You might not be shocked to hear this, but losing weight can be tough. Dropping those pounds - and keeping them off - takes a mix of motivation, support, regular exercise, and a healthy diet.
No matter what your motivations - getting your body into shape for the summer or losing the baby weight after a pregnancy - a weight-loss meal plan can be a great way to get you there.
There is a great deal of variety with these plans, which range from smoothie delivery service to fully-prepared fresh meals that you just heat up and dig in to.
Why Try Diet Plans?
Paying attention to your diet and making sure you’re eating healthy is a great way to improve your wellness and can also help you lose weight. Pre-prepared meals and ingredient delivery services have a few great things in common which can help users lose weight and create healthy eating habits, fast.
Portion control. We all know that (almost) everything can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy and balanced diet. But who’s to say just how many roast potatoes are too many, or how much of that delicious gravy should be on our roast chicken? Or how many times you should eat during the day. When you’re trying to lose weight, what’s on the plate matters-and that includes how much is there to begin with. Diet plans can give you a sense of how much a ‘normal’ portion is, and help you to feel full from a healthy amount of food at each meal.
Ingredients. The companies we’ve included in our top 10 diet plans all use fresh and seasonal ingredients, and many work with local, sustainable farmers and fishermen to ensure that the food customers receive is as fresh and healthy as can be. This includes products that are non-GMO and free of pesticides. Many of these companies also try to use organic products whenever possible
Managed Process. They say never go to the supermarket when you’re hungry, and truer words have seldom been spoken. We’ve all been there - you’re doing so well at planning and eating healthy meals, and then you just pop down to the grocery store to get the last few ingredients, and whoops- what’s that cake doing in your shopping basket? Meal plans take all the behind the scenes work out of preparing a meal, so that you don’t have to think about meal planning, shopping or even prepping the ingredients most of the time. Without the wiggle room for slip ups, you’re much more likely to stay on track.
What If I Need Help Losing Weight?
One of the great features of diet delivery plans is that in addition to the food, you can also receive all types of help and tools to make it easier.
Some of these include:
- Diet analysis and advice
- Weight loss tracker
- Articles and blogs on healthy eating
- BMI analysis and diet plan suggestions
- Support from nutritionists and dieticians
These extras can really make the difference in helping you lose weight and keep it off. When you get a craving for some junk food or have some questions about your weight loss regimen, it’s good to know you have somewhere to turn to get some answers or a little support.
Some of our diet plan providers even have a live chat window on their websites, so that you can reach out around the clock to get the support and motivation you need.
Do Diet Plans Work for Specialty Diets?
Some diet plans are made to work for more specific dietary needs. These can range from diet plans for new moms who just gave birth to customers who need gluten free or low carb meals.
A good rule of thumb is to make sure to take the time to check out our reviews of each company to make sure that they support your exact needs, and aren’t designed for someone with needs different than yours.
If you have a food allergy or a strong aversion to specific foods, we recommend the ingredient delivery diet plans rather than the pre-prepared meal options. These plans allow you to remove or substitute individual ingredients far more easily. Also, if you have an allergy, you should speak to the company to make sure that the meals or ingredients are prepared in a safe environment.
How To Find the Best Diet Plan Service for You
Diet plans are a fantastic option for losing weight and maintaining a healthy diet. With these plans, the emphasis isn’t on crash diets, rather, the point is to help you lose weight responsibly, and learn the means necessary to keep the weight off on your own.
✔ More than 150 menu options
✔ Plans for diabetics, weight loss, vegetarians
✔ A la carte menu
✖ Much of the food arrives frozen, not fresh
Nutrisystem wants you to eat more - and better. Nutrisystem has been ranked the top diet plan by US News and World Report for 8 years straight and a big key to the company’s success is that it encourages users to eat small portions more often. This can mean as many as 6 small meals per day including snacks.
There are more than 150 different meals on the menu, and all of them are planned by nutritional experts and contain no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners.
Nutrisystem has its own app called NuMi which helps you track your meals, and also gives you tips on exercise and recipe and restaurant recommendations. It also easily integrates with a number of leading fitness apps like Fitbit and Apple Health and when you sign up you get a week of “Turbo Takeoff,” an assortment of meals and snacks the company says are designed to help you lose weight and burn fat.
Key points about Nutrisystem
- Eat 6 times a day
- Includes breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks
- Pick you own meals with custom menu or pick favorites pack
- Free shipping
- Special diets for vegetarians and diabetics
Our favorite meal:
Tuscan Inspired Pasta
When in Rome do as the Romans do - and when on a diet, make sure you’re still eating well, like with this hearty blend of pasta, white beans, turkey sausage and beef.
✔ Special focus on heart-health
✔ 3 meals/day plus snacks
✔ 50+ options for lunch and dinner
✖ Not suitable for vegetarian, vegan, paleo, or kosher diets
The South Beach diet is meant to help you burn fat with a high-protein, low carb, low sugar program that was designed by a cardiologist with an emphasis on healthy eating that’s good for your heart - and your waistline.
The meals come to your house ready to be heated up - with free FedEx shipping.
The South Beach diet is a 3 phase plan. In the first phase you cut out gluten, sugars, and starches so that your body starts burning fats instead of carbs. In the next phase you reintroduce healthy carbs into your diet and in the last phase, you are focused on maintaining your goal weight, with easy recipes and tips that help you improve your lifestyle.
One of the central tenets of the plan is that you don’t have to cut out any food groups all together. You can eat lean proteins, “good” carbs, healthy fats, and fruits and veggies and still lose weight. In addition, on the plan you eat six times a day, so you shouldn’t be left hungry.
Key points about South Beach
- Eat six times a day
- Designed with heart health in mind
- A three phase plan - reboot your body, burn fat, and learn to keep it off
- Balanced nutrition - you don’t have to cut out any food groups
- Meal plans include shakes, protein bars, and smoothies
Our favorite meal:
Mushroom Parmesan Soup With Chicken
210 calories, 18 grams fat
Rich, filling, and flavorful - this soup features healthy portions of parmesan cheese, butter, and heavy cream. If you needed any proof that the South Beach diet isn’t about abstaining, you got it right here.
✔ Dieticians help craft your meal plan
✔ More than 150 meals available
✔ Speciality diets including gluten-free, diabetic
✔ Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks
✖ No fully vegetarian plans, No Kosher or Halal
“Weight loss without sacrifice” is how BistroMD advertises its service, which features meal plans that are put together by dieticians saving you the headache of trying to figure out just what on earth you’re supposed to eat and still lose weight.
There are 4 basic meal plans - standard, diabetic, gluten free, and menopause, and you can opt for 2 or 3 meals per day for 5 or 7 days. You can find speciality dishes that vegetarian and vegan, low carb, health healthy, low sodium, and dairy free, among others.
The point of the plan is to not only help you drop some pounds but also learn ways to live healthier, with meals that are easily customizable, including for gluten free or low carb diets.
Key points about BistroMD
Create custom programs Meals designed by dieticians Set taste preferences Essential and Tasty Snacks (EATS) snack program Meals come ready to heat up and serve
Our favorite meal:
Hickory smoked BBQ beef with yukon gold potatoes
Down home cooking and dieting mix in this BBQ delight that features hints of honey and brown sugar
✔ Delicious, exotic smoothies
✔ Some smoothies are less than $4/serving
✔ Vegan friendly
✔ Never frozen
✖ No meals available - only smoothies
Green Blender puts a different take (or shake?) on diet plans and meal delivery. When you sign up with Green Blender, you receive all the ingredients necessary for at least 10 delicious smoothies per week.
There aren’t any full meals provided, but with Green Blender, you get to try out all types of exotic fruit and nut combinations that you might not have ever had before, like chocolate cashew madness, butternut bliss, hibiscus plum refresh, and summer chia kiwi, just to name a few. The smoothies also include “superfoods” like matcha, maqui, spirulina, and others that may be hard to pronounce but provide all types of health benefits.
All of the smoothie ingredients are organic and non-GMO, and Green Blender puts a big emphasis on using locally-sourced products.
Now, smoothies alone do not constitute a healthy diet on their own, but can work great as a daily supplement - and a delicious one at that.
Key points about Green Blender
- An interesting, healthy way to start your day
- Recipes show the health benefits of each smoothie
- Lower prices if you sign up for a longer plan
- Delivery to 45 states (check to make sure you’re included)
- A great way to learn about new ingredients and superfoods
Our favorite smoothie:
Blueberry oat cobbler
Approximately 141 calories, 2g fat
This might be more a pie in a glass than a smoothie, but it doesn’t require rolling out a pie crust or preheating the oven, and it comes chock full of blueberries, oranges, cinnamon and rolled oats.
✔ Get your own weight loss consultant
✔ More than 100 menu items
✔ Personalized fitness plan
✔ Lose up to 16 pounds in 4 weeks
✖ No vegan or gluten free plan
Year after year, Jenny Craig is at the top of the weight loss industry for is easy to follow meal plans and the speed with which users are able to get the pounds off.
With Jenny Craig you don’t have to detox or cut out any specific food groups, you just focus on sensible, well-crafted meals that are prepared by chefs and come prepackaged and ready to heat up and serve.
In addition to the meals, you also get your own personal diet consultant and a specialized exercise plan. You are free to connect with your personal consultant when you like in order to discuss your plan and find ways to tweak i for better results.
This combination is what Jenny Craig says results in customers losing up to 16 pounds in just 4 weeks - though the company added that on average, those who completed the program lost 11.6 pounds. At the end of the program, the goal for Jenny Craig is for users to have the knowledge and experience to continue to lose weight on their own.
Key points about Jenny Craig
- Prepackaged meals prepared by chefs
- Hit your goal weight and start cooking on your own
- Get a specialized exercise plan
- Online journal to help you keep track of your progress
- Chose from a 12 week “turbocharged” trial or a 12 month program
- Price does not include the meals (charged separately)
Our favorite meal:
Southwest Style Chicken Fajita Bowl
230 calories, 5 grams of fat
This spicy and colorful sautee is a little taste of Santa Fe that’ll have your taste buds soaring.
✔ Very affordable per-shake price
✔ Keeps you feeling full after the shake
✔ No calorie counting, eat normally between shakes
✔ Gluten-free shakes
✖ Some artificial sweeteners
This shake-bawd diet plan helps people lose weight by replacing meals with supplement shakes that provide nutrients while also making you feel full. The company says the “hunger blockers” like fiber and IdealShape's protein alternative “Slendesta” make users feel full for longer so they’re less likely to snack between meals.
What yo do is replace a meal with a shake and cut down your calories, while continuing to eat as you wish during your other meals.
The shakes come individually packaged so it's very simple to mix them up on the go. The shakes are gluten free - except for the cookies and cream version. The flavors include such combinations as chocolate coconut, salted caramel, and orange cream, among others.
If you’re a bit unsure you can go with a 30-day plan to start things out, and then try the 60 or 90-day plans if you’d like to continue.
Key points about Ideal Shape
- Replace one meal with shake, and then eat how you’d like
- Low per-shake price
- A quick way to lose weight
- Very flexible pricing
- Not a structured diet and weight loss plan
- Shakes have about 80g of caffeine each - keep this in mind if you abstain from caffeine
Our favorite shake
About 110 calories per shake
Make it Christmas year-round with this shake.
Losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle requires some planning, but it doesn’t need to have you starving yourself or stressed out wondering how you’ll ever get to your goal weight. With diet meal plans you don’t have to go it alone - you’ll have meals sent straight to your front door ready to heat up and serve and also the advice and encouragement of trained experts who know how to get you across the finish line and keep you there. Shop around with these leading companies and find one that has the right combination for you, and you’re on you’re on your way.