The NutriSystem diet entails eating mainly prepackaged NutriSystem meals until you reach your desired weight. For about $300 you get 28 days worth of entrees, snacks, and desserts delivered to your home. The average subscriber to this plan loses two pounds per week and stays on the program for 10 weeks.
How Is This Diet Supposed to Work?
The premise of this diet is that eating mostly foods with a low glycemic index will help you lose weight. The glycemic food index gives carbohydrate-rich foods a score based on how quickly one serving raises your blood sugar. Research suggests that eating foods with a low glycemic index can help control hunger by keeping you full longer.
On this diet you will eat mostly prepackaged NutriSystem entrees, snacks, and desserts. You will also need to supplement with grocery items such as dairy products, fruits, and vegetables. This diet staggers meal times to help prevent hunger, so you end up eating five times a day.
You begin this diet by selecting the program that best meets your needs: Women’s, Men’s, Silver for Women, Silver for Men, Type 2 Diabetes, or Vegetarian. You can then either let NutriSystem select your meals or you can choose for yourself. Standard programs, such as Women's or Men's, offer over 300 different meals to choose from. But subscribers to the other programs have a more limited selection. For example, the vegetarian program lets you choose from about 60 entrees and desserts.
Once you enroll in a program, the meals that you select will be delivered to your home. The meals are designed to be quick and convenient and don’t even require refrigeration.
Additional Features of This Diet
- The NutriSystem program provides an online weight tracking system, online chat rooms, and online classes. You also have the option of emailing or talking over the phone with a weight loss counselor.
- There are also two other parts of the plan: MindNourish and BodyNourish, which focus on getting your mind and your body on board to weight loss.
What Does the Research Say?
While there are no studies looking specifically at the effectiveness of the NutriSystem diet, research does suggest that eating foods with a low glycemic food index can help you feel full longer. However, research also shows that the best diets are those that you can stick with over the long term, and this type of diet is designed to be used for a short period of time—certainly not for a lifetime.
Are There Any Concerns With This Diet?
While you may lose weight on the NutriSystem diet, the key is keeping it off once you go off this diet. This involves having healthful eating habits, which includes knowing how to select and prepare foods and being familiar with portion sizes. Many participants on the NutriSystem plan end up regaining the weight once they go off the diet.
Another concern with this diet is that it may be difficult to follow if you regularly eat meals with other family members or enjoy eating out. Moreover, at roughly $300 per month, this program is costly. Although, you do have to consider the money you would spend on groceries and eating out.
If you prefer the convenience of prepackaged meals over the freshness and flavor of home-cooked meals, this diet may be for you. Having all of your meals prepared for you makes it easy to eat the right type and amount of food, but the problem is that after you go off the program you are on your own again. So if you do go on this diet, develop a plan for how you are going to maintain your weight loss.
American Dietetic Association
Weight-Control Information Network
Dietitians of Canada
Kiley D. My dinner with NutriSystem. Business Week. 2005;3851:84.
Palmeri C. How NutriSystem got fat and happy. Business Week . 2005;3851:82-84.
NutriSystem website. Available at: http://www.NutriSystem.com . Accessed May 29, 2007.
Last reviewed May 2008 by Maria Adams, MS, MPH, RD
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