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Consumer Reports survey: Best weight-loss plans

December 28, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Starting a diet is relatively easy. The hard part is sticking to it. A just-released survey shows which diet strategies may work best to help you stick to those resolutions long past January. Here's what you need to know before you make your plan to lose weight.

Consumer Reports surveyed more than 3,000 of their subscribers on losing weight to see just what they're doing to stay on target.

Sarah LaFleur says she's really changed her eating habits, and it's paid off. She's lost 65 pounds in the last three years. The key to her weight loss, she says, is using a free online application called "Lose It" to track her calories.

"I wanted something that was easy, something I could use on the go, something that I could do quickly," said LaFleur.

The app lets LaFleur count calories anywhere on her smartphone.

LaFleur's not alone, according to the Consumer Reports National Research Center. A just-released survey of online subscribers found many people are using online tools to track their diets, including Weight Watchers Online and free sites like MyFitnessPal and SparkPeople.

"Our surveys have shown that counting calories is linked to losing weight and keeping it off," said Consumer Reports' Elissa Shuler-Adair.

Like LaFleur, respondents to this latest survey relied on tried-and-true strategies to meet their weight-loss goals, like eating more fruits and vegetables.

"I think the biggest change was the portion size," said LaFleur.

Also drinking more water and cutting back on sugar. And the poll shows many people used positive thinking to keep themselves on track.

"Thinking about how much progress you've made so far was one of the better techniques for sticking with your diet," said Schuler-Adair.

And of course, exercise helps too. When LaFleur noticed her weight starting to plateau, she grabbed her running shoes.

"I'm a half-marathoner now," said LaFleur. And she's determined to lose more weight.

Weight Watchers and Weight Watchers Online were the most popular commercial diet plans in the Consumer Reports poll, but you don't necessarily need a plan. Ninety-nine percent of those surveyed followed their own diet-and-exercise regimen.