Online Weight Loss Support: Overview & Reviews

Reviewed by: Nancy DeLuca, RD

Online weight loss support will drastically improve your chances of reaching and maintaining your weight loss goals, but only if you choose to work with the best websites. We have reviewed them all and have good news… most of the best options are free!

In-person or online weight loss support for bariatric surgery: Which is better?

Online weight loss surgery support has four significant advantages over face-to-face meetings:

"Regular use of user-friendly and robust online tools will lead to better weight loss."

  1. Regular use of user-friendly and robust online tools will lead to better weight loss. Online tools help you easily and efficiently set goals, track your post-surgery progress, create and follow bariatric diet and weight loss surgery exercise plans and keep a journal of your feelings, challenges and accomplishments. These tools will make your weight-loss journey much more goal-oriented and will provide invaluable information when working with your dietitian, psychologist and other bariatric professionals.
  2. Receive advice and encouragement right when you need it without having to wait until your next in-person weight loss surgery support group meeting.
  3. If you do not have in-person support groups near your home, online weight loss support groups provide a way to interact with other patients without any geographical restrictions.
  4. Easy regular access to the most up-to-date bariatric research. Regardless of how knowledgeable your bariatric doctors are, it would be impossible for them to keep up with the ongoing research related to all areas of weight loss surgery. Utilizing the right tools for ongoing education will keep you at the forefront of “what works” and provide you with important questions and discussion points for future meetings with your bariatric professionals.

Despite these advantages, nothing can replace the effectiveness of an in-person weight loss surgery support group. In addition to the personal connections made, regular participation in face-to-face groups has been proven to lead to significantly more weight loss.

"The most effective philosophy is to combine the best of both in-person and online weight loss support. "

The most effective philosophy is to combine the best of both in-person and online weight loss support.

To earn the highest likelihood of reaching and maintaining your weight loss goals, continue regular attendance at your in-person support groups and compliment them with the following online weight loss support (more about each below)…

  • Regular use of online diary and food journals, diet planning/tracking and exercise planning/tracking tools
  • Participation in online forums/chat rooms for ongoing encouragement and to get answers to your questions in between face-to-face group meetings
  • Ongoing weight loss surgery education from official sources
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The 3 categories of online weight loss support for bariatric surgery patients & the
Top Free Resources

There are three main categories of online weight loss support. This section will help you determine which is right for you and give you links to great options in each category...

  1. Diary and food journals and planning/tracking tools overview
  2. Forums and chat rooms overview
  3. Ongoing education and research updates overview

Each of these is extremely valuable, and we highly recommend using at least one website in each category on a regular basis.

We have signed up and reviewed all of the resources referenced below, and each is very user-friendly. To keep things manageable, learn to use one before moving on to the next…

1. Diary and food journals, diet planning/tracking and exercise planning/tracking online weight loss support tool overview

For Smart Phone Users

Barimate is a weight management iPhone App written specifically for current and prospective bariatric surgery patients. It includes nine sub-apps to help you make informed choices about surgery and keep track of your weight changes and parameters like BMI and %EWL.

Online tools, diaries and food journals are an invaluable resource for several reasons and we strongly recommend that you use one:

  • You will be more likely to achieve and maintain your weight loss goals. For example, a recent study showed that patients who self-monitor their progress are less likely to regain any weight following bariatric surgery.1
  • Many of the best online tools are absolutely free to use (including our picks referenced below).
  • Save all of your information for future reference and automated tracking.
  • Best method for accumulating detailed information about your daily activities, diet issues, exercise routine and even your daily mood and feelings. Not only is this information important for keeping you on track to reach and maintain your goals, but giving your bariatric doctors access can help them identify and correct any problem areas.

YOUR Weight Loss Journey

Help visitors like you by sharing your advice related to this page or other topics...

See our Reviews of the Top Free Diet Journal & Exercise Journal Options page to evaluate the differences and choose between two of the best tools.

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2. Forums and chat rooms online weight loss support overview

Online forums and chat rooms allow you to ask questions, post responses and browse information posted by other members.

Some are more elaborate than others, but in general they are organized in the following way (use the scroll bar to the right):

  • They operate 24/7. With the larger forums, you can usually find members logged on around the clock from locations across the country and around the world. This means that you can receive/provide advice and encouragement when and where you need it (as long as you have a computer and internet access).
  • You can usually create an account and participate for free by signing up via the forum’s home page (we’ve provided links in the next section)
  • Search for questions/answers from others.
  • Browse categories of Forum Topics to find your area of interest. (i.e. “Gastric Bypass”) If there is no topic available for your issue, you can create a new one via the “New Topic” button on the main forum page. Within each category, find and click the Forum Topic link that applies to your area of interest (i.e. “Gastric Bypass Diet”). Each forum topic usually lists at least two useful numbers, including…
    • Threads – the number of questions/issues posted within the forum topic. Each time you ask a brand new question, you will do so by creating a new thread.
    • Posts – the number of total contributions from members within each forum topic, including questions/comments posted as a new thread and all responses to those threads from other members. In other words, every time a member submits information to a forum topic, a new post is created. (Sometimes “Replies” is used instead of “Posts”, which simply lists the number of responses a topic or thread has received)
  • Chat rooms, which are not offered by all forums, allow you to have a written conversation with other members in real time. Chat rooms only work if the person you are “chatting with” with is also online.

Advice Received at Forums or Chat Rooms

Be careful when receiving advice at online forums or chat rooms. While other patients usually have the best of intentions, you should not rely on their feedback as medical advice.

Before acting on any information you receive online, confirm its validity with your bariatric doctors.

Forums and chat rooms are extremely easy to use after you get the hang of things, so head over to the following page for a list of the top forums and give one a shot:

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3. Ongoing weight loss surgery-related education overview

Bariatric surgery is constantly evolving. New research is conducted every month that reshapes the weight loss surgery community’s understanding of best practices.

In addition to the procedures themselves, ongoing research focuses on every area of the bariatric patient’s life… from preparing for surgery to post-surgery diet and exercise to long-term maintenance.

Unfortunately, even the best bariatric doctors simply don’t have the time to stay up-to-the-minute on the latest research. Even after they are made aware of it via their required continuing education, it may be years before they have the time and resources to train their staff and update their systems.

"...even the best bariatric doctors simply don't have the time to stay up-to-the-minute on the latest research."

Staying in touch with the latest research will allow you to:

  • Have the information necessary to improve your chances of achieving and maintaining your long-term goals.
  • Ask the right questions to your surgeon, dietitian, psychologist, personal trainer and other bariatric professionals to help guide your treatment.
  • Share important information with your in-person bariatric surgery support group.

Bariatric Surgery Source has you covered in the education department. In addition to browsing the topics down the left hand side and at the bottom of each of our pages and using our search boxes (at the top left and bottom of every page) to find answers when you need them, consider signing up for the following (both FREE):

  • The Bariatric Examiner FREE monthly newsletter:
    • Tracks all ongoing bariatric-surgery-related research and summarize important findings
    • Keeps you up-to-date on the latest trends
    • Brings useful new Bariatric Surgery Source website content and features to your attention

Subscribe via the following form and we'll be sure to include you in the emailing of the upcoming issue...

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References for Online Weight Loss Support

  1. Odom J, et al. Behavioral Predictors of Weight Regain after Bariatric Surgery
    Obesity Surgery. June 2009. DOI 10.1007/s11695-009-9895-6

[Last editorial review/modification of this page: 11/30/2010]

Disclaimer: The information contained in this web site is provided for general informational purposes only. It is not intended as nor should be relied upon as medical advice. Rather, it is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her existing physician(s). Before you use any of the information provided in the site, you should seek the advice of a qualified medical, dietary, fitness or other appropriate professional. Read More