With so many weight-loss programs out there that offer ready-to-eat meals that will keep you on track to reach your fitness goals, it might be hard to choose which one is best for you. Nutrisystem is one of the most popular ones, with thousands of satisfied customers reporting weight-loss success and plenty of other benefits.
In this Nutrisystem review, we'll touch on the program in depth, explaining its benefits and potential downsides, how to stay on track, which foods to focus on and which to avoid, and whether or not it's actually worth the hype and your money.
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Disclaimer: Always make sure to consult with your doctor before starting a new diet. Any weight lost that totals more than 1 pound per week over a long period of time is unusual and should be monitored by a doctor.
A Quick Look at Nutrisystem
Nutrisystem is one of the most popular weight-loss programs worldwide and it's been around for almost 50 years. Founded in the 1970s, this program helped thousands of people lose weight and helped them become more confident in their skin.
In 2021, they developed the updated, All-New Nutrisystem® that's completely tailored to the individual so it can better support your digestive health, improve your metabolism, and adapt to your specific caloric goals so you achieve your desired weight loss in the healthiest way possible.
In addition to their nutritionally-balanced meal plan which makes it easy to align your diet with the USDA Dietary Guidelines, they even created a special Nutrisystem® D® program for those living with diabetes or other health conditions that require a low-carbohydrate and low-sugar meal plan.
They also developed a new NuMi SmartAdapt™ feature of the NuMi® app which helps further customize and recalculate your calorie goals and appropriate meals as your weight changes. This is meant to prevent the weight-loss plateau and help you burn more calories so you can reach your goals.
What We Like About Nutrisystem
- Convenient, easy-to-follow meal plans
- Special meal plans for diabetics, vegetarians, and women over 55
- Tailored approach and customizable meal plans for individuals
- Brand is well-established and trusted by many
What We Don't Like About Nutrisystem
- Highly-processed meals
- Not suitable for vegans
- Not sustainable long-term
A Closer Look at Nutrisystem
What is Nutrisystem?
Nutrisystem is a weight-loss program that helps you reach your fitness and health goals by offering tailored meals that fit your caloric window with balanced nutrition. The program offers a variety of different plans depending on your specific needs and weight-loss goals and conveniently delivers your meal plan to your doorstep through its easy-to-use app.
They offer breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, so you're covered from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep, making it easy to follow their meal plan and leaving no room for hunger cravings. Their meals are designed to help you control your hunger, regulate your blood sugar levels, and help you lose weight without being hungry.
How Does Nutrisystem Work?
Nutrisystem is a monthly (4-week) plan that includes fully prepared breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks for five days out of the week. For a seven-day option, you'll need to choose their most expensive program called Uniquely Yours which features the largest menu variety, a personalized nutrition plan, premium frozen meals, and premium meals inspired by popular restaurants.
In addition to the meals, all programs include weight-loss coaching for 1-on-1 support that's available on-demand. They also never charge for shipping, which is a nice bonus considering the meal plans aren't cheap.
On a Nutrisystem plan, you're supposed to eat six times per day, starting with breakfast and an early snack, lunch and a post-lunch snack, and then finishing up with dinner and an evening snack. This was designed to leave no room for other meals or snacks which might derail you from your weight-loss goals and help you feel satiated between the big meals.
The first week slightly differs from the other three as it's the beginning of the program and it helps jump-start your weight loss to achieve better results. During the first week, you only have three meals, one snack, and one Nutrisystem shake that contains a variety of nutrients to help keep you satiated and macro- and micronutrient-replenished.
As you track your progress in the app, the smart AI helps optimize your plan and recalculate your calories and meal options depending on how much weight you've lost so far and whether or not some of your preferences have changed.
The menu changes daily so you never get bored with the same meals and it also gives you the freedom to indulge in your favorite meals eight times a week. These are considered your "Flex Meals" that people usually save for the weekends or nights out, knowing they won't be able to eat their prepared meals.
You can also always buy additional foods from their a la carte section which contains a variety of frozen and fresh meals so you can stay on track even if you don't choose to extend your subscription for the full month.
The Nutrisystem weight loss program is known for its regular plan, but they also offer specialized plans for two people, a diabetes plan, a vegetarian plan, and a Complete 55 plan for women over 55 years of age. Each plan is specially designed with your health goals and needs in mind, and it comes in three tiers so you can fit them into your budget.
The regular Nutrisystem program is divided into men and women, and each one comes with three different plan options depending on the price and additional features:
- Basic Plan: The least expensive plan that provides all six meals per day, five days out of the week. It includes personalized, 1-on-1, on-demand coaching and free shipping.
- Uniquely Yours: The second tier of the plan and the most popular option, containing everything from the basic plans, but with a larger selection of meals, frozen options, and their new indulgent meals inspired by popular restaurants.
- Uniquely Yours Max+: The most expensive plan that includes everything from Uniquely Yours as well as premium meals, a personalized nutrition plan designed by their SmartAdapt™ feature of the NuMi app, and the option to choose between five or seven days a week.
The partner plan is also divided into three tiers, with the same options as the regular plan, but with servings for two people.
The diabetes plan is also offered in three options, but unlike the regular plans, comes with a special Nutrisystem® D® meal plan which helps regulate your blood sugar levels and abstains from high-carbohydrate ingredients.
The vegetarian plan is the only one that exists in only one option and it's specially designed for those who don't eat meat. Since the menu items are limited in this section, it's only offered as a five-day option and you can choose between 75 meals. Most of them do contain dairy, though, so the plan is not suitable for vegans.
And finally, the Complete 55 plan is designed for women 55 and older who need support with their metabolism, want to burn fat and lose weight, and hit their daily protein numbers without the struggle. It exists in only one option as it's created as a three-month program. In the first month, you follow the meal plan for seven days a week, and then in the second and third months, you transition to five days a week. You can continue to maintain it for as long as you'd like.
What Can You Eat on Nutrisystem?
The Nutrisystem program contains fully prepared meals and snacks, as well as a variety of frozen meals so you don't have to cook anything yourself. They're easy and convenient to reheat so you can have your meal ready in just a few minutes.
Even though their meals are low-calorie and designed to help you lose weight, you'll see a variety of options on their menu that won't make you feel like you're missing out. From pizza and pasta to cinnamon rolls and muffins, the meal plan contains everything you're accustomed to, but in a cleaner version.
Their meals are rich in lean protein such as lean meats, nuts, beans, legumes, and tofu, low-carb fruits and vegetables, dairy, and whole grains. An example meal would be a chicken potsticker stir-fry, lemon caper chicken pasta, or even a beef bean and cheese burrito.
The Nutrisystem program does not focus on foods to eat and foods to avoid because it's trying to stay away from labeling food as good or bad. They believe the only way to stay consistent with their plan is if you have the flexibility and ability to enjoy all of your favorite meals while you're following their plans. And that's why they added the Flex Meals option into every plan, allowing you to go out for dinner, order your favorite Thai takeout, or enjoy after-dinner dessert.
They aim to make their meals nutritionally balanced so you get an adequate ratio of protein, fat, and carbohydrates throughout the day. The only exception is with the diabetes plan as it contains all low-carb meals so they don't cause a blood sugar spike and worsen your symptoms.
Just like any other weight-loss program, Nutrisystem helps you lose weight in the short term. Whenever you're eating fewer calories than you're expending, your body will naturally reach for its fat stores to generate fuel and energy. Whether you choose to be in a caloric deficit by increasing your activity level or cutting back on your food intake, you'll achieve the same result: weight loss.
That being said, the food you choose to put in your body does play an important role. If you choose nutrient-rich foods, they'll help support your gut and immune system health, promote better digestion, and improve your overall health. On the other hand, if you choose nutrient-poor foods, you'll still lose weight, but the potential inflammation and lack of nutrients in your diet will increase your risk of disease and infections.
The benefits of Nutrisystem include its convenience, easy-to-follow meal plans, notable weight loss, and the ability to regulate your blood sugar levels.
On the other hand, it can quickly turn into a very expensive monthly option, especially if you opt for the Uniquely Yours Max plan. It's also hard to stay consistent with it since you're always in a caloric deficit which might lead to increased food cravings and even rebound weight gain.
That's why the Nutrisystem program seems best as a jump-start to a healthy weight-loss journey, preferably following it for three months, and then learning how to maintain the weight you've achieved, without going overboard or rebounding.
But, probably the biggest downside of the Nutrisystem is that the meals are heavily processed. Even though they're not as unhealthy as the majority of the ready meals you can get in your grocery store, they still contain a variety of ingredients like high oleic sunflower oil, soy, corn syrup, dextrose, and a variety of additives.
So, is Nutrisystem really worth the hype? Not really. Although it's a convenient option for those who want to lose weight and enjoy the ease of getting everything pre-made so they don't have to think about it, the quality of their meals is still on the low side. Most of it is highly processed and contains a variety of artificial additives, sweeteners, thickening agents, and even colors to make the food taste good as well as increase its shelf-life.
Our verdict is to stick to whole foods that are minimally processed and invest more time in learning about the best foods you can add to your daily diet in order to achieve the healthy weight loss you can maintain long-term, and prevent inflammation that can only bring you harm.
FAQs About Nutrisystem
Is Nutrisystem worth the money?
The Nutrisystem program might be worth the money if you're just looking to jump-start your weight-loss journey and need help getting started. It's also a good option if you're not aware of how much you're usually eating and can easily eat more than you should. But if you're looking for a long-term weight management solution, you'd be better off spending your money on high-quality whole foods.
Who should try Nutrisystem?
Nutrisystem is a good option for those who are looking to start their weight-loss journey but aren't sure what to do. It's a convenient option that doesn't leave much room for procrastinating. It's also a good idea for people with busy schedules who need something on-the-go so instead of grabbing the first fast-food option, they have a carefully created low-calorie meal.
How much weight can I lose on Nutrisystem?
According to Nutrisystem, their customers reportedly lose 1-2 pounds (0.5-1 kg) per week when following their meal plans. However, what your results will be and how much weight you'll lose depends on a variety of factors from your age and activity level to your starting weight and muscle mass.
How long do most people stay on Nutrisystem?
Most people choose to stay on the Nutrisystem for three to six months, but usually until they see their scale showing the desired weight-loss goal. There is no minimum requirement other than four weeks, so you're able to cancel at any time.