As RDs, we are often up to date on the latest science-based information in the nutrition world. However, we may not always be up to date with the most popular diet programs as they can change so rapidly in an ever-changing market. As an RD, you may be thinking, “Why should I pay attention to the most popular diet programs when all I really need to know is the latest research to help my clients?” Before we delve further into this question, I’ll take a moment to introduce myself.
My name is Tony Stephan and I’m a dietitian business coach. I help RDs make more IMPACT and more INCOME through nutrition coaching. However, before I became a dietitian business coach, I was an RD nutrition coach. I served thousands of nutrition coaching clients over a time span of 12 years. My successful nutrition coaching business is what led me to where I am today. Now I’ll share with you three of the most popular diet programs on the market and why it’s beneficial to keep up with them as RDs.
WHY KEEP UP WITH DIET PROGRAMS AS AN RD?
As an RD, you are likely to work with a great variety of clients throughout your dietetics career. Your clients (and even non-clients) will often look to you for advice regarding the latest diet trends and diet programs. With all of the diet programs and diet approaches out in the diet industry, you are bound to be asked many questions about various topics. You may even get questions about some things that you’ve never heard before.
Although it’s natural as RDs when asked about a diet program or diet approach to automatically direct that person to what science has proven to work, ultimately, the client or nonclient must decide for themselves independently. So it is empowering for them to hear your unbiased critique of the diet approach they are asking about so that they can make an informed decision that is best for them. My friends, that is WHY it is in our benefit as RDs to keep up with the latest diet programs. Now without further ado, let’s talk about three of the most popular diet programs on the market.
IS NOOM THE DIET PROGRAM FOR YOU?
The first diet program we will analyze is Noom. Noom is a newer diet program out there as it was founded in 2008. One of the unique aspects of Noom is that its focus is on making behavioral changes that surround dieting and weight loss. The app will rate foods logged as either red, yellow, or green. The color system indicates which foods are either higher or lower in caloric density. It’s important to note that the Noom app uses an educational approach to empower its users to make balanced choices. With Noom, users also get an online personal coach and an online group coach who places you in a group of around 10 other Noom users with similar goals.
One of the positive aspects of Noom is that everything is conveniently in an app. You have a food logging system, educational excerpts, a coach, and a support group all in one place. Another positive aspect of Noom is that it touches more of the psychological factors behind weight management than other weight loss diet programs in the industry.
Some of the downsides of Noom are that it is meant for the general healthy population. So if a user has an underlying health condition that makes losing weight more difficult, Noom wouldn’t be able to detect that, and it could lead the user to feel frustrated with progress. Another downside is that Noom can be tedious as it requires daily logging, daily lessons, and daily quizzes. Noom could work for some, while it may not work for others. That’s why it’s so important to look very closely at what’s being offered and evaluate whether it’s the right choice for you or not.
IS WW (WEIGHT WATCHERS) FOR YOU?
WW, formerly known as Weight Watchers, is a commercial weight loss program that has been around since 1963. A unique aspect of WW’s is that a personalized menu plan is recommended based on a SmartPoints system. Another unique aspect of WW is that it uses the approach that all foods fit. So although there is a points system and counting points is encouraged, no food is off-limits. WW also includes an app that contains a food tracker, meal planning tools, recipes, guided workouts, 24/7 chat with a coach, a connect member social network, and a sleep tracker.
One of WW’s positive aspects is that there are regular meetings with a coach and other members for accountability. Another positive aspect is that it focuses more on flexibility rather than restriction. WW is also overall a realistic approach for many consumers. And last but not least, WW is full of helpful resources for overall wellness.
Some of WW’s downsides are that counting points can be tedious and that WW could be too flexible for those seeking more structure. Like all diet programs meant for the general healthy population, WW can’t detect if you have a health condition that makes losing weight tougher, which could lead users to feel frustrated with progress. Ultimately WW could work for some, while it may not work for others. That’s why it’s so important to look very closely at what’s being offered. Then you can evaluate whether it’s the right fit for you or not.
IS THE NUTRISYSTEM THE DIET PROGRAM FOR YOU?
Nutrisystem has been around since 1972, and the premise around this program is that it can be easier to lose weight if the user doesn’t have to plan and prepare meals. Nutrisystem sends pre-prepared meals to the user’s home. However, they do work with customers to incorporate more of their own groceries, restaurant meals, and homemade meals into their diets. Another aspect of using Nutrisystem is that it offers a weight loss app (NuMi), weight-loss counseling services, and exercise guidance.
One of the positive aspects of this diet program is that it’s incredibly convenient. The user can easily start as soon as meals begin to be delivered. Another benefit of using Nutrisystem is that it provides various nutritionally balanced meals and allows users to pick meals to their preferences.
One of the downsides of using Nutrisystem (or any meal delivery service) is that relying on delivery service isn’t sustainable long-term. That is because healthy, long-term habits are not learned through a meal delivery service. Another downside is that, like many commercial weight loss plans, Nutrisystem may not fit everyone’s budget. The program can cost around $250 to $350 per month, not including additional foods from the grocery store. Ultimately Nutrisystem could work for some while it may not work for others. That’s why it’s so important to look very closely at what’s being offered. Then you can evaluate whether it’s the right fit for you or not.
WHICH DIET PROGRAMS ARE THE BEST?
Ultimately, every diet program comes with varying pros and cons. No two diet programs are the same. With the number of diet programs in the diet industry, it may seem overwhelming for many consumers. The BEST diet or diet program is the one that a person can see themselves sticking to for the rest of their life. Nutrition should be individualized. There is no cookie-cutter, one size fits all approach in the world of nutrition.
Before starting ANY nutrition protocol, you should always ask this important question: Can I do this for the rest of my life? If you even hesitate before answering the question, the dietary protocol may not be for you. That’s why it’s important to understand what the diet program offers before deciding to commit to it. The great thing is that we (RDs) can help guide clients and non-clients toward nutrition approaches that will best help them achieve their goals through being informed about current diet program options.
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