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Smart for Life: What You Need to Know

        Health | Diets

The Role of Exercise

While some critics argue that the Smart for Life plan may be lacking in basic nutrients especially important for more active participants, plan proponents counter that a daily multi-vitamin can compensate for that shortcoming.

Smart for Life dieters are encouraged to increase their consumption of water or other clear, non-caloric beverages if they start exercising while on the plan. Participants in the "maintenance" phase are also encouraged to exercise moderately at least three times a week.

In essence, the Smart for Life program is designed for the dieter who is looking to take the guesswork out of what to eat, how much to eat and when to eat. You don't need to count calories or be obsessed with reading labels (though some nutritionists recommend that you continue to do so).

However, the program isn't cheap, especially if you go the full clinic route. The initial clinic consultation runs $250, followed by a $100 monthly fee for ongoing advice. Participants can plan on spending more than $1,000 over the first three months of the program (most insurance will not cover the cost of the initial physical exam).

A major selling point of the Smart for Life product line is that the savings realized by not buying other foods offsets the program's cost. According to the company's Web site, the Smart for Life products cost less than $10 a day. For dieters who don't have a clinic nearby, Smart for Life also offers an At-Home Cookie program that costs roughly $200 for a five-week supply of cookies.

Some reviewers stated that the cookies are more a healthy snack than a diet plan. And, in fact, you can also use the cookies as ingredients for Smart for Life recipes -- like a summer parfait, which adds sugar-free preserves and chocolate dips to crumbled cookies. Still, if you use the cookies as snacks instead of meals, those aforementioned cost savings evaporate.

In short, once you reach your goal weight, you should feel comfortable adding healthy foods to your diet, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and low-fat dairy at least twice a day, and gradually reduce your dependence on meal replacements such as pre-packaged cookies -- even Smart Cookies [source: Zelman].

Now that you know more about Smart for Life, perhaps you've decided it's something you'll try. Or maybe you want to learn more about this and other diet options. You're in luck -- we've got lots more information on the next page.