Online Diet Programs FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about Online Diet Programs

If you have a question or concern we haven't answered on our site, please let us know. Your question will be added to the NextAdvisor Forums so that we and other experts in our community can answer it. Due to volume, we aren't able to respond to every question, but we answer as many as we can.

Do I have to pay for meal plans to ship?

Some services require you to pay for shipping; however, many of the services we review are constantly offering free shipping promotions. In addition to free shipping promos, Diet-to-Go has a free local pick-up option that is available in the DC Metro area (including Northern Virginia and Suburban Maryland), Baltimore area, Greater Philadelphia (including South New Jersey) and the San Francisco Bay area (including East Bay).

How many calories per day will I be consuming with these diet programs?

This depends on your sex and the type of meal plan you are ordering. Examples of meal plans include low-fat, low-carb and vegetarian meal plans, with caloric estimates around 1200 per day for women and 1600 per day for men.

What is a safe rate for weight loss?

Most diets suggest that you aim for 1-2 lbs per week. For many diets, you may have a rapid weight loss in the first 1-2 weeks, and then the slowest rate of loss for the last 5 lbs.

Do these diet meal delivery services taste good?

We had the same question, so we conducted an in-house, independent and blind taste test. Ten individuals participated in our taste test, rating each dish for taste and appearance. We took the findings and developed the official meal delivery taste test.

As for the taste results, Diet-to-Go came in first, followed by Jenny Craig , Bistro MD (last year's winner), Nutrisystem (who came in last the previous year) and eDiets Fresh Prepared.

Do all online diet plans include exercise programs?

No. Some online diet plans have no exercise portion, while others do have an exercise portion. The exercise portion can vary widely: the plan could include anything from exercise tips to complete exercise planning and instruction.

How do I know which diet is for me?

It is important to evaluate each diet based on your long-term preferences. When reviewing a diet, it is helpful to ask yourself, "Could I continue on this diet for 6-12 months? Could I stay on it indefinitely?" The most successful diets will work with your own preferences to create a long-term strategy and overall life changes. Additionally, if you have any health concerns such as diabetes, heart disease, and age-related problems, or if you are a nursing mother, it is important to find a diet that will work for you. With any diet, especially if you have specific health concerns, it is a good idea to consult a doctor for assistance in choosing an appropriate diet match for you.

Which diet will give me long-term success?

In general, a diet that results in an overall change in your behavior will have the most lasting results. For example, a diet that creates a habit out of regular exercise and teaches you wise food choices and portion control will generally be more successful than one that just uses meal replacement products and no exercise component.

What is considered a low-fat diet?

A low-fat diet is one that is low in "bad" fats such as saturated fats and cholesterol, and one that uses "good fats" (such as those found in olive oil and fish) sparingly.

What is a low-carb diet?

A low-carb diet is one that typically contains a variety of low-GI foods including vegetables, whole grain bread products, and lean meats.

Who should not use a diet?

Anyone who is pregnant or seriously ill should not attempt dieting at this time unless directed to do so by their physician. Nursing mothers should generally wait until their milk supply has been established and their child is eating solid foods before starting a diet program. Dieting is never appropriate for someone with an eating disorder.

Do I have to exercise?

Exercise is recommended with any diet because it helps you to burn calories, change your appetite, regulate your body and give you an overall sense of well-being. It is important to consult your doctor before starting any exercise program, especially if you are obese and/or have specific health conditions. Exercise doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing approach, as you can easily start out with simple movements such as walking and work your way towards more intense exercise.

Should I lift weights?

Strength training and building muscle will aid your weight loss goals by increasing your resting metabolism rate. Additionally, weight-bearing exercises have been shown to increase bone density.

What if I need help exercising?

Consider hiring a personal trainer, if just for a few introductory lessons and to get a program created for you. Or, try joining a fitness class at your local rec center. Any activity that gets you up and moving will be good for your overall weight loss and health goals. Having a buddy or an instructor for your fitness goals will help you stay with your exercise program longer.

How did NextAdvisor review these online diet programs?

We thoroughly researched all the diet programs in this category, actually signing up for each plan. In the case of the meal delivery plans, we tasted and rated the food. We then compared diet plan offerings, food variety, support and fitness options. Close attention was paid to whether each diet program had specialty offerings for diabetics, vegetarians and others with specific dietary considerations. We also looked at whether the company had online support and how robust it is. Did it offer food tracking, weight loss journals and exercise plans? Was each weight loss plan personalized? In addition, we read pertinent news, consumer opinions and third-party research reports.

After our initial evaluation, we continue to monitor the plans and update our reviews as situations change. We also monitor the providers' sites for any program changes or specials.

We only include providers on our site that we believe offer a good value proposition. If there is a provider you know of that is not on our site, you can be fairly certain we did not rate that provider highly enough to include in our comparison. If you think we are missing a quality provider or have any other suggestions or comments, please contact us and let us know.

Top Online Diet Programs


Bottom line: One-on-one support designed to establish a healthier overall lifestyle; must add your own fruit, vegetables and dairy; best tasting but smaller portions than other programs

Bottom line: bistroMD teamed together with author of "The 17 Day Diet" to deliver healthy, good-tasting meal plan; not very customizable; lacks fitness diary

Bottom line: Solid, healthy diet plan that works for diabetics; gluten free options; free shipping on your first week's order; lacks fitness diary

Bottom line: Affordable, customizable and good-tasting full meals available for delivery and pickup; limited support; lacks fitness diary

Bottom line: Most budget-friendly diet program; easy to follow and convenient plans with bland food; small portions and must add your own fruit, vegetables and dairy

Bottom line: Completely organic, vegan and gluten-free; average priced compared to other diet delivery programs; meals are flavorless; lacks fitness diary

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