Best Holistic Plan
DukeDiet.com ($65/13 weeks, with a minimum 5-week nonrefundable charge of $25)
Run by Duke University's Diet and Fitness Center Residential Program, this site has a total well-being approach. Articles and tools address every aspect of health with regard to weight loss (nutrition, fitness, attitude, and behavior) to find the right diet strategy that fits into your lifestyle. It also gives users realistic goals, doing the best job of explaining the healthiest rate of weight loss and how to keep it up. However, it offers little interaction as a basic member. While experts post occasional blogs of new content, they don't respond to personal questions unless you pay more for coaching ($3 per week). The site has a thorough fitness section as well, with physical fitness routines tailored to your abilities, goals, and interests.
Best for Non-Chefs
If you don't want to think about what to cook for dinner, this plan is for you. On it, you select 28 days' worth of prepackaged meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert), which are shipped to your home in six to 10 days (or faster, with priority shipping). The program allows you to choose from different diet tracks depending on sex, age, and dietary restrictions (diabetic and vegetarian). All the food groups are here, but the site doesn't encourage milk or yogurt, so you may miss out on calcium. Because you have to buy its food, its membership is more costly than the others (about $12.50 per day), but if you opt to have your next month of food automatically shipped, you get a 10% discount. While there is also a fitness component including exercise logs, plans, and tips, this is primarily a food and diet site.
Best Flexible Plan
WeightWatchers.com ($47/month or $65/3 months)
For the dieter who hates being told what to eat, Weight Watchers might be the best fit. You're allotted points based on your weight, age, and activity level, and you can eat anything you want as long as you stay within your points limit. The site also has recipes galore you can search by cuisine (Thai, anyone?), difficulty, prep time, and point values, and tag recipes that meet the plan's guidelines for "filling foods." But since there's no specific meal plan to follow, you're on your own to create a menu based on your point allotment. This requires a lot of calculating in order to keep track of points. Also included is a fitness section with tips, exercise demos, and articles.