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The NutriSystem Diet

An Overview Of The Program and How It Compares To Offerings From Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and South Beach

By The PEERtrainer Editorial Team

NutriSystem is one of the most popular diet programs in the US right now. It is a meal delivery program that sends food to your house each week. You pick a certain plan, select your meals from a menu and augment each meal with fruits and vegetables. People who like "the work done for them" find this a very helpful program. Increasingly this program is focusing on healthier options as well as flexible options from a cost perspective.

Who Is This Program Right For?

If you feel like you really need a weight loss program that is easy and really takes the work out of it, this could be an option for you. If you are looking for a healthier diet, the company now has programs that focus on this. The company also has introduced new offerings that allow you to mix and match diet approaches. For example if you want to take advantage of the cost and convenience of NutriSystem- which is the primary value- but add in other diet approaches a few days a week, you now can. In particular we observe that they have a good program geared towards men.

What Is The Cost Of NutriSystem?

NutriSystem now has a variety of programs and the cost varies. It can get a little confusing, but here are the basic options. The lowest cost offering is NutriSystem Flex, which is a brand new program that allows you to be on the program for 5 of 7 days during the week. The cost is $200 for women and $230 for men. The main offering costs about $300 dollars a month for women and $330 a month for Men. The cost for Seniors tends to be the same cost as the Women's program. There is also a new premium offering called NutriSystem Select, which is about $370 a month for women and $30 more for men. This program adds healthier, fresh frozen foods. If you are considering NutriSystem as an option, we'd nudge you in the direction of Select.

The Three Things You Need To Master To Make NutriSystem A Long Term Success:

There are three primary things you need to do to make NutriSystem a sustainable diet. You need to immediately incorporate a nutrient dense diet, you need to master portion size and portion control, and you need to develop a strong support network that extends beyond your immediate friends and family.

We asked Dr. Laurie Rothman to explain in some more detail what people should do when they start a meal delivery service like NutriSystem. She says:

"I would introduce the concepts that we want the "dieter" to carry on into his/her real life after Nutrisystem or similar plan, immediately.

-Most of these plans give you unlimited non-starchy vegetables in addition to the foods provides. I would recommend having full servings of raw or steamed vegetables and salads before meals.

-This will encourage healthy eating habits and likely promote more weight loss and decrease food cravings. In addition, there is some choice of meals in the plans.

-I would recommend staying away from the meals with red meat and cheese, etc. As these may be okay in the small amounts provided by the pre-packaged meals, but most people are not good at continuing those portion sizes.

-Also, stay away from the desserts on the plan. Have fresh fruit instead. As weight loss occurs, I would recommend replacing one meal at a time with home prepared food. As long as weight loss continues or is maintained as desired, the client is doing great."

NutriSystem For Men

Anyone who watches ESPN on a regular basis knows about the NutriSystem For Men program. If you follow the link we cover this particular program in some detail. The bottom line is that this program can work well, but you need to go into it with an eye on developing your "vegetable muscle" and "portion control muscle"- these are the things that will help you keep the weight off long term.

NutriSystem Select

In early 2009 the company launched a new premium product called NutriSystem Select. NutriSystem Select Menu items feature higher quality frozen foods, with more fruits and vegetables. This move by the company helps to address a key criticism made that the diet did not taste that good and was a not healthy, short term thing. The added phytochemicals and micronutrients in fruits and vegetables are the key to long term health.

The Science And Fundamentals Of The NutriSystem Diet

NutriSystem uses the "Glycemic Index" as the basis for the diet, which is basically a good carb diet. We have written more about this here and feature some thoughts from a doctor on this aspect of the diet. We also have written an article on the limitations of the glycemic index. The bottom line of the discussion and the debate seems to be that the Glycemic Index can be a good starting point, but a broader approach to nutrition may be needed down the road.

How Successful Are People On NutriSystem?

We observe a lot of different things running PEERtrainer, and we see people be successful with all sorts of diet approaches. We have written about one NutriSystem success story, someone from the PEERtrainer community who shared their story. It is a tool, and like any tool you need to know how to use it and how to use it in the context of other tools.

Comparing Weight Watchers To NutriSystem?

Weight Watchers and NutriSystem are very different programs. Weight Watchers does not offer meal delivery (although with the right partner this could be a very interesting business for them), and NutriSystem does not do meetings and in person support. It really depends on where you are mentally, and what you are prepared to do. If you really feel like you need some handholding to start the diet process, then something like NutriSystem can give you some quick early "wins." And we observe that if you are fairly disciplined and can follow directions well, then Weight Watchers can work well. They have recently updated their offering with something called the Weight Watchers Momentum Program which incorporates many of the eating recommendations that Dr. Rothman outlined above, and that Dr. Joel Fuhrman writes about in his books and on this site.

Comparing NutriSystem To Jenny Craig

NutriSystem bases their offering on the Glycemic Index and Jenny Craig now bases their offering on something called "Volumetrics." Volumetrics basically looks the water content of foods, meaning more fruits and vegetables. They recommend eating salads before a meal. It is possible that the offering is more nutrient dense than NutriSystem, but we would need to hear from people to share some first hand observations. We would also be interested in hearing from the people at Jenny Craig on their new offerings.

South Beach Diet and NutriSystem

Both NutriSystem and South Beach are based on the Glycemic Index, so there are some fundamentals. The foods you eat on South Beach have a reputation for being very good and NutriSystem has a reputation for being easy. Overall the programs are very different. South Beach is viewed by some to have some very serious potential side effects, but enjoys a high level of enthusiasm from people who have been successful on it. If we see anything interesting and insightful we will share it with you. Eat To Live and Eat For Health by Dr. Joel Fuhrman both focus on this aspect of long term diet success, and pretty much any diet you choose, you want to incorporate Dr. Fuhrman's ideas alongside.

Final Observations

One thing we talk about over and over is to get out of the "Magic Bullet" mentality of weight loss. There are no total solutions out there, YOU are the total solution. So maybe think about diets like NutriSystem as one great tool that can be used in a much longer process. Expect that NutriSystem will be pretty easy, low cost and will probably help you. But also expect to have to take that early success and start doing some real work to focus on those three habits that the experts point to.

NutriSystem Coupons

Most companies like NutriSystem have programs where they offer coupons for their products that are good for a certain period of time. If you are looking for the latest NutriSystem Coupons you can go to the link. Right now they are offering $100 off the first month of the program which is a pretty decent discount- we try and keep that page up to date.

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If you are like most people, you know how to lose weight and get fit, but simply have a hard time following through. PEERtrainer was built to help you follow through, via daily logging and peer support. It is easy to get started--you log your food, exercise, thoughts each day. This takes about 5 minutes, and is a great habit to develop. You do this in small weight loss groups of 4 and larger "teams". The logging makes you much more aware of your habits. The group members read your logs and keep you motivated and supported. This tight integration of logging with free online weight loss support groups is very effective. It is also a unique and patent-pending process.

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