Online Diets: Logging On

Oct 26, 2009

Fitness Handout

Online dieting is increasing in popularity because we live in a fast-paced, convenience-oriented society—and logging onto the Internet has never been easier. Most diet-related websites these days offer more than a list of recommended foods. Some sites provide elaborate features that “pop up” with recipes, meal plans, online chat rooms, discussion boards and calorie and exercise tracking devices.

Here’s a look at some of the most popular, fee-based online diets available today, courtesy of Kara I. Gallagher Mohr, PhD, FACSM, co-owner of www.Mohr, a nutrition and fitness company based in Louisville, Kentucky, and former assistant professor and weight loss researcher at the University of Louisville.

eDiets (

An online-only program, eDiets is a constellation of different diets. It also offers its own unique weight loss programs. You start by completing a diet profile analysis to determine your personal dieting personality and which diet is the best fit for you. The types of foods included in the personalized menus offered by eDiets will depend on the type of diet selected.

Online components include personalized exercise programs, weekly menus with printable grocery-shopping lists, a library of fitness and nutrition articles, discussion boards and forums, member challenges and online and phone access to health professionals.

Bottom Line. The eDiets program is a well-polished site with interesting and informative articles, instant access to professionals and a host of diets to choose from. If you think you’d like the convenience of weekly meal plans and the support of chatting with others, then eDiets may be a good fit for you. (

This online-only website is a behavior-based weight loss program that teaches skills related to food awareness. The plan is similar to what is used in clinical weight loss research and includes a balanced deficit diet generally consisting of greater than 55% carbohydrate, 15% protein and less than 30% fat.

Online components include meal plans, exercise and weight trackers, behavioral lessons, a library of articles and recipes related to weight loss, a database with information on more than 50,000 foods and an active online community with forums, blogs and live chats.

Bottom Line. The site’s inclusion of coping strategies and skills to decrease calorie intake could be beneficial.

Weight Watchers® (

The Weight Watchers program is based on a balanced deficit diet. You track points instead of focusing on calorie and fat intake. The focus is on moderation and decreasing dietary fat intake. Higher-fat and higher-calorie foods are given a greater number of points, thereby decreasing total calories throughout the day.

Online components include a weight tracker, a “points” database of more than 27,000 foods, restaurant and cooking guides, menus and recipes, success stories and a free online community with discussion boards.

Bottom Line. This site is for you if you’re familiar with the points system or like using an established weight loss program. Unlike the traditional Weight Watchers plan, the online program does not include weekly meetings. However, you can upgrade and purchase a combination program of in-person and online tools, which may be better suited for you if you want face-to-face accountability.

IDEA Fitness Journal, Volume 6, Issue 11

© 2009 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

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