Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Diets Can Be Expensive. Is Yours?

One of the biggest complaints we hear often about the low-carb lifestyle is the expense. I'll be the first to admit that buying fresh fruits, veggies, and meats can cost a pretty penny. But I've also learned that most of the foods you'll buy for your new healthy low-carb plan are really no more expensive that what you'd buy for any other diet plan. I'll get into the details of my thinking on this in a minute. But first I'd like to direct your attention to an article I found this morning on Forbes. (I'm only going to cover a portion of the column today, but I found the whole thing to be very interesting, as may you.)

This article
, by Rebecca Ruiz, discusses the expense of various diet plans. Here's a quote:

"...we evaluated the first-week costs of seven popular weight-loss programs. After all, the initial week often requires the greatest personal and financial investment.

We found that consumers on such programs as NutriSystem, the Zone, The Abs Diet, The 5-Factor Diet, South Beach, Weight Watchers and the Martha's Vineyard Diet Detox can expect to spend as little as $100 and as much as $385 during the first week."

Now keep in mind that with diets such as NutriSystem, that expense is for the dieter alone. You aren't sharing those meager meals with anyone. So you have to add the expense of groceries for the family as well, assuming you don't live alone. With plans that allow you to cook your own food, you can at least fix enough for the whole family. Her estimated cost of NutriSystem for the first week, sans family meals: approx. $98.

With her investigation of The Abs Diet she found that participants were encouraged to eat 6 meals a day from 12 different food groups. Her sample menu totaled the grand sum of $250 for the first week. This plan also has the extra expense of the book, at $15.95, and protein powder for the smoothies, which could cost you $15.99 per container.

The Zone diet is next with it's lower-fat, moderate-carb meals. Her estimation of the first week on this plan: approx. $273 plus $24.95 for the book and around $17.95 for the protein powder in the smoothies. You may also buy a variety of ready made products.

South Beach, with it's fiber-rich, lean protein menu (I hear Dr. Agatston doesn't like his plan to be labeled low-carb) follows next with her estimation running in the $323 range. She also explains that you'll spend $24.95 for the book as well as and any other ready made products you may opt to purchase.

Her next examination is of the 5-Factor Diet, which bases it's 5 meals a day on 5 ingredients per recipe and only 5 minute prep time. (Sound's kinda gimmicky.. don't ya think?) Estimated cost? $380. As with some of the other plans, you'll spend $24.95 on the book and $15.99 for protein powder.

The Martha's Vinyard Diet Detox, which proudly boasts 21 lbs in 21 days, is on her radar screen as well. This plan seems to consist mostly of juiced veggies, berry drinks and soups. What could it cost you to start this enticing (NOT!) program? How about $385, plus a moderately priced juicer ($150), food enzyme supplements ($21.59), as well as the author recommended colonics, lymphatic drainage massages and a Chi machine. Ruiz fails to mention how much we'd have to pay for the plan book itself. *insert whistle* I'd say this one wins the award for most expensive!

And last, but certainly not least, is Weight Watchers. Many of us are probably all too familiar with this plan. Their membership-based program now proudly boasts that it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle (Yeah.. right.) With offerings of guidance for exercise, menu planning, habit changes, and support groups - it's a very tempting option. It's also a pricey one. Weighing in at approx. $388 for the first week. And that doesn't include the $29.95 membership fee or the $16.95 average monthly fee.

(Ruiz has a slide show of each of these plans with the information I listed above, as well as a sample menu for each plan. Check it out here.)

Now lets get to analyzing the the low-carb expenses...

I typically spend $150 a week to feed my family of 4. While I do occasionally spend money on higher-carb extras, most of our menu is low-carb. What kind of foods do I buy? Here's a sample grocery list:

Milk (whole, for my children)
Heavy Cream
Full Fat Cheeses
Cream Cheese
Ground Beef
Pork Chops
Chicken Breasts
Canned Chicken (great for quick chicken salad)
Frozen Fish (my family prefers Cod and MahiMahi)
Bacon or sausage
Pork Rinds
Sugar Free Syrups
Variety of Frozen Veggies
Varitey of Fresh Veggies
Ranch Dressing (when I'm not using homemade, which costs even less to make)
Some Canned Veggies
Fresh and Frozen Berries
low-carb bread (mostly for the children)
Variety of Spices
Olive Oil
Coconut Oil
Whey Protein Powders
EAS AdvantEdge LC Shakes
Splenda (now you can save even more and buy Altern at Wal-Mart)

Now I don't buy all of these items every week, but as a general rule you'll find most of these things on my list with regularity. I'm a frugal shopper, so I buy cheaper brands and find ways to cut prices here and there. But I'm telling you now, low-carb is no harder on the pocket book than any of those plans Ruiz examined above. Even if I splurge on low-carb tortillas, low-carb ice cream, treats like ChocoPerfection, and my favorite Garcia Lo chips. I still spend less than $250. Any of those plans above compare? Nope. And my plan book? You can find Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution just about anywhere for around $6.

So I ask you again. Is you diet plan expensive? Mine's sure not compared to the above and I enjoy it to the fullest! I eat like royalty, improve my health, and lose weight. For the price, who could ask for more?


OhYeahBabe said...

Excellent post, thank you. That first week can be a shocker, but you're right. It stabilizes and there are ways to keep even the moderate cost lower by planning ahead and stocking up on sale items.

Stop the fraud! Kimkins members may join the Kimkins lawsuit. Here is a video that explains how easy it is to join the Kimkins lawsuit.

totegirl said...

On WW: "Their membership-based program now proudly boasts that it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle (Yeah.. right.)"

It actually is a lifestyle, just like low-carb. You don't just lose a bunch of weight and go back to eating like you used to, right? Some people also need meetings, just like alcoholics need meetings. We should be more gentle with people who aren't just like us, don't you think?

Other than that, nice post.

Sparky's Girl said...

OYB, the first week is always the toughest on any plan. You are buying foods you may not be familiar with (or in some cases even like) and trying to figure how and when to eat them. Add the cost in the mix and it's no small miracle we try at all! :0) Thankfully low-carb is pretty simple to shop for and most people know and like the foods they are buying.

Sparky's Girl said...

Hi totegirl! Thanks so much for visiting me!

As for WW: My beef with them is the way they are portraying themselves. It's still a diet. Only the individual can make it a lifestyle. Even Atkins is a diet. *I* have to make it my lifestyle. The book, the meetings, the prepackaged foods, etc. can't do that for me.
It also has to be something that people WANT to do for the rest of their lives. Most of my experiences with WW members (I spent a boat load of money and many years at WW myself)has been they are always hungry and can't wait for the next meal, usually with very little results. Why would you want to do that for the rest of your life? I understand it does work for some, and I'm glad it does! But I'm one of those people who stuck to WW by the book, did all they told me I should do, and gained weight. The marvelous low-fat diet that I was told to adhere to turned out to be the cause of a myriad of health problems I now have to live with the rest of my life. Low-Carb has been my saving grace for these problems. So I guess you could say I have issues where WW is concerned. But it's nothing personal against anyone who uses WW or does well on it. I'm not a mean person, but I'm just not politically correct either and never will be.

I think the meetings are fantastic, providing the participants are actually getting encouragement and being educated on how to lose weight, stay healthy, and eventually maintain. But I've personally seen women get on the scale and then step off and cry, only to hear insinuations made that they simply weren't doing their best or they would have lost. Support is essential in any weight loss plan, which is why I spend time on forums that I know will support me. There is some lousy support on a few low-carb forums as well... so it's not just WW meetings.

Anyhow, I hope that gives you some insight into why I said what I said. There is no one size fits all plan, and anyone who tells you that is trying to sell something. My purpose here is to be honest about my experiences with weight loss and the health issues that go with the territory. While I believe low-carb is a fantastic option for many, it's not for everyone.

Thanks again for commenting. Your thoughts are always welcome here!