A level playing field
If you type the word “nutrition” into Google, the search engine kicks back approximately 111 million results. The word “diet” gets you 134 million results. So it goes without saying that there is a lot of content out there for people interested in weight loss and better eating in general. That means if you’re a magazine operating in that space and you’re increasing your online presence, you’ll be facing a considerable amount of competition.
“For a brand that has established a credible presence with a print product it has some built in advantages,” says Mitch Speers, COO of eMedia Vitals an online publication that serves print media executives who are moving their publications online. “Trust in the brand is going to be a pretty important determiner of who the reader relies upon. But if the print brand says we’re going online only because our subscriptions are drying up, that may not be an indication of a strong brand to begin with. And if it’s business as usual and they’re just publishing it online instead of in a magazine, it’s not going to work. It’s about using the capabilities of the web effectively.”
Photo Credit: alancleaver_2000
It's all online...
There was a time, not too long ago, when the magazine business was booming. They were highly profitable and their editorial jobs were much sought after. These days, not so much. MediLife.com puts it very nicely:“People will always read magazines. But as readers continue their drift to the internet, and as advertisers follow, the economics of magazine publishing are undergoing a dramatic change, and none of it bodes well for mainstream publishing,” the wrote in a Dec 23 article http://www.medialifemagazine.com/artman2/publish/Magazines_22/Outlook_for_magazines_in_2010_Grimmer.asp . “Back in year 2000, a good year for publishers, the top several hundred titles tracked by Publishers Information Bureau reported 292,498 pages of advertising. Through September of this year, publishers reported 122,614 pages... That hurts.”Predictably, one type of magazine that will be particularly hit by this trend are those that deal in nutrition, dieting and weight loss in general. As these magazines shift online, they will encounter certain challenges others magazines won’t. They’ll be competing with a wide variety of entrenched web sites run by both major corporations and individual bloggers, many of which already have loyal online followings.
Photo Credit: Google
Weight Loss Sites to Watch Out For
MainStreet scoured the web for a variety of sites devoted to weight loss and nutrition. Some of them originated as print publications, others got their start online. Some are even run by the government.
Here are some of the more noteworthy ones, listed in order of popularity (least to most) based on their U.S. page rank as of the time this story was filed. The rankings were calculated by Alexa.com, a company which tracks Web site performance.
Photo Credit: jbcurio
U.S. Traffic Rank: unranked
Weight Loss Success Lifestyles is an online magazine that offers support for people struggling with obesity or maintaining a healthy weight. This site also produces a print magazine, which can be ordered on the site. The articles on WLS are especially interesting and informative because many of them are written by physicians and speak authoritatively about the healthy ways to lose weight and to do it successfully. The site is definitely targeted to readers are very overweight, so if you're only looking to lose five pounds, you might not get as much out of the magazine's content.
Photo Credit: WLSlifesyles
U.S. Traffic Rank: 95,871
Even though this site is more popular in Bulgaria than it is in the U.S., it's a very reliable site run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a government agency. The site focuses on getting readers to eat more fruits and vegetables, and does so in some pretty interesting ways. The site's "Analyze My Plate" tool allows users to drag and drop items from their dinner onto a plate. The tool then calculates the nutritional value of the plate, including the calories and the servings of fruits and veggies you'll be getting with that meal. It's pretty fun to just play around with, even if you're not on a diet.
Photo Credit: FruitsandVeggiesMatter.gov
U.S. Traffic Rank: 90,457
Beware of this site. Although it might seem like an innocent little nutrition site that only has good intentions in helping you cut calories, appearances can be deceiving. The site is owned and operated by the sweetener industry and several low-fat food companies. We only say this so you can take the information on the site with a grain of salt (not literally, your sodium would hit the roof, but you get the point).
The only part of the site that I found useful was the calorie counter. It's relatively simple to use and can help you really see how many calories you consume in one day. I suggest you keep a journal of everything you eat on a normal day for a week, then go back and track how many calories you consume. You'll begin to see trends in your eating and create a plan of attack.
Photo Credit: CalorieControl.org
U.S. Traffic Rank: 46,505
This site is so 2007. No, really, I think it might be from 2007. Even though the site content doesn't seem to have been updated for a while, there is still good content to be found. Specifically, FoodFit has tons of recipes - and those never go out of style - that can be sorted based on what type of diet they are best suited for. You can search for grilled entrees, desserts and even meals fest served in spring.
Photo Credit: FoodFit.com
American Council on Exercise
U.S. Traffic Rank: 24,824
The American Council on Exercise has been around for 25 years as a nonprofit working to develop certification programs for fitness professionals and to research fitness trends in America. What makes this site different from other weight loss Web sites is that it's not caught up in trends. It concentrates on the core aspects of physical fitness with articles about the correct way to do a crunch and ways to work out at home, for example. If you're looking for a site that's going to give it to you straight, this is it.
Photo Credit: American Council on Exercise
The Biggest Loser Club
U.S. Traffic Rank: 14,596
The Biggest Loser is one of the most amazing shows on television (at least this writer thinks so). It's essentially Extreme Makeover: Body Edition. With millions of Americans tuning in week after week, it's no surprise that The Biggest Loser Club is a popular fitness site. For a one-month membership, the club will set you back $19.98, but the site offers some very personalized fitness planning for that amount. Each member gets daily menus and has the ability to take on buddy challenges where they can compete with other members to be the biggest loser.
Photo Credit: The Biggest Loser Club
U.S. Traffic Rank: 9,306
The Jenny Craig Web site proudly claims that their clients lost more than twice as much weight as clients on the largest weight loss program. The program puts participants on a meal plan that is provided by Jenny Craig. Many clients say that they spend just as much on the program as they do on food normally, so it can be cost-efficient.
Photo Credit: Jenny Craig
U.S. Traffic Rank: 8,835
The popular women's fitness magazine has a pretty awesome Web site that does something that very few of the other weight loss Web sites venture to do - it discusses beauty tips in addition to fitness.
The site also gives loyal readers of Self additional insight into the next issue, including interviews with celebrities and sneak peeks at content. As some traditional magazines make their transition to the Web, Self is doing it the right way, by featuring new content and blogs on the Web and teasing back to the great parts of each issue of the print magazine.
Photo Credit: Self
South Beach Online
U.S. Traffic Rank: 8,182
When you're starting a specific diet plan, especially one as regimented as the South Beach plan, it's helpful to have a site to turn to if you have questions about what foods are allowed. The plan attempts to limit the amount of starches you eat and increase your lean protein intake (in addition to several other rules). If you want to become a member of the site, the first seven days are free, and then it costs $5 a week after that.
Photo Credit: southbeachdiet.com
U.S. Traffic Rank: 7,738
This site seems surprisingly popular, though we can't figure out why (their newest article is from April 2009) . The only redeeming aspect is the great commenting that is going on in the forums. There are several different "support groups" that offer discussion categorized by weight goals, age and even weight loss philosophy. The commenters are the life blood of this site, so if you're contemplating a binge session on corn dogs, rocky road ice cream and fried chicken, you can log on and hope that your online friends will convince you to put the drumstick down.
Photo Credit: 3FatChicks.com
U.S. Traffic Rank: 7,263
With a weight loss guarantee, it's hard to turn down eDiets' pitch at getting you onto one of the site's diet plans. The site promises that it will give you the next six months of your membership free if you don't lose your target weight in the first six months. There are some requirements you have to meet, but a guarantee on weight loss is pretty good. The site also offers several different types of diet plans tailored to what kind of diet you'd prefer.
Photo Credit: eDiets
U.S. Traffic Rank: 4,630
This site is part of a company that writes books, puts out a magazine and compiles e-newsletters on all things food. Specializing in delicious and nutritious meals, EatingWell.com focuses on recipes for low-fat and low-calorie meals of all types. some sample stories on the site:
- 25 Dinners in 20 Minutes or Less
- 5 Foods That Make Your Workout Easier
- What Does a 1,500 Calorie Day Look Like?
Photo Credit: EatingWell.com
U.S. Traffic Rank: 3,607
The lost library of Alexandria didn't have as much info as this site does. Seriously, the amount of nutrition facts and data that the site offers is astounding - it's basically a catalog of every food's complete nutritional breakdown. Best of all, they have lots of interactive tools that you can add to your Web site or browser to make using the site a lot easier. There's a Google browser button you can add to your surfing tool of choice and a widget to add to your blog or Web site.
If you're concerned about more than just calories and fat, this is the site for you.
Photo Credit: NutritionData.com/
U.S. Traffic Rank: 2,395
America's toughest trainer can now yell at you (through the Internet, of course). Jillian Michaels of The Biggest Loser fame has a pretty successful branding operation going on with Wii games, workout DVDs and weight loss pills all offered on her site.
For the site's full features, you can sign up for $4 a week, billed every 13 weeks. The site's member-only features include wegiht loss buddies, an interactive weight tracker and 151 printable exercises.
I would join just so I'm not on Jillian's bad side. She scares me.
Photo Credit: JillianMichaels.com
U.S. Traffic Rank: 1,860
Though the physical copy of this weight loss magazine might be overlooked on the rack (it's only a little bigger than a paperback book), it's Web site cannot. Prevention offers a TON of free content ranging from 400-calorie recipes to demonstrations of new workout moves.
The highlight? Prevention's site has a free tool called My Health Tracker that allows users to track their diet, their weight and even their mood with easy-to-use charts and graphs. The free multimedia experience that this site offers is hard to top.
Photo Credit: Prevention Magazine
U.S. Traffic Rank: 841
Our top weight loss site offers a wide variety of tools to help support its members. Weight Watchers operates by combining the support of an online community with the in-person support of local groups. The program says its success is based on its holistic, four-way approach to weight loss: "Eat Smarter, Move More, Helpful Habits, Get Support."
The site requires a paid membership to access the majority of its content, but it offers some pretty cool features like videos from some of its many success stories.
Photo Credit: Weight Watchers