After years of yo-yo dieting, Dabee Kaye was determined to lose weight permanently and like millions of Americans, her head was spinning trying to figure out what diet to try next.
"My concern is that I can't carry this weight forever. I don't think my feet could carry it, and I don't want to carry it," she said.
FOX News wanted to find out the best way to lose weight and keep it off, so we went to the experts.
The Pulse decided to offer a diet challenge to three ordinary people, leading everyday lives. Who would lose the most weight in eight weeks?
Kaye would be trying an exercise-based plan called Escape Your Shape, Tonella Ledesma would be following The Zone diet, and Mathew Beaney would be tackling the Atkins program.
Kaye is a confident woman, but told us that it hasn't always been easy being overweight.
"It was very hard. People used to tease me," she said. "I remember a time when I was a senior in high school and I was heavy. I went on a diet and I lost a bunch of weight, and I got paid attention to. It was amazing to see how they reacted to me when I was thin versus when I was heavy."
Though Kaye has a successful career, she believes people are still judging her on her weight and on her appearance.
"I was on a job interview, and I didn't get the job because I was heavy," she said. "They didn't say that, but the headhunter actually told me that."
We teamed Kaye up with Dr. Edward Jackowski, who said he wasn't surprised Kaye spent years battling the bulge, given her passion for bulk-building exercise like kickboxing.
His program, Escape Your Shape, advocates chucking diets in favor of eating sensibly and getting into the gym.
Jackowski says most people exercise wrong, and that if you modify your workout for your body type, the inches will simply melt away.
"[Kaye] is a bottom heavy hourglass," he said. "She should do lots and lots of reps. Twenty to 50 reps of every exercise using her body weight only."
It's not as easy as it sounds. Jackowski promotes good, old-fashioned aerobic exercise with a modern-day, boot camp intensity.
"Most people when they work out, it's passive exercise," he said. "They're not really working out that hard. They're only burning 300 calories an hour… in our program, you burn 1,000. Between jumping rope, between biking, you're always moving. You never stop in this program."
We checked back with Kaye four days after beginning the program, and she said she could already feel the burn.
"I think it's too short to say if I'm pushing myself because I think I'm in too much pain right now to do anything at this point," she said.
Our second test subject, Tonella Ledesma, had a very different story.
"Whenever I see someone that I haven't seen in a while, my first thing is 'Hi, how are you? Oh, I've gained so much weight,'" she said.
At 29 years of age, Ledesma didn't have a weight problem until she got pregnant. She is only 5'3", but by the time she gave birth, she was tipping the scales at nearly 200 pounds.
When we met her, she had more than 40 pounds to lose to get back to her pre-pregnancy weight of 125.
Dr. Barry Sears developed The Zone diet. He thinks of food as a drug and says that when taken at the proper dosage, it can keep your insulin levels balanced, which — in turn — keeps you in a hunger-free zone.
"The real key to losing weight is saying 'I have to make sure I'm never hungry between meals,'" he said.
The Zone recommends three meals and two snacks a day, each one at a 40-30-30 ratio. That means 40 percent carbs, 30 percent protein and 30 percent healthy fat.
"Here are the rules. At each meal, you divide your plate into three sections," Dr. Sears said. "On one-third of the plate, you put some low-fat protein that's no bigger and no thicker than the palm of your hand. What about the other two-thirds of the plate? You fill it until it's overflowing with fruits and vegetables, and then you add a dash — that's a small amount — of heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fat. And there you have it. You've now designed a drug that'll keep insulin levels under control for the next four to six hours."
Ledesma spent the first two weeks preparing meals strictly by the book, trying to achieve that perfect 40-30-30 balance. By week three, it was getting easier.
"I'm very comfortable with the program now, and at the snap of a finger, I know what goes with what," she said.
The third and final participant in our experiment was 25-year-old Mathew Beaney.
"I'm told I'm cute all the time," he said. "But you know, I don't know what cute means. Is that a nice way of saying you're not a stud?"
At 6'3" and 276 pounds, Beaney was a big guy who carried the weight well. But he was about 35 pounds more than he wanted to be.
He works for the NBA, but said that running the fast break himself wasn't so easy anymore.
"Going to play some hoops with some guys and not being fit and in shape and trim, you're the first guy who gets tired," he said. "You're the guy who sweats the most. You're the guy who's most uncomfortable."
Beaney was going to try the Atkins diet, which was highly criticized when it first came on the scene in 1972.
According to Dr. Robert Atkins, the best way to lose weight is by eating a high-fat, high-protein diet — like bacon and eggs for breakfast, cheeseburgers for lunch and steaks for dinner.
Now, after 30 years, Dr. Atkins' book is one of the 50 best-selling books of all time and his diet is finally gaining favor among his critics.
"Any time you cut out enough carbohydrates, then fat becomes your number one fuel for energy, and what happens? A. You've got a lot of energy, and B. You burn up a lot of fat. Now if you are overweight, is that a bad idea," he asked at one of his lectures.
Collete Heimowitz is the director of education and research at the Atkins Center in New York City.
"By switching the metabolism, you have a certain advantage to be able to eat more calories," she said. "That's the misconception about the Atkins diet, that it's all about steak and bacon and pork rinds and it's not."
The first two weeks of the Atkins diet is called the induction phase. It's the most restrictive period, and carbohydrates are limited to 20 grams a day — which equals roughly three cups of salad vegetables. But it's not only what he couldn't eat that worried Beaney.
"Sunday afternoons watching football and wanting to have a beer… it's going to be different being the guy with the seltzer and having everybody else around you drunk," he said.
But less than a week into the diet, Beaney was already in the groove. By week three, when he talked about his diet, it sounded strikingly similar to an AA confession.
"I haven't had a drop of booze yet for three weeks. No beer, anything like that. Went out, had fun, been able to do without the beer. So we're gonna stick with this for a while," he said.
The Pulse followed our three test subjects for eight weeks to see which diet program really works. Who do you think wound up the biggest loser?