What Is the Diet-to-Go Balance Meal Plan?

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Diet-to-Go review
Diet-to-Go Blackened Salmon. Diet-to-Go

Diet-to-Go is a meal delivery service designed for weight loss. Its menus are calorie-controlled and nutritionally balanced, and have been rated highly for taste. The company offers four types of meal plans: Balance, Balance-Diabetic, Keto-Carb30, and Vegetarian. Depending on your needs, you may find the convenience useful. However, the limited-calorie plan can be difficult to sustain.

What Experts Say

"Diet-to-Go is a meal delivery service for those trying to lose weight. By offering different types of meal plans—like vegetarian and low-carb—it is able to cater to a wide range of needs. However, experts agree the calorie levels may be too low for some individuals."
Chrissy Carroll, RD, MPH

Background

Diet-to-Go was founded in 1991 in Virginia by entrepreneur Hilton Davis. A pioneer in the diet food delivery industry, Diet-to-Go offered one of the first diet meal mail-order products in 1999 and now prepares over 40,000 meals per week. It operates a local pickup service through providers like Gold's Gym, World Gym, and Walgreen's in New Jersey, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. (including northern Virginia and the Maryland suburbs). Elsewhere, the foods are shipped frozen overnight by express courier.

Diet-to-Go has adapted over the years by offering menus that work for specific needs, such as people with diabetes or people who follow a ketogenic diet. In 2011, Diet-to-Go was rated number one for flavor by judges at Epicurious, beating out Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, and Nutrisystem.

How It Works

When signing up as a customer of Diet-to-Go, you choose which of the four menu plans you would like. All of the dishes are made with real food with the exception of some flavor enhancers used in chicken stock-based sauces.

You can either receive the meal plan as it comes, with dishes delivered in rotation every five weeks, or put together a customized plan on the Diet-to-Go website. The meals come in plastic trays, ready to heat and eat.

As with other major diet meal plan providers, Diet-to-Go offers its customers certified health coaches to help meet their weight loss goals. Unlike Jenny Craig, the coaches don't make regular one-on-one contact but are there for support when needed.

What to Eat

The Diet-to-Go plan is simple because you will receive completely prepared, portion-controlled meals from the service. The Balance plan provides 1200 calories per day for women and 1600 calories for men. To meet a weight-loss goal, you will need to stick with the provided meals and not add extra calories (as in sauces, beverages, side dishes, desserts, etc.).

In addition to its Balance plan, Diet-to-Go also offers a vegetarian Balance plan and two low-carb plans. Keto-Carb30 replaces carbs with fat (similar to the Atkins diet) and delivers an average of 30 net carbs per day. The Balance-Diabetic plan meets American Diabetic Association guidelines (an average of 45 net carbs per meal). It is designed to control blood sugar.

Recommended Timing

You can choose whether you want to receive Diet-to-Go meals five or seven days per week, and whether you want three meals per day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) or just two (omitting breakfast). Again, if you are trying to meet a weight-loss goal or stick to a low-carb plan, you will need to make your own decisions about how many calories and/or carbohydrates you consume when you prepare your own meals.

Sample Menu

For the Balance plan, you might receive:

  • Breakfast: Blueberry pancakes with turkey sausage; ratatouille omelet; or chocolate zucchini bread
  • Lunch: Sofrito chicken melt, Mediterranean pizza, or turkey meatloaf
  • Dinner: Penne pasta with turkey meat sauce, baked salmon with pineapple salsa, or porcini mushroom chicken

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Portion- and calorie-controlled

  • No meal planning or preparation

  • Menus can be customized

  • Four different menu plans

  • Meals are tasty and good quality

Cons

  • Limited calories may leave you hungry

  • $20/week shipping fee in addition to cost of meals

  • Low-carb plans based on average net carbs, not a strict limit

Pros

Convenience

Diet-to-Go meals require no preparation, except for reheating. Especially if you get the full 21-meal weekly plan, you will not have to think at all about what you are eating. Everything is pre-planned and prepared.

Flexibility

While all meals are pre-planned, you can choose from the four different types of plans and then customize the menu within the plan (for example, if you have certain allergies or don't care for seafood).

Taste

Diet-to-Go meals are made fresh each week, and the quality of the food is high. Nothing is overly seasoned, so customers can add their own additional seasoning if they prefer.

Safety

Meals are prepared in a commercial kitchen that is frequently inspected by government agencies. They adhere to nutritional guidelines issued by the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and American Diabetes Association. The meal plans do not overly restrict particular nutrients or include questionable supplements.

Still, these meal plans need to be carefully considered to determine if they are the best choice for you. Restricting calories, carbohydrates, and food choices to this degree may be difficult to sustain.

Cons

Sustainability

It is hard to stick with a restricted calorie diet for the long term. Using a pre-planned menu means you don't learn to change your eating habits so that you could continue this diet on your own.

Cost

Diet-to-Go meal and shipping prices (about $165 for 21 meals) are better than or comparable to other meal delivery services. And you will not necessarily need to grocery shop for supplemental items. However, you may find it hard to keep paying this amount week after week.

Net Carbs

Diet-to-Go's Keto-Carb30 and Balance-Diabetic low-carb plans are based on an average daily number of net carbs (30/day and 45/meal, respectively). This means that some days will exceed that number. If you're on a strict low-carb plan, you may need to keep tabs on the daily carb count and make adjustments.

How It Compares

Diet-to-Go's Balance plan is similar to other portion-controlled meal delivery services, in terms of offerings and cost. It meets USDA guidelines for nutritional balance.

USDA Recommendations

Food Groups

The Diet-to-Go Balance plan meets the guidelines for nutritional variety, offering a healthy selection of fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and other proteins (the meals do not contain red meat or pork). Vegetarian meals are similar, but do not include chicken, turkey, or fish. The low-carb plans shift the proportions so that the emphasis is on protein and fat.

Calories

The USDA recommends 2000 calories a day for weight maintenance. The Diet-to-Go meals are designed for weight loss, and clock in at 1200 (for women) to 1600 (for men) daily calories. This may or may not be right for you, depending on your age, health, current weight, and activity level. To estimate your own needs, use this Weight Loss Calorie Goal Calculator.

Similar Diets

The Diet-to-Go Balance plan shares some characteristics, including price, with other weight-loss meal-delivery services.

Diet-to-Go Balance

  • General nutrition: The Balance plan includes all food groups and is designed to be calorie-controlled and nutritionally balanced.
  • Convenience: It's simple to follow this diet, as most or all of your meals are pre-planned and provided. (If you travel frequently or need to eat out for business meetings, this may be more difficult for you.)
  • Sustainability: It could be challenging to maintain this level of calorie restriction for the long term, and the diet does not teach you how to eat this way without the structure provided by the prepared meals.

Jenny Craig

  • General nutrition: Jenny Craig plans are similarly nutritionally balanced and calorie controlled. The service offers a variety of breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and snack items, but also encourages users to add their own fruits, vegetables, and other low-calorie items to help satisfy hunger.
  • Convenience: As with Diet-to-Go, there is a little meal planning, prep, or shopping to do. Jenny Craig has more options (e.g., separate snacks and desserts), but also recommends that users supplement with their own healthy food options.
  • Sustainability: Users may find it difficult to stick with the calorie restrictions for the long term. Jenny Craig does offer health coaching (although usually not from registered dietitians) and suggested healthy food additions to its plan, which might help users maintain some healthy habits after they stop paying for the Jenny Craig plan.

Nutrisystem

  • General nutrition: Nutrisystem meals are based on a calorie ratio of about 50% carbohydrates, 25% protein, and 25% fat. They restrict calories, but not specific food groups.
  • Convenience: Similar to Jenny Craig, meals and snacks are pre-planned and prepared, but users can add their own healthy foods as well. Plans vary, but most include a few "flex" meals (prepared by the user on her own) per month.
  • Sustainability: Nutriystem plans are designed to be used until a weight-loss goal is met and then stopped, although there is a transition plan for users who want help with maintenance.

BistroMD

  • General nutrition: The BistroMD weight loss plan provides 1100 to 1400 calories daily, with 40% to 50% of the calories from lean protein, 20% to 25% from healthy fats, and 30% to 35% from complex carbohydrates. So as with the other meal delivery services, it limits calories but not specific food groups or nutrients. You can choose from standard, vegetarian, heart-healthy, gluten-free, diabetic, or menopause-friendly plans.
  • Convenience: Everything is provided, so you do not have to plan, shop for, or prepare your meals. You can get a 5- or 7-day plan, choose two or three meals per day, and add on a snack plan as well.
  • Sustainability: As with the other plans, the convenience comes at a cost of not learning how to plan and prepare your own healthy meals.

A Word From Verywell

For those who would rather not cook or want more structure in their diet routine, Diet-to-Go may be a good option. The prices (including delivery) are reasonable, and the quality and variety of meals is good.

Following the diet could help you lose weight, especially if you stick with the delivery meals and use caution when eating off-plan meals or snacks. However, it may be challenging to sustain the low-calorie diet for the long term, and to keep buying the program meals indefinitely. Remember that long-term weight loss, maintenance, and overall health are a result of a variety of factors, including diet, exercise, and sleep.

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