Following a diet often comes with a side portion of complexities. Having to carefully plan your meals and shop for ingredients, count calories and monitor your carb intake.. all while still trying to consume your daily required nutrients.

When you’re trying to stick to a low calorie diet plan, finding both the time and mental-energy to prepare, portion and cook your meals every day can be seriously difficult. Luckily, there are other options for those looking to put themselves on a calorie restricted diet plan without the headache of rigorously planning out their meals.

Nutrisystem is a meal replacement programs that does the hard work for you – they send you pre-packaged meals with just the right amount of vitamins, minerals, and calories to help you reach your weight loss goals.

In this Nutrisystem review, we’re explaining how it works, discussing the pros and cons, and revealing whether or not it’s effective for weight loss.

What is Nutrisystem? 

The Nutrisystem diet is a 28-day weight loss program which aims to simplify dieting by removing the need to plan out and prepare low calorie meals.

Once you sign up for the program, perfectly portioned and nutritious pre-packaged foods are delivered to your door. You are encouraged to supplement your diet with certain types of fresh fruit, veggies and other products you can buy at the grocery store (you’re given a list of additional products that are allowed).

Since you don’t have to worry about food logistics, the program makes going on a diet a lot easier.

How Does Nutrisystem Work? 

You visit the Nutrisystem official website and choose a plan that works best for you.

There are several plans you can choose from.

The Basic Plan

The basic Nutrisystem plan is a 28-day program which uses their quick-start Lean13 plan. With this plan, you can lose up to 13 pounds and 7 inches in a month. The program includes breakfast, lunch dinner, plus a shake and a bar for each day. Nutrisystem chooses the meals for you on this program – but you can upgrade to choose your own.

The Core Plan

The Core plan includes all of the above – but you get more food choices. In addition to that, you get Nutrisystem perks, such as access to dietitians, trackers, and counselors.

Uniquely Yours Plan

This plan includes all 150 types of meals to choose from, plus allows you to add as many frozen meals to the program as you like!

Other plans

Other plans include a vegetarian plan, as well as a plan for people with diabetes and those over 60.

Once you have decided which plan best suits your needs and lifestyle, you’ll need to order the food for the 28 days of your diet.

Ordering the meals is easy. You can either buy meals that the company selects for you or pick each meal if you fancy having more control over what you eat. There’s a variety of different foods to choose from – and you can also choose which items to supplement your Nutrisystem Diet with that you can buy at the grocery store.

Most of the Nutrisystem meals will either be ready to eat, or will only need re-heating, so you will not have to cook much. Only the additional items you buy to supplement your diet may require more preparation.

Catering for people with dietary restrictions and requirements is one of the most significant advantages of the diet.

What Can You Eat On The Nutrisystem Diet? 

The Nutrisystem meal plan includes breakfasts, lunches, and dinners – as well as snacks and desserts.

  • Breakfast options include granola, oatmeal, muffins, and pancakes.
  • Lunches and dinners include dishes like chicken and pasta, soup, tacos, chili, stew, and pizza.
  • Snacks come in the form of brownies, cookies and, cakes.

Once you sign up for the program, you will also receive an extensive list of fruits and vegetables, fresh meat and dairy, and nuts which you can eat along with your Nutrisystem meals.

Here are the key principles of the program:

  • You get a variety of nutrients. 50% of your calorie intake comes from carbohydrates, with 25% coming from protein, and the other 25% coming from fat.  
  • You consume a limited amount of calories. The allowed calorie intake is designed to enable losing one to two pounds each week of the diet. However, there are exceptions to the rule, such as, for example, the “Lean 13” plan, which is designed for more intense weight loss. During this plan, women can expect to lose up to 7 inches and 13 pounds, while men can expect to lose up to 7 inches and 15 pounds.
  • The carbs you eat are “smart”. This means that you only eat carbohydrates which don’t raise blood sugar the same way as other foods. While on the diet, you will be encouraged to avoid high-GI foods, such as white rice, bread, and fruits like watermelon and grapefruit).
  • Your sodium intake will be limited. It is recommended not to exceed 2300 milligrams of sodium daily. The Nutrisystem diet plan, however, reduces this intake and provides only about 2,000 milligrams of sodium daily. Do bear in mind that your intake of sodium may increase because of the additional, non-Nutrisystem foods you consume, which is why it is important to pick low-sodium products.

Do You Have To Exercise on the Nutrisystem Diet? 

The program encourages you to do a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity each day.

Whether you do it all at once or break it down (say, into two periods of 15 minutes, or 3 periods of 10 minutes), is entirely up to you.  

What Support Does The Nutrisystem Diet Offer? 

There is an online community on the site’s official website which you can join, as well as other web-based tools (e.g. trackers).

Should you need to speak to someone, you can also reach Nutrisystem representatives by phone.

Going off the program after the 28 days could be a challenge. You will stop relying on perfectly portioned, pre-packaged meals and have to plan your own diet. However, the company provides a lot of information on their website for those who need some help doing so.

How Much Does the Nutrisystem Diet Cost? 

The cost of the program varies depending on the type of meal plan you choose (e.g., women, men, people over 60, etc.).

However, it is usually between $300 and $400. Plus, the cost of any additional items you may buy.

Does the Nutrisystem Diet Work? 

The fact that the portions and calories are controlled, and you eat regular meals does tend to result in weight loss.

The key to losing weight is making sure that you stick to the Nutrisystem pre-packaged meals for the duration of the diet.

It is also important to only supplement the diet with healthy foods. If both of these rules are followed, research does show successful weight loss.

Pros and Cons of the Nutrisystem Diet  

Before you decide whether Nutrisystem is for you, let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

Pros:

  • The pre-packaged meals you will receive from Nutrisystem are nutrient-dense and healthy, i.e., they are low in saturated fats, sodium, and trans fats, and contain high-fiber whole grains, healthy fats, “smart” carbs, and lean protein.
  • The diet is good for people with certain health conditions, such as heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
  • There’s no planning, shopping, calorie-counting, portioning, weighing and other complexities that make following a diet much harder. The Nutrisystem diet is very convenient since perfectly portioned and already prepared meals turn up at your door.

Cons 

  • Once the diet ends, it may be tricky to go back to eating “real food” – and to maintain a healthy diet. You won’t be able to rely on meals provided to you anymore, which means spending more time figuring out what you can and cannot eat – which can be a challenge.
  • The cost of subscribing to Nutrisystem meal plans is relatively high, meaning that those who may not want to invest much in the diet may have to choose a different weight loss option.
  • The diet can’t be followed by pregnant women, those with food allergies, kidney disease, or other dietary requirements. While there is an option for vegetarians, there isn’t one for vegans.
  • Since you are following a strict pre-packaged meal diet, eating out is discouraged – so you may have to miss out on social occasions once or twice.

How Do I Sign Up For The Nutrisystem Diet? 

You can sign up for the plan on their official site, www.nutrisystem.com. You can also purchase the plan from Walmart or Costco.

Once you are on the site, you will need to find a plan that suits your lifestyle and desired weight loss goals.

Conclusion 

The Nutrisystem diet offers a convenient way to lose weight. Since the meals are already prepared for you, this takes the complicated aspects of calorie-counting and portioning out of the process.

However, the downside is that, due to the cost of the program, it may not be something everyone can afford. Plus, since it only lasts 28 days, transitioning to eating “real food” and maintaining your weight can be challenging.

If you are looking for a convenient way to shed some pounds over about a month, and you can commit to spending a few hundred dollars, then this may be the ideal option for you. If you have a tighter budget or love to cook, you may need to look at some of our other diet plans.

Kath Ross, PhD
Kath Ross, PhD
Health Editor at DietProbe
Kathryn is a Ph.D Health Editor here at DietProbe. She specializes in diabetes and weight control research and in her spare time she's a professional cat lady and wine connoisseur!
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