Finding a Sound Weight-Loss Program
Believe it or not, there are credible weight loss programs out there. Learn how to find one that works for you.

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Finding a Sound Weight-Loss Program

We've all seen the advertisements: "Lose 20 pounds in 20 days!" "Eat your favorite foods and lose weight!" "Buy these products and watch the weight disappear!" Despite some programs' questionable promises, weight-loss programs might be very helpful.

Some people join weight-loss programs for the support and structure they receive, while others do it for the convenience of ready-made snacks and meals. You may have thought about joining one too. If so, a weight-loss program may be helpful for you. Just remember, there is no such thing as effortless weight loss.

Credible programs do not promise extreme or quick results. A weight loss of one-half to two pounds a week is generally safe. Bear in mind that effective weight loss means reducing calories and exercising regularly. See your doctor before starting any weight-loss program. He or she can guide you as to what would be a healthy weight for you and what to consider when following a weight-loss program. If you decide to join a weight-loss program, here are some tips for finding a credible one with a track record of success.

What makes for a credible weight-loss program?

  • No false or fantastic promises for quick or unrealistic results. Slow, steady weight loss is the goal instead.
  • Weight loss and weight maintenance success that you can follow every day and over time are part of the program's design.
  • Healthy eating habits are taught and reinforced. Very low calorie programs, which can be dangerous and require medical supervision, are not part of the program.
  • Exercise and increased physical activity are essential program elements.
  • Goals, monitoring, feedback, support and celebration are provided.

What questions should you ask?

  • How does the program work? How much does it cost?
  • Who designed this program? What credentials does the staff have? Is there medical supervision?
  • How does the program measure success? How successful has it been?
  • What are the risks for me?
  • I have a chronic medical condition. Will this program be right for me?
  • Are there meal plans? Will I be recording the food I eat?
  • How will the program help me increase my physical activity level?
  • Are special foods or supplements required? What do they do? What are their costs?
  • How does the program support permanent weight loss?
  • Is this a group program? Is there one-on-one counseling available?

What about online programs?
Online weight-loss programs are growing in number and popularity. Some programs are offered exclusively online, while some in-person programs now include online activities. It is too early to know the success of online programs.

If you are considering an online weight-loss program, here are some additional questions you should ask.

  • How does the program work?
  • How are the program sections structured? How often is new material available?
  • Are podcasts included?
  • How will this program support my personal goals?
  • How will I get feedback and support?
  • Can I use a mix of electronic devices - cell phone, computer and tablets - to participate and record my progress?

Credible weight-loss programs focus on you and your health, not just your weight. Abandoning harmful habits and picking up healthy new ones for the long term, combined with exercise guidance and goals, are important to good weight-loss programs.

The program should also offer information and guidance on health improvement and dieting risks. Clinical programs should offer medical assistance and monitoring. Keep your expectations realistic, and devote the time and effort required for getting fit and healthy.

By Mary Small, Contributing Writer
Created on 11/11/1999
Updated on 10/28/2013
Sources:
  • National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Weight-control Information Network (WIN). Choosing a safe and successful weight-loss program.
  • Nutrition.gov. Interested in losing weight?
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