At A Glance
Nutrisystem, through its Nutrisystem Nourish Program, is a portion controlled weight loss plan that gives you the convenience of pre-packaged food.
This diet plan will be good for you if you lead a very busy lifestyle and/or don’t like to think of what you can or should eat as all you have to do is to whip up one of their pre-packaged meals.
The meals try to copy what you’ll normally eat in everyday life, for example, foods like lasagna, pasta, scrambled eggs and chicken noodle soup just to name a few. All these meals can also be kept without refrigeration.
Nutrisystem started out as a chain of weight loss centers, like Weight Watchers & Jenny Craig, but have now shifted their operation to an online system with much success.
Here’s How It Works
The Nutrisystem Nourish Program provides an online analysis to calculate your individual caloric requirements. This is done by asking you your weight, height, age and gender. From all this information, they’ll then work out what your individual meal plan is and deliver the pre-packaged meals directly to you.
Nutrisystem meals are based on the Food Guide Pyramid. This means that all meals try to provide 60% carbohydrates, 20% protein and 20% fat. However, Nutirisystem further emphasizes on “good carbs” over “bad carbs”.
This basically means that they’ll choose carbohydrates that are low on the Glycemic Index or G.I. (for example, whole grain breads and fiber rich vegetables).
The reason for this is because carbohydrates low on the G.I. provide a more steady stream of blood sugar and does not cause a spike in insulin levels – something which may help to prevent hunger and fat storage.
Therefore, “bad carbs” like those found in white bread and sugary drinks and sodas are strictly off limits on this diet.
The good thing about this diet is that you don’t have to count your calories or worry about whether you’re eating the right foods low on the G.I. if you purchase Nutrisystem’s pre-packaged foods.
If you buy the meals from the company, they’ll automatically send you low G.I. meals in the correct portions and in the right nutritional balance.
In general, this means that you’ll get low fat proteins at each meal, 3 daily servings of vegetables, 2 to 3 servings of fruit, 2 to 3 dairy products, 2 to 4 whole grains and 1 to 2 servings of healthy fat.
As mentioned, you’ll have to do an online analysis to calculate your individual requirements and meal plans. However, Nutrisystem goes one step further by categorizing their programs into:
• Women’s Program
• Women’s Over 60 Program
• Men’s Program
• Men’s Over 60 Program
• Type II Diabetic Program
• All-Vegetarian Program
The difference with the “Over 60” program is that a month’s supply of a multivitamin mineral is included with the meal plans.
Nutrisystem works because of one simple formula – the reduction of the amount of calories that you eat as compared to what you need. You’ll lose weight on this diet simply because you’re taking in less calories.
Typical diet plans on Nutrisystem ranges from 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day. There’s also a special 3 day “boost plan” that may help you break out of a dieting plateau… if you so require.
However, this 3 day “boost plan” provides only about 1,000 calories a day and this is definitely a little too low to provide all the necessary nutrients your body needs.
And What Can I Eat?
Nutrisystem’s convenient, pre-packaged meals. These meals try and copy what you’ll normally eat on a daily basis, for example, lasagna, pasta and macaroni & cheese with beef.
All meals are pre-packed, can be kept without refrigeration and contains all the daily nutrients that your body needs. However, you’re also encouraged to enhance the flavors of these meals by adding your own herbs and spices.
You can eat out occasionally but you’ll have to choose meals that are low in fat, low in calories and rank low on the G.I.
Alcohol should be avoided as it contains “empty calories” but other drinks like tea, coffee & diet sodas are all okay.
How About Exercise?
Exercise programs are available whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced user. All plans contains activities like aerobics, resistance/weight training and yoga.
When you’re on the program, you’ll get help in the form of online support and a wealth of informational resources. Support is available 24-7 through a toll-free number, email or through an online chat with other dieters. However, you must know that counselors online are not registered dieticians or health professionals.
What’s The Cost Like?
Costs are pretty high on this program.
Basic membership and access to their online information is free but you’ll need to purchase their pre-packaged meals.
A 28-day meal package costs about $275 and if you prefer to pick and choose from the ala carte menu, it’ll cost even more.
According to Nutrisystem’s website, a week’s worth of breakfast, lunch and dinner will cost you about $50, and this doesn’t include shipping or delivery charges.
Also, the cost of the fruits, veggies and milk that you’ll most probably eat while on this diet is not included as well.
On average, it should cost you about $300 a month to be on the Nutrisystem program.
Comments from users of Nutrisystem can be varied. On one hand, there are customers who commented that they find the food very good and of good value while never feeling hungry, while on the other hand, there are customers who have asked for a refund as they don’t particularly like or enjoy the taste of their pre-packaged meals.
There was also a survey that was done on Nutrisystem users and it found that dieters tend to stay on this diet for an average of 9.5 weeks. This shows that the Nutrisystem plan may be good for you if you want to kick off your weight loss program but you’ll probably not stick with Nutrisystem permanently.
Another independent study conducted with 300 overweight volunteers at 5 different medical centers found that those who ate prepared meals lost 3 times as much weight in a year as compared to those who weren’t following a portion controlled diet.
However, following this diet means you’ll have to rely on the company’s pre-packaged meals. One problem with this is that you may become to reliant on Nutrisystem’s products and once you stop eating their meals, you’ll still not understand or know the correct amount of calories to be taken at every meal.
So what will you do after you go off the diet? Will you know know the correct portions to eat and/or the correct amount of calories you should be eating? Of course this won’t be a serious problem for you if you’re to stick to this eating plan for life.
As mentioned above, people who have tried Nutrisystem usually stay on this diet for an average of 9.5 weeks – either because of the high costs involved or just simply because they got tired of the taste of the pre-packaged meals.
However, if you’re a person who likes a solid structure to follow and enjoy the convenience of not thinking about what to eat, Nutrisystem may just work for you. Some people are just able to stick with a diet better knowing that the correct portions of food are just there in front of them without thinking of what to eat.
If you belong to this category and can stomach eating pre-packaged meals, the Nutrisystem program may just be that weight loss plan to help you kickstart your diet.