This week, I obsessed over every aspect of the Nutrisystem diet. Our in-depth review focused on the meal delivery system, pricing and auto-ship, customer service quality and clinical research. Plus, we read hundreds of testimonials and user experiences. Then, we summarized and condensed to give you the info you need.
What is Nutrisystem?
Nutrisystem is a weight loss plan that takes the guesswork out of figuring what you can eat and when. It eliminates calorie counting, keeping track of carbs, and even searching for point values to stay under an allotted amount. It also gets rid of having to figure out what the proper proportions for your plate are at each meal and at snack time. Like many other diet plans, you are still restricted to a certain diet and are not supposed to eat whatever you desire.
When you embark on the Nutrisystem diet, there are some plans to choose from so that you can pick the one that is right for you. You eliminate the guesswork because you purchase your meals directly from the company from a customizable menu. Each meal is nutritionally balanced, a proper proportion size, and pre-calculated for calories and other factors.
Each day, you are provided with Nutrisystem prepared or easy-to-assemble breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and desserts. For variety, you can also add fresh produce from the grocery store.
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Nutrisystem Company Profile
Headquarters: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Founder: Harold Katz
CEO: Dawn M Zier
Subsidiary companies: NutriSystem Fresh Inc, Nutri/System IPHC, Inc, MORE
- Nutrisystem began with offering advice on weight loss and products in brick and mortar centers.
- In 1999, the company changed its business model to direct-to-consumer, selling online and through call centers instead.
- Nutrisystem launched a mobile platform in 2010, but it was among allegations that it stole the technology for it from a Silicon Valley startup called WebDiet, Inc.
- In 2015, Nutrisystem bought the South Beach Diet brand.
Nutrisystem Quick Facts
- Average weight loss per week: According to the Nutrisystem website, users can “expect to lose an avg of 1-2 lbs per week.”
- Nutrisystem also runs The Leaf, their weight loss blog. This has “diet, nutrition, fitness and lifestyle tips straight from our weight loss experts”, as well as success stories and recipes to go with your Nutrisystem program.
- Nutrisystem also puts much emphasis on the importance of exercise. The company encourages “50 minutes of moderately intense physical activity each week” through its My Daily 3® plan. This focuses on 30 minutes of daily physical activity.
- Precautions, the program is not for:
– Breastfeeding women.
– Anyone under 18 years.
– Anyone allergic to peanuts or soy allergies.
Each plan comes with food chosen to supply the right combinations of nutrients and keep you healthy while you lose weight and fuel your body. Each item will have different ingredients to accomplish this. Some highlights of what the meals focus on are:
Healthy, lean protein
Protein is a vital element in every cell you have in your body. Your hair and nails are made of proteins and proteins play an essential role in building bones, muscles, and cartilage. Your body uses protein to repair tissues, make digestive enzymes and hormones among other chemicals. Protein is a macro-nutrient, and your body needs a bunch of it to function properly since it is something that you use up and not store.
In weight loss, protein is important for giving your body the ability to put on lean muscle using the amino acids found in it. More lean muscle means more calories burned, even when you are not trying. You also burn more calories digesting them because it takes more for your body to metabolize and use them. Because it takes longer for them to work through your system, you will feel fuller for longer, meaning a less voracious appetite.
Including high fiber in a diet to lose weight will keep you fuller longer. Adding more fiber to your eating habits is heart-healthy and helps you maintain a healthy body weight. High fiber is a carbohydrate in foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Unlike traditional carbohydrates, high fiber is difficult for your body to digest, so it makes its way through your system without causing blood sugar spikes. It also satiates your appetite making you feel fuller longer without adding lots of calories to your intake.
Most of us have heard the terms, “good carbs” and “bad carbs” but still likely have a hard time telling them apart.
Nutrisystem eliminates the need for you to determine which is good or bad. They use low glycemic carbs like whole grains and specific veggies (the good kind) in their meals. All carbs are converted into glucose sugar. The more complex the carb, the longer it takes to break down in your system, as they are digested slowly. Low glycemic carbs are more complex and thus release into your blood slowly and steadily, which is better for losing weight since it keeps you full longer and does not spike your blood sugar. Fewer spikes in blood sugar can help in the prevention of diabetes.    
What Does Nutrisystem Do?
Nutrisystem provides multiple diet plans that cater to specific needs and can be customized through the available menu to your particular taste. It offers healthy well-balanced meals that include high fiber, low calorie, and lean proteins to help relieve cravings and keep you fuller longer to control your appetite and eating habits.
With over 150 menu items to choose from, the meal is sure to please anyone. The ultimate goal of individuals on the Nutrisystem plan is to lose and maintain a healthy weight. You’ll eat four to five times a day. Many options are low sodium and they remove unnecessary artificial flavors and colors, as well as potentially harmful preservatives. It’s an easy plan to follow with no guesswork as to what you can or cannot eat.
The Nutrisystem program can also be aligned with DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet recommendations. According to Mayo Clinic, “The DASH diet is rich in grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. It limits total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, and provides plenty of fiber, potassium, calcium and magnesium. The DASH diet also limits sodium to between 1,500 and 2,300 milligrams a day.” 
How Easy is Nutrisystem to Follow?
Convenience: Six meals per day with pre-counted portions, saving you time and effort.
Recipes: Dozens of high-protein, high-fiber, zero-trans fat recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
Eating Out: Extensive PDF guide on how to not derail your diet when out in a restaurant.
Alcohol: The Nutrisystem program recommends abstinence from, or limiting, alcohol consumption because “alcoholic beverages […] tend to be high in calories and often contain extensive fat, cholesterol and sodium.”
Fullness: Besides the high-fiber, low-glycemic carb ingredients of the Nutrisystem program, the company offers a guide to help people feel full faster.
What You’ll Eat
- Pantry items: oatmeal, pasta dishes, and cookies
- Frozen foods: omelettes, chicken, quesadillas, and ice-cream sandwiches
- Adults, seniors, diabetics and vegetarians have unique plans. Vegan and gluten-free options are not available.
Nutrisystem Menu Ideas
Cinnamon Raisin Baked Bar
Does Nutrisystem Work?
When you control your calorie intake and your portions, you are on a good path to losing weight. Add the fact that your meals will likely be healthier than what you eat regularly and you implement an exercise regimen to burn even more calories, and the result should be that you attain your weight loss goals. If you can stick to the plan accordingly and only eat what is suggested through your prepared meals and allowed produce, research that has been done to support the success of the plan suggests that you will lose weight.
Another plus to the Nutrisystem plan is that you will be eating smaller meals more often, which is considered a healthier way to eat based on research. It has been found to promote greater weight loss and maintenance and the prevention of other health issues.
One challenge that you may face is maintaining the diet without all the help you got through the program. However, if you can transition back into eating “normal” food while keeping in mind what you have learned through healthy eating during the program, you should have no problem. Once you reach your body weight goal, you will likely be more apt to maintain healthy habits to keep your healthier appearance and feeling. 
A study titled “Efficacy of commercial weight loss programs: an updated systematic review” looked into Nutrisystem’s capabilities. It reported that “Nutrisystem participants achieved at least 3.8% greater weight loss at 3 months than control/education or counseling.” 
Another study from Florida State University titled “Effects of Diet and/or Low-Intensity Resistance Exercise Training on Arterial Stiffness, Adiposity and Lean Mass In Obese Postmenopausal Women,” has shown that “Nutrisystem improves arterial function in obese, postmenopausal women.” 
Meanwhile, a study from Johns Hopkins has reported that “Other popular programs, such as NutriSystem, show promising weight-loss results, but additional studies evaluating long-term outcomes are needed.” 
Are There Nutrisystem Side Effects to Worry About?
When changing your diet, especially if it is drastically, you are liable to experience some side effects. Reports from reviewers and users of Nutrisystem have reported various side effects including:
- Abdominal cramping
Side effects will vary for each person since everyone’s body handles dietary changes differently. Few people have reported mood swings during the program. However, most people report no side effects at all.
Causes of These Side Effects
As I mentioned before, any drastic diet change to which you do not transition can cause many of these side effects, including the mood swings and digestive issues. Removing regular consumption of alcohol and quitting smoking can also cause headaches, flu symptoms, and other issues. Once your body has gotten used to its new habits and nutrition, any symptoms should taper off.
Precautions When Using Nutrisystem
As with any major change to your diet, application of a new diet plan, or exercise regimen, you should seek the advice of your doctor. This is especially true if you are on medication or have preexisting health conditions. If you are pregnant or nursing, you should not implement this plan.
- Individuals with chronic kidney disease, specific allergies including soy and peanut allergies, or special diet needs should avoid using this plan and most others to maintain their health.
- This plan is not formulated for children under the age of 14. However, Nutrisystem does offer a healthy and comprehensive plan for teens between ages 14 and 17.
- Nutrisystem does offer a plan for those who follow a vegetarian diet, but a vegan option is not available. If you follow a gluten-free diet, there is also no plan that will encompass your needs.
- Regardless of the safety of a product, if you have any medical issues whatsoever or are taking medications you should consult your doctor to be sure it is a healthy option for your specific situation.
- It is unclear how much potassium and vitamins B-12 and D the diet supplies, but the packaged meals, combined with snacks of fresh produce, nonfat dairy and protein sources, make a nutritionally sufficient diet.
The program also offers Nutrisystem D, a “comprehensive program designed to help people with type 2 diabetes achieve meaningful weight loss.” The program clarifies that “it does not treat or cure diabetes, and is not a substitute for diabetes medications.”
One significant benefit to Nutrisystem is that it is easy to follow. Many people have a hard time sticking to other diets because there are calories to count, carbs to count, and points to track. Then there is often guesswork with the values of certain foods or portions.
Cheat days can lead to some falling off the wagon and having a major setback. Nutrisystem takes that guesswork out. It is all prepared and counted for you. Portions are controlled, and all you need to do is follow the program.
A second benefit to the Nutrisystem program is that there are avenues of support for its members. There is an online community of others using the plan that can become a significant support group and means of encouragement as you adjust to the diet or experience any stumbling blocks or setbacks.
The Ease or Difficulty of Following Nutrisystem
Once you choose and customize your plan, you order a month’s worth of food. Ordering is easy and convenient since you can pick and choose what you like and order it from the comfort of your own home. The food available is chosen by your plan choice and come prepared for you. No need for counting calories and carbs and there are no points to keep track of.
Nutrisystem offers a wide variety of meals choices and snack options to choose from. Its most extensive plan offers over 150. You can get the allowed add-on options on your own from the supermarket, giving you even more variety. However, even though the variety is plentiful, some of your favorites may not be there or not taste as you make them yourself and that could be potentially frustrating for some.
Nutrisystem Pros & Cons
- Large meal variety
- Convenience without the need for calorie-counting
- Emphasis on physical exercise
- Support through the counselling program
- Home delivery
- High-protein products mean simultaneous weight loss and muscle gain
- Vegetarian and diabetic alternative plans
- 1-week free trial for new customers
- High price tag
- Individual meals that are not fit for entire families
- Weight loss benefits don’t last if users don’t maintain their diet properly after the program
- Products are not organic, gluten-free, or non-GMO
- Products have allergens like egg, wheat, soy, wheat, and tree nuts
- Despite calorie-control, Nutrisystem products have preservatives and processed and refined sugars
A few years ago, in 2014, Nutrisystem started new programs, one of which was NuMi®, an app that is oriented towards techie dieters with wearable health and fitness devices and platforms. NuMi®:
- Tracks Nutrisystem meals and food outside of the program.
- Sends out meal, water, and exercise reminders.
- Provides articles, tips and recipes on a daily basis.
- Offers exclusive special offers, contests, and prizes.
Is There a Nutrisystem Alternative?
With so many dieting options out there it is really impossible to find one that is truly unique. Nutrisystem is no different and has its share of competition. Two of its most similar competitors are:
Both offer pre-made meals at a fairly comparable price. Overall the plans emulate one another and would likely leave it up to personal preference as to which of the minor details you would prefer.
What is the Nutrisystem Cost?
There are some cost variables within the Nutrisystem plan depending on which plan you choose. Specialized plans cost more. The regular plans come in three tiers that increase in price as you go up. Generally, you can expect to spend about ten dollars a day. That is not including anything you still purchase from the supermarket as your add-on options:
$11.39 (men) or $9.96 (women) per day, or $318.99 (men) or $278.99 (women) for four weeks.
Includes 4-week plan with meals delivered, shipping, and online tracking tools and app:
$12.11 (men) or $10.68 per day (women), or $338.99 (men) or $298.99 (women) for four weeks.
Includes 4-week plan with meals delivered, shipping, online tracking tools and app, choose your own meals, and unlimited access to expert counselors and dietitians.
$13.71 (men) or $12.29 (women) per day, or $383.99 (men) or $343.99 (women) for four weeks.
Includes: 4-week plan with meals delivered, shipping, online tracking tools and app, choose your own meals, unlimited access to expert counselors and dietitians, “choose from over 150 foods”, and “delicious frozen foods.”
In addition to Nutrisystem meal plans, the company offers protein shakes to complement your diet, “designed to help maximize results while making the diet easy to maintain. Women receive TurboShakes, NutriCurb Bars and TurboBoosters; men receive Nutri-Pro Shakes, NutriCurb Bars and TurboBoosters.”
They come in chocolate and vanilla flavours and can be ordered à la carte from the Nutrisystem website.
Jenny Craig Cost Comparison
According to WebMD, the costs for rival dieting program Jenny Craig are:
“a monthly fee, plus the cost of your food. The monthly fee can be:
- $14.99 plus a $25 enrollment fee, with no access to health consultants
- $19.99 plus $99 enrollment fee, with up to three consultations a week
- $39.99 a month, no enrollment fee, with a weekly consultation
Regardless of your plan, the prepackaged meals and associated shipping charges are extra. The average cost of food each day is between $15 and $23, according to the company.” 
Where to Buy Nutrisystem
- Nutrisystem website
- Nutrisystem locations
Directions to follow the Nutrisystem plan are easy and straightforward. You choose a meal plan that is right for you. Consume only the prepared meals, snacks, and add-on allotment. Your meals will be smaller but will increase in frequency, which has been proven to be a healthier way to lose weight. Add 30 minutes of daily exercise, and that about encompasses the routine except for some restrictions including eating out at restaurants if at all possible and eliminating alcohol consumption.
People who have tried Nutrisystem have found varying results. Remember, the diet is to get you to a healthy weight and teach you to eat better. Once off the plan, you have to do some work to maintain your results. Of course, everyone is different and results then logically should vary. The amount and intensity of your workout will also cause different amounts of weight loss. Most saw some positive weight loss and felt better overall. If you can follow the plan by exercising and only consuming their meals, your calorie intake will be low, and you will burn more calories than off the diet.
Nutrisystem Weight Loss
Nutrisystem is a great weight loss option for those who need guidance and do not like all of the guesswork associated with other types of diets. Components in their meals allow blood sugar levels to remain stable, makes your body work to process food, and makes you feel fuller longer to satiate any cravings and control your appetite. Less calorie intake while burning more calories gives this plan the requirements for a decent success rate.
What Users Are Saying
“I think this is a good product. It has helped me in the past and it’s helping me now. I will continue to buy it.”
“The food was ok. Actually, it was better than I thought it would be. However, weight loss was not that great.”
“I think the reason people lose weight with this product is that the food is so horrible nobody can finish a meal.”
The Bottom Line on Nutrisystem
If you are looking for a diet that is the ultimate in convenience, Nutrisystem is that. You do not have to worry about portion sizes, planning, shopping, cooking or counting carbs, calories, and points. If you are a foodie who likes to try out the hottest restaurants and pair your dinner with a drink or two, you may need to find other options. In case your budget is pretty tight, a comparison of the cost versus your typical grocery bill will be to make a decision.
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