A Comparison of Nutritional Weight Loss Strategies


Nutrition Journaling


While not a new tool when trying to drop a few pounds it can be an effective weight loss strategy. Also with the prevalence of smartphones journaling is easier and more effective than in previous years. The myfitnesspal app is the most frequently used and measures not only calories, but nutrient breakdowns like carbs, fats, sugars, and proteins. When you enter in information like age, sex, activity level, and weight loss goals it provides you with a calorie count to stay under. If you consistently stay under these numbers you should lose weight.


As mentioned journaling can be effective. For example a Kaiser Permanente study involving more than 1,600 people found that those who kept a food journal lost twice as much weight over six months (18 pounds versus 9) compared to those who weren’t regular recorders. Another recent study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, found that overweight and obese women in diet only or diet plus exercise weight loss groups all lost weight, but those who kept food journals shed six extra pounds.




  1. Works for the majority of the population
  2. Accountability
  3. No food restrictions
  4. Identifies nutrient breakdown
  5. Portion control




  1. Laborious
  2. Calories are often underestimated (10-20+% on average)
  3. Might not work with individuals with altered hormone levels/metabolism, food allergies, and/or those whose body is extremely resistant to weight loss.


Eating For Life Program*


This program has helped thousands of individuals lose weight over the years. This plan favors a higher protein lifestyle than traditional eating plans. The breakdown of calories are close to 40% carbohydrates, 40% protein, and 20% fat. The program also recommends eating six small meals per day, however the calorie breakdown can be followed with 3-5 meals per day with success.



  1. No counting of calories (however portion control is recommended)
  2. Studies have shown higher protein diets more effective at weight loss, especially for those who struggle with weight.
  3. Helps develop muscle which in turn helps to stimulate the metabolism
  4. Calorie for calorie a more filling diet
  5. Helps to control blood sugar better than higher carbohydrate diets




  1. Not appropriate for individuals with certain medical conditions (i.e. gout)
  2. Doesn’t line up with traditional American eating which favors carbs
  3. Restricted food selection


*NOTE – There are other programs that are similar in the nutrient breakdown, especially in regards to protein. Why these all have unique characteristics Paleo, the Zone Diet, and the Slow Carb Diet are similar in that they have a higher protein content than the traditional RDA.  


Bars and Shakes with limited meals


These plans have been around for years. One of the first marketed programs was the slimfast plan and while this is still around there are hybrids of this as well. These plans typically recommend eating 2 – 3 bars/shakes daily with 1-2 meals of limited size. They work because the calories you are consuming are lower than your body needs for maintanence. 


One variation of the plan that is often successful is to have a protein smoothie with frozen fruit for breakfast, a protein bar/smoothie for lunch, an afternoon snack, and a large salad for dinner. Others just consume a sensible dinner that clocks in under 500 calories.



  1. Quick weight loss in most circumstances
  2. Little/no preparation time
  3. Easy to follow



  1. Limited selections
  2. Boredom/tired of eating same foods
  3. Questions about the long-term safety/nutrient profile
  4. Possible slowdown of metabolism, especially if inadequate in protein


Examples of these programs include Advocare, Isagenix, and Slimfast.


Hybrid Plans

These plans allow for the most variety, however require a better working knowledge of nutrition and discipline to lose weight. Sometimes individuals have followed different diets over the years and have found elements in each that work for them and they join them together. They combine a variety of principles to make it work for them.


Some of the principles include portion control, higher protein, lower sugar, drinking plenty of water, and eating plenty of vegetables. In order to make this a reality there has to be foods ready to consume. For example today you might want a turkey burger for lunch with some fruit, while tomorrow it might be a piece of chicken with veggies.



  1. Great deal of variety & flexibility
  2. Less boredom because of greater food selection
  3. Eating out is less of a problem



  1. You need to have good discipline and working knowledge of nutrition
  2. You have to have a large selection of healthy options ready
  3. Lower success rate


Delivery Meal Services


Delivery meal services are reinventing the way many Americans eat. They are designed for working couples, singles, and busy families who lack the time to prepare healthy cooked meals. Typically meals are dropped off/picked up once per week and refrigerated (however some companies offer frozen selections). The meals are typically in ready to microwave containers and can be heated in few minutes. The companies often provide options such as one, two, or three meals daily (in fact some even offer snacks). They can be a very effective tool in a weight loss strategy.



  1. Tasty
  2. Healthy
  3. Convenient



  1. Cost
  2. Quality control isn’t always there

Glen Carrigan is co-owner and operator of Freedom 4 Life Fitness with his wife Yvette. Glen & Yvette are dedicated and experienced personal trainers providing residents of Leawood, Overland Park KS, and greater Kansas City with an outstanding fitness experience.