Nutrisystem Diet Review

6.6 out of 10

People Who Viewed Nutrisystem Also Viewed Trim Down Club.

In 1972, it was maxi-dresses, Easy Bake Ovens, Watergate, half a dollar for a gallon of gas, and Nutrisystem was born. Then a weight loss counseling service in brick-and-mortar centers in Pennsylvania, it was successful from the start.

But by 2000 Nutrisystem had taken to the Web, using the Internet as well as toll-free phone numbers, even home shopping TV to promote and sell their program. Nutrisystem is also sold in big-box stores, has a mobile app, and recently bought out the South Beach Diet. A publicly traded company, Nutrisystem serves the U. S. and Canada. In 2014, Americans spent about $2.5 billion on weight loss programs. Nutrisystem took 14 percent of that market. [1]

So how popular is Nutrisystem? The other nationally known home-delivery meal plan diet came in at just under 14 percent, so Nutrisystem’s claim to be America’s top home-delivery weight loss system seems accurate; at least in 2014 it was.

NutriSystem’s plan includes users eating up to six nutritional, portion-controlled meals a day. Nutrisystem says it combines the right nutrition mix for each meal, doing all the calorie, carb, protein, and fat counting for you, and delivering those pre-packaged meals to your door. The Nutrisystem cost per day ranges from $10 to $12. [2]

Nutrisystem Claims

Nutrisystem claims you will lose up to 13 pounds and 7 inches “overall in your first month,” guaranteed—although its own study found average loss is 11.6 pounds and 8 inches. [3] And it also notes that, like every weight loss program, results will vary person to person and depend on how well you follow the average 1250-calorie-a-day diet.

Currently, Nutrisystem is promoting its “Lean 13” program (reflecting the 13-pound weight loss claim) that is supposed to kick-start weight loss for the first week you’re on the diet. Dubbed the “Turbo Takeoff,” Nutrisystem says its team of nutrition experts and dietitians design meals with lots of lean protein and fiber, and any carbs are low-glycemic to help keep your blood sugar stabilized. Most of their pre-packaged foods contain no preservatives and all are free of artificial sweeteners or flavors. Nutrisystem believes that consuming several small meals over the course of your day “promotes greater weight loss and maintenance.”

NutriSystem Ingredients/Plan

With Nutrisystem you literally eat every two or three hours—breakfast, snack (fruit or a Nutrisystem snack), lunch, a Nutrisystem-approved snack in the afternoon, dinner and dessert. The three main meals and at least one or more of the snacks are prepared Nutrisystem foods. You can also choose from a vegetarian plan or a diabetes-specific plan.

You can supplement throughout the day with Nutrisystem-approved veggies and fruits (ones neither too starchy or sugary). So, adding fresh “grocery store” foods to the Nutrisystem meals is okay as long as that food is simpatico—in other words, no freshly made cheesecake or just-baked double chocolate chip muffins from the bakery section of your market.

The average cost of Nutrisystem is $280 per month, with three daily cost plan options:

  • the $9.82 Basic plan comes with foods selected for you;
  • the $10.54 Core plan allows you to choose from 100 foods; and
  • the $11.96 Uniquely Yours plan allows users to choose from all Nutrisystem foods—150 of them—plus any of the frozen meals they offer.

The Basic, at $275 a month, is good for first-timers; the Basic plan includes pre-selected, ready-to-go meals including burgers, pasta, and chocolate—customer favorites. Nutrisystem says their plan is “affordable guaranteed weight loss.”

A typical day might include a Nutrisystem granola-like bar for breakfast, one of the brand’s shakes for mid-morning snack, its chicken noodle soup for lunch, a serving of low-fat yogurt with fresh blueberries for mid-afternoon (you’re on your own with this one), a Nutrisystem lasagna for dinner, and one of the brand’s cookies for dessert or nighttime snack. This plan also includes access to the Nutrisystem app, which provides tools, tips, and tracking.

On their Core plan, which costs $295 a month, meals might include pizza, chocolate muffins, and loaded baked potatoes—all their creations and all calorie, carb, fat and portion-controlled. The Core plan allows you to choose your food and have unlimited access to “expert counselors and dieticians.” [4]

And finally the Uniquely Yours, at $335 per month, has a much more varied choice of foods including myriad frozen selections. On this plan users can order Spinach Stuffed Shells and Red Velvet Whoopie Pies. The Uniquely Yours plan also has the app feature and access to expert support.

Nutrisystem guarantees results, but the money-back guarantee is tricky: It must be a new or first-time 4-week order, with all foods sent back within the first 14 days, and you cover shipping. [5]

Nutrisystem encourages customers to incorporate at least 30 minutes of exercise daily.

All Nutrisystem meals are created to count your calories, carbs, and fats in a well-balanced, nutritious meal—albeit some say not always the tastiest. So we’re talking lean protein, high-fiber, low-glycemic with majority preservative-free and all without artificial sweeteners, colors or flavors.

According to WebMD, a typical Nutrisystem meal is half “smart” carbs—ones that don’t raise blood sugar—with the other half equal parts protein and good fats. Nutrisystem also limits sodium (salt) to about 2,000 milligrams a day. [6]

For example, Nutrisystem compares its blueberry muffin against a very popular doughnut chain’s reduced-fat blueberry muffin: [7]

NutrisystemDoughnut Chain
Calories170410
Fat (grams)310
Carbs (grams)2975
Fiber (grams)62
Sugar (grams)940

 

Sounds healthy, but taste-wise? Hmm.

The Science (or Lack Thereof) Behind Nutrisystem

A Nutrisystem-sponsored study, conducted by an independent contract research organization, claims the average loss is 11.6 pounds and 8 inches. [3]

Let’s see what actual independent research—not funded by Nutrisystem or similar weight-loss industry-related programs—has to say about that claim and also, about the science behind the Nutrisystem way of eating: frequent, small meals daily.

First though, about sustainability. While healthy portion-controlled meals combined with exercise is the secret sauce for weight loss, with Nutrisystem doing the work for you, once you’re off the program, can you sustain that? Annals of Internal Medicine says Nutrisystem “show(s) promising weight loss results; however, additional studies evaluating long-term outcomes are needed.” [1]

The New England Journal of Medicine concluded in 2013 that a portion-controlled and calorie-restricted diet is pretty tried and true. And while it does not comment specifically on Nutrisystem, the point is made. [8]

The American Journal of Hypertension in a 2013 study reported that participants, postmenopausal women, lost more than 10 pounds in three months. It is not until you reach the very end of the voluminous study that you learn that one of the researchers actually works for Nutrisystem and the company helped fund the study. [9]

In fact, it’s nearly impossible to locate a completely independent study specific to Nutrisystem.

Word on the Street About Nutrisystem

So about those Nutrisystem reviews? Given the program is sold by Nutrisystem directly (though their five-day plan was sold on WalMart, which we’ll get to), I chose reviews from sources news and medical information sites.

U.S. News & World Reports “Best Diets of 2017” has Nutrisystem ranked 16th, or “in the middle of the pack.” The Nutrisystem review rin “Best Overall Ditsates it a 3.3 on a scale of 5. The biggest problem with the diet, according to the best diets list, is it scores too low on long-term weight loss—it’s rated a weak 2.6. Though U.S. News & World Report does say you’ll “probably” lose weight. [10]

Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD in early 2017 for WebMD, the conclusion was simple: it’s an easy, time-saving diet in that the meals are made for you and delivered to your door. So convenience. But, as Mikstas points out, it’s costly and limiting if you like eating out. “The real question is whether you can continue to lose weight or maintain your weight when you are no longer relying on the prepackaged foods.” [6]

The WalMart Nutrisystem product line is huge. The highest-rated is Nutrisystem Members’ Favorites 5-Day Diet Kit. Of more than 100 reviews, this particular Nutrisystem meal kit earned 4.6 out of 5 stars. More than 70 reviewers gave it five stars.

Reviewer “Angela” said she decided to order one kit, check it out and if it worked, she’d sign up on the Nutrisystem website. “I ended up losing 11.1 pounds in the first month using various boxes purchased at Walmart and without excercise.[sic] I just signed up for nutrisystem on their website a little over a week ago and received my first month of food a few days later. Good luck if you decide to try this. So far it has worked for me!” [11]

But reviewer “Iowan,” said it’s “totally wrong,” and complained,

Most of the meals are grain based. Many are wraps that are thick, tough, and tasteless. I opened them and scraped out a spoonful of filling. There is not nearly enough protein or healthy fat and way to [sic] much carbohydrates. They are convenient. However to make this plan work you still have to provide most of the food yourself. [11]

The Bottom Line: Is Nutrisystem Worth a Try?

Depends. Can you afford it to try it? Does the idea of having the work done for you sound appealing? My feeling is if you have the disposable income, either live alone or don’t have to feed a brood, and are okay with not eating out often, go for it. It’s pretty likely you’ll lose some weight, but will it come back when the FedEx person stops ringing the bell?

  • loyalduckfan4ever

    Buyers beware! It is almost impossible to cancel once you receive your first order. Their customer service is terrible and now they say we have to pay for month 2 food even though we don’t want it plus we have to pay back the $125 discount they gave us on first order for canceling the plan. This company is a rip off, the only reason a person loses weight is they are starved. They want you to sign up for life and eat their cardboard food forever. Do yourself a favor and never sign up!

  • Lou Davis

    We were going to try this for a month but then realized we would be locked into 2 months.
    Costumer Service was terrible, so I am glad we canceled the entire plan. We are doing 1200 cal where I make our food and count the calories. High Protein Low Carb and plenty of water. Nutrisystem is so high in sodium and way too expensive.

  • Barbara Brown

    I decided to try this because I wanted to lose a quick 10 pounds before my cruise.I got gift cards from Costco for almost half the price so it was less expensive. I did stick to it even though the food was bland and they almost starve you the first week (don’t understand that). I lost almost 10 pounds. I knew I wouldn’t go a second month but to get their deal up front I couldn’t cancel right away. I did make sure I could switch to maintenance plan after first month and then cancel. I would not recommend this diet. I learned more from Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig. Weight Watchers teaches you how to eat. Jenny Craig has slightly better food and gives you menus and a personal consultant. Nutrisystem just dumps all this food on you and you have to figure out what to eat when. I still went out to dinner and lunch once a week and thanks to WW I knew how to order so I didn’t blow the Nutrisystem diet.

  • becky jefferson

    I am into day two of Nutrisystem and I am looking at it at a 270 dollar mistake. Too expensive to send back so I am donating the food to the local food bank although I cant conceive of anyone being hungry enough to eat it. I was eating Lean Cuisine for 2 weeks and doing pretty well and then I thought I would try Nutrisystem. Very bad decision. My dog will not eat any of it and he eats anything. They brag about eating pizza. Their idea of a pizza is a piece of flat bread the size of a large cookie with a couple of tbsp. of sauce and a little mozzarella. The reason you lose weight eating it is because it takes roughly half an hour to chew it. The rest of their stuff is on the same par. I tried 3 different times to cancel my next order but you cannot understand the recording at customer service and they will not allow you to cancel on line. These people are nothing but scam artists dressed as diet experts. Please do not buy into their scam.

  • Lara Mitchell

    The worst customer service ever. I sat on the phone the rep taking my initial order for an hour. Together we picked the food as I am a vegetarian. I also told him I don’t ever eat bars or muffins.I get the much anticipated package and lo and behold, I have 3 muffins, four lunch bars, four breakfast bars, I get ham and beans, chili with beef and several chicken dishes. I am missing 7 breakfasts, 24 lunches, 17 snacks and 11 dinners to have a complete month worth of food. I call and call and nobody can send me substitutes. Customer Service refers me to Nutrition; Nutrition says only Customer Service can fulfill such a large portion of missing items, and thus goes the ping pong game. I finally ask to cancel everything and the email me a label. But at the same time they tell me that will charge $150 cancellation fee. Wow. That’s the first time they tell me that.

  • Shawn

    Lost 12 lbs in first week on the program. There are many ways to save money while on nutrisystem such as buying gift cards through Costco at 20% off to pay for your orders, doing the auto-ship, and I can get you $30 off your first order by sending me an email to [email protected] and I will get you a code to start off your journey.

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