Starting a diet is relatively easy but the hard part is sticking to it. Consumer Reports just polled more than 3,200 of its subscribers on losing weight to find out what they do to keep on target.

Survey participants reported taking some measures in the last three years to lose weight. A total of 2,680 respondents said they did it by following a popular diet plan.

The most popular weight-loss plans by far were Weight Watchers and Weight Watchers online, with at least 50 per cent of respondents trying it out at some point since 2008.

The next most popular was any type of low-carbohydrate diet (not including Atkins), which 27 percent of survey respondents said they have followed.

The average respondent age was 50-something, and more women than men filled out the survey.

At polling time in November 2011, 54 percent of those who said they were currently on a diet they'd been following for at least three months had lost at least 20 pounds.

Most respondents used one or more of the following strategies in their battle of the bulge:

  • Eating more fruits and vegetables 74%
  • Controlling portion sizes at each meal 71%
  • Limiting sugar in food and drink 69%
  • Drinking more water 66%
  • Limiting or eliminating carbohydrates 61%
  • Eating lower-fat foods 56%
  • Eating more protein 54%
  • Taking a walk or exercising instead of snacking 45%
  • Eating many small meals instead of fewer large meals 34%

Almost half of respondents – 48 per cent – reported following a diet plan and consulting recipes. A total of 46 per cent kept a food diary or journal and 35 per cent used an online weight tracker.

Nearly one in four dieters said they used a smartphone app.

Seventy-six percent thought about how much better they'd feel or look when they lost weight. Seventy-five percent thought about the health benefits of losing weight; 59 percent reminded themselves why they wanted to lose weight and 58 percent thought about the clothes they'd like to fit into.

Stumbling blocks

More than 20 per cent of respondents said they've stopped dieting after becoming frustrated with trying to fit their weight-loss plans into their daily routines.

Of those, 17 per cent said they were disappointed that their favourite foods were off limits.

Watch CTV News tonight for the full report from Lynda Steele, and diet tips that really work…