Diet Watch is one of the best diet/menu tracker and analysis sites, perfect if you have the willpower to maintain your own meal plans and don't need the additional motivation of a live, weekly group. Diet Watch was started in the US in 1997, forever in internet terms, and provides an excellent, very scientific based service which you don't need to live in the States to use.
There are four basic diets which you can then personalise. These include the Heart Healthy Mediterranean Plan, Reduced Carbohydrate Plan, Vegetarian Plan, and No Restriction Plan. The award-winning nutrition planner generates a diet, subject to your preferences, then even creates a shopping list for you. If you vary from the diet (and everyone will at least a bit), then you simply log the variations, so the less you go off the diet, the less input to do--it really can be very low maintenance.
Many diets have menu planners, but Dietwatch really shines because its software keeps a running total of serving size and calories so you can be sure you'll lose weight. Because it's crunching all your numbers, it does a detailed analysis of intake of Saturated Fat, Cholesterol, Sodium, Cards, Fibre, Sugars, Protein, Vitamin A, and Calcium. You'll see smiley faces when you've met your goals (see screenshot). All these tools then result in some very spiffy graphs and calculators. Dietwatch is really like a highly personalised medical evaluation of what you're eating--we're not aware of any other dieting programme out there with this level of diet analysis, all for very little effort on your part.
You don't need to memorize calorie counts, as their database is full of thousands of items--they even have the menus of 40 fast food and chain restaurants loaded, so if you splurge on a Big Mac, there's no searching for the calorie count, just enter what you ate and it does the rest. You can't help but learn more about nutrition on this diet, which is a vital part of any diet that hopes to instill long-term change. You'd be surprised what you discover about the nutritional content of common foods, and that is a big, but effortless, side benefit of the programme.
There is also an interactive Exercise section where you can log in your exercise activity (from a list of many, many types), complete with duration, and they calculate the calories burned. Dietwatch then balances that against your calories in, giving you a very scientific sense of your total caloric intake and expected weight loss over time.
In Dietwatch's Community section, you can forge online relationships to help out in your weight loss journey. Many users consider this the cornerstone of their slimming success, and studies show such support can double your losses. There are both discussion boards and live chatrooms, and if you're new, there's even a Find-A-Friend function where you choose people to contact by age gender, marital status, or even use criteria like current weight range or favourite exercise.
There's also a support centre, full of motivational strategies on goal setting, positive thinking, stress management, body image, managing emotions, and such. It sounds cliche, but these factors are essential to maintaining weight loss.
Dietwatch's remote support and tools won't be enough for some people, who will need the live weekly counsellor support on a programme like Weight Watchers. However, if you have the willpower to stick to the diet in your own and input the foods you eat, then Dietwatch is practically guaranteed to result in successful, predictable weight loss because of its scientific tracking of the nutritional content of everything you consume.
Menu: You can choose form four different personalised diet plans. The Heart Healthy Mediterranean Plan keeps cholesterol under 200 mg/day and minimizes intake of saturated fats, focusing on healthy monounsaturated fats as the classic Mediterranean diet does. The Reduced Carbohydrate Plan limits carbs to 40% of total intake--this is an extreme like Atkins, aiming to put your body in Ketosis, but does allow you to reduce crabs while maintaining fibre and vitamin intake. The Vegetarian Plan is lacto-ovo, so it does include eggs and milk, but no animal flesh--a diet easy to lose weight on. Finally, there is the No Restriction Plan, which doesn't mean you can eat anything, rather you don't have any specific dietary concerns and it will craft a general diet meeting your caloric and nutritional needs from a broad spectrum of foods.
These diets are merely starting points, however, as you can customise them to your preferences. As mentioned the programme then creates a weekly shopping list, making it easy to follow. We've found time and time again that if you buy only what's on the list, and avoid having temptation foods around, you'll dramatically decrease your snacking and binging, so bite the bullet and stick to the list precisely if you want to succeed.
Prices: Dietwatch is surprisingly cheap for the detailed nutritional services provided, only $38.87 for the first three months ($2.99 per week, or in rough pound terms, around £1.80 at current exchange rates--and yes, you can use a British credit card). Or you can save 50% and sign up for an entire year for $77.
GIven the scientific nature of the programme, they're so confident you'll succeed they offer a "Log it and lose it" 30-day money back guarantee.