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7 Effective Commercial Diets to Try (+ How to Choose the Right One)

Madison Gouza, MS, RDN, CPT

Published in Weight Loss

12 min read

February 20, 2023
a spread of pre-packaged meals and a drink
a spread of pre-packaged meals and a drink

Many people look to dieting to improve overall health by changing their eating habits. You may be drawn to a certain diet to lose weight, lower their risk of certain illnesses, or just to feel better overall. 

Luckily, eating healthy doesn’t always have to mean diligent calorie counting or elimination of major food groups. By finding the right diet and exercise plan for you and your health, reaching your wellness goals can be within reach.

Here’s an overview of the most popular commercial diets that are currently trending.

What is a Commercial Diet?

a plate of veggies with an egg

A commercial diet is a meal program designed to help people achieve a certain health goal or improve their health. These programs typically provide pre-packaged meals and often include exercise and lifestyle advice as part of the program. 

Commercial diet programs are most commonly used by those who are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. They are often highly regimented, requiring strict adherence to the prescribed plan. 

Many of these diets also often use supplements or meal replacements to either reduce calorie intake or provide additional nutrients. So, now that you have a better idea of what commercial diets are, let’s take a closer look at what factors you need to consider before choosing one.

Key Aspects of a Commercial Diet

Everyone has different goals when starting a new diet. When selecting a commercial diet, make sure you understand the following:

list of things to look for in a commercial diet
  • What type of meal plan is offered
  • What types of food are included
  • What prices and fees are associated with it
  • How much support the program provides
  • How compatible the diet is with your nutritional needs and lifestyle

Personal Goals

Your personal health goals play an important role in choosing the right diet.  For example, if you want to lose weight quickly, then you may select a low-calorie, higher-protein diet.

If you struggle with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or obesity, make sure to choose a diet that is tailored to your condition and has the appropriate amount of calories and nutrients.

Nutritional Balance

The nutritional balance of each commercial diet is also different. Some diets may be too low in certain nutrients or lack certain types of food. Assess whether the diet fulfills all of your nutritional needs and is realistic for you to follow.

Sustainability

a sliced avocado on a cutting board

Evaluating long-term sustainability will play a role in choosing the right diet. While it is possible to lose a significant amount of weight in the short-term with some diets, it is not always realistic to remain on that diet for the long-term.

Choose a diet that is balanced, tailored to your lifestyle, and easy to follow in the long-term.

Dietary Requirements

Consider your unique dietary requirements. If you have food allergies or sensitivities, then you will need to choose a diet that takes this into consideration. 

Nutrients and Calories

Due to different body types, lifestyles, and habits, we all need different amounts of nutrients and calories. As such, this will play a role in choosing the right diet. 

You may also consider a diet plan that incorporates a personalized plan tailored to your individual needs, or a program that offers one-on-one dietitian support.

Physical Activity

a girl doing stretches in the park

Even if you are following a diet, it is important to find the right amount and type of exercise to fit your needs. Many long-term weight loss programs incorporate physical activity or tailored workouts into the plan, which supports the dietary changes and further assists with weight loss or overall health or body recomposition goals. 

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A Breakdown of 7 Top Common Commercial Diets

a list of 7 popular commercial diets

There are lots of diets out there, but each of these popular diets are among some of the more common ones people may seek out. Here are the seven top-trending commercial diets and what you should know about them. 

1) Mayo Clinic Diet

The Mayo Clinic Diet is a lifestyle-based program designed by the experts at Mayo Clinic to help people to lose weight and keep it off. It involves consuming nutrient-dense foods, exercising regularly, and making changes to how food is prepared. 

This diet also focuses on developing healthy habits, such as planning meals, tracking physical activity and developing more mindful eating habits. It also encourages the limitation of processed foods, such as condiments and added sugars

How it Works

a man eating a sandwich

The Mayo Clinic Diet is based on a 12-week three-phase plan — Lose It!, Live It!, and Maintenance. 

  • In the “Lose It” phase, dieters set calorie and fitness goals, track their food consumption, and cut out unhealthy foods.  
  • The “Live It” phase focuses on developing habits to help dieters maintain their weight loss, such as exercising regularly. 
  • The “Maintenance” phase is all about maintaining weight loss and adopting a healthier lifestyle.

Pros

  • Follows a practical, straightforward plan
  • Focuses on making long-term lifestyle changes
  • Can help people lose weight and maintain the weight loss over time
  • Emphasis on whole foods, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein

Cons

  • May be difficult to find all of the recommended foods
  • May be challenging to maintain the diet for a long period of time
  • The diet does not provide exact portion sizes for a balanced diet
  • May not be fully customized to each person’s unique nutritional needs

Pricing

The cost of the Mayo Clinic diet begins at $19.99/month on the 12-month plan.

2) Nutrisystem

prepackaged meals from nutrisystem

The Nutrisystem diet is designed to help individuals lose weight in a healthy and convenient way. The core of this diet is rooted in portion-controlled, low-glycemic meals supplemented with additional snacks to help control hunger. However, not all meals offered in their online menus may be as low-glycemic or as balanced in macronutrients (like protein) as suggested, so reading ingredients is important. 

Nutrisystem provides pre-packaged meals, snacks, and drinks tailored to meet an individual’s calorie and macronutrient needs. In addition to the meals, snacks, and drinks, the diet includes daily counseling and exercise recommendations.

Many of the meals are high in fiber, helping keep the dieter feeling full throughout the day while promoting healthy eating habits.

How it Works

  1. Choose a plan: The Nutrisystem diet offers a variety of plans tailored to meet individual calorie and macronutrient needs.
  2. Receive meals: Pre-packaged meals and snacks are delivered to your door.
  3. Consult with the experts: Nutrisystem provides daily counseling, support, and guidance to help you stay on track. 
  4. Exercise: This program recommends daily exercise, such as brisk walking.  
  5. Monitor progress: You’ll track your weight and fitness level with online tools and a mobile app.

Pros

  • Easy to follow 
  • Has delicious meal choices designed by nutritionists
  • Offers convenient delivery to your door
  • Affordable and customizable
  • Has a structured plan to help keep you on track 

Cons

  • May have limitations when it comes to fresh produce
  • Can be costly for some people
  • Must commit for a certain period of time
  • May not be ideal for people with certain food allergies or intolerances
  • Some meals may be imbalanced in terms of macronutrients, including lower protein breakfast options with higher amounts of added sugar like waffles, cinnamon rolls, and pancakes
  • Some meals may contain more processed ingredients, such as refined flours

Pricing

The Nutrisystem diet plan ranges from about $9.99-$13.21 per day. 

3) Zone Diet

The Zone Diet is advertised as a low-glycemic, anti-inflammatory diet designed to reduce body fat and improve overall health. The “Zone” refers to the physiological state in your body where you’ve optimized your ability to control diet-induced inflammation. 

How it Works

The Zone Diet recommends that dieters fill each meal with 40 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent proteins and 30 percent fats. This is usually equivalent to about 30-40 grams of carbohydrates, 20-25 grams of protein, and 10-15 grams of fat.

The diet encourages consuming foods with a low glycemic index to help keep blood sugar levels stable.

a plate of shrimp and broccoli

Pros

  • May promote steady blood sugar levels
  • May help with weight loss
  • Designed to help reduce inflammation

Cons

  • Limited flexibility of food choices 
  • May be difficult to stick to 
  • Requires portion control
  • May not contain as much customization for individual nutrition nuance 
  • Supplements are automatically recommended as part of the program, without a full assessment of individual needs or dosage customization

Pricing

Unlike most of the other diets listed here, the Zone Diet doesn’t require a diet plan payment. Much of the information can be sourced from the Zone Diet website, where you’ll also find supplements, recommended foods, and other resources to support your journey.

4) Jenny Craig Diet

prepacakaged meals from jenny craig

The Jenny Craig diet is a weight-loss program that includes both pre-packaged meals delivered to your house and one-on-one counseling. These meals are low-calorie and portioned into specific servings.

The counseling sessions provide support and encouragement to help users stay on track with their diet and reach their weight-loss goals. Jenny Craig also has an app designed to help users track their progress.

How it Works

At the beginning of the program, users receive an individualized weight-loss plan including guidance on food choices, meal plans, and physical activity, as well as behavior modification and lifestyle choices.

Through the one-on-one sessions and the app, users can get help with nutrition, portion control, and meal planning. The program also offers an online community to help users stay motivated and on track with their diet.

Pros

  • Pre-packaged meals are easy to prepare and convenient
  • Includes counseling and support 
  • Provides access to recipes, videos, menu plans, and tracking features
  • Encourages you to connect with others who are on the same journey

Cons

  • Can be expensive, with costs varying depending on the plan chosen
  • Some users may find the meal choices to be limited
  • May not be a suitable option for vegetarians or those with other restrictions
  • May contain a higher amount of processed foods
  • May not contain as much customization for individual nutrition nuance
  • May put a disproportionate focus on calories without appreciating other nutritional factors impacting weight  

Pricing

The Jenny Craig diet plan begins at $13.99/day.

5) Noom

someone using the noom app

Noom is a mobile health coaching program that helps users to make healthier lifestyle choices. Personalized meal plans, customized exercise programs, and behavior change techniques such as habit tracking and goal tracking are included in the program.

How it Works

After registering with Noom, users take a survey that evaluates current health habits and goals. From there, Noom provides users with personalized eating plans and daily goals tailored to their needs. 

Some of the main features include food logging, customized meal plans, health coaching, goal setting and tracking, and a rewards program. 

Pros

  • Provides individualized coaching
  • Includes resources for healthy eating and lifestyle changes
  • Access to support from a trained health coach
  • Uses goal tracking for calorie, macro and micronutrient intake

Cons

  • Can be expensive
  • Noom’s app can be difficult to navigate for some
  • May not contain as much customization for individual nutrition nuance, since coaches work with very high volumes of clients
  • Though some may, coaches are not required to have extensive knowledge or training in nutrition science

Pricing

The monthly pricing for Noom starts at $59, while the annual plan costs $199. 

6) WW (formerly Weight Watchers)

someone using the weight watchers app at the gym

WW (formerly Weight Watchers) is a weight-management program designed to help people achieve their wellness goals. It provides a science-driven, realistic and customized approach to living healthier and achieving a healthier bodyweight. 

How it Works

With WW, members are offered various tools and resources to help them make sustainable lifestyle changes, such as nutrition and exercise guidance, digital and in-person support, minimally processed foods, and a local community that provides motivation and accountability. 

Pros

  • Provides an array of resources and support to help members reach their goals
  • Is backed by research and is customizable to each member’s lifestyle
  • Is easily accessible for any kind of health goals

Cons

  • May be difficult to stay motivated and on track with the program
  • May require an adjustment period to make the  lifestyle changes needed 
  • Can be expensive for some people
  • May not contain as much customization for individual nutrition nuance
  • May put a disproportionate focus on calories without appreciating other nutritional factors impacting weight

Pricing

The WW diet plan begins at $15 per month for a three-month plan, and $43 per month for single-month plans. 

7) South Beach Diet

The South Beach Diet is developed by cardiologist Arthur Agatston, MD, and dietitian Marie Almon. It emphasizes eating high-fiber, lean sources of protein, and good fats, such as those found in nuts and avocados.

This diet encourages people to limit their intake of carbohydrates and sweets, and to focus on eating select sources of carbs. It also advises eating seafood and lean meats, such as chicken and turkey, and avoiding foods such as processed meats, white bread, and sugary snacks.

How it Works

chopped broccoli and veggies

The South Beach Diet consists of three phases. 

  • First phase: You'll focus on eliminating refined carbohydrates, while still eating a variety of lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables. 
  • Second phase: You'll gradually increase your intake of healthy carbs, such as whole grains and fruits, while limiting butter, mayonnaise, and processed foods.
  • Third phase: You'll be able to include more healthy carbs in your diet, as well as healthy fats. The goal of this phase is to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.

Pros

  • Emphasizes healthy eating and encourages you to limit your intake of refined carbohydrates
  • Easy to follow and does not require complicated recipes 
  • Encourages people to learn about nutrition and make healthier food choices 

Cons

  • May be difficult to stick to if you are used to eating refined carbs or added sugars
  • May be too restrictive for some people, as it limits intake of certain foods
  • May be challenging for those with food allergies or dietary restrictions
  • May not contain as much customization for individual nutrition nuance

Pricing

The South Beach Diet can be done at no cost, thanks to the wealth of resources on The Palm blog. The South Beach Diet book can be purchased online, costing between $4 and $26 depending on the book format. 

Why a Customized Diet is the Best Diet

a girl eating a meal and smiling

One potential downside you may have noticed shared by all of the above diets is the lack of customization. When it comes to the best diet for you, it’s important to remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Everyone has different needs in terms of activity levels, calorie intake, macronutrient balance, and other factors. 

Any of the diets we mentioned may have positive components. But the benefit of a truly customized diet is that it allows you to create an eating plan specific to your healthy lifestyle and tailor it to your individual needs and goals. 

If you have particular dietary restrictions such as eliminating gluten or dairy products, or if you follow a keto or plant-based diet, a customized diet gives you more freedom to choose what works for you.

If you need help designing a customized diet to meet your needs, consider consulting a registered dietitian for guidance.

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Heather Davis, MS, RDN, LDN

Reviewed by: Heather Davis, MS, RDN, LDN

Heather is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN, LDN), subject matter expert, and technical writer, with a master's degree in nutrition science from Bastyr University. She has a specialty in neuroendocrinology and has been working in the field of nutrition—including nutrition research, education, medical writing, and clinical integrative and functional nutrition—for over 15 years.