What’s the most expensive way to diet?

19 Feb 2019

Looking to shed a few kilos, but don’t have the budget for expensive diet programs? Atkins might not be the diet for you. Finder analysed seven different diets and found that Atkins is the most expensive diet to lose weight, with an average annual cost of $4,814 for an adult.

According to analysis from Global News, the normal recommended diet by Health Canada costs on average approximately $3,300 annually, making the annual cost of the Atkins diet 45.9% higher than your standard diet.

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The South Beach Diet comes in at second for most expensive, with an average annual cost of $4,037 – 22.3% higher than the cost of Health Canada’s recommended diet. The Paleo and Mediterranean diets follow, with average annual costs of $3,993 and $3,670 respectively.

Vegan, Whole 30 and keto diets were the three cheapest diets, each with an average annual cost below the cost of Health Canada’s recommended diet.

Of the diets analysed, the ketogenic – or keto – diet was the cheapest. At an annual average cost of just $2,628, a keto diet is by far the cheapest option.

DietAnnual cost
South Beach Diet$4,037.04
Whole 30$3,245.04

To calculate the annual cost for each diet, we analysed ingredients from weekly recipes for each diet and used the cost of those ingredients to figure out the expenses for a year. We accounted for the fact that select ingredients are likely to last more than a week.

What’s the best way to lose weight?

We compared academic studies from institutions such as the University of Toronto, McMaster University, the University of Alberta and others to find out which diets were the most effective methods for weight loss.

According to the analysis, the popular South Beach Diet was by far the best method to lose weight, with an average weight lost of 7.2 kilograms per year. This was followed by a vegan diet (4.9 kg) and Atkins (4.7 kg).

We were unable to find studies on weight loss for Whole 30, so did not include this diet in our analysis.

DietAnnual weight loss (kg)
South Beach Diet7.2
Whole 30N/A

Weight loss for Paleo was reported over a three-week study, while the Mediterranean diet was reported over a two-year study. Because weight loss for keto was provided in intervals, we used the lower amount reported – approximately 4kg.

Looking to lose weight and save money?

When it comes to cost per kilo lost, the clear winner is the South Beach Diet. Not only is this diet the most likely to help you lose weight – at up to 7.2 kgs per year – but it also offers the best value for money. At an annual cost of $4,037, that breaks down to $561 for every kilo lost.

The second best diet for value for money is the vegan diet. Those following a vegan diet tend to lose around 4.9 kilos per year at a cost of $3,200, breaking down to $653 for every kilo lost. The vegan diet narrowly beats keto, at an average cost of $657 per kilo lost.

DietAnnual costAnnual weight loss (kg)Cost of diet per kg
South Beach Diet$4,037.047.2$560.70
Whole 30$3,245.04N/AN/A

We weren’t able to find a research study published for Whole 30, therefore we excluded it from our analysis of annual weight loss and cost of diet per kilo.

Keeping the weight off

Losing weight is one thing, but keeping it off is another. And while diet is an important component of any healthy lifestyle, exercise can be a great help. If it’s your New Year’s resolution to lose weight, compare cycling products to help you find the best match for your goals and your budget.


To calculate the annual costs of each diet, we collected data on more than 35 recipes combined from Freckled Foodie (Whole 30), KitchMe (Paleo), the South Beach Diet’s official site (South Beach), Legion Athletics (Mediterranean) and GoodtoKnow Recipes (Atkins). Costs reflect meals for one person. We analysed meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner only, translating weekly costs to monthly by using a metric of five weeks for each month. We then multiplied our monthly costs by 12 to get an annual cost. We sourced ingredient expenses from mid-price online grocer IGA on two days: Thursday 17 January 2019 and Friday 18 January 2019. Where products were on sale, we used the regular cost of a full priced item.

To find the average cost of the Canada Health recommended diet, we used research from Global News. Global News sourced the price of a Canada Health recommended diet for an individual from the “National Nutritious Food Basket”. The research found the weekly cost of a diet to feed a family of four people ($220). We divided this number by four to find the cost per person ($55), translating the cost to an annual cost of $3,300 per person.

Sources for research studies include the Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute, University of Toronto; McMaster University, Ontario; the University of Toronto; the University of Alberta; Stanford University; the University of the Orange Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Umeå University, Sweden/University of Cambridge/University of Gothenburg; the New England Journal of Medicine; and the University of Bologna.

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