Human Weight Loss Coaches vs. Digital Platforms: A Comparative Study

While digital platforms can provide a convenient way to count calories and log steps, a human weight loss coach provides emotional support and motivation on your weight loss journey.

Alon Laniado
September 13, 2023

The weight loss journey is multifaceted, and while digital platforms offer convenience, human weight loss coaches have consistently proven their superior effectiveness. However, concerns such as the costs and on-demand availability of human coaches persist. This article delves into potential solutions through the blending of technology and human coaching to create an effective 1:1 online weight loss coach  experience. 

Unveiling the Truth - The Superiority of Human Coaching

The weight loss landscape has seen a surge in digital platforms, but do they truly measure up to human coaches?

The Surge of Online Weight Loss Platforms

We have seen a significant rise in online weight loss platforms over the past decade. Their convenience and features such as calorie logging have made them popular choices for many seeking weight loss solutions.

Concrete Evidence of Human Coach Dominance

Studies, notably by Appel, 2011, and Tate 2006  have examined the difference in outcomes for human weight loss coaching programs and digital platforms. The results consistently show the consistent performance of human weight loss coaches over online weight loss platforms that don’t provide human interaction.

Further studies by Gilson 2018 showed that one-on-one coach interventions resulted in greater competence satisfaction than group-based interventions. A human weight loss coach helps you develop healthy habits and motivates you on your weight loss journey.

A human weight loss coach can provide emotional support as you navigate your weight loss journey.  

The Human Edge - Why Coaches Excel

Three key aspects set human coaches apart: the power of routine and motivation, the accountability factor, and the human touch of empathy and social support.

The Power of Routine and Motivation

Weight loss requires the adoption of new healthy routines, and adopting a new routine requires behavior change. While apps can provide you with tools like calorie counters or meal logging, they miss the mark on their ability to help with behavior change and establishing routines.  Automated apps usually apply only a fraction and less than 20% of the behavior change techniques used by health coaches (Pagoto et al., 2013).

Most weight loss apps rely mainly on tools for self-monitoring purposes like automatic reminders to exercise or to drink water or log calories. They encourage task completion by prompting clients to do things like accumulate 10,000 steps per day. However, these techniques rely on a self-motivated user whereas two-way coaching interaction provides extrinsic assistance to help change behaviors and increase motivation on the weight loss journey. 

If you have strong internal motivation, that’s great, but intrinsic motivation alone is often not sufficient for long-term adherence to healthy routines. Research based on self-determination theory indicates that certain conditions are needed to enhance intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. This research suggests that intrinsic motivation can be fostered by external factors, such as support from others, feedback, and the creation of a supportive environment. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). 

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Personality Type and Motivation

According to millions of survey results from a study conducted by habits expert Gretchen Rubin, author of The Four Tendencies,  two personality types are the most likely to hire a health coach. The first type is the Obliger and they make up 40 percent of the population. The Obliger can more easily meet the expectations of others than they can meet the expectations they set up for themselves. They thrive on external accountability because it’s difficult for them to self-motivate. The second personality type is the Questioner. 

These personalities are data-driven and they also thrive better on accountability. Obliger and Questioner types, which together represent around 64% of the population, are not only most likely to hire a health coach, but they are the people whose success relies heavily on the information and accountability a coach provides.

Knowing that a human coach is monitoring your progress can make you feel more accountable and help you to stick to your weight loss plan.

The Accountability Factor

Based on certain studies, it appears that when an individual knows a human is monitoring their progress rather than an automated app, it creates a greater sense of accountability. For example, a randomized controlled trial found that participants who received both a smartphone app and human coaching for weight loss were more likely to achieve their weight loss goals and maintain their weight loss than those who received only the app (Stephens et al., 2018). 

The researchers attributed this success to the combination of personalized coaching and the accountability provided by regular check-ins with a human coach.

Empathy and Social Support: The Human Touch

At this juncture in AI evolution, AI is not able to provide empathy or emotional support, which are important motivators and supporters for people on a weight loss journey. A study by Nicky Terblance et. al 2022 shows human coaches provide emotional bonding. Emotional bonding affirms support and can also motivate, however, AI is currently incapable of making that emotional bond. 

A weight loss journey requires the adoption of new habits and the development of new routines all while balancing family, friends, and life. This can be emotionally exhausting for even the most motivated of people, that’s where that additional emotional support from a human weight loss coach can tip the scales. 

When you are overwhelmed by the journey or experience a setback and need help getting back on track, human weight loss coach support can provide a lifeline. You receive empathy and reassurance, which can help you stay motivated and feel confident about your journey. Currently, AI is not capable of replicating those results.

The cost of human weight loss coaches can range from $200 to $500 per month which can break the bank for many.

The Tri-fold Challenge with Human Coaches

While the demand for human coaches grows, certain limitations explain the continued popularity of automated apps.

1/ The Price to Pay

Engaging with a health coach often comes with a significant financial commitment. Costs can range between $200 to $500 per month, making it a substantial investment for many and cost-prohibitive for others. The high costs are due to paying for the time, support, planning, and guidance you receive from a weight loss professional. 

2/ The Demand for On-Demand

We live in the era of on-demand services, whether it’s food, entertainment, or transportation, you can get what you want within minutes. That need for on-demand services also exists in weight loss coaching for motivational support and when challenges arise. 

Whether it’s an unplanned dinner or a skipped cardio workout anything that gets you off your routine can derail progress. That’s why it’s important that you have an on-demand coach you can consult with as soon as the challenge arises. However, traditional coaching models often struggle to meet this on-demand expectation.

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3/ The Knowledge Gap

Whether you’re wondering how to find online weight loss coach support or in-person support, you have one big challenge. Many coaches in the weight loss space excel in specific areas whereas what you need is someone who excels in all areas of weight loss. From knowledge of nutrition and exercise to local brands, your weight loss coach must be well-rounded but that’s not always the case.

For instance, a coach might be a nutrition expert, offering detailed meal plans and dietary advice. However, the same coach might lack sufficient knowledge about physical activity, exercise routines, and the intricacies of integrating both for optimal weight loss. This lack of well-rounded expertise can leave gaps in the guidance you need.

Technology combined with professional human weight loss coaching provides a unique solution to on-demand coaching services.

Marrying Tech with Human Touch - The Ultimate Solution

It's possible to harness the strengths of both human expertise and technology to address the inherent limitations of traditional coaching.

Tech's Role in Bridging the Gaps

Technology can help you get access to the perfect human weight loss coach. That’s because technology can help automate certain aspects of coaching, plug knowledge gaps, and with that make the service less expensive by freeing up a coach’s time to focus on providing human support as other tasks that do not require a human are automated. This marriage of tech and human coaching provides a more comprehensive, efficient, and cost-effective approach to 1:1 coaching. 

Fitmate Coach: Tech-Enhanced Coaching for Supported Weight Loss 

Fitmate Coach combines human expertise and technological innovation to provide a personal online weight loss coach experience that is effective. At its core, Fitmate's advanced tools are designed to amplify the capabilities and productivity of human coaches. These tools not only assist in routine tasks like scheduling reminders but also delve deeper into personalization. For instance, they can suggest recipes tailored to client preferences or retrieve answers previously provided to other clients, ensuring both consistency and efficiency. 

As a client progresses on their journey, the platform dynamically customizes plans, ensuring advice remains relevant. Furthermore, Fitmate's unique team-based approach ensures that coaching is truly on-demand. Main coaches are complemented by auxiliary ones during evenings and weekends, ensuring clients always have support when they need it. Through this synergy of human touch and tech, Fitmate Coach offers a comprehensive, efficient, and personalized weight loss coaching experience.


In the pursuit of weight loss, the selection of a human coach remains crucial for optimal results. However, a human coach can be cost-prohibitive for some and may lack the ability to provide on-demand service. That’s where tech comes in and enhances the ability of your human coach to be able to provide you with all of the knowledge and support you need at an affordable price while also being on-demand.

Unlock the best of both worlds with Fitmate Coach's tech-enhanced coaching. Discover the Fitmate difference today.

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