TOPS also recommends that you get a diet recommendation from your doctor or follow the USDA's MyPlate tool, which focuses on filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables and the other half with lean meats and whole grains. TOPS is low-cost, nutritionally sound, provides plenty of support and is very affordable. However, it's not as structured as some other commercial weight loss programs, so those who prefer a diet that offers more specific meal guidelines may find it more difficult to follow.
The upgrade is a touch steeper than it is for other tracking app upgrades — most run $4–5 per month. But we found that those inexpensive alternatives were chaotically organized and slow to respond, elements that had us avoiding opening them at all. SparkPeople and Lose It! both came with lots of lag time and finicky search bars that made us hesitant to launch the apps, let alone log in three or more times a day.
You do have to track everything you eat, which is easy if you're following a Weight Watchers' recipe or eating a prepackaged food with the points pre-calculated. It gets a bit trickier when you prepare your own recipes as you have to break down the ingredients and do the math -- although that's certainly simpler if all you're doing is, for example, grilling a chicken breast and making a salad. And, under the new "Freestyle" program, that's a meal that could be points-free under the current guidelines, depending upon whether or not the salad is dressed.
About: Jackie, a 26-year-old English professor, is not exactly new to blogging. She’s been doing it since 2013. But recently, she moved her posts from Tumblr to their own website — and with an 80-pound weight loss, why not? Jackie’s the kind of writer who draws you in not just with her words, but with her use of photos and links, too. She’s snarky and quick-witted, and her posts are a blast to read. Factor in the continuing journey to shed pounds and reach her goal weight of 132, and the blog is really something special.

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About: Let’s start with Katie by rewinding three years to January 2013 when she hopped on the scale and realized she weighed 247 pounds. That was the moment that “something just clicked” for Katie. Fast forward back to the present, Katie lost 100 pounds, dropped six pants sizes and along the way found a fierce determination to pursue (and stick with) her fitness goals. Katie found her purpose, and she uses her blog to fulfill that purpose: helping others who struggle with obesity, weight loss and food addiction.
Losing weight on autopilot is appealing. But in the age of meal-delivery services (Blue Apron happens to be Whole 30-approved) — is there really a market need for gimmicky Nutrisystem? Our taste buds tell us no. You could easily recreate its no-prep diet by stocking up on breakfast bars, Lean Cuisine lunches, and signing up with the likes of HelloFresh for fast, healthy dinners. (Rough calculations tell us this approach would be equal or less than the monthly price of Nutrisystem.)

Monica Olivas is a holistic health coach, certified running coach, and writer for the blog Run Eat Repeat. She has been a passionate runner for almost 10 years and has completed over 50 half marathons and 30 full marathons. Running has helped her lose 20 pounds and uses her blog as a way to share healthy recipes, running tips, and motivation to help you do the same!
Faya Nilsson is a Personal Trainer and blogger for Fitness On Toast. Her blog was an honest place to share healthy and unusual recipes with her clients, to offer nutritional tips, to communicate informative workout ideas, and to curate ‘fitness fashion’ looks. Her blog has since transformed and been tailored to include anyone interested in fitness, along with travel and inspiration for those looking to stay healthy and fit while seeing the world.

Tamsyn Smith is a triathlete, running coach, fitness instructor, and author of the weight loss journey blog, Fat Girl To Ironman. Tamsyn is currently 60% of the way to reaching her 5-year personal challenge of, you guessed it, running in an Ironman distance triathlon! She began her fitness journey as an overweight couch potato and has since lost over 35 pounds and maintains a healthy and active lifestyle. Tamsyn documents her training on her blog and continues to train for her ultimate goal, Ironman success!
“We really stressed to both groups again and again that we wanted them to eat high-quality foods,” Dr. Gardner said. “We told them all that we wanted them to minimize added sugar and refined grains and eat more vegetables and whole foods. We said, ‘Don’t go out and buy a low-fat brownie just because it says low fat. And those low-carb chips — don’t buy them, because they’re still chips and that’s gaming the system.’”
Don't get me wrong — exercising at any time is good for you. But evening activity may be particularly beneficial because many people's metabolism slows down toward the end of the day. Thirty minutes of aerobic activity before dinner increases your metabolic rate and may keep it elevated for another two or three hours, even after you've stopped moving. What that means for you: You're less likely to go back for seconds or thirds. Plus, it'll help you relax post meal so you won't be tempted by stress-induced grazing that can rack up calories, quickly.
Call it what you will: An eating plan, a lifestyle, a diet, a philosophy, but few things garner such heated debate as how to lose weight. The truth is, whether you’re on a low-carb keto program, devoted to the Paleo lifestyle, all in to the Whole 30 or remain committed to low-fat eating, these plans have more in common than you think. What’s more, follow any one of them religiously, and you’ll likely notice results.
A new player in the weight loss program space, Noom packs a lot of behavioral psychology into one sophisticated app. It aims to help you identify and break bad habits, and have some fun doing it. The powerful app echoes Weight Watchers’ successful community approach, but outleagues that program in terms of learning resources. While it’s the more expensive of our two favorite programs, it’s the richer when it comes to virtual experience — with personalized lessons, tasks, and support that made us look forward to opening up the app.

Experts say that Weight Watchers is one of the easiest programs to follow. There are hundreds of Weight Watchers recipes available, both in cookbook form and online, with pre-calculated points values for each recipe. Weight Watchers has its own line of frozen entrees, and Weight Watchers points values are often pre-calculated on other brands of frozen entrees. There are many other Weight Watchers-branded prepared foods available as well. Food preparation-wise, the program can be as easy or as difficult as your skill level in the kitchen.
Nicole Morrissey is a registered dietitian who works specifically with diabetes and weight management. What sets her apart from many other dietitians is that she’s struggled with her own weight since a young age. She was 14 when she went to her first Weight Watchers meeting, and the years that followed brought many ups and downs. Today, she accepts that she “may forever be a work in progress,” so she focuses on balance. That means healthy, good-for-her foods, and doing the active things she loves, like running and hockey. Visit the blog.
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