How should I choose a weight loss program?

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Don Patterson, MD
Internal Medicine
Consider talking to your healthcare provider before starting a weight loss program. Then, look for a program that skips selling you expensive supplements but instead focuses on a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. Make sure calorie restrictions are modest and focused on keeping weight off for the long haul. 
Robert DeVito
Fitness

I believe choosing the proper weight loss program is based upon convenience, sound science and must contain all of the components for a highly successful outcome.

Convenience. You are more likely to "stick with something that is convenient concerning timing and proximity.  

Sound Principles. Avoid programs that promise or promote rapid weight loss or try to sell you on only eating their food or stake their claims around a specific product or magic shake mix. In my experience, there is an extremely high rebound effect to these methods.

What I look for is a program that has had long-term success, has a good amount of positive reviews, a program that takes into account all aspects of being fit and healthy (instead of solely focused on weight reduction).

Contains all components of Success. To me, the way to be successful at long-term weight loss is to focus on personal development, education and the improvement of habits (how you think, how you eat and how you move).

The most successful programs will have fitness sessions (or minimally, they will provide a resource for fitness), they will discuss food intake from a habit and health improvement standpoint (no "dieting") and will focus on creating an active lifestyle (movement in the center and in the real world). 

  • Your fitness program should be fun and functional. The program should contain safe and energizing sessions built around strength training and improving cardiovascular endurance and maximizing calorie burning. It should contain components for flexibility and injury prevention. Your program should also include activities that can be performed on a daily basis away from the facility.
  • Your food program should be built around "habit disruption". The coaching should be there to motivate and provide feedback on what you are doing and HOW to create new habits for success. It should include new recipes and ideas for inclusion of foods instead of being built around restriction. Restriction never works long-term. Your food planning should be built to improve your health, performance and weight loss outcomes.
  • Your focus program should be built to identify and modify your major obstacles to success. Maybe for you it is time management or pressure to "be" perfect that sabotages your efforts. This successful program would also provide coaching for stress reduction and improvement of all skills necessary to be successful with FOOD - FITNESS - FOCUS.

 

Use Google, print media, and friend referrals to find a short list of programs that interest you. Then make appointments with each - treat it like an interview. Topics you want to be sure to cover:  staff credentials (do your research), nutrition plans (anything severely restrictive won't work for the long haul), exercise/activity plans (needs to be within your current capabilities), additional purchase requirements (questionable supplements, cleanses, etc.), contractual obligations, and price. Also take note of how you "feel" in their facility. Are you comfortable?  Do you feel welcome?  Compile all your results then make your best decision!
Audrey K. Chun, MD
Geriatric Medicine
Over two-thirds of the nation's adult population are either overweight or obese, but when it comes to weight loss, it's best to avoid programs that strictly limit or eradicate whole food groups. The best weight loss programs are based on a portion-controlled healthy eating plan. The plan should reduce your calorie and fat intake without restricting whole food groups and incorporate physical activity so that you burn off more calories than you consume.

Continue Learning about Weight Loss

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.