Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Charleston Diets Examiner: What is the TOPS Diet?

Charleston Diets Examiner: What is the TOPS Diet?

TOPS, Taking Off Pounds Sensibly, is a food exchange program type of diet similar to Weight Watchers. TOPS dieters attend weekly meetings and receive regular issues of the TOPS News newsletter. Instead of being assigned a points value, as with Weight Watchers, foods are categorized according to whether a particular food is a meat, starch, fruit, fat, dairy or vegetable. TOPS dieters are required to count servings of food based on the number of calories they are allowed per day. For example, if a dieter's goal is to eat 1,500 calories per day, their meal plan would consist of:
  • 5 servings of meat
  • 6 servings of starches
  • 5 servings of fruit
  • 2 servings of fat
  • 2 servings of dairy
  • 4 servings of vegetables
  • Free foods (condiments and zero-calorie beverages)

TOPS Diet Cost

The cost of membership is $26 per year in the U.S. and $30 in Canada, with the first visit to a TOPS meeting being free of charge. Subsequent TOPS meetings are $1 per meeting. For those who do not wish to attend weekly meetings, there's an online membership option as well.

TOPS Diet Advantages

Studies show social support is important to the success of dieters, and TOPS offers that social support through weekly meetings. The TOPS Diet also offers portion control, which is essential when it comes to dieting.

TOPS Diet Disadvantages

TOPS dieters at first may find it difficult to know which foods fall into which category; however, TOPS does offer a free food exchange guide on their website. Another disadvantage of TOPS is the need to learn portion sizes, although there are cheap portion-control plates on that market that dieters can use until they learn portion sizes.

Overall, the TOPS diet is one of the less costly diets available. While the TOPS program does have its disadvantages, dieters can take away sound eating principles such as portion control.