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Nutrisystem is a weight loss program and food delivery service. It offers several plans, including specialist diabetes and vegetarian menus.

Nutrisystem promotes short-term weight loss, but its long-term effects, including the sustainability of the weight loss, remain unproven.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

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Nutrisystem offers several plans, but the general idea is to eat several smaller meals throughout the day.

The plans vary based on a person’s preferences and budget, but some common features include:

  • 7 days worth of meals
  • breakfast, lunch, dinner, and three snacks throughout the day
  • frozen and fresh meals, shakes, and nutritional guides
  • unlimited support

A person may also find it beneficial to access the Nutrisystem NuMi weight loss app, which is available to those with certain subscription plans.

According to Nutrisystem, eating smaller, balanced meals six times a day can prevent hunger and promote weight loss.

There is little scientific evidence to support this claim. However, some studies have found that following a Nutrisystem plan can help people lose weight. A 2016 study found that people following this plan saw greater reductions in weight, body fat, and body measurements than those following self-directed weight loss plans.

A study from 2017 found similar results. The researchers determined that eating fewer meals throughout the day and having the largest meal in the morning helped prevent long-term weight gain.

Nutrisystem is a 4-week diet program that guides users based on their choices and how many meals they eat per day.

During the first week, the company recommends eating three meals per day, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In addition, a person can have a snack and one of Nutrisystem’s formulated shakes. During the remaining 3 weeks, the advice to users is to eat six meals per day, consisting of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack after every meal.

Nutrisystem provides the meals or suggests low calorie, low sodium choices for people who prefer to avoid the provided meals.

It also has an app, NuMi, that can help guide meal planning.

Types of plans

Nutrisystem offers three types of plans:

Basic

The first phase of the Basic plan aims to shift the body into what the company calls “fat-burning mode.” It starts with 7 days of Nutrisystem meals and protein shakes.

Weeks 2–4 are the “Steady Weight Loss” period. Women receive four Nutrisystem meals five times a week, while men receive the same amount, plus an extra snack. Subscribers can choose the Chef’s Choice option where meals are preselected or choose their own meals from more than 100 options.

People also receive two “Flex” breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks each week. For their Flex Meals, people can make nutritious meals at home or eat out.

The Basic Plan costs $9.99. It includes free shipping when people pay for multiple shipments at once.

Uniquely Yours

This plan has the same frequency and number of meals as the Basic Plan. At $11.79 a day, it is more expensive than the Basic Plan. However, it offers subscribers access to more than 150 meal and snack choices, including frozen foods and pantry foods. Nutrisystem says that Uniquely Yours is its most popular plan.

Uniquely Yours Max+

This plan also has the same structure as the Basic Plan. It costs $13.21 a day and includes new premium meals with 30 grams (g) of protein and more than 160 meal and snack choices.

Partner Plans

With Partner Plans, two people can choose either the Basic, Uniquely Yours, or Uniquely Yours Max+ plans and pursue their weight loss goals together. The per-person costs do not reduce, but Nutrisystem says that the accountability goes up.

People still need to buy some fresh ingredients with all of these plans.

Combination plans are also available to suit multiple people in a household. Those who also want meals for the weekend can order them at an added cost.

There are also some personalized nutrition plans:

  • Vegetarian: This contains no meat products, but it is not suitable for those following a vegan diet.
  • Men’s: This includes meals that the company says are more suited for male bodies, such as high protein options.
  • Nutrition D: This includes meals and snacks that a person eats every 2–3 hours to maintain blood sugar levels, which may suit people with type 2 diabetes. An older study supports the use of dietary programs for people with diabetes.

The company offers the following advice:

Foods to eat

Foods that people should include in their diet are:

Foods to avoid

The company recommends avoiding these foods:

  • battered, buttered, fried, or crispy foods
  • scalloped vegetables
  • full-fat creamy dressings
  • refined carbohydrates
  • butter and liquid oils

A regular day’s meal plan might include:

  • Breakfast: Two scrambled eggs with one slice of whole wheat toast.
  • Snack 1: A Nutrisystem protein and probiotic shake.
  • Lunch: A Nutrisystem tuna salad, 1 cup of sliced tomato, and two medium celery stalks.
  • Snack 2: 2 tablespoons of unsalted cashews and one-quarter of a cup of raisins.
  • Dinner: Nutrisystem chicken alfredo and 1 cup of cooked spinach.
  • Snack 3: Nutrisystem white cheddar popcorn.

Nutrisystem products include a wide range of meal and snack options. Many Nutrisystem meals are ready to eat after reheating. However, some meals require the addition of ingredients, such as wholegrain crackers, a vegetable, or fat-free milk or water.

Meal choices tend to focus on traditional options, such as soups, sandwiches, and fish. Nutrisystem bars and protein and probiotic shakes are also available for purchase. These products can meet the needs of vegetarians but not vegans.

The company website says that Nutrisystem plans meet or exceed the United States Department of Agriculture’s standards for a healthy diet. However, some products may have high levels of sodium that make them unsuitable for some people.

The company states that it is working to lower sodium levels in its products and that it always uses high quality ingredients. However, it is important to note that Nutrisystem products may contain:

Nutrisystem does not offer certified gluten-free products, so it is not suitable for people with gluten allergies.

The NuMi app aims to help people using Nutrisystem plans track their weight loss, activity, and what they eat. It provides people with helpful tips, recipes, and weight loss challenges. NuMi is available for free to people who sign up for Nutrisystem plans.

The daily cost of Nutrisystem varies from $9.99—$13.21 per person per day, depending on which plan people choose.

Nutrisystem also offers a 14-day money-back guarantee, although it is only valid for someone’s first 4-week order.

If someone tries Nutrisystem for up to 2 weeks and does not like the food, they can call the company for a full refund minus the cost of shipping.

Here are some of the potential benefits and downsides of Nutrisystem:

Pro

  • Convenience: Nutrisystem foods come packaged and are easy to prepare. People can spend less time cooking meals, shopping for groceries, or counting calories. The company provides nutritional information for each meal.
  • Encourages exercise: The program tries to motivate subscribers to exercise by providing some guidance.
  • Encourages a balanced diet: Nutrisystem meal plans offer a daily intake of about 1,200–1,500 calories. The company says that its meals are well-balanced and contain ingredients that rank low on the glycemic index, meaning that they have minimal effect on blood sugar levels.

Cons

  • Cost: Nutrisystem can cost $200–$350 per month, and a person still needs to purchase some food, such as some fruits and vegetables.
  • Processed meals: Although the company aims to support weight loss and blood sugar management, most of its options are highly processed. Nutrisystem is also transparent about the fact that many of its products contain genetically modified ingredients.

Some alternatives to Nutrisystem that a person may wish to consider include:

  • JennyCraig: This program includes home-delivered, portion-controlled meals and offers users online, in-person, or telephone consultations. It may be best for people who need support and respond well to direct coaching. It is one of the more expensive options, so it is not a good choice for people with a tight budget.
  • WW: People following this well-established approach to weight loss select their own meal plans, so WW (formerly Weight Watchers) is best for people who have the confidence and time to make their own nutritious meals. WW also offers individualized programs and incorporates activity goals with eating guidelines.
  • Atkins: This diet promotes the weight loss benefits of following a low carb diet. Compared with other weight loss programs that emphasize portion control or other restrictive techniques, the Atkins diet calls for a significant change in eating habits. It is best for people who are prepared to make and maintain major dietary shifts.
  • South Beach: The South Beach diet emphasizes eating whole grain carbohydrates, healthy oils, lean proteins, and fresh fruits and vegetables. It may be best for people who are more concerned with controlling their blood sugar levels than their cholesterol levels.

Each option has different menus and programs. It is important to consider the differences carefully before making a commitment.

Overall, it is a good idea to speak with a doctor or dietitian before making any significant changes to eating habits. These professionals can also help a person decide which dietary program will best suit their needs and goals.

A 2015 review evaluated WW, Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, and other dietary programs. The authors recommended both WW and Jenny Craig for weight loss.

They stated that Nutrisystem showed promise but noted that confirming its long-term effects would require further research.

People looking for a convenient diet plan and meal service geared toward weight loss may find Nutrisystem helpful.

Nutrisystem may support short-term weight loss, but its long-term effects are still unclear.

Overall, it is important to speak with a doctor or dietitian before starting a new dietary program. This is particularly true for anyone with an underlying health issue.