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Health Guide Review: 3,4/5

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Nutrisystem Diet Review

What is it?

 Nutrisystem is a diet plan offering pre-packaged, low-glycemic, and nutritionally balanced foods.

For men there’s 1500 calorie a day options, and for women there’s 1200 calorie plans. Not all of the foods are prepackaged however, it’s also advised to eat around 40% of your calories from homemade meals, and they offer low calorie recipes and suggestions as to what foods are best.

There’s even unique tools offered to help provide support for weight loss:

  • Counseling: You can call, email, and have online chats with the companies “certified diabetes educators”. These people include nurses and dieticians. Since there are no Nutrisystem centers, all communication is made either via the phone or computers.           
  • Self-Monitoring tools: Available online and in print form, there’s even logs offered so you know where you stand as far as calories and overall fitness. You can keep track of your weight, and they offer a food diary as well. There’s even recommendations for exercise.           
  • Behavioral support: A 13-week guide is offered so you can make the mental changes required to lose weight. This includes the psychology and successful mind state needed to keep the diet going.
  • Articles and media: PDF’s, health and wellness articles, and much more content is provided to help with weight loss. There’s also recommended grocery foods, guides on how to eat out at restaurants, recipes, daily tips, and more. Bi-weekly newsletters are offered as well as daily articles. All this is available online and you can print these guides out.
  • App syncing: You can connect your progress with apps like Fitbit, Health, Jawbone, Apple, and others. This makes it even easier to know how well you’re doing in terms of fitness and diet.

The diet plan offers 6 meals a day that allows for foods every 2-3 hours. This is to make it easier to diet without feeling hungry all the time. Some of these foods will come from store bought items as well, such as yogurt, fruit, and other foods. 4-5 meals come from the pre-packaged Nutrisystem plan.

It’s highly advised to avoid alcohol and eating out, as this can prevent weight loss. To help transition people away from this, there are thousands of recipes offered.

 Foods Allowed by the Diet

 The company offers a 6 meal a day plan, and there’s over 150 foods allowed.

This includes:

  • Bars.
  • Ice Cream.
  • Burgers.
  • Cupcakes.
  • Shakes.
  • Sandwiches.
  • Pasta.
  • Pizza.
  • All types of meats, and much more.

These are all calorie-reduced options offered from their pre-packaged meal plans. You aren’t allowed to eat these foods outside of the Nutrisystem label, unless it’s within the allowed macronutrients.

There are also all styles of foods available such as snacks, breakfast, lunch, and dinner items. Many of the foods offered don’t seem like diet foods, but of course the company offers these items in a reduced size and calorie amount.

None of their foods contain artificial sweeteners, colors, or flavors. However, they do add certain ingredients like corn syrup, thickeners, and GMO soy, which aren’t as wholesome.

All these foods are offered in a 28-day meal plan, which allows you to eat 4-5 times a day. The following macronutrients are specified in order for the diet to work:

Carbohydrates: Around 50% comes from low glycemic foods that are meant to avoid blood sugar spiking.

 Fats: Roughly 25%.

 Protein: About 25%.

It’s also advised to get a maximum of 2,000 mg of sodium. To put it in perspective, 1 teaspoon of salt provides 2,323 mg of sodium. So you would have to eat less than this to meet the daily maximum limit.

 How Does the Diet Work?

 You’re given a meal plan that includes the company’s brands of easy to prep foods, as well as grocery lists featuring allowed foods and portion sizes.

Also, the company offers several tools to help with motivation, psychology, and maintenance. So you know exactly how to properly lose weight using the allowed low calorie, low glycemic options.

The company mentions that this plan was made by:

“nutrition experts and dieticians”

Since around 40% of your calories will come from the meals you eat at home, there still has to be accountability on the customers end. You have to make sure to limit sodium, alcohol, eat out less frequently, and exercise for at least 30 minutes daily.

Options are available for vegetarians and diabetics, but not for vegans.

Since women get only 1200 calories and men get 1500, it’s likely this caloric restriction will help with weight loss. This low amount is what’s considered a caloric deprivation.

The USDA currently recommends the following amount of calories a day for maintenance:

Men: 2,640 calories.

 Women: 1,785 calories.

Therefore, it’s possible for one to lose weight with the restrictions enforced. But it might be difficult as you’re losing a significant amount of calories.

The company mentions that you can lose:

“5 lbs in your first week plus 1 inch off your waist”

 After the 1st week they claim that you can lose between 1-2 pounds every week after.  When you’re limiting calories as much as what’s required by this diet, it’s likely that you’ll lose weight no matter what you eat. Calorie restrictions can be the hardest way to lose weight, but it will result in weight loss if you can maintain it.

This is why the company mentions that their foods are high protein, high fiber, and low glycemic. This is a common macronutrient strategy in the diet world that allows you to stay full.

Pros 

  • Over 150 foods are offered including desserts and uncommon foods you wouldn’t be allowed in a diet, such as pizza, ice cream, and burgers.
  • Tools are offered to help with the mentality and strategy required for dieting.
  • Counseling is available with trained people you can contact via phone, email, or instant online chatting sessions.
  • Several reviews are available for each of the pre-packaged foods offered.
  • The ingredients list has the nutrition facts and all the ingredients.

 Cons 

  • It’s expensive, their basic plan with 4 weeks of pre-selected foods costs $314.99 for men, and $274.99 for women. If you want to specialize your plan or add more features, you have to pay much more.
  • Ingredients like corn syrup, fructose, thickeners, GMO soy, enriched flour, and more are added. These aren’t very wholesome, and some of these additives can actually increase weight.
  • Some foods have been criticized by customers as not being satisfying and tasting bad.
  • Those who can’t eat soy, gluten, peanuts, or non-vegan foods won’t be able to use this plan.
  • No long term studies have shown this plan to be effective for weight loss. It’s unknown if continued use would be effective.

 Better Alternatives to the Diet

 This plan does have some useful tools available such as recipes, help from counselors, and psychological tips.

However, the kinds of foods allowed in the diet plan have been criticized for lacking flavor, and for being full of unwanted ingredients like fructose. These kinds of ingredients have been shown to be not just bad for weight loss, but they may increase weight. UC Davis ran a study showing that:

 “increased consumption of fructose may be detrimental in terms of body weight and adiposity”

Another study that reviewed Nutrisystem for 12 weeks was published by the American College of Physicians, which showed that:

“additional studies evaluating long-term outcomes are needed”

 Therefore, it’s unknown if the Nutrisystem diet would actually be effective for long-term weight loss.

 Conclusion

 Nutrisystem offers the benefit of not having to put in as much effort into selecting all your foods. The pre-packaged items and grocery lists examples make it easy to track your intake of calories.

Your foods will come delivered where all you have to do is microwave what’s delivered. There is meal prep required for the 40% of calories you get from home cooked meals, and the company provides lists so you know exactly what’s allowed and in what portions.

The biggest issues with this brand are the high cost, use of potential weight increasing ingredients, and the boredom of eating several frozen foods. Many customers didn’t like the foods either because of the bland taste, or because they used potential weight increasing ingredients.

There are much better diet plans that don’t feature unwanted ingredients and a high price tag.

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