Nutrisystem Guide

Medically reviewed by Natalie Olsen, RD, LD, ACSM EP-C on November 8, 2017Written by Ana Gotter

Overview

Nutrisystem is a meal-plan system that’s designed to enable weight loss. The company behind this system provides all the food you’ll need for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, delivering the food right to your door.

These meals are either premade or simple to assemble, and perfectly portioned so that you don’t have to count calories or struggle to come up with a balanced diet on your own.

Nutrisystem has been around for more than 40 years and has meal plans specific to women, men, vegetarians, and those with diabetes. Women’s meal plans are slightly cheaper than men’s. They come with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack. Meal plans for men come with an extra snack.

How does Nutrisystem work?

Nutrisystem provides healthy recipes and preportioned meals that come frozen and are fully prepared.

There are more than 150 food items you can choose from. More than 120 of these meals are currently low sodium and contain no preservatives and no trans fats. Examples of food options that fit into the diet plan include their cinnamon rolls, chicken parmesan, and cheese tortellini.

By sticking to the food provided to you, you can theoretically lose weight without having to give up the foods you love or spend your dieting days hungry. The meals are high in fiber and protein, and utilize more complex carbs to maintain blood sugar and prevent cravings.

It’s recommended to avoid or limit alcohol while on a Nutrisystem program.

Nutrisystem plans and costs

There are several different nutrisystem plans that you can choose from.

The basic plan

The basic plan is a 28-day plan using their quick-star Lean13 plan, which allows you to lose up to 13 pounds and 7 inches in your first month. This is made possible with the Turbo Takeoff system, which includes specially selected meal items that offer benefits like:

  • support for digestive health
  • help with beating bloat
  • hunger reduction and blood sugar balance between meals

The basic plan comes with breakfast, lunch, dinner, a shake, and a bar for each day. Nutrisystem will choose which meals you get. It costs $274.99 with auto-delivery (or $9.82 a day) for women, and $314.99 with auto-delivery ($11.25 per day) for men. If you choose to upgrade to a custom menu so you pick your items, it costs $296.97 for women and $336.97 for men.

The core plan

The core plan includes all this, but more food choices. You’ll also get plenty of perks available through Nutrisystem, including access to dieticians, counselors, trackers, and other valuable resources. This plan starts at $10.54 per day, and costs $294.99 with auto-delivery for women, and $334.99 for men. The custom version of this package costs the same.

Uniquely Yours plan

Nutrisystem’s Uniquely Yours plan starts at $11.96 per day, and includes a full selection of all 150 meals — including adding as many frozen meals to the plan as you’d like. It costs $334.99 for women with auto-delivery, and $374.99 for men.

Other plans

Other unique plans include:

  • the vegetarian plan, which costs $11.96 per day for women and $13.39 per day for men
  • the diabetics plan, which starts at $9.82 for women and $11.25 for men

NuMi by Nutrisystem

is Nutrisystem’s food tracking app, which is designed to help those who use it maximize their success by accurately tracking and recording what they’re eating. NuMi automatically has access to the nutritional information of all of Nutrisystem’s meals, and matches to your exact plan to save you time entering that information in.

The app also offers daily tips and inspirational quotes from the Nutrisystem team, along with activity suggestions. As well, it syncs with Fitbit, Jawbone, and Apple Health so you can get a full and comprehensive look at your weight loss plan and how you’re doing.

Does Nutrisystem work?

Pros

Nutrisystem’s healthier, perfectly portioned meals can help you lose body fat at the speed of between 1 and 3 pounds a week. If you’re exercising regularly, these benefits will be strengthened. The high-protein aspect of the meal plans is ideal for people actively looking to build muscle and lose fat at the same time.

The fact that Nutrisystem also has plans specifically for both vegetarians and those with diabetes is a huge advantage. It provides a diet plan to customers who previously would have difficulty finding a solution. Other diet plans, including Jenny Craig, don’t provide the same ease-of-use as Nutrisystem’s specialty plans.

One specialty diet that Nutrisystem doesn’t currently offer is a plan for those who are gluten-free. They don’t offer any gluten-free certified foods at this time. While they do offer several items that don’t contain gluten and can theoretically create a wheat-free menu, the chance of cross-contamination is too high until they verify this with an official gluten-free certification. Those with other severe allergies — or particular diets for medical reasons — should be mindful of this as well.

Cons

Nutrisystem products include allergens such as egg, wheat, soy, tree nuts, and wheat, so they may not be suitable for people trying to avoid any of these allergens.

Their products aren’t organic or non-GMO.

A diet of only 1,000 calories per day may feel restrictive and leave people hungry if this is all they’re consuming. It’s a particularly low amount for those who exercise. Over-restriction of calories can be just as unhealthy as overeating. Finding a good balance based on height, weight, and activity level is best.

Although the calories are controlled, the quality of the ingredients is low. Nutrisystem includes many preservatives as well as processed and refined sugars. For those sensitive to these, Nutrisystem may not be a great option.

Being on a program like this is likely not sustainable or realistic in the long term.

Nutrisystem vs. other diets

Nutrisystem isn’t the only weight loss program out there that works by providing meals to customers. Both Jenny Craig and Medifast have similar business models.

Nutrisystem vs. Jenny Craig

Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem are both available online, but Nutrisystem has several key advantages many customers prefer. They don’t require you to sign a contract for how long you’ll use the service, whereas Jenny Craig does. Nutrisystem also has more customizable and specialized plans. The Jenny Craig diet has different plans for men and women and for different age groups, but they don’t have vegetarian or diabetic meal plans.

Nutrisystem also has more than 150 foods, many of which are “every day” foods. Jenny Craig has about 80 items to choose from, many of which aren’t “every day” foods. Jenny Craig is also much more expensive all the way around. They require a membership fee and charge for delivery in most cases, while Nutrisystem doesn’t. They also don’t offer a risk-free guarantee, while Nutrisystem does.

Nutrisystem vs. Medifast

The Medifast meal plan can be more customizable, like Nutrisystem’s. The company also has plans for men, women, vegetarians, and those with diabetes. And they offer special shakes, like those designed for joint health or coronary health. Both programs, however, will encourage you to supplement the meal plans with fresh food from the grocery store, like fruits or salads, as a snack.

You’ll consume about 100 calories less per day on the Medifast diet (at 900 calories) than Nutrisystem (at around 1,000). For many people, this accelerated speed of weight loss can be risky, so you should only use Medifast under the supervision of your doctor.

Nutrisystem reviews

Where to buy Nutrisystem

Nutrisystem is available at the following:

  • on their site,
  • from Costco
  • from Walmart

Perhaps the easiest way to buy Nutrisystem is online through their site. You can sign up for plans and choose from any of the meals available (though you’ll need to upgrade in some cases for frozen meals).

You can also buy select Nutrisystem food and drinks in several retail locations, including . Walmart commonly has protein bars, Nutrisystem shakes, or shake mixes available in store or online. A four count of five shake mixes costs around $35, and a six-pack of protein bars costs around $40. Walmart also has a Favorites 5 Day Diet Kit for $59.98.

Sometimes you can purchase Nutrisystem on sale through Costco, which also sells Nutrisystem gift cards. You may also be able to find discounts on Nutrisystem on sites like Groupon.

The takeaway

Nutrisystem works for some people, though it doesn’t always work for everyone due to a variety of reasons including personal taste or allergy restrictions. Because they offer a refund, it’s possible to try the items with less risk to see if the diet would be right for you.

Before starting any new type of diet plan, remember that it’s often a good idea to consult your doctor or a registered dietitian, especially if you have any preexisting conditions. They’ll be able to advise you on the best diet plan for your specific circumstances.

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