Whilst making meals from scratch when on a restricted diet is time consuming and often a high-effort endeavour, the Nutrisystem plan is quick to prepare, and colour-coded for convenience.
Depending upon the individual, this weight loss program often recommends a low calorie meal plan, and the small print associated with their 28-day auto-delivery plan may be off-putting for some potential customers.
Build my Plan- Customized weight loss solution
Nutrisystem prides itself on being more customizable than other weight loss programs, allowing each individual user to get the best results by following their own personal program. Each program is customizable to the person’s metabolism, as well as their “life”, “likes” and “body”. Answering a quick questionnaire helps Nutrisystem to tailor a program to the individual. Questions include gender,
There are also general plans for both men and women, for those who do not want to go through the quick questionnaire.
The diet is set up with the aim of losing 1-2lbs per week, which the company describes as the sweet spot for healthy weight loss: weight loss that is faster than this is often put back on by dieters, as restricting calorific intake too much reduces the dieter’s metabolic rate, as the body is pushed into starvation mode. Nutrisystem’s weight loss plan is intended to keep the metabolism working as well as possible, by achieving a balance of low-GI foods and protein based ingredients, which are said to act as “powerfuels”.
The Nutrisystem plan typically has 50% less sodium than the typical American diet, 70% less added sugar than the typical American diet and contains no saccharin, aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, trans-fats, stimulants or appetite suppressants. High fructose corn syrup is a sugar with a very high GI rating, which is thought to be addictive. It is present in a surprisingly large number of processed foods, even bread, especially in America. This is because it is used as a preservative, as well as to give a shine to baked goods.
Because the meal plans are customized, there is no set calorie limit, and no one-size-fits-all solution. The calorific requirements of the individual are calculated based upon, age, gender, fitness and activity level, height and weight. So, a 6 foot tall man, weighing 220lbs, who typically has a light level of activity, may be recommended a diet containing 1800 calories per day, whilst a 165lb woman, who is 5 foot 5, also with an activity level of ‘light’ would be given a diet plan recommending only 1200 calories per day.
The Nutrisystem meal plan is based upon a balance of three different types of foods, all of which deliver their own benefits, and contribute to healthy weight loss over time, whilst being nutritionally balanced and healthy. There are “whole grains and fresh fruit (aka “SmartCarbs”) for slow-digesting satisfaction”, as well as “low-fat dairy, eggs and lean protein (aka “PowerFuels”) for a boost of protein power”, and finally “fresh veggies for a rainbow of variety and the nutrients your body needs”.
There is a focus upon the GI rating of carbohydrate foods in the meal plan, which means that the food keeps the dieter satisfied for longer. With over 150 items on the menu, there is plenty of choice, especially compared to some other meal replacement programs, which sometimes only offer a few different-flavoured shakes.
Dieters can enjoy numerous small meals throughout the day, with the plan including breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, as well as a few snacks during the day. In a 2009 National Business Research Institute survey of 9,600 Nutrisystem dieters, four of every five said the program satisfied their hunger. However, it is important to remember that Nutrisystem is a diet program, and so portions will be much smaller than many customers will be used to, and this needs to be adapted to.
Three Levels of Plan
There are three different meal plan options available when you sign up for Nutrisystem. Each has a different cost, as discussed below. The cheapest option is the Basic program; when choosing this option, customers are sent pre-selected meal options, and cannot choose the contents of the own meal pack.
The Core pack is the mid-level option available, allowing the customer a free choice of the menu, excluding frozen goods, which are available exclusively on the Select Program. As a part of the package, customers on the Core plan are able to get personal advice from counselors and dietitians.
The Select Program is the highest level available, which is more expensive, but comes with the largest choice of foods, including frozen options. Customers have free choice of what is included in each 28-day pack, choosing 18 days’ worth of ready-to-go food, and 10 days of top-rated, chef-inspired frozen cuisine, which, they claim, is enough to fit into a freezer easily. Access to counselors and dieticians is totally unlimited on the Select program, letting the customer get as much support as they feel they require.
Like the dieting aspect of the Nutrisystem weight loss program, exercise plans on the Nutrisystem program are customizable based upon physical ability. This makes them suitable for everyone from the total novice to the “workout warrior”.
The exercise program supplied by Nutrisystem is called “My Daily 3″, and constitutes three 10 minute bursts of activity. This makes it much easier to fit exercise and activity into a person’s daily routine, and is based on the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
Customers are given a list of fun suggestions to increase their activity levels, and are encouraged to increase their activity levels each day, as well as to try to increase their fitness levels.
What is the Cost?
It is important when calculating the cost of a meal replacement weight loss program to remember that the cost should replace the majority of grocery bills for one person, rather than supplement them. Whilst these types of diet programs usually seem expensive, they are often only slightly more expensive than a person’s usual expenditure on food, both at home and on the go. For people who have been eating an excessive number of calories anyway, or who frequently eat out, it may even be that their grocery bills reduce when they sign up to the program.
The plan provides a huge proportion of what is to be eaten per day, but does require the additional purchase of some fresh grocery items such as fruit and vegetables, to supplement the program. This system ensures that the meals are as tasty as possible, as all of the fruit and vegetables are then fresh.
There are three levels of plan available, each of which includes different foods, and each carries a different cost.
- Cheapest plan: Not customizable, and is fairly basic, costing from $239.99 for a 28 day package. This offer is the reduced price associated with the 28-day auto delivery scheme, and ordering on a monthly basis does increase the cost slightly.
- Core Plan: Costs $279.99 on the 28-day auto delivery scheme.
- Select plan:Includes more choice, as well as frozen goods. This top-level package costs $329.99 a month on the 28-day auto delivery scheme.
Consumer Notice: Be aware that the plans are monthly subscriptions that include an auto-delivery scheme. If you wish to stop the subscription you will need to contact Nutrisystem directly. See “Delivery” section below.
Plans for Diabetics
Because the Nutrisystem diet plan is based partially upon choosing Low GI foods, it is ideal for diabetics trying to regulate their blood sugar levels through their diet. Nutrisystem have formulated a specific plan for Diabetics, called Nutrisystem-D.
In a Nutrisystem-funded study of 69 obese type 2 diabetics, published in the journal Postgraduate Medicine in 2009, researchers reported that those assigned to eat meals on the Nutrisystem D diabetic track lost an average of 18 pounds after three months compared with 1 pound for the control group, who attended educational sessions on diabetes management and nutrition.
Weight loss and a balanced diet can help to improve the lifestyle of a diabetic person, lowering their blood sugar levels, as well as improving other health-related statistics.
Pros and Cons
Currently, the Nutrisystem diet plan is only available for those in continental America.
Obviously, the cost for people on a budget may be prohibitive. However, when considering that the program includes all of the main meals a person requires, their grocery bills should be dramatically reduced. The dieter still does have to purchase some groceries, such as fresh fruit and vegetables.
The plan does require some planning ahead, especially in making sure that the snacks and meals that are to be eaten throughout the day are brought with you, rather than turning to convenience foods on the go. However, in terms of how long the meals take to cook, they are a very time-efficient and convenient option.
People who follow the Nutrisystem weight loss program are discouraged from eating out, and the consumption of alcohol is to be avoided, as alcoholic drinks often contain a high number of calories. For people who are following the diet long-term, this may feel too restrictive.
Whilst the Nutrisystem program does provide help through the transition back to normal food, it may still be difficult to adapt back to meals that are not prepared for the dieter. This may mean that some people will put some weight back on after they are no longer using Nutrisystem. It is important to remember that following any weight loss, a person’s calorific requirements to maintain their new, lower weight will be reduced.
Nutrisystem offers meat in many of their meals, but it is also possible to set up a plan that is specifically vegetarian, which means that no meat-containing products will accidentally be included in the food parcels. The vegetarian plan is also balanced nutritionally, to ensure that the dieter is not missing out on any required vitamins and minerals.
However, there is not a vegan option, and the food is not suitable for people who need a gluten-free diet, and is not suitable for people with either soy or peanut allergies.
When setting up the customized meal plan, it is possible to select a diet that is heart healthy, or suitable for diabetics or people with hypertension and pre-diabetes.
Finally, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not follow the Nutrisystem weight loss system, as they typically have higher calorie requirements than the diet provides. Pregnant women wanting to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight should talk to their doctor, who will provide a meal plan based upon their calorific and nutritional needs.
Every delivery contains enough food for 28 days, and an auto-delivery program ensures that every customer always has a supply of Nutrisystem meals available. The auto-delivery program is great for people who want a low-effort diet program, but it is easy to forget to cancel the program when it is no longer needed.
Choosing the auto-delivery system does offer a discount, but for people who only intend to follow the Nutrisystem program for a month, this may not lead to any savings; People who cancel the program before their second month’s package is sent out will be charged for delivery and will forfeit any saving made by signing onto the auto-delivery program.
There is also a fairly intricate set of terms and conditions linked with cancelling the program, which should be read through in detail before signing up for the Nutrisystem weight loss system.
Conclusion – Weight Loss System That Works?
Nutrisystem offers a weight loss program that is fully customized to the individual customer’s requirements, whilst still offering the structure that many people find they need to lose weight effectively. A company survey of 3,500 customers conducted in 2010 found that nine out of every 10 were happy with the quality and taste of their food.
The ability to customize each month’s delivery of food enables people to stay more motivated, as they can choose the foods that they will enjoy the most, whilst still knowing that they are within their calorific allowance each day. Provided people do not cheat on the diet, and follow the instructions about buying groceries which are sent with each delivery kit, they should lose weight slowly but steadily. By letting dieters eat as many as six times a day, they should feel satisfied with what they have to eat, even though it will be smaller portions than they are typically used to.
The food options are primarily healthy and smaller versions of well-known favourites, such as enchiladas, Spaghetti Bolognese, muffins and cookies. The main concern with following the Nutrisystem diet is the transition back to cooking following the diet, but recipes and support are provided for this transition period. Another small concern is the terms and conditions associated with ordering the product, especially if using the 28 day auto-delivery program. But, overall, the program offers a controlled diet, whilst still offering some flexibility, which could aid with long term, sustainable and healthy weight loss.