What is Nutrisystem Diet?
Nutrisystem is a commercial weight-loss diet that involves eating the company’s prepackaged and delivered meals and snacks, along with some products you shop for yourself. By outsourcing meal-management chores, you won’t have to think about portion control, meal prep, or meal timing, but you may tire of heat-and-eat meals and smallish portions. Nutrisystem claims you can lose up to 13 pounds and 7 inches overall in your first month on the Personal Plans, which isn’t surprising since the program makes for guaranteed calorie restriction, the tried-and-true weight-loss tactic.
Nutrisystem is also built around the glycemic index, a measure of how various carbs affect your blood sugar. The program is high in protein and emphasizes “good” carbs, such as many veggies and whole grains that are digested slowly. That keeps you feeling full longer and your blood sugar and metabolism from going out of whack. Depending on your plan – there are gender-specific tracks for adults, vegetarians and people living with diabetes – you’ll eat five to six times a day. The program can also be customized for those needing lower sodium (about 1,500 mg/day) level.
- Heat and eat
- No foods off-limits (not even carbs)
- The comeback of the TV dinner
- Eating out is limited
Nutrisystem Diet is Ranked:
- No.4 diet in Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets (Tie)
- No.6 diet in Best Weight-Loss Diets (Tie)
- No.6 diet in Best Commercial Diet Plans (Tie)
- No.7 diet in Best Diets for Diabetics (Tie)
- No.10 diet in Easiest Diets to Follow (Tie)
How does Nutrisystem Diet work?
To start the Nutrisystem Diet, you need to sign up for a specific program, select your meals and snacks from a menu (turkey pot pie melt or mushroom risotto?) and wait for your meals and snacks to arrive. Then, if you’re on the Uniquely Yours program, for instance:
- The first week of your program is specially designed to jumpstart your weight loss. During this week, you’ll have seven days of Nutrisystem breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, seven between-meal snacks aimed at curbing cravings and keeping you feeling full, and seven shake protein-packed with probiotics.
- After you complete your first week on the program, you’ll get to create Flex Meals. That includes creating two healthy breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks each week so you can practice healthy cooking to help prepare you for life after being on the Nutrisystem program. In addition to Flex Meals, the company says customers can enjoy Nutrisystem breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks of their choice, like a red velvet cupcake, at regular intervals, or five to six times per day.
For more support and resources, check out NuMi, a digital product for do-it-yourself dieters that integrates with wearable fitness devices and health platforms, such as the Fitbit and Apple Health. Nutrisystem also runs a website called The Leaf, which provides recipes, tips on jazzing up Nutrisystem meals, fitness tips, and more. Counselors are available by phone, chat, or via NuMi seven days a week (Mon-Fri 8 am-10 pm ET, Sat-Sun 9 am-9 pm ET). Those same counselors (plus Numi) can help you wean off the program once you’re ready by giving your tips on how to get back in the kitchen and in front of the stove without sabotaging your weight loss.
Nutrisystem’s new personalized weight-loss program takes into account a person’s body type, food preferences and weight loss goals.
After taking a 30-second quiz, customers are provided with custom macronutrients and menu options flagged as best for them, as well as meal plans, grocery guides, and Flex Meals to fit their specific body type and food preferences.
The approach is tailored to what Nutrisystem has identified as four different body types: apple, pear, hourglass, and rectangle. The most common of these is apple, according to the company. “If you are apple-shaped, that means you carry most of your weight in your mid-section, and research shows us that you will see better results on a diet that is lower in sugar and simple carbohydrates and higher in protein and fiber,” according to Nutrisystem.
How much does Nutrisystem Diet cost?
The Nutrisystem Diet may be expensive or cheap, depending on what your current grocery bill looks like. The “core” four-week plan, which includes either a prepicked selection of popular foods or your choice of more than 100 foods, plus shipping, starts at around $10.54 each day on average. You can pay a few bucks more each day if you want more selection or extra TurboShakes. Remember: You’ve still got a monthly grocery bill to add to that. Your tab will vary depending on what produce you buy (go for anything in-season) and your protein choices (chicken and turkey are generally pretty affordable).
Nutrisystem still may be a bargain compared to competitor Jenny Craig. Unless you catch them during a promotion, Jenny Craig charges a registration fee on top of its meals, which generally runs at least $100 a week.
Will Nutrisystem Diet help you lose weight?
Research – the vast majority of it company-funded – suggests you will probably lose weight on Nutrisystem. However, no new research has been conducted specifically on the Nutrisystem Diet in recent years.
- A 2015 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine comparing various commercial weight-loss programs found that Nutrisystem participants lost at least 3.8% more weight after three months on the program than a control group that received education and counselling. The authors call diets like Nutrisystem “promising,” but say more research is needed on their long-term outcomes.
- In a Nutrisystem-funded study of 69 obese Type 2 diabetics, published in the journal Postgraduate Medicine in 2009, researchers reported that those assigned to eat meals on the Nutrisystem D diabetic track lost an average of 18 pounds after three months compared with 1 pound for the control group, who attended educational sessions on diabetes management and nutrition. At six months, the Nutrisystem dieters were down an average of 24 pounds, while the controls – who were switched to Nutrisystem meals halfway through the six-month study – were down 13 pounds. In a similar study published in 2013 in Nutrition Diabetes, 50 Nutrisystem dieters lost an average of about 22 pounds in six months, while the 50 control dieters lost only about 5.
- In another unpublished study that was funded and led by Nutrisystem, researchers reviewed self-reported weight diaries of overweight and obese Nutrisystem customers who started the program between 2008 and 2010 and used an online tracking tool to record their weight. Data from more than 100,000 customers showed that at three months, about 79% of them had lost at least 5% of their initial weight and 33% had lost 10% or more. (Even a 5% loss can help stave off some diseases.) By six months, when 32,000 of the dieters were still recording their weight loss, 86% had lost 5% of their initial weight; 63% had lost 10 percent.
- A 2013 study in the American Journal of Hypertension found that, among 41 postmenopausal women, participants on a Nutrisystem diet lost an average of 12 pounds in three months, including nearly 10 pounds of belly fat.
- Another study, also funded by Nutrisystem but designed and conducted independently, compared weight lost by dieters in an unnamed internet weight-loss program (the control group) and by dieters in the internet program with Nutrisystem meals. At 12 weeks, 22 Nutrisystem dieters lost an average of about 14 pounds while the 25 control dieters lost an average of about 9.
- If Nutrisystem does encourage weight loss, it may be attributable to calorie restriction and portion control, a well-supported mechanism of weight loss. A 2013 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, for example, concluded that the provision of meals and meal-replacement products promote greater weight loss than “seemingly holistic” programs based on balance, variety and moderation. While Nutrisystem once touted low-GI foods as a key element of the program, the company says it no longer claims GI to be the mechanism of weight loss.
How easy is Nutrisystem Diet to follow?
The Nutrisystem Diet is ranked No.10 diet in Easiest Diets to Follow (Tie)
Can you cut back on dining out? Can you withstand the temptation to eat what the rest of the family is eating most nights of the week? While Nutrisystem certainly makes dieting simple – you don’t count calories, preportioned food comes right to your doorstep and you know exactly what and when to eat – you may still need to muster up the willpower to stick to it. Fortunately, you get a “flex” breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack each week, which can help you keep your social engagements or answer occasional cravings. At least in the short-term, you shouldn’t tire of your menu choices – Nutrisystem offers more than 150 foods to choose from on one of its most extensive plans, “Uniquely Yours.”
- Nutrisystem Diet is designed to be convenient. Main entrees can be ordered with the click of a mouse, but restaurant meals (and alcoholic beverages) are only occasionally allowed.
- You won’t need many recipes while you’re on Nutrisystem, but when you do, there are simple ways to find them. If you crave a break from frozen and pantry foods, for example, Nutrisystem has a smattering of member- and company-generated recipes online, including on the website The Leaf.
- Eating out is discouraged and challenging, but possible, on Nutrisystem Diet. Just make sure any restaurant meal counts as one of your three “flex” meals each week. The company provides an “eating out guide” with recommendations categorized by cuisine such as Thai, Italian and French. The guide also suggests diet-friendly foods at 30 of the most popular eateries nationwide.
- The Nutrisystem Diet itself is a time-saver since it emphasizes packaged meals. Choosing a meal plan and ordering meals is simple. While you can hand-pick each and every meal you eat, the predetermined “favourites package” is just a couple of clicks away, if you’re not picky. You can also sign up for automatic billing and shipping of your food packages.
- Trips to the grocery store to stock up on fresh produce, dairy and protein should be quick and can be guided by Nutrisystem’s list of popular choices and recommended servings.
- Nutrisystem comes with plenty of extra resources and tools. You can track your meals, exercise and weight loss online or through the NuMi app, for example; and talk with a Nutrisystem counsellor for support. You can even sync some wearable fitness devices with NuMi, the official Nutrisystem tracking tool. When you’re ready to wean yourself off the program, Nutrisystem offers recipes and coaches, as well as a transition and maintenance plan called Nutrisystem Success that includes a portion control container system used to make meals on your own. Online resources are free and helpful.
- Hunger shouldn’t be a problem on Nutrisystem Diet. Entrees will likely be smaller than what you’re used to, but you supplement them with protein, fiber-packed produce and veggies (some even in unlimited amounts), which generally keep you feeling fuller longer. Eating at regular intervals throughout the day should also keep tummy growls at bay.
- Nutrisystem products should be palatable for most.
Nutrisystem regularly introduces new items and removes items from its menu based on customer feedback, according to the company. All foods on the menu have no artificial sweeteners or flavours.
How much should you exercise on Nutrisystem Diet?
Exercise is encouraged, but not required, on Nutrisystem. The program encourages dieters to engage in at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day, which can be broken up into three 10-minute intervals.
Nutrisystem offers some pointers to get you started. You can browse beginner, intermediate and advanced exercise programs online with detailed explanations of stretches and exercises. For extra motivation, you can log every pickup basketball game and bench press or read fitness tips on the website The Leaf.