Terry is a nationally registered dietetic technician with a degree in dietetics from Pennsylvania State University. She has written numerous articles, blogs and e-books on health and food-related topics.
The diet promotes a low-glycemic approach to weight loss by emphasizing “good” carbs and the proper combination of nutrient-rich carbs, proteins, and fats. The idea is to encourage a stable blood sugar and avoid overeating due to hunger and food cravings. This approach involves eating meals and snacks every 2-3 hours and is composed of 6 meals a day: Breakfast, Morning Snack, Lunch, Afternoon Snack, Dinner and Dessert. Nutrisystem primarily focuses on delivering prepackaged foods to members every 28 days. There is no need to count calories, carbs, or points. Weight loss is achieved by calorie deprivation; an average meal plan for a woman provides between 1,200 to 1,350 calories a day – an average meal plan for a man provides between 1,400 and 1,500 calories a day. Members can expect to lose 1-2 pounds a week. There are 3 plans to choose from: Basic, Core and Select. Core and Select contain more food options than the Basic plan, which contains all preselected food. For an optional $19.99, Basic plan members can purchase phone access to weight loss counselors. The Fast 5 program for losing 5 pounds in the first week comes with all plans. The Fast 5 consists of specially selected foods, a meal plan, and shakes for the 7 days. This program is only available with the first 28 day order. Plans can be customized based upon an estimation of a participant’s metabolic rate. Approximately 60% of the foods in the Nutrisystem program are supplied by the meal delivery plan. The remainder of the diet requires a weekly trip to the grocery store and is supplemented with “grocery add-ins” categorized by: SmartCarbs (carbohydrates), PowerFuels (proteins), Vegatables and Extras. A sample menu plan is provided and foods and calories are based upon a member’s personal information, goals and/or customized metabolic plan. Nutrisystem D is Nutrisystem’s diet program for diabetics. The diet falls in line with the American Diabetes Association’s diet recommendations and follows the same format, pricing, and options as the non-diabetic plans. Nutrisystem offers both transitional plans and maintenance plans - foods are offered ala carte to support maintenance.
Established over three decades ago, Nutrisystem launched its website in 1991, secured a contract with QVC in 2001, and continues to be a strong presence in the weight loss industry.
The prepackaged foods and menu plan make the program very easy to follow.
No sign-up fee for the program. The auto-delivery option results in a 20% savings - requires a commitment of 2 28 day deliveries; extra charges apply for a cancellation within that time frame. Auto-Delivery Month-to-Month Basic: $259.99 $344.97 Core: $279.99 $424.95 Select: $329.99 $510.52 Limited money-back guarantee (can’t return frozen foods). Read fine print and details when it comes to pricing and refunds.
Foods delivered are ready-to-go or microwaveable. Involves some shopping and cooking.
Some objections to the low-glycemic approach to diet have been voiced; low -GI foods aren’t necessarily healthier foods; potato chips and ice cream have a lower glycemic index than a baked potato. Low- glycemic foods can be just as caloric and high in sugar and saturated fat as any other food. Certain lower GI foods may lead to a stable blood sugar and a decreased risk of certain chronic diseases; however, others can just as easily lead to weight gain and compromised health. Nutrisystem’s menu of buns, rolls, muffins, snack bars, and donuts doesn’t exactly depict a healthy version of the low -glycemic approach. The real debate swirls around how low-GI foods are eaten. While the low-glycemic approach (in conjunction with other healthy guidelines) may be beneficial, applying the idea to individual foods can lead to serious health consequences. This is because the reaction of the body to just one food is not necessarily the concern; it’s more about how much of the food is eaten, how the food is prepared (cooked, processed, etc.), when it’s eaten, what it’s eaten with it, and the dieter’s current state of health.
Benefits: Easy to follow Eat frequently Customized plans Minimizes cooking Vegetarian options Offers familiar foods Appeals to a wide audience Website offers members a wide variety of options Macronutrients fall within reasonable guidelines
Downsides: Mixed reviews on Nutrisystem foods No studies conducted on long-term weight loss Limited research on benefits of program for diabetics Highly processed foods associated with food cravings Cost prohibitive – requires buying Nutrisystem food in addition to grocery items Pricing is set up in order to obtain a commitment for 2 28 day deliveries, otherwise costs increase dramatically. Testimonials are from compensated customers based upon a previous Nutrisystem program. The packaged foods contain a long list of ingredients including tropical oils, soybean oil, additives, preservatives, and isolated soy protein (increases growth factor in the body; connected to proliferation of cancer cells).
The Bottom Line: The bottom line is highly processed foods are not an effective approach to long-term healthy weight loss. And with 60% of Nutrisystems’ food (low GI or not) coming from highly processed foods, this diet receives a low overall rating. With the move in this country towards clean eating, whole foods, and a diet containing less processed foods, Nutrisystem may be falling behind the times.