The weight-loss industry is big business, and getting bigger – in spite of the recession. A recent study highlighted just how big the financial side of the industry is. Based on the findings of Marketdata’s 11th edition of the U.S. Weight Loss & Diet Control Market study, the worth of the weight loss industry was estimated at $61 billion in 2010. There are a lot of weight loss solutions out there, using various methods, at a range of prices. Let’s make an unbiased evaluation of four of them; two widely advertised on television, Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, with the other two marketed via network marketing, Herbalife and Isagenix.
Pasta, steak, cheese, ice cream… You can eat what you want on Weight Watchers. While the popular weight-loss plan has been overhauled, the basic principle of eating what you love remains — though the program steers you toward healthier foods with its points system. In its new program, called Beyond the Scale, fitness also takes a bigger role. You’ll be encouraged to exercise every day.
Weight Watchers isn’t so much a diet as it is a lifestyle-change program. It can help you learn how to eat healthier and to work out, so you lose the weight permanently. You can follow the plan online on your own. You’ll track your food choices and activity, chart progress, and find meals and workouts. There’s a coaching option if you prefer one-on-one guidance by phone, email, and text. You can go to group meetings, where you’ll weigh in. A Consumer Reports survey found that people who attend meetings were more satisfied with the program and lost more weight than people who just participated online. While Weight Watchers sells its food in grocery stores, the program teaches members to choose their own food using a point system. This method, while effective, may have a weakness in that you are assigning point values to food and allowing a certain number of points daily. While this method is effective in restricting calories, it isn’t necessarily a good method to teach healthy eating. A monthly pass to attend unlimited meetings will run you $39.95 per month, and the online counseling plan costs $47.90 for the first month plus $17.95 for each subsequent month which is really reasonable, considering the cost of weight loss supplements of other programs.
Jenny Craig has a comprehensive weight loss package that includes more than just food. Their program includes prepackaged low-calorie food, a consultant to offer support in person by phone, online tools to help you plan and track meals, and an a workout program. There are no forbidden foods, “detoxes”, or menus loaded with exotic meals.
At first, you’ll eat Jenny Craig’s menus of 70 prepackaged meals, each at about 1200 calories. If your starting weight is particularly high, that could vary. In one study, Jenny Craig clients lost an average of 10% of their initial weight during the first year on the plan. Jenny Craig allows for fresh fruits and vegetables as well as low-fat dairy products. The Jenny Craig philosophy, which is sound, is low-fat foods that are rich in water, fiber, and protein to make you feel full, combined with non-starchy vegetables.
The Jenny Craig program is highly effective and nutritionally sound. However, Jenny Craig is very expensive, at about $100 per week.
Herbalife is a health supplement company focusing on weight-loss and overall health. Most of their products contain protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and, sometimes caffeine. There are four components to their quick-start program: Formulas 1, 2 and 3 and Herbal Tea Concentrate. For the best results, you must take all four. Herbalife gained popularity in the 80s, as a network marketing company, meaning you order products from an independent distributor or from their website. Currently Herbalife has a positive BBB rating.
Herbalife’s flagship is their meal replacement shake. According to the website, Diet Spotlight, “Using meal-replacement shakes to lose weight is an effective option.” The problem is that you will spend upwards of $92 to $95 each month and that’s just the starter package.” Though not expensive for a starter kit, which contains other additional supplements besides just a shake, for many companies, $90+ a month for just shakes is rather expensive.
There have been complaints about the taste but I chalk that up to people who need to lose weight generally crave food that taste sweet and anything less than that proves distasteful to them, at least early on. As for results, Herbalife has very good reviews.
Isagenix is a supplement company offering weight-loss solutions since about 2002. Their products are sold via network marketing via independent distributors. Their most prominent products are meal replacement shakes, cleanses to flush toxins from the body, and energy boosters. They have clinical trials backing the effectiveness of the ingredients of most of their products.
One point of concern is price. Isagenix products are definitely on the high end of the health supplement spectrum, at $350 for a 30-day weight loss program. There was also a significant level of complaint about taste, which again, I somewhat chalk up to the clientele. While people in the dieting world would complain, people in the fitness world probably would not because of the difference in their palates.
Though lacking in proof via clinical trials on their website, the science behind using protein and fiber to curb appetite and using cayenne and green tea to increase metabolism is absolutely sound.
These are just four of the prominent weight loss systems available on the market today. There ar many more. If you take your time and do some research, there is a solution that will get you to your goal weight, teach you how to eat, and not do much damage to your wallet.