Jenny Craig Ranks Highest Among 6 Diet Plans
Call it the battle of the bulge: Jenny Craig is the best diet plan, according to rankings released Monday by Consumer Reports. The commercial program, which combines one-on-one counseling with portion-controlled packaged meals, bested five other big-name diets, based on its overall effect on weight loss, rate of adherence, and how well it conforms to the federal government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Jenny Craig scored 85 out of 100 points that Consumer Reports considered awarding, followed by Slim-Fast (63 points), Weight Watchers (57), the Zone (54), Ornish (48), and Atkins (48). Its edge came primarily from a study published last October in the Journal of the American Medical Association that found 92 percent of dieters stuck to the program for two years, while dropping about 8 percent of their starting weight, or 16 pounds. "There's something about this diet that works for a lot of people," Nancy Metcalfe, senior program editor of Consumer Reports Health, told ABC News. "Of course, the best diet for you is the one you can stay on. Jenny Craig is certainly a lot less work than preparing your own food that is portion controlled." However, some critics point out that Jenny Craig sponsored the JAMA study that portrayed the diet in a positive light. And while the study's participants received meals and counseling for free, the commercial program typically costs dieters more than $300 for two weeks worth of food, and annual membership is an additional $399 to $499.
Think More Protein, Fewer Carbs to Maintain Weight Loss
It's a sad, well-worn fact that 90 percent of folks who lose weight fail to keep the pounds off. That abysmal success rate has left nutritionists scrambling to figure out how to help dieters maintain their weight loss without feeling like they have to stay on a "diet" in perpetuity. Well, a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine may provide a template for post-dieters to follow. It turns out, those who fill their plates with more protein and fewer processed carbohydrates—not all carbs are created equal—are better able to maintain their weight loss than those who eat a similar number of calories but shun protein for pasta, bagels, and bread. Processed carbs, often packed with sugar and white flour, fall into the category of high-glycemic index foods because they cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels, which promotes the storage of body fat. "The results indicate that even a modest increase in dietary protein or a modest reduction in glycemic-index values was sufficient to minimize weight regain and promote further weight loss in obese patients after a successful weight-loss diet," write the Danish study authors.
The study included nearly 800 overweight volunteers who lost an average of 23 pounds by following a low-calorie diet and were then randomly assigned to one of several eating plans in an effort to prevent weight regain over six months. Weight regain was less in those assigned to eat higher amounts of protein and "low-glycemic index" carbohydrates like high-fiber fruits, vegetables, and whole grains compared to those who were told to eat less protein and more high-glycemic index foods like white rice, French fries, and sugary cereal. Those who ate more protein also were more likely to continue losing weight than those who ate mostly carbohydrates, even the unprocessed ones. [Read more: Think More Protein, Fewer Carbs to Maintain Weight Loss.]
Use These 8 Foods to Help You Lose Weight
We all know the basic nutrition rules when it comes to safeguarding our health and losing weight. In the words of best-selling nutrition writer Michael Pollan, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Sounds simple, but if you're interested in maximizing the amount of nutrients you get, you may want to be a little choosy when selecting among various options in each food group. Some fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products stand out as nutritional superstars, according to the latest research. And they're also easy on the calorie count to help you shed pounds, fitness blogger Ryan Sullivan writes for U.S. News. Consider incorporating these foods into your daily meal plan: