Our NutriSystem Diet review takes a look at one of the longest established ‘ready meal diets’…pre-packaged food to help you lose weight – does it work?
Good question, but seeing as how the company has been around for over 30 years they must be doing something right!
In fact, in the last few years the company has seen a huge surge in it’s share price as sales and profits have soared.
This has partly been due to a shift in the positioning of the company, a few high profile devotees and a change in emphasis to a low fat, GI type approach.
Given this new lease of life, we thought we’d take a look…
NutriSystem Diet Review for Weight Loss
Well, somewhat differently now than for the last few decades.
The NutriSystem Diet is and has always been based on the company’s range of low calorie ready meals and snacks.
However, as with rivals in this market like Jenny Craig, NutriSystem has in a sense moved away from a weight loss centre, meetings-come-counselling based model to an online business.
You can now order the pre-packaged meals online, get support and advice online and over the phone, download exercise and other advice online.
Another shift has been to embrace the hugely popular GI approach to dieting.
You can find out more about the GI or Glycemic Index on our page on the subject.
In summary though, it’s based on the principle that sugar and refined starches like white bread, rice and cookies cause your blood sugar level to rise, with your body producing insulin to bring it back into balance.
Seeing as insulin is your fat-storing hormone, too many of these ‘bad’ carbs can help to make you fat.
NutriSystem now focusses on ‘good’ carbs, like lower GI vegetables and whole grains. These help to maintain balanced blood sugar and insulin levels.
As a result you’re less prone to storing fat. As they fill you up and keep you full for longer, hunger should also be less of a problem.
The ready meals also contain low fat protein foods like chicken, fish and turkey.
Low fat dairy products are ok, too and whilst fruit is a bit limited due to its fructose content, it is allowed in moderation.
Now, the appeal of pre-packaged meals is that you just heat them up and eat.
No GI tables to choose foods from, no calorie counting, weighing or measuring.
Convenience is the big selling point for NutriSystem, and convenience certainly sells well – just ask Wal-Mart!
A daily meal plan of the ready meals broadly corresponds with healthy eating advice – three servings of veg, three of lean protein, two of fruit, two of dairy, up to four whole grains, up to two unsaturated fats.
Our NutriSystem Diet review also found that there’s more to the diet than the pre-packaged food.
You learn behavioural skills and new eating habits. Goal setting and developing a positive mindset also feature prominently.
Exercise is also a biggie…aerobics, weight training, jogging, swimming. Choose your exercise and fitness level and there’s a plan for you.
Now all this comes at a price.
Whilst the counselling and so on are ostensibly free, the cost is effectively built into the price of the meals.
Based on a four week cycle, each food order costs from around $275.
Now if you currently live on supemarket ready meals, takeout or eat out a lot, then broken down per meal that probably won’t shock you.
Compare it to buying the ingredients and making similar meals yourself and it’s pricey.
Particularly if you’re buying and cooking for a family.
You can supplement some of the meals and add in a few snacks with fruit, veg and homemade meals…but that kind of defeats the object!
After a few weeks, the thought of homemade food may have more appeal, though, as living on pre-packaged food is likely to get a bit dull!
NutriSystem Diet Review – Does it Work…?
Yep, you can and probably will lose weight if you follow the plan and stick to eating the pre-packaged meals.
The food tastes, well, ok, but it is convenient and that’s why people like NutriSystem and similar programs.
It’s like dieting on autopilot.
And whilst that’s an advantage and a positive benefit to many, it’s also the big problem with this diet.
What happens when you switch off the autopilot, ditch the ready meals and go back to eating regular food?
Sure, a lifetime consumer may be good for NutriSystem’s share price, but is that realistic?
Does this diet teach the food preparation skills needed to cook healthy, wholesome meals?
Does it challenge the poor food choices you made that caused the weight gain in the first place?
Our NutriSystem Diet Review would suggest that it probably won’t.
There’s no independent research to show that fast food, convenience diets like this one actually help to keep the pounds off in the long term.
There’s also the GI approach. We like it and it’s worked for many of our clients and millions of dieters around the world.
However, the scientific evidence to support its efficacy is disputed.
Some would argue that it could be the low calorie nature of GI diets that’s actually responsible for the weight loss.
And this diet is low calorie. At around 1,200 calories a day from pretty meagre portions.
This is unlikely to be enough for larger, more active people.
The temptation is there to supplement the meals and overeat, and that our NutriSystem Diet review would conclude may cause some people a few problems!
NutriSystem Diet Review – The Bottom Line…
We personally couldn’t live on a diet of convenience foods.
Microwave dinners now and then are a real boon for busy people, but if you like real food, then this diet probably isn’t for you.
There is a gourmet range of meals, but they’re expensive and not much better than the standard range as far as taste goes.
Our NutriSystem Diet review would indicate that the meals are generally well balanced, if a little bland and there is the convenience factor.
Some people who struggle with portion control and don’t like to cook may do well on this diet.
However, it does engender a dependency culture as what happens when you’ve lost the weight?
Without the food and the rigid structure of the diet, there is a chance that any weight lost will go straight back on again.
There are similar programs on the market, like Jenny Craig and eDiets Express, which also offer the online ordering and support and work out at a similar price.
Our NutriSystem Diet review verdict? The meals are well balanced, the support is good and it’s convenient…not sure it will result in long term weight loss, though – the jury’s out!