The Cleveland Clinic

Weight Loss:
Choosing a Weight-Loss Program

During any one year, over half of all Americans go on a diet to lose weight. For many people, it is difficult to lose more than a few pounds and few succeed in remaining at the reduced weight. The difficulty in losing weight and keeping it off leads many people to turn to a professional or commercial weight-loss program for help. When considering joining a weight-loss program, choose wisely.

Almost any of the commercial weight-loss programs can work, but only if they motivate you sufficiently to decrease the amount of calories you eat or increase the amount of calories you burn through physical activity each day (or both).

What Should I Look for in a Weight-Loss Program?

  • Make sure it is safe. Whether you create your own program or use a commercial one, make sure it is safe. A safe diet should include all of the recommended daily allowances (RDAs) for vitamins, minerals and protein. The weight-loss diet should be low in calories (energy) only, not in essential vitamins or minerals.
  • Slow steady weight-loss. The program should be directed toward slow, steady weight loss unless your doctor feels your health condition would benefit from more rapid weight loss. Expect to lose only about a pound a week after the first week or two. With many calorie-restricted diets, there is an initial rapid weight loss during the first 1 to 2 weeks, but this loss is largely fluid. The initial rapid loss of fluid also is regained rapidly when you return to a normal-calorie diet. Thus, a reasonable goal of weight loss should be expected.