Most weight loss programs and dietary supplements on the market today take their share of negative press, negative reviews, and scientific scrutiny. As they should—we’re talking about people’s health. But one really set itself apart.
Background on NutriMost
“Deceptive” and “fraudulent” is how the federal government referred to the weight loss program NutriMost in US District Court in April of 2017. Founded in 1972 by chiropractor and “pastoral medicine doctor” Ray Wisniewski, NutriMost guaranteed users would “lose 20-45+ pounds in just 40 days.” It charged users nearly $1,900 for the program and only afterward revealed it was, in fact, a severely restricted 500-calorie-a-day diet.    
NOTE: “Pastoral medicine” is a thing, “Bible-based” health care that alternative medicine practitioners (or anybody else, apparently) can get certified in. All it takes is a little cash and a promise to adhere to the beliefs of the Pastoral Medical Association out of Texas (which they can’t even post on a website; you have to be contacted by their representatives). Seriously. No specialized graduate degree like you need for an R.N. or M.D.—pay out, and you, too, can be a D.PSc. 
PMA licensed providers come from all fields of health care, counseling and ministry. They all have one thing in common. They are spiritually oriented, and they believe that ecclesiastical based-health and wellness concepts and services should be restored and offered for the good of all people! 
The whole FAQ section is well worth looking over. But back to Nutrimost.
Additionally, NutriMost threatened to fine users nearly $36,000 if they shared negative reviews about the program. Wisniewski and his NutriMost company settled the case with the Federal Trade Commission on 21 April 2017, by agreeing to cease making false claims and refund bilked customers $2 million—the original judgment was $32 million which the court suspended “based on defendant’s’ financial condition after they pay $2 million for consumer refunds.” Apparently NutriMost was able to demonstrate it would suffer financial hardship after refunding customers. It’s unclear when or if those refunds have been made or are under way. 
In the federal case against NutriMost, the FTC said NutriMost’s claim— that with its breakthrough technology and personalized supplements, people would permanently lose 20 to 40+ pounds in 40 days without significantly cutting calories—was deceptive and not supported by scientific evidence.  
The court ordered that NutriMost stop “making the deceptive claims alleged in the complaint, as well as providing others, including franchisees, with the means of deceiving consumers. The defendants also will pay $2 million to provide refunds to consumers defrauded by buying the system directly from the defendants, not from franchisees.” 
Wisniewski says his company is complying with the FTC and won’t use those claims going forward.
It is unclear how or why some franchisees are still making the claims prohibited in the FTC case, like the Sarasota, Florida-based NutriMost franchise.  Wisniewski says the Sarasota location is no longer an official franchise, but the website features the program. We’ll go back to Sarasota shortly.
The Timeline for NutriMost
Beginning in 2012, Wisniewski and his NutriMost and NutriMost Doctors, LLCs, sold the program in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania locations, and then through franchisees and licensees nationwide. Wisniewski and franchisees heavily marketed NutriMost on radio, in newspapers and on social media, claiming that for $1895.00:
- “NutriMost System does not involve a restrictive diet, causes permanent weight loss, and helps users burn between 2,000 and 7,000 calories of fat per day.”
- “Turn OFF fat storage and Turn ON fat burning,”
- its technology accessed “nearly every factor of fat burning, fat storage and metabolism using a scan to address the ‘body’s top organ stressors, as well as find the best products to balance those . . . stressors.’” 
The technology referenced is called ZYTO (which apparently isn’t an acronym, despite the allcaps: I couldn’t find a translation anywhere). According to an article by Stephen Barrett, M.D., creator of Quackwatch.org, “ZYTO Scanning: Another Test to Avoid,” Wisniewski pitched the body scan to chiropractors around the country. It was claimed the scan device would “assess the functioning of their body and to suggest products that can improve it.” Products and supplements from a library of companies that hawk weight loss products. After voluminous and well-sourced research, Barrett concluded “ZYTO scans have no proven practical value and could cause large amounts of time and money to be wasted by people who believe the speculations.” Those scans were the “technology” part of the NutriMost pitch.  
Wisniewski says NutriMost no longer uses ZYTO.
NutriMost featured (and still does feature) testimonials, supposedly by customers who had lost astonishing amounts of weight. Problem is, they were in many cases fake and, as the FTC alleged, “endorsers had material connections to the defendants or their franchisees.” In other words, the before-and-after testimonials, pictures, and videos were made by NutriMost owners, franchisees and/or their friends and families, not real customers.    
And, the FTC charged, NutriMost customers were required to sign a contract agreeing not to make any negative statements or comments about the NutriMost System: “If consumers violated this requirement, they would have to pay the defendants $35,999.” The court ordered this practice prohibited.
And, Wisniewski violated the FTC Act by providing licensees and franchisees with “misleading and deceptive marketing materials, as well as the form contract containing the gag clause prohibiting negative reviews.”  Wisniewski disagrees with the FTC assessment, but says he is complying with the law. He says the NutriMost disparagement clause was temporary: “We had it only for a little while.”
Bottom line? NutriMost agreed in its settlement to stop making fraudulent weight loss claims without “competent and reliable scientific evidence,” and must tell customers it’s a severely restricted diet, and add that a diet of less than 800 calories a day should be monitored by a medical doctor “to minimize the potential for health risks.” 
So, how does one review NutriMost? What does NutriMost claim now? Has it changed its tune? Paid its ripped-off customers? What about the franchisees? Are they still touting the 40 pounds in 40 days? (As I type this I have to wonder: with Wisniewski as a “pastoral medicine doctor” who supposedly uses Biblical principles in his practice, is 40 pounds in 40 days significant? Hmmm.) 
How Much Does NutriMost Cost?
NutriMost costs about $2,000.
The website makes it very difficult to see how much this program will cost you, but after reading through a few reviews (which you will see below) it is clear that this lack of transparency is not by accident.
Reviews of Nutrimost are not easy to locate, and most since 2016 are located on one or two consumer websites, including Pissedconsumer.com.
A review posted the day following the April 21 settlement by NutriMost in the FTC case, by Nutrimost user “Dianna Freels,” claims she and her husband paid more than $5,000 in total, and not only didn’t lose the weight guaranteed, but were unable to speak with Wisniewski about their concerns: “You couldn’t reach him anyway. His phone number was a joke. His web site was, too. Sorry i was the sucker and a costly experience.” 
A commenter on Dianna’s review post said, as a “nurse midwife” that despite her own “extensive medical knowledge” she was desperate to lose weight and started NutriMost, but soon found the extreme calorie restriction unhealthy, claimed her hair began to fall out, and she was “tired all the time.” Upset, as she identified in the post, she “fought for a full refund” and received it: “Dr Ray. has an interesting past and I was fully willing to share his values. It sickens me to see people praying on the vulnerable and this is all this program is doing.” 
To be fair and balanced, despite the complaints and settled federal case, there are reviews—not posted on NutriMost websites—which profess the program as miraculous, and that those complaining about ill health or not losing weight are just not following the program properly.
“Anonymous” posted at PissedConsumer.com on 7 May 2017:
It’s working for me…I’m sorry, but there is no way you couldn’t have lost more weight if you stuck to it. I’m on the system now, I was 260lb and my goal weight is 200.
As of day 30 I am 231 lbs and I did have a few cheat days in there. I agree it’s expensive, however it was that expense that kept me from making the bad cheats as well as having a person to see once a week and weight in. I feel if you are committed to losing the weight and need to for health reason than this will work. I have 15 days left and I hoping to make it to 210. 
This reviewer, if valid, is losing a claimed pound per day; it’s widely agreed that 1 to 2 pounds per week of weight loss is considered safe and more likely to be sustained.
What does NutriMost say? On its webpage currently it appears as business as usual—no suggestion of the recent federal settlement, though the 40-pound weight loss guarantee is not there—now it’s “20 pounds guaranteed,” (and in an asterisked disclaimer at the bottom of the page, they specify that’s 20 pounds within ninety days) but reviews and testimonials remain where people claim they have lost 30 to 45 pounds in 40 days.
It’s not clear if these just have not been updated or if they are current or true; there’s no way to know. But Wisniewski says he believes the reviews are compliant with the law per the April settlement, but was not certain.
However, reviewer “Tammy Sandmann” of St. Paul, Minnesota, wrote on the same day as the federal case settlement that “when you try to write a review on the NutriMost site they do not publish it if you don’t favor the product, not a valid review site.” 
Wisniewski says the testimonials on the NutriMost website, as far as he is aware, are in compliance with the FTC settlement.
The website does appear to contain new program information, including a description of NutriMost creator Wisniewski which says:
His passion for helping each person live their MOST healthy life was the foundation for developing the NutriMost program. His appreciation for each person’s unique wellness challenges led to the development of a truly customized plan that provides personalized supplementation and menus, professional supervision, an interactive guidance mobile app and much more.
Dr. Ray has been credited time and again for transforming lives. Many clients have stated that NutriMost Wellness and Weight Loss is the first program that enabled them to successfully achieve their goals. 
So maybe this is what’s new: an application called NutriMost Intelligence, which gathers customers’ personal medical information and then devises a “personalized” diet plan. 
Wisniewski says the site has been updated, as has the program, and sang its praises.
This is directly from the site:
NutriMost Intelligence is the foundation of the NutriMost Weight Loss Program and the NutriMost Forever Program. Utilizing NutriMost Intelligence, healthcare practitioners are able to determine a personalized blueprint for your weight loss. NutriMost Intelligence takes your health history, known medical conditions, and any other current symptoms, then analyzes that information to generate a comprehensive NutriMost Protocol designed to achieve wellness and/or weight loss. 
And, in this “nutrition report,” a list of “ideal, preferred, and cautionary foods.” And here is where it teeters on possibly a violation of what the FTC settlement outlined in April: offering a list of supplements clients should take, the so-called “NutriMost Protocol.”
Additionally, there’s the NutriMost Integrated Virtual Assistant (NIVA) which sends clients text messages to track “daily progress updates twenty-four hours a day; NIVA interprets daily weights, answers questions and proactively guides you through the program,” it says. There are also “weekly face-to-face meetings with a NutriMost healthcare practitioner or wellness coach,” according to the site. And, through social media, customers can get “motivation and support.”  
Actual product reviews from customers are hard to come by for NutriMost, perhaps because of the prior threat (and $36,000 fine) to users not to be critical. There are a few positive reviews found, but the majority on PissedConsumer.com are scathing, with a plethora of unhappy, angry even, customers to family members of NutriMost clients. One, about an 87-year-old woman convinced to purchase a two-year plan, is excruciating. Another, from a Columbus, OH NutriMost client said it was nothing more than a “starvation diet.” There are also a number of critical blogs.   
And the Better Business Bureau website has a caution on its page devoted to NutriMost—which is not BBB accredited but still seems to have an A (6/8 positive reviews) rating along with a great big “Government Action” announcement right at the top of the profile—but there are several glowing reviews on the BBB site that praise the program and even one that proclaims Wisniewski a “genius.” 
Franchisees have not escaped the negative reviews. In the case of a Minneapolis franchisee owner, Robert J. Shelton, a former chiropractor with a disciplinary history who surrendered his license and then began identifying as pastoral medicine doctor like Wisniewski, has been called out by a number of reviewers, including one that calls “NutriMost Wellness & Weight Loss and Dr. Shelton’s Weight Loss in Minneapolis a scam run by a scam artists.” 
Despite the federal case ruling, Shelton’s NutriMost website still claims “Drop 20-40 Pounds in Just 40 Days with NutriMost.”  It is unclear whether Shelton is still a franchisee.
Finally, about Sarasota. Chiropractor Sean Stringer’s NutriMost center is the subject of a cautionary review that has received more than 3,000 views and garnered numerous comments.
A reviewer from Bradenton, Florida, described the ZYTO scan process to “determine which nutrients were lacking” in her body and was then told to take a number of supplements and begin a 500-calorie-a-day diet.
After a week on the NutriMost diet, she became ill, stopped the diet ,and went to Stringer. “I expressed my concerns to a staff member—none of which are medical doctors—at that point, he told me that my body had an autoimmune disease and expressed it even more crucial that I resume the supplements and diet plan.”
She soon was feeling worse and again stopped the diet.
“I wanted to speak to someone with regard to financial compensation due to the fact that the NutriMost diet plan is obviously not for every individual. No one from Dr. Stringer’s NutriMost organization called me back. They dodged phone calls and text messages for weeks.”
She did not get a refund, and called NutriMost “a scam organization created by people who are not medical doctors. I encourage all your readers to research this diet franchise before paying $3500. It was a very expensive lesson for me.” 
But Stringer says on his website:
I personally tested the program to determine it’s effectiveness. I lost 37.9 pounds in 40 days [with a disclaimer: results not typical] on the NutriMost System and when I did I knew this was something I had to bring to my patients to help them gain an advantage in their weight loss struggles. 
Wisniewski was adamant that Stringer is no longer a franchisee and should not be featuring NutriMost whatsoever.
The Bottom Line
Is Nutrimost worth a try?
Run Away Now.Ultra-low-calorie diets should only ever be started and maintained under the strict supervision of a medical doctor—one with an actual medical degree. And given the supremely sketchy nature of Nutrimost’s reputation, I would highly, highly recommend running in the other direction.
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*Individual results will vary.
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