About HMR Program

By HighYa Research Team
Published on: Sep 20, 2018

Founded by Dr. Lawrence Stifler, Ph.D., the Health Management Resources (HMR) Program promises to help customers lose weight using a combination of structured, easy-to-follow plans, support via Health Coaches, digital resources, an online community, along with relevant lifestyle skills.

Together, the company advertises you’ll start building healthier habits from day one, gain access to assistance that works for you, and develop habits that can help you maintain your weight loss results over the long term.

But it won’t be easy—while you could lose weight fast, the website emphasizes the HMR Program is intense and will “stretch you outside your comfort zone and challenge you to make some serious changes to your lifestyle,” your thinking, and your habits.

It certainly seems like the basics behind the HMR weight loss program (eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly) are supported by mainstream medicine.

But, is there anything about it that might better meet your needs and preferences than the competition? Based on the available evidence, what could you expect as far as overall results?

Let’s take an in-depth look at the program, pricing, clinical support, and competition, so you make the most empowered purchase possible.

How Does the HMR Program Work?

HMR Program Basics

HMR is a two-phase program that focuses on changing detrimental behaviors into healthy ones. Then, customers build healthy habits around these behaviors.

Compared to other programs that focus on the negative and the potentially unlimited things you can’t do, HMR takes a “to-do” approach. They explain this is because the limited to-dos keep your tasks clear and focused. They can be easily measured, which can together improve your chances for long-term success.

All of this is accomplished across a short-term first phase and a long-term second phase.

Phase 1 of the HMR Program: Weight Loss

Phase 1 is where you’ll focus on to-dos like HMR foods (more soon), fruits, vegetables, and physical activity to help keep your daily calorie intake very low. This will last as long as it takes to reach your target weight.

It’s based around a “minimum prescription” model, which the website defines as “a daily eating quota that provides you with complete nutrition and keeps the diet simple.”

This is delivered via a 3+2+5 approach, where customers consume a minimum of three HMR Shakes, two Entrees, and five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. All of this is focused on helping you reach your goal weight as quickly as possible.

As such, a typical day might look something like:

  • Morning – Multigrain Hot Cereal w/1 cup of fruit, 20-minute walk, Chocolate Shake as a snack
    Afternoon – 1 Entrée w/2 cups of vegetable, short walk, 1 cup of fruit as a snack
  • Evening – 1 Entrée w/2 cups of vegetables, 10-20 minute walk, Vanilla Shake w/1 cup frozen fruit for a snack

Customers also gain access to an extensive network of support that involves expert Health Coaches, digital resources such as recipes and articles, and an online community of individuals.

Each week, whether in-person, at a local center, or over the phone, you’ll attend group coaching sessions that can help you create an action plan for the upcoming week. This is also where you’ll remain accountable to your coach for following up on your progress, as well as figuring out how to overcome common hurdles with the help of other members.

There's also the HMR Virtual Health Coach app, which the company advertises helps you track your weight-loss behaviors and learn how to approach them. This is accomplished via a combination of setting and tracking weekly goals, getting (and sticking to) daily coaching tips, setting gentle alerts and reminders, and receiving motivating reinforcement when you succeed.

Additional tools include water, vegetable, and fruit tracking; notes, a visualization of your progress throughout the week, and integration with HMRProgram.com, where you’ll encounter a custom online dashboard and access to your account.

The HMR Program’s iOS and Android apps deliver daily tips, allow you to log your fruit and vegetable consumption, and track your weight loss. Credit: HMR Weight Management Services Corp.

Phase 2 of the HMR Program: Maintenance

After entering Phase 2, the maintenance phase, customers will continue the 3+2+5 approach, along with regular use of the app, while slowly increasing their to-do list, such as lean proteins, grains, and low-calorie snacks and desserts.

The to-do routines learned in Phase 1 will carry over and act as the foundation for long-term success, including regular physical activity, drinking plenty of water, attending weekly group meetings, and learning to navigate real-world temptations.

Based on the Clinical Evidence, What Kinds of Results Can You Expect With the HMR Program?

The HMR website cites at least six different clinical studies conducted on their weight loss program between 2005 and 2013.

Cumulatively, these reported that after 12 weeks, Healthy Solutions plan participants who adhered to a self-directed program lost an average of 13 lbs. Others who attended phone coaching increased their average weight loss to 23 lbs., while in-clinic Healthy Solutions participants dropped an average of 28 pounds.

The website is upfront about the fact that “these studies were supported and/or sponsored by HMR, including financial support in some cases. Some of the investigators in some of the studies were employees of HMR and/or members of the HMR Medical Advisory Board.”

Related: How to Tell the Difference Between Legit and Fake Clinical Studies

A follow up with many of HMR’s successful patients across their 43 US-based clinics in 2013 also found that 40.5% discontinued their oral diabetes medications, 35.6% no longer needed to take insulin, 36.2% quit taking hypertension medications, and 23.3% were advised by their doctor they could stop taking their cholesterol medications.

There were also a handful of case studies listed on the HMR website. One from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation showed that participants who completed the program experienced a mean weight loss of 21.4%, reduced triglycerides by 36.7%, and decreased total cholesterol by 12.8%

Another from Aurora Health Care found that 92% of participants were very satisfied or satisfied with their rate of weight loss, which included a mean reduction of 24.1 lbs and an average BMI decrease of 3.9.

With these details in mind, let’s find out what types of foods you’ll eat during the HMR Program, along with what they contain.

Taking a Closer Look at 3 of HMR’s Popular Meal Replacement Products

With such an extensive lineup, it would take far too long to go through each of HMR’s products in detail. As such, based on the top results on sites like Amazon and Google Shopping, we’ll break down three of the company’s most popular offerings (excluding their multi-vitamin and mineral content):

Related: Do You Need to Take Vitamins or Dietary Supplements?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar

  • Calories 170
  • Total Fat 7 g
  • Sodium 190 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 20 g
  • Protein 10 g

Soy Protein Isolate, Peanuts, Rolled Oats, Brown Rice Syrup, Soluble Corn Fiber, Sugar, Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil, Partially Defatted Peanut Flour, Peanut Butter (Peanuts), Glycerine, Tapioca Starch, Cocoa, Fructose, Natural Flavor, Oat Fiber, Nonfat Milk, Whey, Maltodextrin, Water, Salt …

120 Chocolate Shake

  • Calories 120
  • Total Fat 2 g
  • Cholesterol 5 mg
  • Sodium 190 mg
  • Carbohydrate 14 g
  • Protein 12 g

Nonfat Dry Milk, Dutch Processed Cocoa, Soy Protein Isolate, Whole Milk Powder, Whey Protein Concentrate, Calcium Caseinate, Egg White Solids, Fructose, Xanthan Gum, Sunflower Oil, Cellulose Gum, Natural & Artificial Flavors, Maltodextrin, Lecithin, Dried Whey, Aspartame*, Salt, Acesulfame Potassium, Corn Syrup Solids, Sodium Caseinate, Monoglycerides, Silicon Dioxide, Tocopherols …

Beef Stroganoff with Noodles Entree

  • Calories 250
  • Total Fat 8 g
  • Cholesterol 70 mg
  • Sodium 600 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 23 g
  • Protein 19 g

Water, Grilled Beef And Modified Food Starch Steak Strips (Beef, Water, Seasoning [Salt, Dehydrated Onion, Dehydrated Garlic, Spices, Dextrose, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Natural Flavorings {Including Extractives Of Garlic And Lime}, Grill Flavor {From Sunflower Oil}], Modified Food Starch, Sodium Phosphate), Egg Noodles (Wheat Semolina, Egg Whites, Whole Egg, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Mushrooms, Cooking Wine, Red Bell Peppers, Sour Cream Powder …

Bringing These Products and Ingredients Together

Cathy Nonas, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and director of Obesity and Diabetes Program at North General Hospital in New York City, as well as Hillary M. Wright, MEd, RD, a nutrition counselor at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates in Boston, point out that the best way to get the nutrition you need is from fresh, whole foods, fruits, and veggies.

"Plus,” Wright points out, “using real foods forces you to make choices that help you maintain weight loss in the long run."

However, the article goes on to explain that meal replacement products (often shakes) can help individuals lose a meaningful amount of weight, since they’re more convenient than fresh food options and can help greatly simplify what could be an overwhelming process.

Just keep in mind the Mayo Clinic emphasizes that processed foods are often high in sodium, which could lead you to consume more than the recommended 2,300 mg a day.

With this in mind, while the recommend avoiding products with more than 200 mg of sodium per serving, we can see that the Stroganoff above contains 600 mg, while even the bars and shakes contain 150 mg.

We’ll return to nutrition content in a moment, but let’s first find out what you’ll pay for HMR’s program and products.

How Much Does the HMR Diet Program Cost & Where Can You Buy Their Products?

Whether you choose the digital or phone group versions, the HMR Healthy Solutions Program is priced at $199 for the first three weeks. This includes 48 servings of Shakes, 42 assorted Entrees, and 18 servings of Multigrain Hot Cereal, all delivered directly to your door.

In-person meeting plan costs can vary by location. To learn more, visit the Find Location page of their website and reach out to one of the centers near you.

Additional products are priced at:

  • Shakes (12 - 18 servings): $25.50 - $47
  • Multigrain Hot Cereal (18 servings): $44.25
  • Entrees: $3.70 each
  • Bars (24 per box): $31.20
  • Chicken Soup (18 servings): $42.25
  • PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter (15 servings): $6.50
  • Variety Packs (12 - 43 servings): $15.60 - $95.25

All orders up to $224.99 are charged a flat S&H fee of $11.95, while orders $225+ come with free shipping. Shipping for automatic deliveries—which you’ll receive every two weeks after your initial three-week introductory period—is also free.

Important: Depending on your chosen plan, you may be subject to a minimum order requirement for each of these automatic shipments. As consumers ourselves, we found HMR’s auto-delivery details (including pricing) fairly complicated. We’d strongly suggest thoroughly reading through the Auto Delivery Terms page on their website before committing.

We also found many HMR’s products sold on Amazon for about the same prices, although many were eligible for free Prime shipping, regardless of order total.

All direct orders come with a 60-day refund policy, less S&H charges, while third-party guidelines can vary. You can reach an HMR representative by calling 800-418-1367 or sending a message via the Contact Us page on their website.

What Are Customers Saying in Their Online Reviews for the HMR Program?

Between HMR’s dozens of different products on Amazon, we encountered hundreds of combined customer reviews, who had given them an average rating of about four stars.

Compliments commonly referenced effective weight loss results, reduced appetite and cravings, great taste, and ease of use. The relatively few complaints often related to taste and texture preferences.

Between iTunes and Google Play, nearly 150 iOS and Android users gave the HMR Program’s app an average rating of about three stars. While many were pleased with its performance and features, those who complained frequently cited bugginess and removal of much-loved functionality. The company responded directly to many of these.

In 2018, the HMR Program earned the #29 spot in U.S. News’ list of Best Fast Weight Loss Diets. On the upside, they liked that meals are delivered to customers and that it involves a phased approach for a quick start on weight loss. They didn't like that eating out is limited and noted that the shakes could become "humdrum" after a while.

Are There Other Meal Replacement Weight Loss Programs Competing With HMR?

There are perhaps dozens of meal replacement programs and product manufacturers available to consumers, including popular options like Optavia, Nutrisystem, Medifast, OptiFast, Weight Watchers, Ideal Protein, Jenny Craig, Herbalife, and Slim Fast.

Given this wide range of plans, product offerings, and price points, what’s the best way to make an educated decision?

Before beginning any weight loss or exercise program, you must first speak with your doctor, who can help recommend options—and avoid potential side effects and injuries—based on your specific diagnosis.

Returning to the WebMD article cited earlier, in addition to being mindful of sodium levels, they also emphasize that “some [meal replacement products] are nothing more than glorified candy bars or high-calorie, sugar-based drinks.”

For example, according to the American Heart Association, women should consume no more than 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons) of sugar, while men should limit their daily intake to 150 calories (37.5 grams, or 9 teaspoons).

If you’re considering a meal replacement product, additional parameters outlined in the article you should monitor include:

  • 220-230 calories per serving
  • Less than 5 grams of fat per serving
  • 3-5 grams of fiber per serving
  • 10-15 grams of protein per serving
  • Fortified with a third of daily vitamins and minerals

Let’s apply these to products chosen at random from some of HMR’s popular competitors mentioned above.

Octavia’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake contains 9 g of added sugars (those that don’t occur naturally in foods like fruits and vegetables) or more than one-third of the total daily intake for women. HMR's Beef Stroganoff contains 8 grams of fat per serving, while many Medifast (also ranked among US News' best-of list) entrees contain 15 g of fat per serving.

Given these overages, the article reports:

“The only way to make an informed choice is to read the list of ingredients, nutrition label, (ignore the front label) and compare products. Ideally, the meal replacement will contain ingredients that don't sound like foreign chemicals found in a chemistry lab! Nutrients should be primarily complex carbohydrates, with small amounts of simple sugars and a bit of fat, along with a moderate amount of protein.”

Jessica Crandall, RDN, CDE, and Director of Denver Wellness and Nutrition, points out that any meal replacement option you choose must also provide the “nutrition your body needs,” including “vitamins, fiber, calcium, and potassium." She recommends looking at the overall composition and finding something that covers each of these aspects.

Let’s use these details, along with everything else we’ve discussed in this article, to wrap things up when it comes to HMR.

Coming to a Conclusion About the HMR Meal Replacement Program

In an ideal world, we’d all receive the essential vitamins and nutrients we need from a balanced diet consisting mostly of fresh fruits and vegetables. But, in the real world, most of us are short on time, so—as noted earlier by WebMD—meal replacement products can represent a viable method of quickly and easily balancing calorie intake when combined with exercise and healthy eating habits. If adhered to for long enough, this could lead to sustained weight loss.

And losing a meaningful amount of weight and keeping it off for the long-term, regardless of the program you use, could lead to significant health benefits such as a decreased risk of diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, and joint pain; lowered blood pressure, and improved cholesterol levels, to name just a few. Many of which were reported in the clinical studies posted on HMR’s website.

However, the TIME article cited at the beginning of this article begins by emphasizing, “There’s no such thing as one perfect diet.” In other words, whether we’re talking about the HMR Program or one from a popular competitor, no single option will work for everyone.

Another thing is that according to Jessica Crandall, Director of Denver Wellness and Nutrition, meal replacement programs are rarely sustainable over the long-term. It’s vitally important that you’re mentally prepared to transition back to a healthy calorie range using fresh, everyday foods upon reaching your goal weight, which is where the help of a professional dietitian can help.

However, she points out, “some patients feel like they need help taking a temporary break from their bad behaviors and food rituals,” which these types of products may assist with. “It’s hard to make small, nuanced behavior changes,” she says, “so some prefer a black and white approach, versus grey.”

With all of this said, nutritionally, it appears that many of HMR’s products tick several of the boxes reported above, including reasonable (depending on your needs and preferences, of course) fat, sodium, calorie, and sugar content, as well as vitamin and mineral fortification. They also seem to come with mostly positive online customer feedback.

Furthermore, while—other than fresh fruit and vegetable consumption—their plans lean heavily on their products, HMR also promises to teach customers healthy habits that can set them up for long-term success.

Just keep in mind that it might take a second shift in perspective to eventually move away from their products and maintain your weight loss achievements on your own.

>> Read next: A Beginner’s Guide to Losing Weight and Getting in Shape

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