Nutrisystem Pros and Cons

Check Nutrisystem food reviews and diet cost to see if it's right for you

Nutrisystem Food Review
Lasagna with Meat Sauce. Nutrisystem

Are you thinking about joining a diet program? If so, Nutrisystem will probably be one of the weight loss programs you'll consider. But before you invest, you should fully evaluate Nutrisystem pros and cons. Check the cost of the program, diet reviews and available foods to see if you're likely to stay on the program. Then compare Nutrisystem to other diets, like Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers to make a final decision about which program is right for you.

How Nutrisystem Works

Nutrisystem provides several programs for different types of dieters and different budgets. There are separate programs for men and women, as well as options for vegetarians and people who have type 2 diabetes.

Within each plan you can choose your own meals or you can choose the Favorites Pack where meals are selected for you. Nutrisystem recommends that you start with the Favorites Pack. Most plans start with the Turbo10 plan to help you lose 10 pounds plus five inches in the first month.

Each plan provides a different level of service.

  • Basic: Start the first month with the Turbo10 plan, then receive portion-controlled meals as well as access to online tools and trackers.
  • Core: Start the first month with the Turbo10 plan, then receive portion-controlled meals, access to online tools, trackers and diet counselors on call.
  • Uniquely Yours: Start the first month with the Turbo10 plan, then receive portion-controlled meals including Nutrisystem's new premium frozen cuisine. You also get access to online tools, trackers and diet counselors on call.

    Each of these plans is also available for dieters with type 2 diabetes, but the Turbo10 plan  is not included in those programs. 

    After you choose and subscribe to a Nutrisystem program, food is delivered to your door. If you sign up for auto-delivery, you'll continue to pay for and receive orders every four weeks until you cancel your subscription.

    Nutrisystem Calories Per Day

    While on Nutrisystem, your calorie count will change throughout the program. Nutrisystem dietitian Courtney McCormick MPH, RDN, LDN explains how it works. "When you're on the Turbo10 plan the program is set up to help you lose up to 10 pounds in the first month of dieting. During the program, dieters consume 1000 calories per day for the first week to help them jumpstart their weight loss. You may see  greater weight loss results during this first week." Research has shown that early weight loss can help you to stick to a weight loss program over the long-term

    But she says that the low calorie count is limited to the first seven days. After the first week, men consume 1,500 calories per day and women consume 1,200 calories per day. McCormick says this helps promote slow and steady weight loss for the rest of the program.

    The Nutrisystem diet is a lower-glycemic program. The diet is set up to provide approximately 50% of the calories from carbohydrates, 25% of the calories from protein, and 25% of the calories from fat.

     The diet provides less than 2300 milligrams of sodium per day unless you add your own salt.”

    Nutrisystem Costs

    The cost of Nutrisystem depends on which plan you choose. Plans for men are more expensive, but also include more food.  If you if you choose the Favorites Pack (instead of customizing your own meals) and if you sign up for auto-delivery, you'll pay less. 

    Nutrisystem costs for each plan with auto-delivery and without customized foods are:

    • Basic: $9.82 per day or $274.99 per month*
    • Core: 10.54 per day or 294.99 per month*
    • Uniquely Yours: 11.96 per day or 334.99 per month*

    These prices include the Turbo10 starter kit and most meals for the month. Women are provided with 4 meals per day and men are sent 5 meals per day. But you will need to provide or buy your own snacks which can be purchased through Nutrisystem for an additional fee. And the prices listed do not include the cost of additional groceries that you'll need to supplement your diet. 

    So how much should you budget for groceries? You will also eat one lunch and one dinner on your own each week . And dieters are encouraged to add fresh vegetables and other healthy extras to your meals to boost nutrition. Nutrisystem provides a handy shopping list to help you find the best foods at the grocery store.

    Your Personalized Nutrisystem Cost

    To figure out your own Nutrisystem cost, you should figure out how long you'll need to be on Nutrisystem to reach your goal weight. Then calculate the total cost of the plan.

    For example, if you need to lose 30 pounds and you lose 1-2 pounds per week, you'll need to be on Nutrisystem for about 15 weeks or 3-4 months.  If you choose the popular Core plan, you'd figure out your total Nutrisystem cost by first calculating your cost per month.

    • Nutrisystem meals: 294.99 per month
    • 4 flex lunches: $40.00 (estimated)
    • 4 flex dinners: $40.00 (estimated)
    • 1 box of Nutrisystem Shakes: $59.99
    • Additional snacks: $150 (estimated at $5/day)
    • Total monthly cost = $539.98  

    So if you wanted to lose 30 pounds, your total cost to lose weight on Nutrisystem would be roughly $1619.94 - $2,159.92 depending on whether it takes you three months or four months to lose the weight. You can compare this number to your regular food cost to see how much more you'll pay to be on the diet.

    Of course, your total cost might be slightly different depending on the plan that you choose and your flex food options. But you can use this same method to calculate your final price.

    Nutrisystem Food Review

    Most dieters want to know more about Nutrisystem food quality before they invest. Does Nutrisystem food taste good? I have tried many of the foods that the program has to offer and I think that they do. But some foods taste better than others.

    The best tasting Nutrisystem entrees are the fresh-frozen meals. These entrees are only available on the Uniquely Yours plan - which is also the most expensive. However, Nutrisystem's shelf stable foods weren't bad either. In fact, I liked most of them and they were convenient to carry and reheat.

    My only issue with Nutrisystem food is that it is heavily processed. And while the entrees and snacks do help dieters to learn portion control, they don't necessarily promote healthy food choices. For example, if a dieter gets used to eating Nutrisystem cinnamon buns or hamburgers every day, continuing those food choices after the diet is complete may cause weight regain. 

    However, McCormick explains that "Nutrisystem offers transition programs for customers that reach their weight loss goal but need some additional support transitioning from Nutrisystem foods to “real-world” foods." 

    Nutrisystem Support

    All Nutrisystem plans include support services including online tracking and nicely designed meal plans and guides for eating in restaurants. Dieters who choose the Nutrisystem Core, Uniquely Yours (including Diabetes Plans) or Vegetarian Plans also have access to on-call counselors.

    Most Nutrisystem counselors have backgrounds in a weight-loss related field, says McCormick. "Being an RD (registered dietitian) is not required to be a weight loss counselor. However, our counselors are required to have a Bachelor’s Degree and almost all have backgrounds in Nutrition & Dietetics, Health Sciences, Psychology or other related fields. We also have additional staff members that are RDs available to support those who need assistance."

    Dieters who want counseling will need to contact the service via phone, email or online chat to take advantage of the service. Counselors can answer questions about meal plans, weight loss or nutrition and can also provide motivation and support. Once you've reached out to a counselor, communication may become a two-way street. Your counselor may check in with you to monitor your weight loss progress.

    Jenny Craig vs. Nutrisystem

    Dieters often find themselves choosing between the popular Jenny Craig program and Nutrisystem. Both programs provide low calorie, low glycemic foods to encourage weight loss. I've tried both programs and can offer some basic comparisons to help you decide which one is best for you.

    • Food: The food on both programs is good. I preferred Jenny Craig food over Nutrisystem, but Jenny Craig meal entrees are all frozen. This may be a problem for some dieters. Nutrisystem provides meals that are both shelf-stable and frozen. So while I thought Jenny Craig food tasted (slightly) better, it was less convenient than Nutrisystem. 
       
    • Cost: The total cost of Jenny Craig is higher than the cost of Nutrisystem. But both programs require a fairly sizable financial commitment.
       
    • Support: Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem online and printed resources are comparable. But Jenny Craig offers more support services to dieters. Jenny Craig has weight loss centers where dieters connect in person. And dieters who choose not to go to a center are paired with a counselor who follows up with them on a regular basis. At Nutrisystem, counselors are not available at all levels of the program, no personal (face-to-face) support services are available and dieters need to ask for help if they need it. 

    There is no diet that is right for everyone. Different programs work for different dieters. According to McCormick, "Nutrisystem is ideal for the dieter that is looking for convenience – someone who doesn’t want to have to think or worry about counting calories, carbs or other nutrients in order to see results." If convenience and simplicity are important for you, Nutrisystem might be the best diet to help you reach your goal weight.

    *prices current on date of publication

    Disclosure: The company provided free access to this service for review purposes.

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