If you’ve been thinking about dropping a few pounds, join the club. Millions of Americans and people all around the world are trying to figure out how to lose weight.

For some people, losing weight is about getting trimmer and more attractive. They want to fit into their favorite outfits or their wedding or prom dresses. For others, losing weight is about getting healthier. For them, it has to do with quitting medications, avoiding type II diabetes and living long enough to see their grandkids graduate from high school.

Whatever the reason is that people want to lose weight, one of the things that many people try to use is a diet plan. But do diet plans really work? Let’s look at the facts.

What is a diet plan?

As opposed to some diets where the individual can eat a variety of different foods in whatever manner or quantities they choose as long as they restrict themselves to a certain amount of calories or carbs, for example, diet plans lay out the foods and meals that you are supposed to consume. Diet plans usually last between one to three weeks and three to six months. Often, you will rotate a plan, so for example, you might eat the same thing for breakfast every Monday for a month.

Do diet plans really work?

The answer to this question is yes and no. Yes, diet plans work if you stick to them. Generally speaking, these plans center around a certain number of calories, fats, carbs and proteins. These are the key nutrients that you need to concern yourself with when it comes to nutrition. In addition, these diets usually keep you cutting back on ingredients like salt and sugar. They may be available in the diet plan to a certain extent, but for the most part, you’ll be getting nutritionally balanced meals because someone has literally sat down and planned it all out for you.

On the other hand, in some ways diet plans don’t work. The biggest problem with them is that you have to follow them in the first place. In other words, you need to make sure that you don’t deviate from the plan. This can be difficult when life gets in the way. What do you do if you can’t find the ingredients for one of the meal recipes? What do you do if you’re throwing a lunch party at your house, and you don’t want to serve your guests the bran toast and avocado that you were supposed to have for your lunch?

These are the questions that make diet plans a little shaky. The bottom line is that if diet plans work for you, use them! If you need a little more flexibility in your meals, try another diet.