How to Choose an Online Weight Loss Program

Updated on September 13, 2017
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I remember being a skinny kid and wishing I could be bigger. Be careful what you wish for!

Benefits of Using an Online Weight Loss Site

Very simply: Using the sites get better results!

Studies show, that dieters that regularly use an online weight loss site, lose more pounds, and have more success with weight maintenance, than dieters who don't use online services.

That's pretty astounding information. Online weight loss sites are effective because of the process as much as the content.

The sites get the dieter on track, primarily by assisting with better food choices, but, more importantly, the sites keep them on track by developing better habits and techniques, such as keeping a diet diary.

It's classic substitution: the dieter develops new good habits to replace old bad habits.

What to Look for in a Program

You need to pick a site that you'll be comfortable with. The site has to look good to you and be easy for you to navigate. You'll be visiting there regularly, for a long time!

We'll offer some suggested online programs but there are dozens more. How do you pick?

Here's what to look at:

  1. Food - can you easily enter everything you eat in a day? If you choose to be that aggressive, the site should make it easy.
  2. Diet - do you have your own diet? e.g. Weight Watchers? If not, the site has to help you come up with goals and a plan to follow.
  3. Diet Diary - this is key. Do you see yourself logging in, almost daily, entering info? If not, you are wasting your time. The regular connect and entry on the site is what provides the success factor.
  4. Sense of community - not everybody needs or wants this, but sharing the experience can be very motivating. Look honestly at yourself being a part of the site's community.
  5. Coaching - Are you looking for guidance? Do you have issues to discuss? Does the site offer coach or counselling?
  6. Costs -what does the site have to offer, for what you are willing to pay?

Comparing Some of the Better Sites

Key Features
Essentially Free. Premium Program for $50, add free, other features
Great meal planning and tracking tools
Weight Watchers
Starts at $4 per week.
3 Programs: OnlinePlus; OnlinePlus Meetings; OnlinePlus Coaching.
Weight Loss Buddy
Essentially Free. Premium Program for $30, add free, other features
Great Social and Support System

What Do the Best Sites Offer?

All the online weight loss sites seem to cover the bases, offer similar tools. Yet, each dieters experience and needs are different. The difference is in the details and the implementation, so you need to look carefully.

  • Content - Diet plans and related nutrition information, in a clear and accessible manner.
  • Meal ideas - Recipes, food substitutions and suggestions.
  • Tracking - Yes, weight tracking, but more importantly, food intake tracking. The good sites make tracking easy.
  • Social - Dieting can be a lonely journey. The good sites offer a sense of community and support.
  • Coaching and counseling - Some dieters get stuck at different stages of the journey. The good sites offer people who can help them get unstuck.

"Science-Backed Strategies to Avoid Long-Term Weight Gain"
"Science-Backed Strategies to Avoid Long-Term Weight Gain" | Source

Some Good Weight Loss Sites For You To Look Into

  1. myfitnesspal an essentially free online diet management site that is a good companion to any diet plan.
  2. Weight Watchers OnlinePlus, a very complete package wrapped around the famous Point System.
  3. If you can't easily attend meetings and need someone to talk to, then look into Weight Loss Buddy.
  4. SparkPeople is a free online weight loss site that is rich with features and pretty well organized.

Four Ways to Make Your Scale a Valued Ally

  1. Keep your scale accessible. Not under the bed. Not in a dark closet corner. Keep the scale visible and easy to step on. Remember it's your friend.
  2. Use the scale on a regular basis, as part of a daily routine. When you start your day. Before you get in bed. After the shower. The key is to routinely step on your friend the scale.
  3. Keep a date with your scale. Monthly is too long. Weekly is better. I prefer daily, since I log onto my site daily.
  4. Be consistent - Same time. Same place. Same outfit. For example, weigh yourself each morning, in the nude, before you dress for the day. Then make your first daily entry on your site.

Helpful Weight Loss Tips

There seem to be some guidelines that apply to everyone, regardless of the plan.

  • Drink plenty of water. Stay hydrated. That fat and weight has to leave your body somehow.
  • Get regular exercise. Easy to say; hard to do! Exercise does more than burn calories. You have more energy and generally function better. That has to help with the eating part, doesn't it?
  • You must alter your food intake. "Garbage in; garbage out." This old chestnut from the data entry world applies even better to our weight. Make better food choices or it's "Garbage in; garbage on!"
  • Less is more. Some excesses put you where you are now; so getting where you want to be will involve trimming or giving up the excesses.
  • Get enough sleep.

Commit to a lifestyle plan for you that keeps the weight under control.

Moving Forward to Weight Loss

We've covered the important things to look for in an online weight loss tool, including:

  • Price - Some online weight loss programs charge monthly fees. Some programs are free to use the basics, and charge for full features. Some online programs are free and make their income from advertising (similar business model to HubPages, which has many helpful articles on weight loss),
  • Features - Learn from the NIH study, cited above. Keep a diet diary. Pick a plan that lets you track your progress, and is easy and friendly to access on a regular basis. Accountability and tracking are key elements to a successful experience,
  • Food preparation - Do you want to do your own shopping and cooking, or are pre-made food plans more your style.

Whatever plan you choose, remember that it is a two step process:

  1. Lose the weight; which is a significant challenge for most of us.
  2. Maintain your desired weight range for the rest of your life. An even bigger challenge, and one you need to prepare yourself for as you lose the weight. Avoid the yo-yo cycle of gain/lose/gain.

Good, Bad or No Experience?

What Is Your Experience With Online Weight Loss Sites?

See results

What's the Good News?

  • Using an online weight loss site has been shown to help dieters get results and to keep those good results.
  • The are several good online weight programs.
  • Look the sites over and pick the site you are most comfortable with.
  • Commit to logging in regularly, preferably daily.
  • When you login, update your diet diary (weight, food intake, etc.) This is important!
  • Prepare to smile!

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Do You Use an Online Weight Loss Site?

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    • Infomanian profile image

      Infomanian 18 months ago

      I generally follow the Weight Watchers and use Myfitnesspal for tracking. I try to login each day because that makes it easier to follow my plan.