It can be tough to sort through the many weight loss programs available when you’re looking for support in your healthy lifestyle changes. Our expert reviewers follow the same criteria to test each program individually and then use the results to compare the programs. Keep reading to learn more about our testing and review criteria.

  • User interface: Website and app are user-friendly and easy to navigate.
  • Sustainability: Programs use habit-building to promote slow weight loss instead of dramatic changes and rapid weight loss.
  • Food quality, taste, and variety: Recipes or provided meals and snacks are made with flavorful ingredients that are high quality and aren’t repetitive or boring.
  • Value for price: Cost of program matches the value of the services, including meal plans and meal delivery, which are often the most expensive component of weight loss programs.
  • Fitness: Programs with included workouts are suited to a variety of fitness levels, include easy-to-follow instructions, and don’t require expensive equipment or gym memberships.
  • Dietitian review: The results of our testing and research were reviewed by registered and licensed dietitian Jillian Allen and fact-checked by registered and licensed dietitian Lindsey DeSoto.
  • Additional platform features: If programs offered support groups or workshops, we attended and reviewed these additional features.

Our picks of the best weight loss programs 

Everyone can benefit from support and resources to achieve specific goals in their life and losing weight to better your health is no different. One of the tools to help you achieve your health goals is a weight loss program. Unlike diets that mainly focus on specific eating guidelines, the best weight loss programs offer comprehensive support, including meal plans, exercise instructions, and sometimes counseling, which can provide the structured support needed for effective weight management.

Of course, weight loss programs may not be right for everyone, and you should always consult with your doctor to develop a plan for losing weight that’s right for you. Our Handbook Team has researched and tested a number of programs to find out the potential benefits and if the program is worth the hundreds of dollars you’ll pay in annual membership fees. We also consulted with multiple registered dieticians to recommend the best weight loss programs offering accurate and effective nutritional and weight loss strategies. We’re here to provide unbiased information so you can make a knowledgeable decision for sustainable health. Here’s what we learned about the best weight loss programs of 2024.

Best weight loss program overall

Noom is our top choice for the best weight loss programs because of the sustainable approach it takes to weight loss, focusing on education and habit changes aimed to set up members for continued success. While using Noom, members receive daily lessons on nutrition along with encouragement focused on mindset and the connection between mental and physical wellness. Noom provides a customized calorie intake goal, along with tracking of food, water, and physical activity in the app.

Compare the best weight loss programs

Starting monthly cost $17.50 $17.99 $19.99 $33 $339.99 $38 $39 $23
Services App-based program; Food and activity tracking; Recipes; Coaching App-based program, educational content, weekly meal plans App and website; 6 meal plans; Recipes and shopping lists; At-home workouts Weekly meal plans; Customized training regimens Website and app; Meal delivery; Weight loss program Website and app; Food and activity tracking; Workout routines; Weekly health report App-based program, 24/7 coaching, tracking tools WW app and website; Online community; 24/7 coaching; Educational content and recipes
Key points Program length: 1–12 months; Focus on mental health Program length: 1, 3, 6, and 9-month plans; AI health coach; Menu scanner; Nutrition scores Program length: 3 months; No calorie counting; Focus on education Program length: 2, 4, or 6 months; App does list the calories you eat and burn Program length: Monthly; 130+ menu options; Plans start at $11.08/day Program length: 1, 3 and 6 months; Meal recommendations; Fasting timer; Water tracker Program length: 1, 3, and 6-month plans, personalized meal plans Program length: 3 to 10 months; 3 different plan options

*These prices often vary based on location and promotions.

The best weight loss programs reviews

Best overall: Noom

Features

  • $17.50–$70 per month.
  • 14-day free trial
  • App-based program.
  • Program length: 16 weeks.
  • Food and activity tracking.
  • Recipes.
  • Daily lessons and tips for overall health and mental wellness.
  • Online communities for extra support.

Membership options

  • Noom offers a monthly auto-renewing plan for $70. Members who commit to more than a month at a time will pay less per month. For example, a two-month auto-renewing plan costs $129 for both months, and a six-month auto-renewing plan costs $179 for all six months.

Pros & cons

Pros Daily lessons focus on wellness, not weight loss. Overall tone is compassionate and understanding. Includes food and health tracking, motivational lessons, and coaching. Cons The app encourages daily weigh-ins. Returning to a previous lesson is challenging. Color-coded food system can lead to negative feelings about your food choices.

More insights from our tester

We found the daily lessons, which you complete in a prescribed order, to be very helpful. We especially enjoyed the short course on the psychology behind weight loss and how to establish healthy habits around eating, exercise, stress reduction, sleep, and staying motivated along the way.

We also appreciated the thoughtful approach and slower start of Noom compared to other weight loss programs. Rather than jumping into food tracking and daily weigh-ins, the app took us through lessons and questions centered on why we wanted to lose weight. On day two of the program, one tester shared the following feedback:

“I definitely sense a lot of patience coming from this program. I’ve wondered why they haven’t told me to log in meals or track water intake yet, and it’s because this program goes at a slower pace than what I’ve seen in other weight loss programs.”

Screenshot with Noom overview

An overview of the start of Noom

However, we didn’t like the rigid categorization of foods and the calorie limits placed on each one. Noom splits foods into three colors (green, yellow, and orange) based on nutrition and calorie content, and you get a certain calorie allotment for each category. Fruits and vegetables are generally listed as green, protein is in the yellow category, and high-calorie foods, like sweets and fats, are in the orange category.

This delineation of three categories is a better system than some programs like WW, for example, which lumps everything into a system of points without explaining the nutrition behind it. We did find the calorie limit that counts down with every food you eat to be anxiety-provoking, though. The Handbook Team doesn’t recommend this system for anyone with a history of eating disorders, as the laser focus on calorie intake could exacerbate disordered eating behaviors.

From our tester

“Although Noom states that foods shouldn’t be labeled as ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ it does set up a system that separates foods. This encourages people to see them in a negative or positive light.”

Noom app showing food log and categories

Noom app showing food log and categories

Strict language regarding food intake can be risky for anyone who has a history of disordered eating or a negative relationship with food, both of which are common struggles for people who are overweight or obese.

Emily Norman, a registered dietitian with Pay It Forward Fertility, warns that this type of language is one of the red flags to avoid when shopping for a weight loss program. “A program should not make you feel shameful or guilty for your past food history, dietary recalls, or eating preferences,” she says.

Noom doesn’t provide any branded foods, which lowers the cost since those sold by other weight loss programs (such as Nutrisystem) tend to be pricey. We found the app hard to use to filter recipes according to preferences and meal type, but once we found recipes to try, we appreciated the easy ingredient list and instructions and enjoyed the final result.

Overall, we like Noom as a sustainable weight loss solution but don’t recommend it for first-timers because it doesn’t create the same educational foundation around weight loss as the Mayo Clinic Diet. We also don’t recommend it for those with a history of disordered eating

Best overall

Our final verdict on Noom

Noom is a weight loss platform that includes food and health tracking, motivational lessons, coaching, and online communities to help you reach your weight goals. We liked the slower pace of this program compared to others, with a focus on learning more about your own weight loss journey rather than just setting a goal to reach a given size. The daily lessons emphasize setting realistic goals you can reach, celebrating small successes along the way, educating yourself on healthy habits, and getting more support when you need it.

In addition to the services offered with every Noom subscription, you can add the below extras. Prices of the add-ons varies depending on your personal plan:

  • Personal behavior coaching and 1:1 weekly sessions.
  • Custom meal plan.
  • Custom workout plan.
  • Body composition scale.

Noom coaches aren’t credentialed health professionals, so they can provide motivational support but not medical or nutrition advice. We had a hard time getting timely responses from both customer service and the coaches, and multiple testers found that the customer service chat wasn’t able to answer questions.

Nevertheless, we like that this program has a greater focus on mental health as an important part of weight loss than other programs we tested. Some of the lessons seemed elementary, but we enjoyed the upbeat tone and positivity.

Read our in-depth Noom review to learn more.

Best for beginners: Simple

Best for beginners
Simple

Features

  • App-based program.
  • Program length: 12 weeks.
  • AI assistant to answer questions and offer suggestions.
  • Food, water intake, and step tracking tools.
  • Free for the basic plan, or $17.99 per month for the premium plan

Membership options

  • Basic plan: The free version of this weight loss program allows members to log calories consumed and water intake.
  • Premium plan: Signing up for Simple’s premium plan costs $17.99 a month. This option includes the use of a food scanner, weight loss advice, and educational resources.

Pros & cons

Pros Quick food logging with multiple options. Instant nutrition scores help you learn about the right balance of foods to support your goals. Includes a digital personal wellness assistant to answer questions and offer suggestions. Regular notifications, including a fasting countdown, to keep you informed. Cons Phone notifications can feel excessive. Questioning about the main focus area for weight loss could be triggering to some people.

More insights from our tester

I found the Simple app easy to use, and I also appreciated the fact that the fasting window countdown stayed on my phone’s lock screen. I also liked the adjustability of the fasting window, the focus on logging water intake, and the immediate feedback after logging meals. On the downside, the phone notifications did become a little annoying, and I ultimately turned them off.

Our final verdict on Simple

Simple is an intermittent fasting app designed to give people daily insight into nutrition and guide them through a specific eating pattern for sustainable weight loss. We like Simple for beginners, as it offers real-time nutritional evaluations around food choices, providing important feedback without requiring calorie counting. The user-friendly interface includes all the tools you need, including articles covering how intermittent fasting works, the benefits of specific foods, and more. An AI-powered wellness assistant in the app can answer questions and offer suggestions.

To begin, you’ll complete a fairly detailed questionnaire that includes age, sex, current nutrition habits and preferences, specific areas where you’d like to lose weight, current height and weight, and additional lifestyle questions. The app has a free version that lets users log meals and track water intake, but the premium plan offers access to the food scanner, educational readings, recommendations, and other features.

One of our testers reports that frequent notifications took up the majority of their screen, which felt invasive and distracting.

Using the app is fairly straightforward. You’ll choose your fasting and eating windows, and the app will send notifications and feature a fasting “countdown” on your lock screen to keep you informed throughout the day. We appreciated the information but found the steady notifications a little excessive as the days passed. When it’s time to eat, you can log your meal by entering it manually, using voice-to-text, or uploading a photo to receive an immediate nutrition score designed to guide you to healthier food choices. It also includes a breakdown of calories and macronutrients, all contributing to our ranking of Simple among our best intermittent fasting apps.

Best for flexibility: Mayo Clinic Diet

Best for flexibility
Mayo Clinic Diet

Features

  • $19.99–$39.99 per month.
  • App and website.
  • Program length: 12 weeks.
  • Customizable meal plans, recipes, and shopping lists.
  • Educational articles and videos.
  • At-home workouts.

Membership options

  • Month-to-month membership: Mayo Clinic offers members the option to pay monthly but offers a discount when they commit to multiple months upfront. A 12-month plan costs $19.99 per month, a six-month plan costs $29.99 per month, and a three-month plan costs $39.99 per month.
  • Pay-in-full membership: Members who pay in full are offered an additional discount on their membership. Paying upfront for a three-month plan costs $99.99, which is an additional savings of $20, while paying upfront for a 12-month plan costs $199.99, which is an additional savings of $40.

Pros & cons

Pros The portion guide is simple and straightforward Meal planning is customizable A private Facebook group provides community Cons Snacking on only fruits and vegetables is challenging There’s a lack of guidance and support Suggested exercises could be more accessible

More insights from our tester

It can be hard to know what to eat and how much when you set out to lose weight, but the Mayo Clinic program provides plenty of help with that. It gives you a calorie level for weight loss built into your meal plan and recipes to go with it. Calorie levels vary greatly from person to person, but are based on factors such as age, gender, and activity level.

Meals for each day are listed in the app, and you simply check off each meal after you’ve eaten it rather than entering every food from that meal, as you would with most other food tracking apps.

The app also gives you a workout plan to follow with exercises you can do at home using little or no equipment.

Mayo Clinic Diet app workouts

Mayo Clinic Diet app workouts

We also like the easy-to-apply nutrition content in the app, such as the picture of what our plate should look like.

Another aspect we find helpful is the Habit Optimizer, a list that lets you see which healthy habits you’re establishing and which not-so-healthy ones you can change. Some of the habits to “break” are more realistic than others—nixing TV during meals is doable, but cutting out any snack that’s not a fruit or vegetable probably isn’t sustainable for most people.

Here are the habits to “make” and those to “break” on the plan:

  • Five to make: Eat a healthy breakfast, eat vegetables and fruit, eat whole grains, eat healthy fats, and move 30 minutes each day.
  • Five to break: Eating while watching TV, consuming sugar or alcohol, snacking (with the exception of vegetables and fruits), eating meat and dairy frequently, and dining out (unless a restaurant meal fits into your meal plan).
  • Five bonus habits: Eat ‘real food,’ keep food records, keep activity records, move 60 minutes each day, and write your daily goals.

One concern we do have is the first two weeks of the program, called Quick Start, designed to help you lose six to 10 pounds in the first two weeks. That’s more than the one to two pounds per week recommended by the USDA for sustainable weight loss.

But a person who is overweight and normally eats a high-carb standard American diet will likely lose that much weight in the first couple of weeks simply by following a healthier diet like one of the Mayo Clinic’s meal plans, which are naturally lower in carbs.

A change to a diet that’s lower in calories and carbs (even if the carbs aren’t low enough to switch your metabolism to ketosis) will result in lost water weight. After that, if you continue with the diet, you should begin to see fat loss as well.

Overall, we found the Mayo Clinic Diet to be an excellent balance of guidance from educational content, meal planning, and establishment of healthy habits, along with the flexibility to adjust your meal and exercise plan according to your preferences and goals.

From our tester

“This is a really good weight loss plan for total beginners or young folks who don’t have an education in nutrition, cooking, and staples of a healthy lifestyle.”

Our final verdict on the Mayo Clinic Diet

The Mayo Clinic diet was developed by a team of doctors, dietitians, and psychologists as a way to teach people healthy habits with a 12-week program, enabling them to lose weight and keep it off for the long run. Clinical studies have found that this length of time is reasonable for participants to see changes in body weight and composition.

The program offers six meal plans that you can choose from based on your food preferences and health needs, including a low-carb plan and three gluten-free options. This is a huge plus for many people: Our survey of 600 weight loss program users found that 57 percent wanted a program that could help them with meal planning.

We recommend the Mayo Clinic Diet as a great weight loss option for anyone wanting to lose weight. It’s a particularly good choice for those who may want or need the flexibility of following a specific diet, such as gluten-free or vegan, but offers a wide range of solid benefits for everyone.

Read our in-depth Mayo Clinic Diet review to learn more.

Best for runners: Joggo

Best for runners
Joggo

Features

  • Personalized and easy-to-use running program based on your skill level and running goals.
  • Meal plan with recipes and shopping lists.
  • Educational content on running.
  • Daily tips to help you reach your goals.
  • The program is tailored to your specific health goal, whether that’s losing weight, improving your fitness, or running faster or longer distances.
  • Joggo offers three different program lengths that range between $33 to $66 per month (Two, four, or six months).

Membership options

  • Two months: Signing up for two months on Joggo costs $33 for both months, which breaks down to roughly $3.85 per week.
  • Four months: Joggo costs $46 for four months of membership. Members are incentivized to commit to the program for a longer period of time knowing they’ll play closer to $2.68 per week.
  • Six months: Members pay $66 total for six months of membership. This plan breaks down to about $2.57 per week.

Pros & cons

Pros Emphasizes behavioral change rather than calorie counts. Tailored running or walking program to your current ability. Plenty of educational resources, including injury prevention education. Cons Unrealistic goals set by the initial onboarding process. No thorough medical screening, coaching, or clinical support. Can’t log your own meals.

More insights from our tester

We would like to see some improvements with this program, though. We didn’t like how you couldn’t view shopping lists until each Sunday when the new week’s meal plan appeared in the app. It also didn’t allow us to retroactively enter food intake or running data, making our log inaccurate. Finally, we’d like more flexibility in the meal plans with the option to add extra foods or customize meals based on what’s in our pantry.

Our final verdict on Joggo

Joggo is primarily geared toward runners rather than people looking to lose weight, but it offers a number of features that can be helpful for weight loss. It’s also one of the most affordable programs on the market.

To learn more about this weight loss program, read our Joggo review.

Best program for convenience: Nutrisystem

Best for convenience
Nutrisystem

Features

  • Food, water, weight, and activity tracking.
  • Wellness articles and tips.
  • Access to Nutrisystem Facebook community.
  • Weight Loss Coach scheduling.
  • Program length: 12 weeks.
  • Plans start at $11.08/day

Membership options

  • Uniquely Yours: This is Nutrisystem’s basic plan, including meals and snacks for 28 days. Members who choose Uniquely Yours will have access to 1-on-1 coaching.
  • Uniquely Yours Max+: This one-time shipment includes enough meals and snacks for 28 days, five days a week. A dietitian selects the meals from Nutrisystem’s higher-protein options.
  • Complete 50: Aimed at members over the age of 50, this plan encourages the maintenance and building of muscle mass. Complete 50 includes higher protein meal options, protein shakes, and strength training exercises.
  • Basic Diabetes Plan: This plan’s meals are tailored for blood sugar management. Nutrisystem’s Basic Diabetes Plan includes enough meals and snacks for five days a week.
  • Uniquely Yours Diabetes Plan: This plan shares the same goals as the Basic Diabetes Plan but includes a wider variety of menu options. Uniquely Yours Diabetes Plan members will also have free access to the NuMi® Weight Loss App.
  • Your Ultimate Diabetes Plan: Members will receive all of the benefits of the Uniquely Yours Diabetes Plan with additional meals and snacks to cover seven days a week.

Pros & cons

Pros App is easy to use. 130+ menu options. Daily cost is affordable. Cons Not healthy for weight management. Food lacks freshness. Program focuses more on calorie deficit than overall nutrition.

More insights from our tester

Nutrisystem advertises an expected weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week, although the website also claims you can lose up to 7 pounds the first week by drinking two high-protein Nutrisystem shakes and eating only one meal per day. Again, this is a recipe for taking off the pounds quickly, but don’t expect them to stay off long-term unless you plan to stick to meal replacement shakes forever.

Similar to Diet-to-Go, Nutrisystem may be a good choice for someone who wants to lose some weight in the short-term. The prepared meals and snacks are healthy overall, and we could also see it working well for someone recently diagnosed with diabetes who is looking for help getting used to eating a specific calorie level with foods that will help control their blood sugar.

Our final verdict on Nutrisystem

Nutrisystem has been around since 1975, when it introduced one of the first calorie-controlled meal delivery programs. It still works the same way, with meals, snacks, and shakes delivered to your door. One thing that has changed since Nutrisystem’s founding is the introduction of its app, Numi. Our testers used the app to track the meals they tried and explored recipes when they wanted to cook instead. The app, website, and meal packages provide detailed nutrition information, and it is relatively easy to choose meals and snacks that are suited to specific lifestyle needs such as diabetes. It is worth noting that choices for Celiac or gluten sensitivity are limited.

Our testers say that some of the meals they have tried so far lacked flavor. For example, the breakfast sandwiches were bland and easy to replicate with groceries one of our testers already had on hand (and their version tasted better). When it came time for lunch, microwaving the packaged hamburger resulted in a soggy bun and chewy patty with very little flavor. Overall, the boring nature of the meals combined with small, low-calorie portions left our testers unsatisfied and wanting more.

Nutrisystem burger on a plate
One of our testers didn’t enjoy this meal, which was bland and too small to satisfy their hunger.

Nutrisystem is a full-service weight loss program with a price tag to match. However, when we looked at Nutrisystem with our standard of slow and sustainable weight loss in mind, the program didn’t pass the test. The extremely small portions left our tester hungry. While convenient, prepackaged meals don’t teach individuals much about preparing balanced meals once they leave the program. Additionally, promises of rapid weight loss concern us about how healthy this program really is for its users.

Learn more in our Nutrisystem review.

Best for intermittent fasting: DoFasting

Best for intermittent fasting beginners
DoFasting

Features

  • Easy to use.
  • Includes workout routines.
  • Program length: 6 weeks.
  • Tracks fasting and meals.
  • Supportive online community.

Membership options:

  • DoFasting: Signing up for this app includes an individualized fasting plan, a timer reminding you when to eat and when to fast, and exercise routines. DoFasting offers a one-month subscription for $37, a three-month subscription for $16/month, or $48 total, and a six-month subscription for $11.50/month, or $69 total.
  • Add-ons: At sign-up, members will be encouraged to add on meal-prepping resources, additional workout routines, an appetite suppressant, and a lifetime membership to DoFasting.

Pros & cons

Pros User-friendly. Responsive customer service. Many fasting options. Cons Fasting caused blood sugar drops and mood swings. Not recommended for those with eating disorders or disordered eating. No free trial.

More insights from our tester

While subscribed to DoFasting, our tester logged fasts, meals, hydration, and exercise. They tried the recommended recipes and interacted with the DoFasting online community and customer service representatives. Our tester reported the app to be glitchy.

Our tester chose to test the 12-hour fast, which DoFasting recommends as the best for beginners. Our tester selected 10 p.m. to start the fast so that much of the fasting would occur overnight. The app doesn’t automatically end the fast, so our tester had to open the app to stop the fast in the morning.

Once our tester finished the fast, the app asked how they felt. They reported feeling a little hungry, so they fixed breakfast right away and tracked the meal’s macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) in the app. The macro-tracking process was tedious, and inputting the data took longer than expected.

From our tester

“I tried the 12-hour- and 16-hour fast. The 12-hour fast was very doable for me, but the 16-hour fast was not. I’m an intuitive eater, and trying to ignore my hunger cues made me feel irritable.”

Our final verdict on DoFasting

DoFasting is a weight loss app that guides you in following an intermittent fasting schedule. Intermittent fasting is a system of eating during a set window of time each 24-hour period and fasting for the rest of the time. Intermittent fasting has been shown to support weight loss and lower blood lipid levels and blood pressure. DoFasting allows you to set a timer for fasting and eating, track food intake, and track weight.

The program offers fasting schedules that range between 12 and 72 hours. Our testers found that fasting for 12 hours was easy, as most of the fast happened at night while they slept. But the 16- and 18-hour fast was much harder to stick with due to blood sugar drops that caused mood swings and uncomfortable hunger pangs. All of the testers opted out of trying the 20-hour fast.

Learn more in our DoFasting review.

Best for Weight Loss Recipes: Perfect Body

Best for weight loss recipes
Perfect Body

Features

  • App-based program.
  • Personalized 28-day meal plan developed by nutritionists with recipes and grocery list.
  • Almost 10,000 recipes.
  • Food, water intake, and step tracking tools.
  • $39 per month charged monthly, $52 for a three-month plan charged every three months, $67 for a six-month plan charged every six months.

Membership options

  • Meal plan: PerfectBody members receive a customized, 28-day meal plan after completing a questionnaire at sign-up. Each meal plan costs $39.99 per month and includes 5 recipes each day as well as a shopping list.
  • Workout plan: Meal plan members have the option to upgrade to a workout plan, but PerfectBody doesn’t share the cost of this upgrade until you’ve completed their questionnaire. According to PerfectBody, these exercises can be completed at home with minimal equipment.

Pros & cons

Pros Nutritionist-developed meal plans are personalized to your dietary preferences. Wide variety of recipes for balanced meals included in the plan. Accompanying app makes it easy to track foods from the program, steps, and more. Cons Tracking options are limited to recipes within the plan. Workouts are an additional, one-time $60 payment. No option to add workouts that aren’t in the app, which can mean fewer calories are recommended than is ideal. Recipes call for a wide range of ingredients, which gets expensive and could lead to food waste.

More insights from our tester

Many of the recipes in the Perfect Body app were balanced and enjoyable. Tracking nutritional information from in-app recipes was very simple, and we appreciate the inclusive, non-restrictive approach to meals. However, we think that the app misses the mark by not allowing outside meals and workouts to be added and tracked. As a whole, caloric intake was on the low side, especially when factoring for outside workouts, leaving us with the feeling that Perfect Body is focused on rapid weight loss rather than sustainable, long-term weight loss. The option to skip meals completely also gave us the sense that the app isn’t concerned with whether or not users develop healthy eating habits.

Our final verdict on Perfect Body

Perfect Body is a weight-loss program with personalized 28-day meal plans. Each plan is developed by a nutritionist and customized to your weight loss goals and dietary preferences based on your answers to their online questionnaire. The program is entirely digital, and every meal plan includes balanced recipes that you’ll make yourself. 

The 28-day plan includes five recipes per day, including two snacks, with step-by-step instructions, plus calorie and macronutrient information. The app lets you swap a meal for a variety of alternate recipe options if something doesn’t seem appealing, and you can also skip meals entirely. While the app works well if you’re following the recipe plan, there is no option for adding outside recipes and meals. We think that makes the Perfect Body plan unsustainable as a long-term option, because it doesn’t teach users how to make healthy decisions when they’re dining out.

Omelet made with a recipe from Perfect Body
Using a recipe provided by Perfect Body, one of our testers prepared this omelet and enjoyed the meal enough to repeat it after leaving the program.

Overall, we found the recipes diverse and generally tasty. We enjoyed the varied recipes, which encouraged trying new flavor combinations. Still, we would have preferred the recipes to be organized in a way that limited the number of ingredients purchased per week. We were unimpressed with some of the recipes’ seasoning recommendations, as they were often limited to salt and pepper, making some meals quite bland.

Best affordable program: WeightWatchers (WW)

Best affordable program
WW (WeightWatchers)

Features

  • Daily budget of food points based on your current height and weight, gender, age, and weight goals.
  • WW app for tracking food, activity, and sleep; finding recipes; and accessing coaching and communities.
  • 24/7 coaching for extra support and troubleshooting.
  • Workshops and other online sessions.
  • Educational content and recipes.
  • $23 per month plus a $20 starter fee for most basic plan.
  • Program length: 1 month, 3 months, or 10 months.

Membership options

  • Core Plan: This is the basic WeightWatchers (WW) plan. It includes access to the app, personalized daily point limits, online coaching, and WW group support through the app. The Core Plan costs $23 per month with a $20 start-up fee.
  • Premium Plan: In addition to the features of the Core Plan, Premium Plan members can attend in-person and virtual workshops and receive behavior change resources each week. The Premium Plan costs $45 plus a $30 start-up fee.
  • Sequence Plan: Members receive all of the benefits of the Premium Plan as well as GLP-1 agonist medications. The Sequence Plan cost $99 per month plus a $49 consultation fee at sign-up.

Pros & cons

Pros Easy to use app. Affordable plan options. Positive experiences with coaching, workshops, and community groups. Cons Point system does not lead to sustainable healthy eating habits. Is not comprehensive in nutrition education. Food-tracking is time-consuming.

More insights from our tester

We found the app fairly easy to use, but it’s more cumbersome than other apps like Noom and Joggo. One advantage for people who prefer to use a computer rather than their phone is that WW has a more extensive website than, say, Noom, which is completely app-based.

We dislike the fact that points don’t correspond directly to the calorie or nutritional content of foods, and WW doesn’t provide the formula to allow you to figure out your own points for foods that aren’t in the WW database.

This makes it hard to sustain healthy eating habits outside the program. It also goes against the premise of a sustainable weight loss system like the one from Mayo Clinic, which teaches you how to craft and follow a healthy diet.

We had positive experiences with the coaching, workshops, and community groups provided through WW. But the fact that it’s hard to learn about nutrition through WW, as well as their claim that you can lose weight on the program without any exercise, leaves holes that we sought to fill through other, more comprehensive programs.

Our final verdict on WeightWatchers (WW)

WeightWatchers is a weight loss program based on a simplified food tracking system and support offered through coaching and member groups. However, it doesn’t provide much in the way of nutrition education or tips for maintaining healthy eating habits once you end your membership.

Read our WeightWatchers review to learn more.

What to consider when choosing a weight loss program

Healthy living, including a balanced diet and regular exercise, is directly related to mental health and overall wellness. A nutritious diet supports strong bones and muscles, combats depression, and lowers the risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes, while regular physical activity can alleviate anxiety and depression and improve sleep.

In some situations, weight loss programs can help you learn more about how nutrition can support your overall health. However, we understand that weight loss is a sensitive topic. Research shows feelings of shame, self-criticism, and social comparison can hinder weight management and eating habits. Some weight loss programs can even intensify these feelings. 

If you’re affected by an eating disorder or experience patterns of disordered eating, we suggest talking to a dietitian, therapist, or counselor who specializes in eating disorders before you enroll in any weight loss program.

It’s also important to consider that weight loss programs vary from one to the next, with different tools, support, and methodologies. Choosing the right weight loss program for your needs means finding one that suits your lifestyle, budget, personality, and personal history with food and exercise.

Key Features to Look for in Weight Loss Programs
Educational tools. Educational tools.
Support by credentialed health professionals. Support by credentialed health professionals.
Easy-to-use app and website. Easy-to-use app and website.
Responsive coaches and customer service. Responsive coaches and customer service.
Program that supports positive, sustainable changes. Program that supports positive, sustainable changes.
No quick-fixes or restrictive diets. No quick-fixes or restrictive diets.

The relationship between weight loss and mental health is often overlooked. For some, weight loss can bring positive experiences of confidence and accomplishment. For others, weight loss can lead to feelings of anxiety, despair, and hopelessness. It is important to consider how your mental health can be affected as you embark on a weight loss journey.

Karin Evans, registered dietitian nutritionist at Top Nutrition Coaching

Our Handbook Team is here to offer guidance and help you find weight loss platforms that are positive, fun to use, and supportive of healthy and steady weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week. When choosing your weight loss program, keep these factors in mind:

Your relationship with food

If you’re affected by an eating disorder or experience patterns of disordered eating, speak with a dietitian, therapist, or counselor who specializes in eating disorders before you enroll in any weight loss program. Those who experience feelings of guilt or shame associated with eating should choose a program that encourages a healthy relationship with food, frequent meals rather than periods of fasting, flexible food choices, and a limited focus on calorie counting. 

It’s also important to prioritize a program that provides ongoing coaching for added encouragement and support. “An effective weight loss program should ideally offer behavioral support and coaching to address the emotional and psychological aspects of eating. Look for programs that provide guidance on portion control, mindful eating, and strategies to cope with emotional triggers for overeating,” says Chrissy Arsenault, a registered dietitian at Trainer Academy.

Your knowledge base

Are you familiar with nutrition, exercise, and weight loss strategies? Or do you consider yourself a beginner when it comes to weight loss? Some programs, such as the Mayo Clinic Diet, offer more education and support, making all the difference if you’re new to weight loss.

Eating habits promoted by the program

A quality weight loss program will help you establish healthy eating habits to support you for the rest of your life. Beware of any system that teaches severe food restriction, labels foods as “good” or “bad,” or doesn’t provide a well-rounded variety of foods in your meal plan. 

“Be wary of any programs that promise rapid, unsustainable weight loss or severely restrict entire food groups or certain foods,” says Arensault. “The nutrition plan should promote a focus on nutrient density and incorporate a balanced intake of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, along with essential vitamins and minerals.

How much do weight loss programs cost?

The cost of weight loss programs varies widely based on the level of support offered, the credentials of the health professionals offering that support, and whether food is provided with the program. For instance, one of the least expensive programs is Joggo with an average price of $12 per month. It’s basically an automated system with little in the way of help from real people or health experts, but if you’re comfortable with a do-it-yourself plan, this is one way to save money.

At the other end of the spectrum is Nutrisystem, a weight loss program that can run up to nearly $400 per month but delivers every meal and snack to your door.

The length of membership you commit to also makes a big difference in the monthly cost for some programs. For instance, Noom charges $70 per month if you sign up for only one month, but $17.50 per month if you subscribe and pay for 12 months at a time.

What is the difference between a diet and a weight loss program?

Weight loss programs and diets have several differences. Diets typically focus on following specific nutritional guidelines, such as the ketogenic diet’s high-fat, low-carb food plan, or the Mediterranean diet’s emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. In contrast, weight loss programs often offer a more comprehensive package, including meal plans, exercise routines, and support from professionals or a community. People may choose a weight loss program over a simple diet because they provide structured plans, motivational support, and accountability, which can be crucial for long-term success.

Popular diets for weight loss

  • Keto Diet: Following this high-fat, low-carb diet encourages the body to enter a metabolic state known as ketosis. Because the body burns more fat instead of carbohydrates, the keto diet can cause weight loss.
  • Flexitarian Diet: Flexitarians are flexible vegetarians who focus on increasing their intake of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains while decreasing their meat consumption. For some people, reducing their meat intake may also lower their calorie intake, resulting in weight loss.
  • Mediterranean Diet: The Mediterranean diet encourages eating more vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains. It also recommends sticking to lean meats and fish, eliminating red meat, and reducing dairy intake. 
  • Volumetrics: Individuals who want to eat more food while dieting may turn to a volumetrics diet. On this diet, people lose weight without feeling too hungry by eating a large amount of low-calorie foods.
  • DASH Diet: This diet is focused on improving overall health by reducing sodium and saturated fat intake. People following the DASH diet are also encouraged to eat a variety of healthy foods including vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and lean meats.

Our weight loss program testing experience

of research
1000+   hours
of research
hand-tested
9   platforms
hand-tested
surveyed
600   people
surveyed
consulted
20   experts
consulted

Our Handbook Team members subscribed to nine top weight loss programs as mystery shoppers. During that time, we did the following:

Our Weight Loss Program Testing Process
1
Subscribe as a new member. Subscribe as a new member.
2
Download the app. Download the app.
3
Use the program to track food, activity, sleep, and weight. Use the program to track food, activity, sleep, and weight.
4
Follow weight loss advice included in the program. Follow weight loss advice included in the program.
5
Test food products and recipes. Test food products and recipes.
6
Contact customer support with questions. Contact customer support with questions.
7
Participate in online forums, coaching sessions, and workshops. Participate in online forums, coaching sessions, and workshops.
8
Explore the website for articles, recipes, and educational content. Explore the website for articles, recipes, and educational content.
9
Talk to other members for their experience. Talk to other members for their experience.

By becoming familiar with the websites and apps of each program and using them as a normal customer would, we were able to gain a detailed view of how easy (or hard) it was to follow the program in daily life.

Participating in online member communities and coaching sessions gave us insight into the type of support each program offered. And our focus groups and interviews with doctors, dietitians, nutritionists, and mental health experts helped us learn more about the connections between weight loss, physical health, and mental health.

One detail we focused on was the sustainability of each program. It’s vital that a successful weight loss program teaches you how to establish and maintain healthy habits for long-term weight loss, and not all companies are standouts at this skill.

From our tester

“There was a pattern in our research of people joining and losing weight, falling back into old patterns, regaining weight and coming back full circle.”

Our testing results, experiences of other customers compiled from interviews and surveys, and professional opinions of health experts have all informed the conclusions we’ve arrived at and share in this review of the best weight loss programs.

Learn more about our healthy living review methodology.

Frequently asked questions

The surest and safest way to lose weight is to combine a healthy diet that includes a variety of whole foods with a program of regular exercise. Between the calories you take in with your diet and those you burn through exercise and daily activity, you’ll need to be in a calorie deficit to see weight loss, according to the Mayo Clinic. This means that you eat fewer calories than your body is burning each day. Adequate protein and fiber intake are also important to help ward off hunger between meals; a dietitian can help you find the right protein level for your body.

The United States Department of Agriculture recommends a weight loss rate of no more than 1–2 pounds per week.

Promises of more than 2 pounds per week of weight loss, a requirement to eat only foods provided by the program, and shaming of food choices or body weight in any way are all things to avoid when shopping for weight loss programs.

Bringing your weight into a healthy range helps both your body and mind. The physical benefits include minimizing your risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, high blood pressure, stroke, and sleep apnea, among other conditions. Even small weight loss, just 5 percent of your body weight, can result in marked improvements in health measures like blood glucose, triglycerides, and inflammation. These are all risk factors for the health conditions listed above, so lowering levels by losing weight also lowers your risk of the chronic diseases associated with obesity. In addition to physical health, research shows that weight loss offers a number of benefits for mental and emotional health.

Sustainable weight loss can be achieved by setting realistic goals that focus on creating healthy habits and making lasting lifestyle changes. To use a weight loss program safely and sustainably, create a plan you can commit to for the long term and reach out to medical professionals, friends, and family for additional support.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, May 17). Adult obesity facts. Link
  2. Sarwer, D. B., & Polonsky, H. M. (2016). The psychosocial burden of obesity. Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America, 45(3), 677–688. Link
  3. Ramìrez-Velez, R., Izquierdo, M., Kastro-Astrudillo, K., Medrano-Mena, C., Monroy-Dìaz, A.L., Castellanos-Vega, R., et al. Weight loss after 12 weeks of exercise and.or nutritional guidance is not obligatory for induced changes in local fat/lean mass indexes in adults with excess of adiposity. Nutrients. 12(8), 2231. Link
  4. Standard American diet. NutritionFacts.org. (n.d.). Link
  5. Mayo Clinic. Eating disorders. Link
  6. Fiorentino, T.V. (2022) Intermittent fasting and metabolic health. Nutrients. 14(3), 631. Link
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health effects of overweight and obesity. Link
  8. Magkos F., Fraterrigo G., Yoshino J., Luecking C., Kirbach K., Kelly S.C., et al. (2016) Effects of moderate and progressive subsequent weight loss on metabolic function and adipose tissue in humans with obesity. Cell Metabolism. 23(4), 591-601. Link
  9. Lasikiewicz L., Myrissa K., Hayland A, & Lawton C.L. (2014). Psychological benefits of weight loss following behavioural and/or dietary weight loss interventions. A systematic research review. 72, 123-137. Link
  10. Mayo Clinic. Healthy Lifestyle Weight Loss. Link
  11. United States Department of Agriculture. Interested in losing weight? Link