commercial weight loss progras

Yay or Nay: Commercial Weight Loss Programs For Regain?

January 6, 2017

"Regain" is the word that all post-ops fear to experience. Unfortunately, it is a normal physiological response to extreme weight loss, as well as a side effect of slipping back into old habits. But what help is out there for those of us struggling with regain? Take a look at the resources below and consider the pros/cons of each to see which one(s) might be the best fit for you.

Tracking Programs

There are a few different companies and apps that help you track what you eat while providing a variety of levels of guidance, from no guidance beyond helping you set calorie and macronutrient goals, to guiding your meal choices through an analysis system.


  • You can eat what you want, as long as you track it and keep your target goals in mind.
  • Depending on the program, there is a variety of support available, which is very beneficial for any weight loss program.
  • By default, tracking is easiest with programs that encourage you to track your meals.


  • If you do best with outside influences helping to motivate you, a program with such flexibility and autonomy may not be to your benefit.
  • Although not expensive, plans can range from $4.50 to $11 per week.
  • Many times, programs that offer in-person support frown upon comparing post-operative weight loss with those who haven’t had surgery. While in the early stages, WLS could provide an unfair advantage over others, but during regain, the weight loss struggles are often similar to those who have never had WLS. It is up to you whether or not you’d like to share your post-op status, but don’t take any reaction toward the surgery as reflective of you.

Meal Delivery

Getting ready-to-eat meals delivered to your doorstep sounds too good to be true! And while there are many benefits, this type of program may not be for everyone.


  • By far the biggest pro, as you don’t have to worry about meal planning or grocery shopping for the days you have meals delivered. You also don’t have to prepare a meal, simply pop the meal in the microwave.
  • Evidence shows that people who do the same things consistently are more likely to maintain weight loss, so regular meals with minimal variation can assist you in your weight loss goals.
  • Because the meals are planned well in advance, companies are often able to ensure that their plans are well-balanced for a healthy diet.
  • With repeat meals, logging the nutrition info is short and simple.
  • Clean up is a breeze when you just have to dispose of the meal container.


  • Prices can range between $15-23 per day for meals, usually on top of a monthly program fee.
  • Often, people report experiencing decreased fullness and satisfaction with the meals, due to the microwaveable aspect. However, not all companies are equal, so shop around before making a large financial commitment.
  • With set items for each meal, some people get tired of the set meals and like more flexibility to their meal plans. While some programs allow you to snack on other foods in between, others restrict you to eating their foods only.

Meal Kit/Recipe Delivery

Not to be confused with meal delivery, meal kit or recipe delivery requires meal preparation and cooking, such as chopping vegetables, sautéing meat, etc. There has been a large increase in recipe delivery popularity recently, so there are now many options to choose from.


  • By providing a set number of meals per week, you don’t have to worry about meal planning for those days as it’s already done for you. You also don’t have to stress about grocery shopping!
  • For those companies that provide the nutrition information for their recipes, logging your meals is a snap!
  • Many companies offer customizable options for choosing how many portions you’d like each recipe to make. Depending on how far out from surgery you are, one portion could be multiple meals or just one meal, so try to plan your ordering accordingly.


  • Price per portion can range between $8-$15.
  • Depending on the company you choose for delivery, the cook time for each recipe can also vary and may be longer than the meals you typically prepare.
  • The company’s focus many not be on a decreased calorie meal, but rather on wholesome ingredients, so be sure to double-check the calorie content. Also, not all companies provide the nutrition information for their recipes, so choose wisely.
  • While many of the available companies try to make the recipes simple to follow, for some of us, even the most rudimentary cooking skills can provide a challenge.

Meal Plan Subscription

Some companies offer meal plans that you can subscribe to. These meal plans are often for week night dinners, with the option to subscribe to additional meal plans, including breakfast, lunch, desserts, or dinners for all days of the week.


  • For a very small fee, you can have weekly recipes sent to your email.
  • Save the time you usually use for meal planning and making a grocery list for cooking instead.
  • Many meal plans are available, from slow cooker recipes to Paleo to a low-carb to anything in between! And you can change your subscription throughout the year, so you don’t have to feel locked into a set meal plan.


  • Depending on the recipe, you may or may not feel comfortable preparing the meal on your own.
  • You are not able to select what recipes they send you each week (beyond selecting the category of meal plan), so you may sometimes end up with recipes that you do not like or may not be able to tolerate post-operatively.

WLS Patient-Created Resources

There are also a variety of post-operative WLS patient-created programs to assist with regain. However, this is where I encourage the most caution. Many of the aforementioned programs/companies work with a registered dietitian, and will even tell you what type of professional they consulted regarding the nutrition aspects of their program. Unfortunately, for the patient-created programs, their creators often rely only on their own nutrition knowledge. Unless they are chefs, registered dietitians or some other medical professional with advanced nutrition/dietetics education, I worry that the information they provide is not grounded in evidence-based recommendations.


  • The great aspect of doing a regain program with others is the support, especially if you are among other post-op WLS patients.
  • Often, these programs encourage consistency from day to day, which helps ease the frustration of tracking.


  • While there are many programs out there, there are a select few that advise unsafe practices for post-operative patients. Without a professional analyzing the program, I caution others from accepting as true everything that such a program offers.
  • I cannot stress strongly enough avoiding food fads without talking to your doctor or dietitian. Fad diets often encourage unsafe practices, without evidence to support the benefits of such practices.

What Works Best For Your Regain

There is no right or wrong when deciding how to address your regain; rather, you need to find which program (or combination thereof) works best for you. Finally, don’t forget to acknowledge that weight loss is a journey and not a destination, so there is no such concept as failure. This will help you address the emotional aspect of weight regain, resolve any misplaced guilt you might be feeling, and keep you moving forward!

The most important part is to take the first step, halting regain in its tracks.

For my own professional and personal recommendations on how to deal with regain, please look for my next article to be published soon.



Bec McDorman, MS, RDN discovered her passion for health and wellness after undergoing Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass surgery in 2010 to lose more than 100lbs. Bec has received her masters from Cal Poly Pomona and completed her dietetic internship at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. She has reached her goal of being a registered dietitian so she can help pre- and post-op bariatric patients with their journey.

Read more articles by Bec!