It’s hard to give a blanket answer to the question of whether weight loss programs work, since there are so many of them which differ in basic structure and directions. Also, adhering to the program a person chooses influences the results, and the degree to which a person continues to stick to sound diet and exercise after the desired weight is lost is part of the equation. It would be fair to state that many weight loss programs can work, but whether they help keep weight off after it’s been lost may depend on the type of program used, the way it educates people about nutrition, and the desire to keep behavior modified when the program is over.
Probably the most successful types of weight loss programs emphasize a mild to moderate calorie restricted diet which is low in fats, and high in dietary fiber, with consistent exercise to help burn calories and build lean muscle. Theoretically, people who exercise should have an aerobic type exercise and also one that involves some muscle building, since greater muscle mass enhances metabolism and helps burn calories quicker. In the beginning, if people are carrying significant weight, they may need to start slow and should get the advice of doctors.
It’s also been shown that some people do better in weight loss programs that offer some support. Many people won’t stick to a diet unless they have group or individual support, even if information about the diet could be easily accessed elsewhere. Support could mean working on a weight loss program with a couple of friends, or it might mean belonging to an Internet group or a local group that has a specific diet plan. Many plans have flexible alternatives, offering people either weekly meetings or Internet consultations.
Meetings or consultations should emphasize more than current state of weight loss, and should also focus on teaching food nutrition so that people will have a good chance of maintaining loss when the diet is done. It is easy to put weight back on, and there are some people that tend to yoyo up and down, which is not healthy. Thus as diet produces more weight loss, it should begin to focus on how to keep it off.
There are weight loss programs that definitely don’t work well, and that can be costly. If the program sounds like it will take minimal work and no exercise, it likely is not worth it. Too good to be true programs typically are not very effective, no matter how convincing consumer testimonials sound on the subject.
To sum, weight loss usually takes a healthy diet, exercise and education. Those weight loss programs most likely to be effective are ones that contain these components. It is possible to get information on how to lose weight without joining a program, but people in programs might reach their weight loss goals more frequently. Programs shouldn’t be viewed as ending when diets end, but as continuing to the next level where healthy weight is maintained through good dietary habits and continued exercise.