SparkPeople, and the e-version of the South Beach Diet, are primarily web-based. Some come with ongoing membership fees that open the online gate to information about food choices and fitness, menu suggestions and recipes, and also provide reinforcement through user forums and interactive tools; SparkPeople, by contrast, is totally free. Some membership diet plans also organize meet-ups with fellow dieters for weigh-ins, motivation, and accountability. Like the cheap book-based diet plans, membership/support plans require grocery-store discipline and give you flexibility to pair your dietary requirements with meals for the entire family.

Food-delivery weight-loss programs, such as Nutrisystem and the pricier Jenny Craig, may be better at keeping temptation at bay but you'll pay for that external control in the form of higher overall food costs. You get the equivalent of three meals a day plus snacks and/or dessert that are intended to provide a nutritionally balanced diet. Some diet-food delivery programs let you choose menus based on demographic and health factors and others have you select from dozens of meal options. Barbs hurled at this approach to weight loss concern the price, disappointing food quality, and the missed opportunity to learn about making proper food choices and preparing meals that keep the pounds off.

The best way to get your money's worth from a cheap diet plan is to choose one that helps you learn healthy eating habits and simultaneously encourages the habit of exercise. Weight Watchers, for example, provides an online food and exercise diary and illustrated workouts, and awards extra food points for exercise. The SparkPeople diet takes a holistic approach to weight loss with "challenges" aimed at improving nutrition and fitness and finding the exercise routine you can stick with. The current South Beach Diet includes a three-phase fitness program that eases you into exercise and complements the three-phase diet plan. Nutrisystem recommends exercise and helps you create a personalized plan while the Atkins Diet website offers articles about exercise but no set guidelines.

Regardless which weight loss approach you prefer, it's always best to talk to a doctor before starting out.

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by Louis DeNicola (Google+ Profile)

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Filed in: Beauty, Diet, Diet Plans,
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