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Nutrisystem is a popular weight loss meal delivery program that offers prepackaged, low-calorie meals and snacks for a variety of different dietary needs. Nutrisystem customers often report success losing weight on the program, but how do you know if it’s a good fit for you? In this article, we provide a complete review of the Nutrisystem program, including how Nutrisystem works, the available meal plans, the types of foods you can eat on Nutrisystem, the benefits and drawbacks, the pricing structure, customer reviews and how Nutrisystem stacks up compared to other weight loss programs.
This content is meant to be informative, but should not be taken as medical advice. It is not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention or treatment of health problems. Always speak with your doctor before starting any new supplement or exercise regimen.
Nutrisystem is a popular weight loss diet program created in the 1970s. Like most weight loss plans, the Nutrisystem diet is a low-calorie diet plan that focuses on portion control and creating balanced meals and snacks to help people lose weight. The premise of the Nutrisystem is that eating frequently throughout the day will help balance blood sugar and hunger levels to prevent over-eating while still maintaining a caloric deficit necessary to lose weight. Dieters eat six small meals per day, each providing just a couple hundred calories.
The Nutrisystem diet is primarily a prepackaged, prepared meal delivery service. The foods come either frozen or shelf stable, because they are either fully cooked or already prepared in the box as is, they simply require reheating rather than cooking, making it convenient and time-saving for those looking to lose weight who do not have the time, energy or interest in cooking their own meals using some of the other meal kit delivery services like HelloFresh or Sunbasket.
Unlike some of the other heat and eat prepared meal delivery services like Diet-to-Go, in which dieters can only eat three meals per day and do not get snacks or desserts, Nutrisystem offers diet shakes and diet friendly desserts, sweets and snacks to help people not feel deprived of some of their favorite foods while trying to lose weight. With that said, all of the Nutrisystem foods are low calorie recipes, so a “chocolate brownie“ may not taste like a traditional chocolate brownie, but many dieters who follow this program do enjoy the option of having treats like this in addition to the convenience of having ready-made shakes, snack bars and prepared foods.
The Nutrisystem diet programs operate on a four-week basis. Each program is designed to function as a standalone four-week weight loss program, but you can repeat the plan as many times as you want, making it an ongoing diet plan if you so choose. Each of the different Nutrisystem meal plans suggests that dieters eat six times per day, including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between. Depending on the level of the meal plan you purchase, (Basic, Uniquely Yours or Uniquely Yours Max), you will receive numerous ready to heat-and-eat frozen entrees per day along with diet shakes and snacks that are ready to eat out of the package. The meals are designed by nutritionists to be balanced, providing healthy fats, proteins, fiber and complex carbohydrates. The diabetes plans (Nutrisystem D) are low-carb for those who need to manage blood sugar levels.
The four-week Nutrisystem diet protocol involves eating three meals, one snack and one protein shake during the first week of whichever meal plan you have selected. This protocol is designed to help “prepare” your body for weight loss. The lower caloric intake is supposed to kickstart your metabolism. Then, during weeks two through four, you eat three meals and three snacks per day.
On the Basic plan, and in cases where meals and snacks are not provided by Nutrisystem, the company recommends dieters choose low-calorie, low-fat and low-sodium options that are lean and in line with the type of diet plan you are following with Nutrisystem. There is a free NuMi app, available on Google Play and the iOS store, provided by Nutrisystem that provides dieters guidance with selecting healthy foods to eat for these “choose your own” meals and snacks.
The NuMi app also provides users with a number of other supportive features such as meal tracking for both Nutrisystem meals and regular foods, and weight logs to monitor your weight loss progress and daily reminders with push notifications for drinking more water, getting regular exercise and logging your food intake. There are also different challenges and contests you can take on along with free resources such as healthy recipes, weight loss tips and informational articles about nutrition, healthy eating, weight loss, exercise and daily habits that can improve your health and help you reach your goals. Although exercise is not required as part of the weight loss program, Nutrisystem encourages all dieters to meet the physical activity guidelines for adults set forth by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, which are to accumulate either 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio exercise per week.
One of the benefits of this weight loss program compared to stricter competitors is that dieters are also permitted to enjoy up to eight “Flex Meals” per week. This can include a maximum of two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners and two snacks that are completely up to your choosing and not included on the Nutrisystem diet nor necessarily lean or low calorie. These “Flex Meals” are a way to enjoy some of your favorite meals that don’t necessarily fall in line with a regimented diet meal plan. This can help make the Nutrisystem program much more sustainable for long-term weight loss compared to other programs.
There are several different Nutrisystem meal plans that each have different pricing tiers, depending on the number of included meals, menu options per week and other perks. It is designed to help make Nutrisystem an affordable option for those with different budgets. The meal plans themselves cater towards different dietary restrictions and nutritional needs. Within each meal plan, customers can choose between one of the following three packages from least to most people expensive:
The standard Nutrisystem plan is a nutritionally-balanced, low-calorie weight loss diet plan that offers a variety of popular meals and snacks featuring foods from a variety of cuisines such as American, Asian, Italian, Mexican and more. Meals are designed to be lean, low in cholesterol and low-sodium, but do not have specific dietary restrictions. The dishes and meal plans are created by dietitians to meet the recommendations set forth in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The Nutrisystem Men’s Plans include the same meals as the standard plans but they allow for additional snacks each week to provide a higher number of calories.
Nutrisystem offers a vegetarian plan that contains meals specifically designed for those who do not consume meat, poultry or fish. However, the Vegetarian plan is not a good fit for those on a vegan diet because the meals do contain dairy and some may include eggs.
The Nutrisystem D plans are designed for those who have insulin resistance, pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes. The meals are all designed by a registered dietitian and nutritionist to specifically meet the needs of those who need help regulating blood sugar. The meals are high in protein and fiber, and contain carbohydrates that are low on the glycemic index in order to prevent a spike in blood sugar. They also did not include any artificial sweeteners or flavors. Customers on the Nutrisystem D Plan also have access to unlimited support from Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialists and experienced weight loss coaches.
Nutrisystem has a new partner plan that allows couples to order any of the meals from the Uniquely Yours menu for two people so that you can work on your weight loss goals together and share in the same dining experience.
The Complete 55 is a new weight loss plan specifically designed for the metabolic needs of women over the age of 55 years old. Unlike the other Nutrisystem plans, Complete 55 is a three week, rather than four week, diet plan. According to Nutrisystem, the Hearty Inspirations meal choices provide up to 30 grams of protein to help control appetite for up to 5 hours. This particular weight loss diet program is structured such that during the first month, dieters enjoy ready-made Nutrisystem meals and snacks seven days a week. Then, for the second and third months, you eat Nutrisystem meals and snacks five days a week, and then use the NuMi app to guide your choices for your own healthy meals or “Flex” meals for the other two days per week.
Within the different specialty meal plans, Nutrisystem offers three different pricing tiers based on menu options and meals:
The Basic plans are the cheapest option, and they come with five days of meals per week with about 100 menu choices, depending on the meal plan that you select. The rest of the meals and snacks you must supply on your own or you can purchase the Nutrisystem shakes a la carte.
Nutrisystem reports that this is the most popular pricing tier. It is similar to the Basic plan in that customers get five days of food per week but there are closer to 150 menu choices, helping cater to a variety of different taste preferences to prevent boredom with the same meals.
This is the most expensive program because it provides up to seven days of food per week, significantly decreasing what you have to supplement on your own. There are also over 160 menu choices and premium meals.
Note that there is also a Chef’s Choice option where Nutrisystem will take the selection process out of the equation for you to save time. This is a great choice for those who are flexible in terms of what they eat. Nutrisystem will send an assortment of the meals and snacks compatible with your program and pricing here that have been rated highest amongst the customer reviews.
All of the Nutrisystem meals are low calorie, low-sodium and low-cholesterol meals, but the specific meal options depend on the meal plan you select. They feature lean proteins, healthy fats, fiber, vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy and whole grains.
When you go to select your Nutrisystem meals and snacks, you can read customer reviews of the menu options.
Some of the highest-rated Nutrisystem meals include the Cinnamon Roll and Buttermilk Waffles for breakfasts, the Mushroom Parmesan Soup with Chicken and Artichoke and Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast for lunch and the Italian Sausage and Turkey Pepperoni Pizza and Classic Hamburger for dinner. Nutrisystem does try to add new menu options for the different meal plans periodically to keep things fresh. These new meal options are usually offered at the higher pricing packages like the Uniquely Yours and Uniquely Yours Max rather than the Basic plan.
Examples of foods on the Vegetarian plan include Cinnamon Roll, Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal, Spinach and Cheese Pretzel Melt Four Cheese Manicotti and sautéed spinach, Spicy Kung Pao Noodles, Southwest Fiesta Melt, Mushroom Risotto, Margherita Pizza, Chockful of Veggie Chili, Fiesta Macaroni and Cheese, Bean Bolognese, Chocolate Brownie Sundae, Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake and Toffee Crunch Cookies.
The Diabetes plans include customer favorites like the Cinnamon Streusel Muffin, Blueberry Muffin, Granola Cereal, White Cheddar Mac and Cheese, Chicken Noodle Soup, Lasagna with Meat Sauce, Hearty Beef Stew, Chili with Beans, Chicken Parmesan, White Cheddar Popcorn, Snickerdoodle Cookie and Double Chocolate Muffin.
The Standard Women’s and Men’s diet plans include more variety of popular foods tailored to be healthier and low calorie.
Unless you are indulging in one of the “Flex Meals,” all of the meals and snacks you can eat on Nutrisystem that you have to supply on your own should fall within the parameters and guidelines of the diet plan. Nutrisystem permits dieters to eat lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, low-fat dairy products, legumes and whole grains.
Foods that you choose to eat that do not fall within these recommendations can count towards your “Flex Meals,” though these should be kept to a minimum to best support your overall weight loss goals. Nutrisystem suggests avoiding battered or fried proteins, fried vegetables, desserts like pies and ice cream, butter, lard, full-fat dairy, cookies, French fries, refined breads and pastas and other sweets.
Taste is ultimately a matter of preference and Nutrisystem offers quite a range of meals and snacks from different cuisines such as American, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Thai and fusion. When you select your meal options, you can read the customer reviews along with the ingredients in each meal to get an idea of what the food tastes like and how well it resembles what customers expect the flavor profile and texture to embody. There are plenty of sweet options for breakfast such as the Nutrisystem Cranberry and Orange Muffin, Cinnamon Roll, Biscotti Bites and Buttermilk Waffles. There are also numerous savory egg dishes and other traditional breakfast fare with turkey sausage for those not following the Vegetarian plan. Most reviews of the breakfast options are favorable with people saying that the flavors and textures are pleasant and that the foods are surprisingly sweet and “decadent“ despite being low-calorie and low sugar.
Some of the meals are described as somewhat bland, largely due to the low sodium and low fat nature of the recipes compared to restaurant or conventional frozen foods. However, even the healthier options for some of these popular American favorites such as the Nutrisystem Hamburger and Chicken Pot Pie are very highly rated. Customers should expect that Nutrisystem meals and snacks will resemble the taste of what the meal is intending to replicate, but as the recipes are tweaked to be healthier, the flavors may be somewhat muted and there is usually less sauce, so some food may taste a little dry.
Customer reviews for some meals also note that the texture of certain foods may change when reheated, particularly if using a microwave instead of a toaster oven or a conventional oven. For example, meals that include cheese that are reheated in the microwave can sometimes end up feeling soft and soggy if they include bread. For this reason, with meals like the Nutrisystem Cheesesteak Pizza and Tuna melt, it is advisable to reheat the frozen dish in the toaster oven or conventional oven rather than the microwave if you have the time to do so. There are also sweet snacks such as the Nutrisystem S’mores Pie and the Nutrisystem Ice Cream Sandwich, which dieters say taste delicious and make them feel like they are not on a weight loss diet program.
There are several different Nutrisystem plans, each with a slightly different pricing structure, menu options and number of included meals per day. There are basic plans and then upgrades for each type of plan that enable diameters to have a greater number of menu options to choose from each week and the ability to add more meals or larger servings. Food costs about $10.13 per day to $16.48 per day, depending on your meal plan. All of the meal plans offer free shipping on the delivery boxes. You can also supplement your meals with Nutrisystem proteins shakes, the shakes cost about $2.85 per serving.
One of the benefits of Nutrisystem is that they offer a money-back guarantee for all new customers who purchase a four-week diet plan. With your first order, if you aren’t satisfied with the meals that arrive or the diet program for one reason or another, you can call a toll-free number and return any of the unopened food or a full refund, less a $19.90 return shipping fee.
This is a nice perk that many meal delivery services do not offer. Because Nutrisystem can be pricey and may not be suitable for everyone looking to begin a weight loss meal program, it is helpful to have the ability to change your mind and send back any remaining food if you decide the program isn’t going to work for you.
Nutrisystem is similar to other weight loss meal delivery services that offer portion-controlled, prepared meals. Here’s how it stacks up against other popular diet meal delivery programs.
Nutrisystem is similar to Diet-to-Go in that both companies provide low-calorie, frozen meals with several different menu plan options geared towards different dietary goals and menus for each company are designed by nutritionists. In general, Nutrisystem meals cost less per meal and the menu plans include snacks whereas the Diet-to-Go menu plans do not have snacks and include the three meals you should be eating every day. Nutrisystem is also slightly more customizable in terms of how many calories you eat per day based on the flexibility in the meals and snacks you provide on your own. The packaging and meal selection is fairly similar across both companies, with the option of diabetes-friendly and vegetarian diet menu plans with both meal delivery services, although Nutrisystem has more sweets, dessert options and protein powder shakes for weight loss. Nutrisystem is also designed as four-week programs whereas Diet-to-Go can be purchased for shorter terms and uses a rotating menu that changes every five weeks with the option to swap out meals you don’t like. Diet-to-Go is also delivered once a week or twice a week depending on where you live, rather than once a month.
Jenny Craig is similar to Nutrisystem in that it provides calorie-controlled prepared meals delivered to your home. However, the cost per meal is higher and there are fewer options for specific dietary goals. For example, although there are vegetarian options, there is no specific vegetarian meal plan. Both plans involve small portions and eating six times per day.
Related: Read our in-depth Jenny Craig review here
Like Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig uses registered dietitians to help create nutritious, balanced recipes that are low-fat, low-cholesterol, low-sodium and low-calorie, and meet certain other nutritional requirements where noted, such as being low in carbohydrates for diabetic-friendly meals. Jenny Craig is an annual subscription plan, and canceling is more difficult. However, there is also a 12-week trial plan available.
Nutrisystem is best for people looking to lose weight who need the convenience of prepared foods that simply need to be reheated rather than cooked. Nutrisystem has the benefit of providing portion controlled and pre-planned menus, eliminating the need for meal prepping, grocery store shopping and cooking. Ultimately, Nutrisystem is ideal for dieters who are short on time or tend to overeat if they keep certain foods in the house or cook for themselves, as it can be a structured and convenient way to remove triggers for overheating and provide the healthy food you need to support your weight loss goals. It is also good for dieters who prefer to eat numerous times throughout the day because the diet plan encourages eating six times per day rather than just three meals.
Additionally, Nutrisystem is great for people who would like a little bit of flexibility in terms of the ability to have “cheat meals“ or meals outside of their normal restricted plan a couple of times per week without feeling like they are sabotaging their weight loss goals. People who are looking for a sustainable program for long-term weight loss may also appreciate the fact that the Nutrisystem meal plans include plenty of sweet snacks and treats, and convenient shakes, which can help prevent the feeling of deprivation and can make it super convenient to stick with your diet plan when you are busy and just need to grab something on-the-go.
Because Nutrisystem offers the free NuMi app, which includes supportive services like food logging, reminders to drink more water and to exercise, information about healthy eating, diet tips and personalized nutrition recommendations, Nutrisystem can also be good for people needing extra guidance, education and support on their weight loss journey who cannot afford the services of a private personal trainer or health coach. Finally, Nutrisystem caters to specific dietary needs such as diabetes friendly diets and vegetarian diets, so it’s a good option for dieters who need to lose weight following alternatives to a traditional omnivorous diet. Because all of the plans are relatively low in sodium, the food is also typically workable for people with hypertension.
Nutrisystem is specifically designed to be a weight loss program, so it is not a good meal delivery option for anyone who is not trying to lose weight. The calorie counts for the meals are quite low and the portion sizes are on the smaller side, meaning that you might not be able to support your caloric needs with these meals unless you are trying to create a significant caloric deficit for weight loss.
The cost of Nutrisystem per meal can be fairly expensive, depending on your meal plan and budget, so if you need a budget friendly weight loss plan, Nutrisystem may not be the best choice for you. Additionally, it is a restrictive diet in terms of the number of calories, and because it is focused primarily on weight loss, the website uses a lot of diet culture language such as “slimming down,” “portion control,” and “calorie allowance,” which can be triggering for those with a history of eating disorders, body dysmorphia or are sensitive to diet culture language.
Moreover, Nutrisystem does not cater to certain dietary needs such as those who need gluten-free food, kosher food, vegan food or food free from common allergens such as nuts, wheat, dairy, milk, soy, peanuts and shellfish. Some of the meals and snacks use refined grains and some ingredients are heavily processed. If you prefer organic, whole and natural foods rather than processed foods and snack foods, Nutrisystem may not be the best choice for you.
Getting started with Nutrisystem is a simple and straightforward process. After going to the Nutrisystem website, you select which Nutrisystem plan you would like to purchase. Then, you create an account by providing basic information such as your name, address, phone number and email. You can also add in your sex, height and current weight because the NuMi app can use this information to provide personalized recommendations and plans for you. Once you choose the meal plan and pricing tier that you are interested in, you are taken to a page where you can select the meals that you want to receive. Keep in mind that the higher the tier you select, the greater the number of meal options you will have.
On the meal selection page, you can filter and sort the provided meals. Each meal is already presented in categories (breakfast, lunch or dinner) and you can click to view the nutrition facts, ingredients, necessary preparation and customer reviews. If you do not want to select your own meals or just don’t have time, you can also choose the Chef’s Choice option in which Nutrisystem will automatically select an assortment of the highest-rated meals and snacks for you. First time customers typically have to wait up to five days to receive their first delivery so that their new account can be created and the order can be processed. The NuMi app provides personalized recommendations of items to add to your grocery store list to round out your meal plan, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products such as yogurt and cottage cheese.
Note that with the Nutrisystem diet, you will not receive a weekly shipment; everything is contained within the one box. Most of the meals come frozen, although there are shelf stable meals and snacks as well, depending on what you choose. All of the shakes are shelf stable and do not require refrigeration until you open them. After your first order, unless you cancel your subscription, you will receive a new shipment every four weeks.
Customer reviews for Nutrisystem are mostly positive. Many customers love the convenience and variety of meals offered on the different menus and the ability to cater meal plans to specific wellness goals. Most dieters like the sweet treats and snacks, the ability to have flex meals, the supportive NuMi app, getting to eat six times per day and the convenience of shakes and snacks that don’t need heating.
Some reviews note that the meals lack in texture and flavor, and that you definitely know you’re eating diet food based on taste. Some meal ratings note a lack of seasoning and that some foods become soggy after heating.
The amount of weight you will lose on any diet depends on several different factors including how well you follow a diet plan and how active you are. The Nutrisystem website claims that you can expect to lose one to two pounds per week if you follow the program, and that women can lose up to 13 pounds and men can lose up to 18 pounds in the first month. Depending on the meal plan you choose and how you fill out your flex meals and supplemental meals and snacks, Nutrisystem provides about 1200-1500 calories per day, which is a significant caloric deficit for most adults.
No. Customers may call customer service or use the chat function on the Nutrisystem website to cancel your auto-delivery program any time before 6:00 p.m. ET the day before your order is scheduled to be processed.
Nutrisystem food is healthy in that the portion control helps provide a minimal number of calories to support weight loss, and meals are designed by nutritionists and dietitians to be in line with nutritional guidelines set forth in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Compared to many prepackaged meals and frozen foods, Nutrisystem meals are lower in sodium, cholesterol and sugar, and higher in fiber and protein. However, the food is still processed, so it may not be as healthy as whole foods.
Yes; except for the new Complete 55 program, all Nutrisystem weight loss plans are four-week plans. You can cancel after one month as long as you do so before your next shipment is processed.
Overall, Nutrisystem can be an effective weight loss program for those looking for the ultimate in terms of convenience, portion control, variety in meal options and some amount of flexibility in food choices. However, the Nutrisystem program can be pricey, especially given the portion sizes and calorie count, and the packaged foods are processed, so these are things to keep in mind. With that said, there are several options of meal plans that cater towards different dietary restrictions, nutritional needs and weight loss goals, making Nutrisystem a good choice for vegetarians, people with diabetes, or older women looking to lose weight. The ability to eat six times per day and enjoy foods that are traditionally thought of as treats or sweets, while still meeting your calorie limits, can help make the diet program more sustainable for many customers.
Prices are accurate and items in stock as of publish time.
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, and contributes to several fitness, health, and running websites and publications. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer and USATF level 1 running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, Amber likes running, cycling, cooking, spending time outside and tackling any type of puzzle.This author is writing sponsored content paid for by Pillar4 and not affiliated with Sports Illustrated.