Do Online Weight Loss Sites Work and Which One Is the Best?
Losing Weight Requires a Good Plan
You need to bring commitment and determination, but you must have a good plan to follow. The Internet offers many weight loss programs. These online diet programs provide advice and tools, structure and recipes, easy access and reasonable or no cost.
We all live in a real world, but many of us spend significant time in the virtual world of online systems. We view things on screens, we talk through the keyboard, we move about by mouse. It's natural to look for systems and services to help us deal with the real world. That extends to weight loss.
Obesity is a Common Problem
Says the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, "More than one-third (36.5%) of U.S. adults have obesity." So our focus on weight loss and weight control is justified. Now what do we do about it?
Do Online Weight Loss Sites Actually Help?
Several studies show that the answer is yes! Dieters who use an online weight loss site have an easier time developing good weight loss habits, and get better results.
- Checking in regularly helps people stay on track, and to recover when they slide for a while. Online sites make it easy to check in and do an update.
- Tracking food consumption keeps you aware of what you are eating, and how much you are eating.
- Dieters that diary, do better. What could be easier than logging in daily and tracking your meals? Once you enter a few meal combinations, it gets even easier and more effective.
The studies show that using online sites to track your diet is easy, memorable and effective.
Recommended Online Weight Loss Sites
Weight Watchers OnlinePlus
Best Overall Site
Meets the Gold Standard of measurement of Weight Loss
Best Free Site
Fully Featured and Free
Weight Loss Buddy
Best Motivational Site
Great Social and Support System
Weight Watchers Online—Best Overall Site
One of the most robust online weight loss programs is the Weight Watchers OnlinePlus site.
Weight Watchers currently offers three fee based plans. The weekly fee (starting under $4 per week) is based on how many months you commit to, level of services, and where you live:
- OnlinePlus: Basic online food tracking, activity tracking, chat support, access to the Weight Watchers community.
- Meetings: OnlinePlus and weekly meetings, weigh ins, guidebook and materials.
- Coaching: OnlinePlus and dedicated coach, unlimited phone sessions, personalized program.
myfitnesspal—Best Free Site
Myfitnesspal is a free online diet management site that seems to be a good companion to any diet plan. They focus on the core benefit of any online weight loss site - an easy and quick tracking system for your actions and progress.
They feature food data, exercise programs, tools and active posting community.
Specialty tools include calculators for:
- recipe nutrition facts
- basal metabolic rate
- heart rate
- body mass index
I've used all of these features for free, for years. Myfitnesspal added a Premium program that costs about $50 per year. It's add free (always a pleasure) plus Nutrient Dashboard, exercise calorie settings, macro nutrients and other features. Myfitnesspal was acquired by Under Armour in early 2015.
Weight Loss Buddy—Best Motivating Site
If you can't easily attend meetings and need someone to talk to, then look into Weight Loss Buddy. The site will help match you up with a buddy; you can support and encourage each other!
it's a very social site with a social media profile wall, team building, and message boards. There is also coaching available. The usual meal planning, food tracking and weight monitoring tools are available.
The site is less robust in fitness programs and eating plans. It's better for the dieter that has a plan, but needs motivational help and company on the weight loss journey.
The basic membership is free and it is loaded with features. A Premium account is currently a one time fee of $30, and offers more help with the buddy process and coaching.
Studies Find Online Programs Help Dieters Lose and Maintain Weight Loss
Regular users of online interactive weight management programs have success at attaining and maintaining weight loss. Active, regular users of Internet based programs maintained the most weight loss.
The keys seem to be to log on at least weekly and record your weight. Be consistent. Stay accountable.
Look for online weight loss sites that:
- Offer substantial nutrition, diet and health information.
- Feature interactive elements that allow users to communicate with each other and fitness and nutrition experts.
- Include personalized information tracking.
- Feature accountability by encouraging users to record and track details about weight, food intake and exercise.
CDC National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data brief
Obesity is common, serious and costly
More than one-third (36.5%) of U.S. adults have obesity.
Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.
The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.
Center For Health Research
A Kaiser Permanente Study found that interactive, personalized website helps people maintain weight loss: "The More Frequently You Log On, the More Weight You Can Keep Off..."
New York Presbyterian Hospital
New York Presbyterian quotes from a study funded by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) that "new research suggests that utilizing the right Web site may help with weight loss maintenance... The bottom line is that we think the internet is a helpful tool for weight loss maintenance."
Pennington Biomedical Research Center and Johns Hopkins University
Kaiser Permanente reported that "the study, presented at the American Heart Association’s Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism Council Meeting in Colorado Springs, Colo., found that brief personal counseling and web-based intervention strategies offer the best hope in keeping weight off over three years."
SparkPeople is a free online weight loss site that is rich with features and pretty well organized. There are ads which I find intrusive. The Premium version has a one time costs of $29.99. Premium is Ad-Free,
The site features:
- calorie counter and meal plans
- fitness programs
- a neat motivation system
- feedback reports that are progress graphs with personalized tips
SparkPeople has a robust tracking system. It is easy to enter your daily food choices and all of the nutrition information is tracked for you. You can add your own specialty items. A great feature is the ability to create food groups that you use regularly.
This site is for people that want to be more involved and active in the diet plan and process.
Questions You Need to Ask
Intentional weight loss requires changes in habits. Stress is a major factor in making and keeping new habits. Everybody's situation has different stress factors: available time, family, money, and lifestyle.
- Which online site is best for your time and money situation
- Which online program best fits your lifestyle?
- Which online diet plan will you be able to follow to get results?
- Which online weight loss site will you commit to?
Scientific Weight Loss Tips
Do you have experience with online weight loss sites?
What's your experience? Please add a comment for more detail
What's the Conclusion?
Studies show that using a good weight loss site does produce better weight loss results and better weight loss maintenance.
There are several online weight loss sites that distinguish themselves with robust tracking tools, food and meal planning support, coaching and support systems.
There are recommended free and fee based sites.