Weight Loss

Healthy weight management programs to try before medical weight loss

Prescription weight loss medications not for you? Check out our roundup of top-rated, affordable nutrition and exercise programs to try instead.
Curvy woman lying on an adjustable weight bench training from home accompanied by her cute puppy in living room

Key Points:

  1. Prescription weight loss programs can empower those looking to improve their weight and overall health. But not everyone qualifies for, needs or wants medication to lose weight.
  2. Weight aside, a robust exercise routine and joyful, balanced eating regimen can encourage physical, emotional and mental health.
  3. No singular diet, gym, eating program or exercise routine works for everyone. Before you choose an online weight loss coach, consider your budget, time, social desires, schedule and more.

Are you looking to gain energy, strengthen muscles, shed pounds and reap the health benefits of exercise and a balanced diet… but struggle with willpower and perseverance? You’re not alone!

Studies show that our weight is determined by an almost equal ratio of genetics and environment. Nowadays, inexpensive foods that take little prep time are usually not the best for our bodies. And unless our jobs regularly require brisk walking and heavy lifting, chances are we’re not naturally using our bodies for optimum energy throughout the day, either. Plus, memberships to gyms or fitness studios that energize us to move can be so expensive!

Yes, FDA-approved drugs for weight loss (and versions like compounded Semaglutide) can help people of higher weights and those with medical conditions lose pounds. But investing in a dedicated nutrition and exercise program is the best way to guarantee improved health outcomes in the long term—for those who take weight loss medications and those who don’t.

Here, we share a few in-person and online options to try.

Plus, things to consider about your personality and lifestyle when choosing the best weight management program for you.

Things to consider when choosing a weight management program

A weight loss or management program should include fitness and nutrition guidance via personal counseling, feedback and monitoring tools. They may also offer group support, digital tools (like online classes or fitness trackers) or dedicated menu planning.

Knowing what you need to reach your goals most effectively is the best way to whittle down the many available options.

Before you shell out your hard-earned cash for a new app, gym membership or meal kit, consider these points:

What puzzle piece am I missing? Do you need help clarifying your eating habits or maximizing your mealtime? Do you just need a personal trainer’s help before you start exercising again? Or do you need a weight loss coach to hold you accountable for the long road? Be specific in your needs, and you’ll find your missing piece.

How much can I afford? Fitness and nutrition are lifelong considerations. Be realistic about how much you can financially invest in a program. Then, look at options within your monthly budget. Maybe you can’t afford the gym, fitness studio or personal trainer of your dreams. (If you have an HSA or FSA, Dr. B may be able to help you save on them.) But you can afford an app or your local fitness or community center.

What personality or lifestyle factors will influence my success? If you’re an introvert, you may not stick with a program involving a lot of social interaction. If your job has you working odd hours, you probably won’t stick with a regular fitness class scheduled. If you love to cook, you may find a structured meal program restrictive. If you’re all about peer support, working out at home via an app may bore you. You do you, and your chances of success will be better than ever!

Fitness programs

The Physical Activity Guideline for American adults recommends that we aim for 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intense aerobic activity or 50-300 weekly minutes of moderate-intense aerobic activity every week. Then, we add two or more days of resistance training. The latter is crucial when we’re losing weight. If we only reduce our calorie intake, we may lose too much lean body mass as we lose fat.

Of course, all bodies are different. Those who have a chronic condition or disability that limits movement should not push beyond their means. Instead, the recommendations suggest we avoid inactivity and partake in those that suite our abilities.

A qualified coach, trainer or physical therapist will work with you to help craft personal goals in line with your history and abilities.

Here are a few of Dr. B’s favorite fitness providers.

Orange Theory: Orangetheory group fitness classes include strength training, rowing and treadmill work. While certified coaches monitor your progress, fitness trackers help you adjust your workout intensity to hit targeted intensity zones. You'll love their energizing group setting if you want to supercharge your metabolism and cardiorespiratory health.

SoulCycle: SoulCycle classes became the thing for good reason. Super-enthusiastic trainers lead the 45-minute indoor cycling classes with themed playlists and coaching monologues. These guarantee that choreography, sprints, climbs and more combine for a high-intensity workout that leaves you smiling as much as sweating.

All Trails: Love the outdoors? This app displays nearby trails for walking, running, hiking or biking. Narrow your search for paths that are dog-friendly, by water or have wildflowers blossoming nearby! Snag the free version or pay $35.99 per year to download maps, preview live conditions, share your location with friends or get warned when you make a wrong turn.

Nutrition programs

Healthy weight loss only requires eating 500-1000 fewer calories than you burn daily. Any less, and you may slow your metabolism or develop a nutritional deficiency! These food apps can help you track your intake and help you understand more about what you’re eating.

Nutritionix Track: This simple calorie tracking app is beloved for its interface simplicity and extensive library of restaurant menus. It may be your solution if you’re looking for a simple way to reduce calorie consumption.

Fooducate: Since 2010, dietitians, doctors, Oprah, and the US Surgeon General have recommended this free app! With it, you can log your exercise, count calories, understand your sugar, protein, fat and carb intake and personalize your goals and food preferences. You can also scan food labels to see their nutrition “grade” and get suggestions for healthier options.

Fitness and nutrition options for weight loss

Whether you’re looking for a weight loss coach, a Semaglutide diet plan, or somewhere to burn some angsty energy, these programs offer vetted support and personalized guidance.

F45 Training. F45 Training’s certified personal trainers lead each class with a particular hands-on approach. No matter your fitness status, their expert modifications guarantee that you’ll stay safe and motivated during the intense group classes. F45 Challenges, meal plans, and dietitian-curated recipes help reshape nutrition habits. The F45 Training App and at-home workouts provide digital accountability and support.

The YMCA. Ys around the country offer an extensive variety of fitness, health and well-being programs and classes geared toward many ages and stages of life. Individual locations also offer dedicated weight loss programs, which include nutrition classes, coaching, lectures, tracking and support tools.

BODi. The BODi app’s massive collection of online fitness classes is reason enough for homebodies to give them a try—themed programs guarantee an engaging and safe workout progression. Then, their nutrition and mental health programs and BODi groups double down on motivation and accountability. So if you have a busy life but are ready to commit, BODi might be the online + IRL hybrid option you’re looking for.

Mayo Clinic Diet: A “weight loss diet for life,” this comprehensive program is based on research and clinical experience that began in the 1940s! Today, it combines award-winning cookbooks and a streamlined app to help you build healthy habits you’ll wanna keep for a long time.

Sources:

Evert, A.B., et al. (2017). Why weight loss maintenance is difficult. Diabetes Spectrum.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2024). Choosing a safe and successful weight-loss program.

US Department of Health and Human Services. (2018). Physical activity guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition.

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