Nutrisystem is a well-known diet plan that entails consuming meals prepared in advance, low in calories, and individually portioned.
Although many people have reported success with Nutrisystem in terms of weight loss, the program is known to be expensive, restrictive, and unsustainable in the long run.
In this article, Nutrisystem, its advantages and disadvantages. And the foods that can and cannot be consumed while on a diet, are discussed.
What is the Nutrisystem Diet?
Nutrisystem has been a well-known weight loss program since it was first introduced in the 1970s.
The basic idea behind this eating plan is straightforward: You should aim to eat six small meals daily to stave off hunger and make it easier to lose weight. Calorie restriction is one method of weight loss that works by reducing the number of calories you consume daily.
Some dieters say they lost weight with this program, which promises to help women lose 13 pounds (6 kg) and men lose 18 pounds (8.2 kg) in the first month .
Nutrisystem provides meals to make calorie restriction easier. These shelf-stable or frozen fully cooked meals only require reheating. In addition, Nutrisystem provides shakes that can be utilized in the role of snacks.
Example meals include:
- Breakfast: Banana, cereal, and skim milk.
- Snack 1: Skim-milk protein shake
- Lunch: Cheese on whole-wheat bread
- Snack 2: Crackers and Whole-grain cheese
- Dinner: vinaigrette salad, rice, and Salmon.
- Snack 3: 3-5 squares of dark chocolate
How Much Does a Nutrisystem Diet Cost?
It all depends on how much you spend on groceries each week, but the Nutrisystem program could be expensive or affordable. The “core” four-week plan starts at an average of $9.29 per day and includes either a pre-selected assortment of popular foods or your choice from more than 100 foods, as well as shipping . You can pay a few dollars more per day for other varieties, or protein shakes if you want them.
How Does Nutrisystem Work?
Nutrisystem is a 4-week program. However, the program that lasts four weeks can be completed as often as possible.
You are encouraged to consume six small meals each day while following the Nutrisystem diet, which consists of three snacks in addition to breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Several of these will be frozen meals or shakes that Nutrisystem supplies. These meals and shakes are formulated to be nutritionally sound by combining fiber, protein, and fats in the same serving.
There are a few key differences between Week 1 and the rest of the program. You will consume three meals, one snack, and one Nutrisystem shake each day for this week. According to the company, following this routine will prepare your body for successful weight loss.
You need to continue eating six meals daily for the next three weeks to reach your goal. When it comes to meals and snacks, Nutrisystem does not provide them, and the company recommends choosing alternatives that are high in protein, low in calories, and low in sodium.
You are also allowed to consume up to eight “Flex Meals” per week, which consists of two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners, and two snacks. These “Flex Meals” are intended to make up for meals that may not be ideal for weight loss but may be a part of a holiday or other special occasion.
In addition, Nutrisystem provides its customers with a free version of the NuMi meal planning app.
The following are some of the distinguishing characteristics of the NuMi app, which can be downloaded from both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store:
- Tracking of regular foods in addition to the tracking of Nutrisystem meals
- Logs of your weight to monitor your progress
- Notifications daily to remind you to log your meals, exercise, and consumption of water
- Nutrisystem provides free resources, such as recipes, tips, and articles, in addition to contests, challenges, and special offers.
Nutrisystem provides a selection of meal plans that can be customized to meet the requirements of a particular diet. These meal plans include the various price tiers that are listed below:
- Basic: Five days a week, 100+ menu options, cheapest
- Uniquely Yours: five days a week with 150+ menu options
- Uniquely Your Max+: most expensive, with 160+ menu choices and premium meals 5 or 7 days a week.
In addition, you have the option to select your own meal plan. The following are some of the components that are included in the meal plans that Nutrisystem offers:
- Standard: Standard Nutrisystem includes popular meals and snacks for weight loss.
- Men’s Plans: Men’s Nutrisystem plans are the same as standard plans but include weekly snacks.
- Nutrisystem D: Plans for type 2 diabetics. These high-protein, high-fiber meals are free of artificial flavors and sweeteners and won’t cause blood sugar spikes.
- Vegetarian Plan: This meal plan has no meat but dairy, so it’s not vegan-friendly.
- Partner Plan: This plan includes two Uniquely Yours meals.
How to get Started with Nutrisystem
To create an account with Nutrisystem, after choosing which of their meal plans you wish to purchase, you will be prompted to provide personal information such as your name, address, email address, and phone number.
You can receive recommendations for tailored programs by inputting information about yourself, such as your gender, height, and current weight, into the NuMi app.
After that, you will be allowed to construct your menu by selecting the items you want to include. You can view the reviews, ingredients, instructions for preparation, and nutritional information for each dish, which is organized according to the meal.
If you go with the Chef’s Choice option, Nutrisystem will provide you with a selection of its meals and snacks with the highest customer ratings.
Consider that the number of menu options available may change depending on your chosen plan. For example, the Uniquely Yours Max+ plan offers over 160 customization options, while the Basic plan includes at least 100 different products.
After you have finished making your purchase, it may take up to five days for your order to be processed and then shipped. Following the initial shipment, subsequent shipments will take place every four weeks.
In addition to the meals provided, Nutrisystem recommends that you supplement your diet with varying quantities of fruits, lean proteins, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, and vegetables throughout the week. You will receive specific suggestions from the NuMi app based on your individualized plan.
In addition, as a component of its weight loss program, Nutrisystem suggests engaging in physical activity for 150 minutes per week. However, physical activity is not required in any of the plans.
What Can You Eat on Nutrisystem?
While participating in the Nutrisystem program, the following are some general guidelines regarding foods you can and cannot consume.
Foods to Consume
Most of your meals and snacks will be provided for you during your time in the Nutrisystem program.
You will be provided with either breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack each day of the week, depending on your plan. As a result, you will need to incorporate an additional two snacks into each day for the next five days.
If you select a plan that only provides meals for five days, you will be responsible for preparing all six meals for the remaining two days of your trip on your own .
On Nutrisystem, in addition to the pre-packaged meals that are provided, you are permitted to eat the following foods:
- Proteins: meat substitutes, tofu, seeds, nuts, legumes, lean meats.
- Carbs: oats, brown rice, sweet potatoes, whole-grain pasta, and whole-grain pieces of bread.
- Fats: plant-based (lower calorie) oils or spreads, cooking spray.
- Dairy: reduced-fat cheeses, low-fat yogurts, low-fat milk, or skim.
- Vegetables: onions, radishes, turnips, mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, spinach, and salad greens.
- Fruits: avocados, tomatoes, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, bananas, oranges, and apples.
Foods Not to Consume
Although no foods are outright banned from the Nutrisystem diet, the company recommends choosing foods from its Grocery Guide. The following are examples of foods that are not included on the list despite having a high calorie and fat content :
- Carbs: pasta, refined bread, potato chips, french fries, cookies, cakes, and pastries.
- Proteins: Batter-fried or fatty meats
- Fats: lard, butter, liquid oils.
- Vegetables: fried vegetables
- Fruits: Fruit pies, cobblers
- Dairy: cheeses, yogurt, full-fat milk, or ice cream.
How Does Nutrisystem Taste?
Customers have a variety of opinions and reactions to the meals and snacks offered by Nutrisystem.
Others point out that reheating particular frozen dishes can result in changes in flavor or texture that aren’t to anyone’s liking, although some people value the many different options and the variety of available flavors.
You are able to view reviews of individual items while you are building your menu. In addition, you have the option to sort the items to see the dishes with the highest ratings.
On the Nutrisystem menu, some of the items that receive the highest ratings are as follows:
- Turkey Pepperoni Pizza
- Italian Sausage
- Cinnamon Roll
- Mushroom Parmesan Soup with Chicken
- Artichoke and Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast
- Buttermilk Waffles
- Classic Hamburger
Sample Food Menu
This sample menu for two days illustrates the “basic” Nutrisystem plan.
- Breakfast: Orange Muffins and Nutrisystem Cranberry
- Snack 1: low-fat yogurt and strawberries
- Lunch: Hamburger
- Snack 2: almond butter and celery
- Dinner: Chicken Pot Pie
- Snack 3: S’mores Pie
- Breakfast: Biscotti Bites
- Snack 1: peanut and apple butter
- Lunch: Cheese Pretzel Melt and Spinach
- Snack 2: hummus and baby carrots
- Dinner: Cheesesteak Pizza
- Snack 3: Ice Cream Sandwich
Does Nutrisystem Help with Weight Loss?
Nutrisystem, just like most other diets, can help you shed some pounds in the short term.
You will consume an average of 1,200–1,500 calories per day if you follow the diet to the letter, which will, for the majority of people, result in weight loss due to a calorie deficit and cause to lose weight .
If you follow the Nutrisystem eating plan, you can lose 0.5 to 1 pound (0.2 to 0.5 kg) per week, and some men have lost up to 18 pounds (2.25 kg) in the first month .
This conclusion was reached based on the findings of a study funded by Nutrisystem but not published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
In this experiment that lasted for four weeks and involved 84 adults, those who followed the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet shed half as much weight as those who followed the Nutrisystem diet .
According to the findings of the same study, after 12 weeks on Nutrisystem, participants lost an average of 18 pounds (8 kg).
Those who followed the Nutrisystem diet in an older study involving 69 adults with type 2 diabetes lost significantly more weight in three months than those in the control group, who received diabetes education but no specialized diet program. The study was conducted for three years .
On the other hand, the vast majority of the studies involving the Nutrisystem are pretty old, and there is a shortage of research on long-term weight maintenance following the use of the Nutrisystem.
The Nutrisystem program, in addition to being convenient, may also improve the body’s ability to maintain a healthy blood sugar level, particularly in people with type 2 diabetes.
It May Improve Blood Sugar Regulation
Nutrisystem’s low-GI foods may have less of an impact on blood sugar than other foods.
The glycemic index (GI) ranks foods by how quickly they raise blood sugar. Glucose, the energy-giving sugar, has a GI of 100, while strawberries have a GI of 40. Glucose raises blood sugar more than strawberries .
It is believed that the GI of foods can be lowered by increasing their protein and fiber content, both of which are present in some Nutrisystem meals. However, there is no information online about the exact GI scores of foods included in the Nutrisystem plan.
In addition, the reliability of the GI as a system has been called into question. It assigns a low GI rating to some foods that are lower in nutrients while giving a high GI rating to some healthier options. Ice cream’s glycemic index (GI) is significantly lower than that of pineapple [8,9].
The rate at which a certain food raises your blood sugar can also be affected by the rate at which other foods you consume simultaneously raise your blood sugar. Although GI has the potential to be a helpful tool, it does have a few drawbacks .
On the other hand, the diabetes diet plan Nutrisystem D was shown to improve blood sugar regulation significantly more than a diabetes education program that did not include accompanying meals over three months in a study conducted in 2009. The study was conducted in 2009 .
Potential Drawbacks of the Nutrisystem Diet
Nutrisystem has several potential drawbacks, even though it offers a few benefits.
The cost is the primary consideration. The price of the program starts at about $10 per day, which comes out to nearly $300 for the four-week plan. This amount is exceeded by the cost of the more expensive plan options. This makes it impossible for many people to afford it, particularly if they have to participate in the program more than once.
In addition to this, the program cannot be maintained.
The majority of people do not want to consume frozen foods over an extended period primarily. In addition, Nutrisystem’s typical daily calorie intake ranges from 1,200 to 1,500 calories, which may be too limited for some people .
Because of the hormonal shifts resulting from highly restrictive, low-calorie diets, especially when followed for an extended period, highly restrictive diets have the potential to cause increased food cravings, increased hunger, and rebound weight gain [12,13].
Therefore, if you want a diet that is easier to stick to over the long haul, choose one that emphasizes nutrient-dense foods and a moderate reduction in calorie intake .
In addition, those who adhere to particular diets should not use Nutrisystem because it is not designed for them. There is a choice available for vegetarians, but no other options are gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegan.
Lastly, despite the Nutrisystem meals being low in calories, they are extremely processed. This is true, although they are low in calories. There is a correlation between diets that are high in highly processed foods and increased rates of obesity and chronic disease.
Nutrisystem is a well-known diet program that consists of consuming meals that have been prepared in advance. It is convenient, and it may lead to a temporary loss of weight as well as improved management of blood sugar levels. Nonetheless, it may be financially burdensome and excessively restrictive. In addition to being highly processed, Nutrisystem’s meals and snacks are unsuitable for vegans, people who avoid dairy, or those who follow a gluten-free diet.
Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your own healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.