Our Nutrisystem Review: Do-it-yourself diets usually fail because they lack structure, convenience, and support. It takes a lot of time and effort to prepare, portion, and plan your own meals, and that can be frustrating.
Nutrisystem was founded in 1972 as an alternative to the traditional DIY diets. Their program is easy to follow and delivers nutritious, pre-portioned meals straight to your home.
But, will Nutrisystem work for you?
People have different tastes, lifestyles, and personalities. Therefore, like blue jeans, one-size doesn’t fit all. Knowing that is the key to assembling a good boy band, (I like the bad boy!) selling coffee (grande, with soy milk!) and choosing the right diet.
FIrst, How Nutrisystem Works
Nutrisystem has evolved over the years, but they have always maintained that weight loss is easier when you don’t have to cook, count points, or spend a lot of time planning, preparing and portioning meals.
That’s why the foundation of Nutrisystem’s 28-day program is their nutritious, “perfectly portioned” prepared meals delivered to your door each month.
These chef-created meals are designed to be high in lean protein, fiber, and low-glycemic (good) carbs and low in saturated fat and bad carbs.
Got 60 seconds? Their new TV commercial is a good overview of how the diet works:
*Best Nutrisystem deal ever? 40% off + stack these 3 promo codes!
Sounds great, but to really understand how Nutrisystem works, you need to know these 8 things:
#1. “The Food You Love, Made Healthier”
You can think of Nutrisystem as “the food you love, made healthier.” That’s because they are made with delicious, high-quality ingredients, and perfectly balanced to put you in fat-burning mode for healthy, sustainable weight loss.
You’ll notice that items like pizza and pasta are on Nutrisystem’s menu, but they are healthier versions. Their weight loss experts and dietitians design Nutrisystem plans to be:
- The right nutrient balance to fuel your body and promote health
- High in lean protein from a variety of sources like lean meats, poultry, eggs, fish, and low-fat dairy
- High fiber foods keep you feeling full, longer, and promotes healthy bowels. (That’s a great dinner party conversation topic!)
- Include nutrient-dense carbs (low-glycemic) like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables
- Low in saturated fat with no artificial flavors or sweeteners
#2. Nutrisystem Begins With FreshStart®
Research shows that fast initial weight loss is highly motivating, and makes the long-term success of a diet more likely. That’s why all plans begin with the FreshStart® program the first week.
Here’s more about how FreshStart® works:
Fresh Start is like a wake up call for your body. It’s nutritional balance and calorie restriction causes you to switch from burning carbs to burning fat as a fuel source. This also helps to break the unhealthy eating habits that you might be accustomed to.
#3. You’ll Eat 6 Times a Day
Maintaining a good campfire requires feeding it a little bit on a regular basis, and it’s the same with your body. Research suggests that eating smaller, nutritious meals more frequently throughout the day promotes effective weight loss. With Nutrisystem you will:
- Eat every 2-3 hours (5-6 times per day)
- Enjoy a Nutrisystem breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks each day
- Supplement their foods with fresh groceries, including several healthy Flex™ Meals on your own each week for variety
You’ll supplement these meals with lean proteins and dairy, called “PowerFuels,” and high-fiber fruits and vegetables called, “SmartCarbs.” Every week you’ll also incorporate “Flex meals” for flexibility.
#4. You’ll Enjoy “Flex meals”
Variety is good, so every week you’ll have the opportunity to incorporate one breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack of your own.
These Flex meals can be out at a restaurant, or your own cooking. Nutrisystem provides simple guidelines and recipe options for dining out or eating in.
#5. You Log Food on the “NuMi” App
Did you know that people who log their meals are twice as likely to lose weight?
That’s why Nutrisystem encourages you to log your meals and exercise each day on your phone with the Numi app. It’s a great way to track your progress, and works like a GPS to your weight loss goals.
Numi is included with all plans, and is a free and easy download from the app store.
#6. How Much Weight Can You Lose?
While specific weight loss results depend on a number of variables including starting weight, activity level, and height, Nutrisystem does provide estimates for how much weight you can expect to lose.
After the first month:
- Women: Lose up to 13 pounds + 7 inches (overall)
- Men: Lose up to 18 pounds + 8 inches
Then, in subsequent months the goal is to lose a sustainable 1-2 pounds per week until you approach your weight loss goal.
*So, do people really lose that much weight? In a study, Nutrisystem found that women lose an average of 11.6 pounds the first month, while men lose about 15.
#7. Plan Options & Cost
With Nutrisystem there are 4 plan levels or both women and men to choose from. These pans are similar, with the main difference being that you’ll pay more for an increased variety of food.
Nutrisystem has four (28-day) program options with prices: (updated 2/22/19)
- Basic: Pre-selected foods with fewer options that leave some users wanting more variety (lowest-rated)
- Core: The most popular plan, choose from 100+ foods
- Uniquely Yours: Their highest-rated 28-day plan offers the best selection of foods (150+) plus unlimited frozen foods
- Uniquely Yours Plus: All the features of Uniquely Yours plus 28 protein shakes each month
Nutrisystem food costs about $300 per month plus the expense of supplemental groceries including fresh fruits and vegetables.
#8. How to Get the Best Price (#1 Signup Deal?)
If you are thinking of signing up for Nutrisystem, it’s really important to get the best deal.
Some offers, like $100 off, look good the first month. However, the monthly price goes up as early as the second month!
Know this: The only offer that locks-in your initial low membership rate is the 40% off promotion.
The 40% off special also let’s you stack up to 3 promo codes on top for free food, and a blender bottle:
*Get 40% off, then enter 2+ codes for up to 3 freebies! To see todays codes, visit our Nutrisystem coupon page!
Does Nutrisystem Really Work?
This all sounds like a good plan, but let’s look at whether Nutrisystem’s 28-day programs actually work.
To do so, let’s look at two important factors: customer satisfaction and expert ratings of the diet.
Sure, Nutrisystem works in theory, but what about real results? Because there is no published success rate for Nutrisystem, the best resource we have is from user ratings.
Actually, we’ve found that the best resource for user ratings is on nutrisystem.com, where you can find thousands of Nutrisystem reviews with ratings from verified customers.
Here’s the distribution of 4670 ratings from user reviews on nutrisystem.com: (Updated: Feb. 2019)
- 5-Star Ratings, (Positive): 2376
- 4-Star Ratings, (Positive): 1392
- 3-Star Ratings: (Neutral): 511
- 2-Star Ratings: (Negative): 234
- 1-Star Ratings: (Negative): 246
As you can see, the majority of ratings for Nutrisystem are positive. In fact, about almost 80% of users give Nutrisystem a 4+ star rating, inferring that it works most of the time.
U.S. News ranked Nutrisystem as the #5 Best Commercial Diet behind #1 Weight Watchers, and #2 Jenny Craig
They asked a panel of diet experts and specialists in diabetes and heart disease to rate Nutrisystem on several important criteria: short and long-term weight loss, easy to follow, and healthiness:
- Short-term Weight Loss: (3.7/5) Nutrisystem ranked best in this area, as experts agreed that portion control and calorie restriction should result in fast weight loss
- Long-term weight loss: (2.5/5) Nutrisystem scored low in this area. This is probably because the diet depends on users eating and tracking mostly Nutrisystem foods. A number of customers seem to have tired of their food and wanted to return to menu freedom
- Easy to Follow: (2.5/5) Convenience is the biggest plus of Nutrisytem, and it’s a favorite of busy people. Prepared, pre-portioned food is delivered each month to users’ doors with clear instructions. However, experts low score in this area reflects that it isn’t easy to adjust to a structured diet with prepared foods and menu limitations.
- Healthy: (3.3/5) Nutrisystem scored well in this area as their high-protein foods are low in saturated fat and meet or exceed FDA recommendations. Their food is also much healthier than the average American’s diet (view comparison)
No single diet is best for everyone, because people are very different, with unique lifestyles, personalities, and weight loss goals.
However, it’s important to note that almost 80% of Nutrisystem reviews are positive. This is especially impressive when you consider that only 13% of people like their jobs, and that the highest approval rating ever for a president was 70% (for JFK).
OK, so the good reviews outweigh the negative reviews, but what do users like and dislike most about the diet? We read through hundreds of Nutrisystem reviews to find the pros and cons of the (28-day) auto-delivery program, plus how users reviewed the taste of the food. Here’s what we learned:
Nutrisystem Bad Reviews:
“I used Nutrisystem for one month and I was not happy with how the food tasted. When you cancel your plan they charge you a $125 fee. They never tell you there will be a fee and on the website it says free cancellation. Don’t do business with Nutrisystem – their food tastes horrible and the company is a scam.”Josh W. via user reviews
Wow, tell us what you really think! It’s OK; sometimes you can get more helpful information from bad reviews than good ones.
Cons: Here are the top complaints for Nutrisystem:
- Cancellation fee: Customers venting anger about Nutrisystem’s cancellation fee is the biggest complaint in user reviews. If you don’t like the program cancel in the first 14 days. If you cancel after 14 days but before your second shipment, you will be charged $125. Learn more about their cancellation policy here.
- Food taste & variety: Switching from complete menu freedom to a structured diet of pre-packaged meals is not easy for some people. One bad Nutrisystem review criticized their menu as being, “the return of the tv dinner.” Other users complained that there isn’t enough variety of foods, especially if you choose their vegetarian or gluten free foods.
- The Cost: All meal delivery plans can seem expensive, as you are billed for an entire month of food at once. Nutrisystem (cost) is actually relatively inexpensive compared with other meal-delivery diets like Jenny Craig, (cost) but you still get hit with a $300+ monthly charge on your credit card. The best way to drop the price is by using a coupon
- High In Sodium? A lot of bad Nutrisystem reviews complained about high salt content. However, in their defense, Nutrisystem’s daily sodium content of 2300 mg per day is within the FDA’s recommended amount (2300 mg per day) and much less than the 3400 mg per day that average American consumes. If you have diabetes, their Nutrisystem D plan selects foods with less sodium and sugar
- Price Increase: Here’s an important one. Some promotions, including their “$100 off“ seasonal promotion do not lock-in the promotional rate. These coupons only apply to your first 3 months, and by month 4 you may be surprised by a price increase. For the best deal, signup with the “40% off” promotion which does lock in the price. For an even lower price, checkout our coupons here!
Complaints from bad Nutrisystem reviews can be helpful in learning why the diet did not work for certain customers, and then imagining you might have the same complaints.
Bad reviews on Consumer Reports?
Surprisingly, we found that Nutrisystem reviews from Consumer Reports readers were especially bad:
However, these ratings were submitted by a small sampling of customers, and no actual review was provided by the CR themselves. Therefore we’ve decided not to give these bad ratings much weight.
*It’s worth noting that the company responds to most negative Nutrisystem reviews on sites like Consumer Affairs. It seems that they try to resolve each of the complaints from bad reviews, offering their phone number with an apology and potential solutions. This frequently results in the customer significantly increasing the star-rating in their review at a later time.
Now, let’s look at praise from good Nutrisystem reviews and testimonials.
Nutrisystem Good Reviews:
“Thank you Nutrisystem! The 35 pounds you helped me lose are fantastic, however, my new relationship with food, health, and exercise is what I am most grateful for. The portion control principles and the opportunity to practice using my own foods has set me up for a lifetime of health and success…
My life has been changed because of Nutrisystem. I am now healthy, confident in myself, and motivated to be the best me that I can be. There is no better investment for my money than my health and happiness!”Sean B. via user reviews
Pros: Here’s what users like most about Nutrisystem:
- Fast weight loss: Nutrisystem has you hit the ground running on week #1 with their Fresh Start plan. During the first month, women lose up to 13 pounds, while men can expect to lose up to 18 pounds. Nutrisystem achieves it’s highest ratings in this category, and is consistently ranked as a top “fast weight loss diet”by U.S. News
- Convenience: Nutrisystem delivers you pre-packaged, pre-portioned meals every month and tells you what to eat and when. There’s no need to count calories, carbs, or points, and if you follow the program, the math says you’ll lose weight. This makes the program a favorite of busy people, and may appeal to the 50% of Americans who say they hate to cook
- The Cost: Wait, wasn’t cost a top complaint in bad user reviews? True, but let’s do the math. The average person with a moderate budget spends $250+ per month on food, and most of us spend a lot more; we just don’t realize it. At a cost of about $300 per month, Nutrisystem may actually be less than you are already spending on food. This is especially true if you eat at restaurants which cost an average of $12.75 per person. So, you could say the cost of Nutrisystem may be the same or less than the meals its replacing
- Healthy: Nutrisystem’s nutritional content is within the recommended daily amounts, and exceeds the daily recommendation of protein and fiber which helps curb cravings. They also refuse to jump on the “low carb” bandwagon, encouraging you to supplement their meals with fruits and non-starchy vegetables which are high in “good” carbs.
- Structure: DIY diets can be cheap or even free, but have high failure-rates. This is because they don’t offer enough structure, and it’s easy to get off-track. Nutrisystem ranks highly with users for helping to bring control and order back into their lives.
*Save 50%? Check out today’s best specials on our Nutrisystem coupon page!
Nutrisystem Food Reviews
Nutrisystem offers over 160 menu choices, but how do they actually taste? Nutrisystem.com seems to be the best place to read honest user reviews for their food. To do so, just visit their site and click, “View Menu“ at the top.
Then, select a meal (breakfast, lunch, etc) and you’ll get a sortable list of foods. By default you’ll see them listed by “top-rated,” but you can change that:
Click on any food and you can read all customer reviews for that specific food, including the bad ones. For example, the Hamburger is highly rated at 4.7 stars (out of 2407 ratings):
Whether you’re a Nutrisystem customer or not, I recommend reading food reviews before ordering. All of their plans, except Basic, give you the ability to customize your menu choices. So, if there are foods that don’t look or taste good, drop them from your menu!
Is Nutrisystem a Healthy Diet?
Let’s compare the nutrition in a day of Nutrisystem to the FDA’s recommendations, plus show what the average american consumes on average:
Here’s how Nutrisystem’s FreshStart® program stacks up for calories, protein, carbs, sodium, and fiber:
|Calories:||1600-2000||Women: 1200 |
|Carbs:||45-56% (135-195g)||Men: 45% |
|Fiber:||25g (source)||Women: 30g|
|Sodium:||2300 mg (source)||2124 mg|
|Sat. Fat:||10% (9-12g)||8-9% (6-9g)|
As you can see, Nutrisystem meets or exceeds most of the FDA’s daily recommendations for nutrition including calories, protein, fiber, carbs, and sodium content. The program is also a lot healthier than the average American’s diet.
Do you still have questions? This recent video addresses the top questions about their program:
Top Nutrisystem FAQs
Ok, let’s consider all of the reviews, ratings, and info and decide whether Nutrisystem’s 28 day program really works.
Conclusion: Does Nutrisystem Work?
Based on reviews and expert ratings I would conclude that Nutrisystem does work for most people, as the data infers a success rate of about 75%.
Nutrisystem has spent years researching and developing their weight loss program. Through balanced nutrition, portioning, and calorie restriction the math says that if you stick to the program you should lose weight.
However, because everyone is different, that doesn’t mean that it will work well for your unique needs.
If you do consider joining, check out our coupons below:
Your Nutrisystem Review?
Have you tried Nutrisystem? If so, please share your own review with us for others to read. Thanks for stopping by MightyDiets.com!
*This review originally posted in 2017, then updated in 2018 and 2019
Hi, I’m Kevin McCormick. I’m a blogger who enjoys writing on a number of topics including health and wellness. I have a BA in Art History and Health Sciences from Rutgers University in NJ. I currently live in Philadelphia, Pa., and have 3 kids and a Vizsla (dog) more…