There are a number of weight-loss communities online, but most charge for access to their meal plans and resources. SparkPeople.com is a free website that gets excellent reviews from users and experts. Instead of being wedded to a particular diet plan, users choose from a variety of meal plans that can be customized for special dietary needs including vegetarian, low-cholesterol or low-sodium. If you don't like a particular meal in your plan, you can swap it out for other meal choices with similar calorie contents.
Reviewers say the online user community is active, engaged and motivating; users can join teams and compete for points and virtual trophies when they meet weight-loss or fitness goals. The fitness component of SparkPeople.com also gets high marks for helping to advance an overall lifestyle change. However, some users complain that the site is hard to navigate, and it can be time-consuming to input all of your daily food and exercise activities each day. If you can spend the money, Weight Watchers (*Est. $30 to join, plus weekly fees) also gets good reviews for its online community, and is the top-rated diet plan overall. eDiets.com (*Est. $19 per month) gets excellent reviews, as well.
Good Housekeeping evaluates SparkPeople.com in a comparative test of the best diet websites. While the commentary is brief, editors clearly list their likes and dislikes. User reviews are another good source of information, and Viewpoints.com has the best coverage. DietsInReview.com offers fewer reviews.
1. Good Housekeeping
Out of 10 diet websites evaluated, SparkPeople.com is selected as one of the six best by the Good Housekeeping Research Institute. Editors especially like the variety of weight-loss and fitness resources available for free, and the customizable meal plans also receive high marks.
Review: Best Diet Websites, Editors of Good Housekeeping
SparkPeople.com gets very high ratings from users at Viewpoints.com: In more than 200 reviews, the weight-loss community earns an average rating of 4.81 out of 5 stars. Everyone recommends the website, although some complain that the food tracker is too time-consuming.
Review: SparkPeople.com Reviews, Contributors to Viewpoints.com
Users have favorable impressions of SparkPeople.com, with well over 90 percent saying they like the site. A number of reviewers call the user community motivating and inspiring. However, a few find the site hard to navigate.
Review: SparkPeople, Contributors to DietsInReview.com