Americans spend an estimated $60 billion on beauty, diet and weight management products and services annually. Clearly, losing weight isn’t designed to be cheap—let alone free! Yet often what you’re paying for when you join a weight loss program is the name value. For instance, "Jillian Michaels" is not just a person who happens to be an expert at fitness and weight loss. She’s also a brand—and a very lucrative one at that!

In the same way, Weight Watchers, the South Beach Diet and similar others are corporations in their own right; complete with overhead, advertising, marketing and other expenses—all of which are built into the costs of the program they’re eager to sell you. So why pay for the name when what you really want is to simply lose the weight? Instead, try these great online resources to generate a customized diet plan you can follow—absolutely free!

1. FitDay

Not everything on this neat, easy-to-navigate website is free. But the good news is, the parts that are free will give you everything you need to put your weight loss plan into motion and sustain it. The site boasts six million users and is still growing.

  • Personal online dietition: Visit this resource for a free one-week trial. You can talk with a registered dietitian online, create a customized health and wellness plan, and begin your journey to health right away.
  • Free calorie counter: As soon as you create your free online profile, you’ll have access to the free calorie counter the site provides for your use.
  • Free weight loss journal: Once you create your free account, you can also use the site to create goals, log your food intake, and monitor your progress toward your goals with support from other users.
  • Free articles: Finally, you can access articles about nutrition and fitness that cover every topic from fitness while parenting to how color influences hunger.

2. FitClick

FitClick is a comprehensive, online resource catering to individuals who desire to lose weight and keep it off. The site was co-founded by two Harvard MBAs and its corporate headquarters is just outside of Washington, D.C.. FitClick's many free resources can have you up and running and making progress towards your weight loss and health goals in no time.

  • Fitness tools: Along the right-hand sidebar on the site's home page you’ll find a number of free tools, including a BMI (body mass index) calculator, a body fat calculator and weight and measurement charts.
  • Calorie counter and diet plans: Under the "Diet & Nutrition" tab, you’ll find a free calorie counter and an extensive list of diet plans catering to everyone: from those who are gluten intolerant or diabetic to fitness buffs who want to gain muscle and new moms who want to lose the baby weight.
  • Workouts: The "Workout & Fitness" tab contains information about different workout plans and estimates of calories burned for each.
  • Community: You can also access an extensive online community of fellow health enthusiasts, free articles, free recipes and more.

3. StartYourDiet 

While not every single resource on StartYourDiet is free, there’s more than enough available for free to get you headed in the right direction without shelling out a single penny. And even if you do decide to upgrade your free account to the "Deluxe" plan, you’ll pay just $30 per year (compare this with Weight Watchers Online, which charges a one-time $29.95 fee plus $18.95 per month).

  • Free mobile app: StartYourDiet has a free mobile app that helps you grocery shop by scanning bar codes to get the nutrition information. You can also track your weight, water intake, meals, and fitness.
  • A to Z guidance: Your free plan includes selection of a customizable diet plan complete with calendar tracking, daily and weekly meal planning resources, motivation articles, an interactive online community and 100 days of free coaching.

4. MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal is earning rave reviews from the likes of Self and Men's Health magazines, the Today Show, the BBC, and other media luminaries. The website is accompanied by a free mobile app for iPhone, Android, Windows and Blackberry.

  • Free mobile app: You can access the free mobile app for any platform, allowing you to track your progress on the go. Along the right-hand sidebar of the app page you can also find a number of other helpful tools, including several calculators.
  • A smart food planner: MyFitnessPal's free meal tracker gives you a personalized diet plan and food/meal tracker. The more you use it, the smarter it gets.
  • Fitness helps: The free exercise resources help you figure out how many calories you've burned based on how long you've worked out and what type of exercises you did.

 

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