the skinny on losing the fat

by erin thursby
Each year, millions of people vow to lose weight. It’s one of the most common New Years resolutions Americans make. Sometimes we need a little help to take off those extra pounds. Here’s the skinny on losing the fat.

      The Atkins Diet is perhaps the most demonized diet on this list. But it’s also highly beloved by its followers, mainly because it allows them to eat steak while on a diet. For those who are obese or have a lot of poundage to lose, the Atkins Diet is an excellent choice; however it’s a bit too restrictive for most people to adopt as a lifestyle.
The basis of the diet is a near-total restriction of carbohydrates. Meat, cheese and some veggies are acceptable, but sugar is not. Americans consume far more carbs than we need. Carbs are found in breads, pasta and anything starchy from rice to potatoes. By cutting out the carbs and sticking to harder to digest proteins, an abundance of weight can be lost—and quickly. There’s still plenty of debate as to whether or not a long-term Atkins Diet would be healthy because the majority of the meals are meat-filled. In the short-term though, it has proven to be a life saver for dieters that might not otherwise take to a complex diet. It’s easy to remember (carbs bad, meat good!) and bears encouraging results. Though its popularity has died down, you’ll still be able to find chain restaurants that proudly proclaim the carb content of their meals on their menus.
After being on the Atkins Diet for a month or two, you might find yourself lusting after foods you’ve never had a deep desire for. Many of these dieters are eventually willing to walk through a raging fire for a crust of bread or even a carb-filled cracker.
There are a plethora of books out there on this diet. While you can join a group for this, most simply buy one of the books and attempt to follow the rules. Your food costs will climb a bit, since carb-filled meals (like mac and cheese) are cheaper than a cut of steak or hamburger meat. Still, you’ll be saved the cost of buying the carb-laden buns for your burger patty.
      It doesn’t matter where you are, anyone can use eDiets, as long as you have an internet connection. The eDiets program is very customized. Fill in the information and you can avoid salt, sugar or anything you’re allergic to.
It’s all done online, so there aren’t physical locations, but there’s plenty of online support available. They also have a number you can call if you need some kind of help. You can connect with others who are on eDiets, which often helps you to hold yourself accountable because you’re posting your progress. There are also online counselors and experts who are there to help.
You punch in your weight, height and the amount of weight you’d like to lose. You also choose whether you’d like to rely on convenience foods (like frozen or ready-made dinners) or if you’d like to prepare things yourself. Based on that, and your dietary preferences, it makes up a weekly menu for you and a shopping list. You can go through and exchange a meal that you don’t like for a calorie equivalent on their list. Once you’ve set the menu for the week, you can print it out. It also gives you a shopping list. If you find an item you like and you have supplies for it from last week’s shopping, you can always change a menu item or two. The best part about this diet is that you don’t have to buy their food- instead you buy food readily available to anyone at the supermarket or health food store. As you get used to planning your menus, you’ll begin to learn the calorie content of what you’re eating, which can lead to a more responsible diet in the future.
The cost of your food will either remain the same or be slightly higher, with a spike cost in the first week. You can keep food costs down by finding particular recipes you like and preparing them a few times a week until you run out of ingredients. If you don’t care as much about cost, you can eat something different every day and every week. Check them out at
Weight Watchers
      Weight Watchers has been around since 1963. It’s the gold standard for weight loss programs. In the past, Weight Watcher devotees would carry little charts with them and consult them, muttering to themselves. Once indoctrinated, any Weight Watcher cultist will say that the Point System is easy and then explain it to you in detail.
They still use a point system for foods, but today you can find meals in the frozen food section (and occasionally elsewhere) proclaiming the point value of a given entrée or snack. Weight Watchers was owned by Heinz through the late 70s through 1999 and they still label many of their food products with the point value.
The lovely thing about points has always been that you could indulge a bit as long as your total at the end of the day or week was what it should be. That being said, the point system is still a bit annoying because it’s still sometimes hard to figure out exactly how many points a home cooked meal would be.
Weight Watchers does have a plethora of options when it comes to support. You can pay for weekly weigh-ins and meetings or you can do their version of eDiets and take the whole thing online. Their plans are customizable and they teach you how to be responsible about what you eat. The meetings and support are crucial to some members who need dieting buddies to help them get on the right road.
To learn more about Weight Watchers services, products and publications, visit To find the nearest Weight Watchers meeting location, call 1-800-651-6000 or click on the “Find a Meeting” link at the top of their homepage. 
Jenny Craig
      Like Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig they has a system that you’re supposed to learn, albeit eventually.
At first though, you’ve got to buy their food. You’ll notice they have a relatively low weekly fee, but they hit you with “plus the cost of food.” And that’s the rub. You’re initially buying all your food from them. Later, when you’ve learned more, you’re hypothetically educated enough to make food choices that don’t come from Jenny Craig packets. Most folks never make it that far because they can’t take the hit to the wallet.
The packets make it easy for dieters to go on autopilot and can be encouraging because the weight will drop off if you only eat their food. But it’s also one of the most expensive plans you can spring for. From what I could discern on message boards across the web, the average cost per week was $100-200 a week for a single person. Expect to pay about $300 in the first week. They offer more support than they first did, but they still offer much lighter support than Weight Watchers. Go to for more info.
The bottom line is that if you’re going to make weight loss stick, you’re going to have to learn to change your lifestyle. The best diets do that. The worst diets don’t and only give you short term loss.