Unlike other weight-loss plans, Nutrisystem goes beyond the standard three meals a day, encouraging customers to enjoy a healthy snack in between meals and eat smaller portions more frequently. The flexible plans mean consumers can add in ingredients or even enjoy a glass of wine and a meal out, without feeling like they’re cheating. This flexibility makes the Nutrisystem plans both easier to fit into your lifestyle and easier to stick to.
Nutrisystem delivers a selection of fresh and frozen meals throughout the continental US at no extra cost, while giving customers the benefit of handy weight-loss tips and logging facilities via its mobile app. Although it has no combined exercise plan available, Nutrisystem’s NuMi app does allow some level of food logging and fitness tracking.
While some online diet plans offer everything from a meal delivery service to a personal fitness plan, Nutrisystem focuses purely on the dining aspect of a weight-loss plan, making it quicker and easier to get started.
Once you’ve decided which plan best suits your needs, signing up for Nutrisystem requires just a couple of minutes, although you will be inundated with pop-up adverts for added extras as you go through the subscription process which is a little irritating. Those optional extras include probiotic shakes and a daily multivitamin, although further investigation revealed you can even order a DNA health test via Nutrisystem if you want a more scientific approach to weight loss.
Nutrisystem doesn’t just offer ongoing meal plans but also has specifically designed four-week diet plans available. Depending on the plan of choice, customers select a combination of meals and snacks every month which are then delivered to their door on a specified date.
Unlike other diet plans, however, this isn’t a complete meal plan and customers are advised to add in additional components. During the first week, it’s recommended you add in only vegetables and zero-calorie beverages, after which you can begin adding in PowerFuels, like lean meats and nuts, and SmartCarbs, like bread and fruit.
It may sound complicated but it’s really straightforward, especially with Nutrisystem’s online tracking tool, NuMi. With the NuMi app, you can record each meal, log your day’s exercises and keep track of your weight loss progress.
There are a couple of aspects of Nutrisystem’s service that make it more challenging than other diet plans, the first of which is the additional groceries you’re expected to add into your daily eating regime. It’s all well and good popping to the shop for some broccoli but leaving without any ice cream is more of a challenge, although if you opt for the Uniquely Yours Plus premium diet plan, there’s healthy ice cream included! Nevertheless, diet plans that enable you to avoid tempting aisles of a supermarket altogether are definitely easier, especially if your willpower needs a bit of work.
The other challenge is that, while colorful and inviting, the Nutrisystem website isn’t the easiest to navigate, although if you stumble around for long enough, you’ll find some useful tips about exercise as well as dieting.
Nutrisystem gives each customer detailed information about what can be added to their diet, in addition to the contents of their weekly box, meaning that you don’t have to count calories or come up with nutritious meal plans each week. The NuMi mobile app is a great feature that puts you in control of your diet plan and gives you expert advice on eating out as well as regular challenges designed to help you meet your weight-loss goals.
Ease of Use
While there is a lot of flexibility in the Nutrisystem diet plans, the first week of your weight-loss experience may be quite challenging and feel rather restricted. Although you eat six times a day with Nutrisystem, doing away with a calorie-heavy cool drink on a hot summer’s day, or exchanging a packet of nachos for a bowl of Nutrisystem popcorn may not be particularly gratifying. Once you’ve made it through the first seven days, however, so you’re rewarded with more flexibility and freedom.
During the first week of your Nutrisystem meal plan, you’ll eat primarily off the Nutrisystem menu, adding only water and vegetables. Although more rigid than later weeks, it’s still fairly easy to stick to, with a range of mouthwatering snacks and easy to prepare meals.
Choose from the chef’s choice or select your own meals which is more fun. If you’re selecting your own meals, you can use various filters to specify the kind of dishes you’re looking for. For example, you can eliminate unwanted ingredients, like milk or nuts, or opt for fresh as opposed to frozen meals.
Although the menu doesn’t change weekly, it does include enough different options to keep you on the straight and narrow for the full four-week plan and beyond. Having said that, the lunch menu is on the repetitive side with seemingly endless melts interposed with a few soups and pasta dishes. On the other hand, the breakfast menu is surprisingly varied, incorporating sweet and savory as well as handy on-the-go breakfast bars.
With Nutrisystem, as with Weight Watchers, after the initial introduction period, you can choose to cook a couple of evenings a week or even go out for a meal. This makes the Nutrisystem diet plan easier to stick to as many people will get a little tired of the heat-and-eat regime after a while. Nutrisystem has an extensive recipe section that you can browse through to get ideas for healthy meals you can prepare yourself.
Nutrisystem is a useful way of getting to grips with the basics of healthy eating before spreading your wings and embracing home-cooked and eating out options as well as pre-prepared and pre-portioned Nutrisystem meals. Flex meals allow you to add variety to your week while Nutrisystem’s clear guidelines on PowerFuels, SmartCarbs and other Extras mean you can incorporate added extras and one or two treats that you simply can’t live without.
They say variety is the spice of life, and it certainly makes sticking to a diet plan a lot easier, which is one of the reasons why Nutrisystem’s plans are so successful. After all, why suffer through three servings of cabbage soup a day when you could be eating cinnamon rolls, cheddar melts, and pizza instead?
Although Nutrisystem only has five meal plans available, four are available in three different formats, increasing their total number of options to 14, which is more than many similar diet plans. Each plan is adaptable so you can opt for the women’s menu, the men’s, or one designed specifically for those at risk of diabetes.
The basic plan is the most affordable but doesn’t offer the same level of variety as the more expensive plans but will nevertheless give women four meals a day and men five with Flex meal options available. You can choose to select your own meals or simply go with the chef’s choice selection if you’re not sure which meals will be most suitable. On the basic plan, Nutrisystem customers select 15 dishes for each meal. The menu includes 19 different breakfast options, 20 lunch options, and 26 dinner options, giving you a moderate range of choice.
Those opting for the Uniquely Yours Plus meal plan get a lot more variety, with 30 different breakfast to choose from, including a variety of frozen dishes including omelets, bagels, savory rolls, and muffins. On this premium plan, you’ll also get the added benefit of 35 different lunch options and 48 dinners.
The vegetarian plan is a rather odd thing with an impressive array of breakfast options but comparatively limited choices for both lunch and dinner. With just 15 lunch options and 13 different dinner dishes, the vegetarian plan could become repetitive very quickly and doesn’t represent the same value for money as Nutrisystem’s other plans.
Similarly, while diabetic and vegetarian options are available, Nutrisystem doesn’t cater for those wanting to embrace a keto diet or paleo eating plan. The plans Nutrisystem does have available are great for those who are new to dieting and want to get a head start while learning more about creating healthy meals from scratch.
Nutrisystem is purely a diet plan and doesn’t offer an exercise regime as part of its service, nor any exercise-related coaching. That’s not to say it ignores the importance of a good workout, however, nor that it has nothing to say about exercise. In addition to Nutrisystem’s main product website, they have another blog site called The Leaf, which is full of handy tips on weight-loss and how to embrace a healthier lifestyle.
It’s on the Leaf that you’ll find information about exercise as well as articles on how to get more sleep and drink enough water. While this is nowhere near the kind of combined approach offered by other diet and fitness plans, the information provided is useful and instructive, especially for those just starting out on their weight-loss journey.
Fitness and exercise topics on The Leaf include insights on how many calories you burn performing normal daily tasks, like ironing or mowing the lawn; how cardio compares to strength training when it comes to weight loss; and how to keep moving in the cold winter months.
It’s certainly not a fitness plan but, with Nutrisystem’s NuMi app, you can at least track your daily activity and can even add new activities, like vacuuming the house, to the app so you can benefit from more accurate activity logs. Sadly, the fitness side of NuMi is limited and certainly won’t give you the same range of input options or customization as you’d get with a designated fitness tracker. What’s more, the number of calories you burn is null and void as according to NuMi “your recommended activity levels have been built into your target calorie range”. Whatever that means!
As Nutrisystem is only a diet plan and not a combined plan, we’ve not included this section in our overall ratings of the service. What Nutrisystem does offer in the way of fitness advice is better than it could be, but it won’t go anywhere near as far as plans that offer customized fitness plans and personal coaching as well as meal plans.
Nutrisystem has a range of plans that cater for most mid-range budgets. Its basic plan is, inevitably, the most affordable and can be adapted to suit men, women, diabetics, and vegetarians. The basic plan includes four meals for women and five for men, with the women’s plan coming in nearly $1.50 per day cheaper at $10.54, compared to the men’s rate of $11.96.
The basic diabetic plan is the same price, whereas the vegetarian option is more expensive, costing $12.86 per day for women and $14.29 for men. This is surprising as, in general, the grocery items that cost the most in the supermarket are largely meat-based products. Even more surprising is the lack of choice available on the vegetarian menu. With these prices, we would expect to see lots of nuts and seeds incorporated into the meals, but there’s little evidence of that on the Nutrisystem Vegetarian meal plan.
Don’t think you can simply opt-out of a Nutrisystem meal plan either. If you cancel your subscription within four weeks of starting on the program, you’re going to have to shell out around $125 for your early cancellation. There are ways around this but that’s a pretty steep fee for simply wanting to opt-out.
Nutrisystem’s pricing is consistent with other similar plans and the fact that they throw in free delivery gives it an advantage over the competition. There are also more payment methods available than with other schemes which may appeal to those who prefer the comparative security of PayPal over credit card payments.
Overall, Nutrisystem offers good value for money, although the vegetarian plan would benefit either from a lower price or a better menu. The cancellation fee is also a bit excessive, but the free shipping compensates for that… sort of.
Nutrisystem has a nice selection of diet plans available, catering for men, women, vegetarians, and diabetics. While it would be nice to see a keto or paleo plan thrown in for good measure, the calorie-controlled meals plans on offer are great for those who want to eat healthily without investing too much time and effort in the kitchen.
While the routine of heat and eat may get a little repetitive after a while, Nutrisystem’s flexibility means you can introduce home-cooked dinners and even a restaurant meal once in a while to help you stay motivated. Despite that, Nutrisystem doesn’t offer quite the same variety of meals as other similar services and its lunch menus, in particular, are rather monotonous. This could make it difficult for some to remain committed to their chosen plan, especially if you’ve opted for the vegetarian which is notably limited.
Many diet plans and meal delivery services deliver on a weekly basis, but Nutrisystem works on a monthly one so you need to select your meals well in advance and ensure you’ve got sufficient fridge and freezer space to store it all. It also means you could eat all your favorite dishes at the beginning of the month and end up with a week of less appealing menu items at the end.
Nutrisystem meal plans are competitively priced and the free delivery is a welcome bonus, although the cancellation fee soon takes the shine off.
If you’re looking for a way to kick-start a new, healthy and low-calorie eating regime, then Nutrisystem is a great way to get started. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a combined meal and fitness plan that you can maintain for months or even years, this isn’t the best option.