Nutrisystem Diet Reviews - Does It Really Work?

By Lydia Noyes
HighYa Staff
Updated on: Jul 8, 2019

Nutrisystem is a commercial weight loss system dedicated to making healthy eating easier by shipping you prepackaged snacks and meals which are designed to help you lose weight.

This comprehensive eating system makes it, so you don’t have to worry about meal planning, portion control, or cooking for the majority of your meals. The company states this will make it easier to stay on track for sustained weight loss.

According to the plan’s website, the central goal of Nutrisystem is to optimize your carbohydrate intake so that you score low on the glycemic index, which means that your meals don’t spike your blood sugar and you stay full longer after each meal.

When followed correctly, the eating plan breaks down to approximately 50% protein, 25% carbohydrates, and 25% fat each day. You’ll eat every two to three hours (five or six times a day) to ensure you stay satiated while still losing weight.

Pre-made meals delivered to your door sounds like an optimal solution for weight loss, but are there any Nutrisystem drawbacks? Below, we’ll study this plan more carefully to help you decide if it’s suitable for you.

How Does Nutrisystem Diet Work?

Per the company website, Nutrisystem works best when used as a multi-week system to help you lose weight.

When you order from this program, you will receive a month’s worth of food at once, all pre-portioned for each meal. This eliminates most meal prep and cooking time and is designed to make transitioning into healthy eating easier. That’s a clear advantage for those who lack the confidence to cook healthy meals for themselves, but others might find it stifling in the long run.

Regardless of the plan you choose, you’ll begin with Nutrisystem® FreshStart, which is a series of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks meant for your first week.

FreshStart meals are meant to help your body adjust to the eating plan and get prepped to maximize weight loss. This week of pre-selected meals is available for Men’s, Women’s, and Vegetarian meal plans, but not for the Diabetes plan.

FreshStart meals arrive in different packaging than the rest of your order, and they come with a guide for their eating order.

After your first week, there are a wider variety of Nutrisystem meals to choose from that are designed to help you continue the weight loss process.

You can choose your meals yourself or opt for a “Chef’s Choice” delivery of preselected meals instead. The system is designed to have you eating five to six times a day, and it provides approximately 60% of your daily calories. You will need to round out your diet with extra grocery items like fresh vegetables, lean protein, dairy, and complex carbohydrates.

All plans also include space for Flex meals, which are opportunities to cook for yourself or go out to eat while complying with the plan’s guidelines. You’ll get two breakfast, lunch and dinner Flex meals every week.

Beyond eating, the Nutrisystem plan also prioritizes exercise for overall health. It suggests that customers follow their My Daily 3 plan, which focuses on getting 30 minutes of physical activity every day, regardless of whether it’s all at once or in 10-15 minute sessions throughout the day. Your goal is also to incorporate strength training into your routine twice a week.

The Nutrisystem app NuMi includes a list of weight loss activity suggestions that can be customized to your personal goals and exercise preferences. It will provide you with a two-week activity agenda to start with that you can continue indefinitely or modify as you improve your fitness.

Nutrisystem Plans

At the time of writing, Nutrisystem offered multiple levels of membership, depending on the variety of meals you want. Below are the options available at the time of writing, each of which delivers 15 breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks with each delivery.

Basic Core Uniquely Yours Uniquely Yours Plus Vegetarian
Cost Women: $10.18/day ($284.99 for four weeks) Men*: $11.61/day ($321 for four weeks) Women: $11.07/day ($309.99 for 4 weeks) Men: $12.50/day ($349.99 for four weeks) Women: $12.50/day (349.99 for 4 weeks) Men: $13.93/day ($389.99 for four weeks) Women: $13.93/day ($389.99 for four weeks) Men: $15.36/day ($429.99 for four weeks) Women: $12.50/day ($349.99 for four weeks) Men: $13.93/day ($389.99 for four weeks)
Description Kit that contains pre-selected, ready-to-go foods for a four-week plan Everything in the basic plan, plus the ability to choose from over 100 foods and unlimited access to counselors, dieticians, tools, and trackers Everything included in Core, plus choice between 160+ meals, including frozen foods Everything included in Uniquely Yours, plus 4 weeks of shakes (28 shakes) Choice of 90+ vegetarian meals and snacks

*All men’s plans include an extra daily snack

Nutrisystem also offers the option to select a diabetes-friendly plan at the Basic, Core, and Uniquely Yours membership tier.

These meals are meant for diabetics and those at risk of developing diabetes and help you manage your blood glucose level with a schedule of meals and snacks you eat every 2 to 3 hours so that your blood sugar levels stay steady. At the time of writing, each diabetes plan was offered at the same price point as the standard plans.

Per the company terms and conditions, all purchases ship free and will arrive within four to ten days of ordering. Any order that includes frozen products will be delivered in dry ice that is meant to last for up to eight hours before going into the freezer.

Each of these Nutrisystem plans automatically sign you up for a monthly subscription service. The terms and conditions state that you can request a refund on any order within the first 14 days, minus return shipping costs.

If you choose to opt out after your first month, the company will credit itself $125 from your payment method. Subscriptions canceled after the first two shipments won’t have this penalty.

You can contact Nutrisystem directly for more information through their website’s online chat feature or by phone at 1-800-585-5483.

Nutrisystem Meal Options

The Nutrisystem website states that the brand offers more than 150 meal options, depending on your level of membership. A small sample of the breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options at the time of writing include the following.

  • Chicken Marsala (frozen): 230 calories, 4.5g fat, 16g protein
  • Lemon Cooler Cookie: 240 calories, 5g fat, 5g protein
  • Mac and Cheese (frozen): 210 calories, 5g fat, 10g protein
  • Homestyle Beef and Vegetables (frozen): 210 calories, 8g fat, 15g protein
  • Cranberry Orange Muffin (frozen): 150 calories, 5g fat, 6g protein
  • Ice Cream Sandwich (frozen): 130 calories, 2g fat, 5g protein
  • White Cheddar Popcorn: 150 calories, 7g fat, 5g protein

Along with meal options like these, each Nutrisystem subscription includes a list of fresh produce, meat and dairy products that can be used to supplement the meals.

Nutrisystem Reviews and Complaints

Does Nutrisystem work in the real world? We chose to look at customer reviews on Trustpilot and the Better Business Bureau to get a sense of what the experience is like for subscribers.

At the time of writing, the program earned about 3.2 stars on the Better Business Bureau and two stars on Trustpilot.

The positive comments we read showed that many customers appreciate the food quality and variety from Nutrisystem.

Many commented that they enjoyed the plan’s flexibility and found it easy to fit into their lifestyle, especially when they took advantage of the portable snacks.

While most of these reviews seemed to be from people just beginning the diet, others stated that it was helping them to lose weight at a steady rate.

Other reviewers weren’t as pleased with the service, citing that they thought the food was low quality and twice as costly as what can be found at the grocery store. Others were seemingly caught unaware by the second-month $125 cancelation fee and felt as if the policy was unfair.

A few people reported having issues with customer service and said that the company representatives tried too hard to recommit them to the service when they were trying to cancel their order.

So what’s the takeaway? We think these reviews show that if you try Nutrisystem and decide you like it, you’ll likely continue to enjoy it going forward.

If you have a bad experience your first month, then it’s likely just going to get worse as you struggle with customer service and the cancellation fee.

You can avoid some of that headache by planning to try Nutrisystem for at least two months when you first sign up. That stops you from having as much hassle if you decide to cancel.

Does Nutrisystem Work? A Dietician Weighs In

Nutrisystem makes bold promises online about the results you may experience from following their dietary guidelines. We wanted to know if they were realistic, so we looked at the research and connected with Lauren Popeck, a registered dietician for the Orlando Health Physician Associates.

Research results from a study sponsored by Nutrisystem show that the following the eating plan leads to an average weight loss of 11.6 pounds per participant for four weeks.

That’s slightly more than the 1 to 2 pounds per week recommended by the CDC for long-term results, and Popeck has a problem with that.

“I don’t like to promote ‘diets’ especially diets that encourage rapid weight loss,” she told us. “The best eating plan is one that encourages whole, fresh foods along with developing long-term healthy habits, not a quick fix.”

Likewise, the plan’s focus on premade meals gave Popeck pause.

“While the concept of controlled calorie intake can produce weight loss, I do not agree with any plan that relies heavily on packaged or processed foods,” she said.

“The Nutrisystem packaged foods contain some chemicals, fillers, added sugars, and sodium, which are ingredients that I encourage my patients to limit or avoid.”

Popeck went on to explain that a plan based around pre-made food is often treated as a short-term fix to shed pounds quickly, rather than a permanent lifestyle change for better health.

In her view, this can create a cycle of yo-yo dieting that causes people to regain any weight they lose once they stop their subscription.

Instead of signing up for meal service, she suggests working with a dietician or other health expert to develop an individualized plan that directly addresses the habits that are causing you to hold onto extra weight so that you can lose it for good.

The Bottom Line: Pros and Cons of Nutrisystem

To summarize, we think there are a lot of factors about Nutrisystem that can make it a smart diet option for some people but a poor choice for others. Below are some of the biggest pros and cons of the plan from our determination.

Pros

  • No calorie counting or tracking macronutrients
  • Suitable for vegetarians and diabetics
  • Over 150 meal options are available with top subscriptions
  • No food is off limits
  • The NuMi app offers a tool for food tracking and finding Nutrisystem-approved recipes
  • Six “Flex” meals a week for cooking
  • 4/5 people report that they don’t feel hungry on the plan (per a 2009 National Business Research Institute survey)
  • Average weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week for participants

Cons

  • Eating out can be difficult and options can be limited
  • You will need to limit your alcohol consumption to one or two drinks a week
  • Not suitable for pregnant or nursing women
  • Not suitable for children under 14 (though the brand offers plans geared towards teens ages 14-17)
  • You will need to supplement your meals with other groceries
  • Nutrisystem food may feel limiting after several months
  • Not suitable for those who are vegan, going gluten-free, or who have food allergies

If you’re looking for a way to reset the way you eat without committing to learning new cooking techniques, Nutrisystem might be a meal plan worth considering.

Just keep in mind you’ll need to supplement the meals with fresh ingredients and that you’re putting yourself at risk of backsliding if you don’t want to commit to the plan’s premade meals for the long term.

» Recommended Reading: A Beginner’s Guide to Losing Weight and Getting in Shape

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Read 9 Nutrisystem Diet Customer Reviews and Complaints

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Average Consumer Rating: 1.7
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 1 4 star: 0 3 star: 1 2 star: 0 1 star:  7
Bottom Line: 11% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-9 of 9
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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Auto-deliver

    • San Francisco, CA,
    • Jul 10, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Nutrisystem now sets all customers up to auto-deliver the order. The ONLY place you can see this is in their terms and conditions at the bottom of their website. This is a change in how they did business before and I believe it is fraudulent practice.

    I received no email about when my order would ship or whether I wanted one. No superior would come to the phone - TOTAL SCAM.

    As for the food, it's cardboard.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Itty bitty food

    • Houston, TX,
    • Jun 13, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I ordered a kit from one of the Home Shopping Networks so it’s not auto ship. I decided to give it a try. All I can say is the food is good but the portions are so small. For breakfast, which should be your most important meal of the day, you’re getting four bites of cereal or oatmeal or a muffin. And it’s all sweet stuff which I do not want to eat first thing in the morning. I have not lost much weight but I have increased my physical activity and given up a lot of things like wine and bread. I guess it’s just being 58 years old it’s harder to lose weight.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 4 out 4 people found this review helpful

    Scam

    • New York,
    • Mar 30, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    They tell you that you can cancel any time if you don't want to proceed. Truth is NO YOU CAN'T. You will be charged a $150 cancelation fee. I called the second day after trying the system, I was told I had to wait two weeks, then call. It's all a scam to screw you out of more cash.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 4 out 4 people found this review helpful

    Please DON'T

    They charged me $399, sent me a package with a bunch of chocolate bars and refused to give me the refund.

    Total scam.

    I would NOT recommend ordering anything from a company who has people theirs without last names.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 9 out 9 people found this review helpful

    Not good

    • West Palm Beach, FL,
    • Jan 11, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    This food was horrible. I got extremely sick after eating lasagna, I called Nutrisystem and reported. I thought it was a bad batch. They did not care. I got sick again. I called and they told me not to eat it.

    They told me they would give me a refund due to money back guarantee. They did not. They kept my money and made me sick. Bad deal. Don't buy Nutrisystem. Food is bad and will probably make you sick, and money back guarantee is a scam.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 9 out 9 people found this review helpful

    Not for me

    • Florida,
    • Sep 17, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    After four days on the food, I had diarrhea every morning and couldn't leave the house. I started over three times and it hit me every time. When I mentioned it to Nutrisystem the reply was: Yes, that sometimes happens.

    Of course, I didn't want to buy the second round. I was told I'd have to because I got the first on sale and they were going to charge me a huge amount even if I didn't get it. I don't remember signing an agreement about that. So I got the next order and would eat one once in a while. That was last year. I finally tossed all that was left, which was a huge amount, in the trash.

    Really small fine print and a slick operation. I wouldn't be upset if it wasn't for the fact that I had to buy more. I realize it may not suit everyone. Having to give money for something that made me sick? That very wrong.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 6 out 6 people found this review helpful

    False advertising

    • Florida,
    • Aug 19, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I purchased the 30-day, Basic system. I wanted to drop 10-12 pounds. I stuck religiously with the program for the 30 days. I chatted with a diet advisor two weeks into the program. She looked at my food logs and gave me two suggestions, which I was already doing. I only dropped two pounds in 30 days. The food supplied was OK and I only felt slightly hungry between meals and snacks.

    They heavily advertise a "money back guarantee." I wanted to call them up today, my 31st day on the program, to ask for my money back because they heavily promote one can lose 10-13 pounds in the first month. Read through their "money back guarantee" policy. Yup, they will give you your money back if you call them within the first 14 days of the program, and THEN, they will charge you $125, and you have to pay the shipping to send them back the uneaten food. I don't think most people will give up within the first 14 days so once the 15th day arrives, there is no getting any money back, really.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 9 people found this review helpful

    Worth it

    • Pittsburgh, PA,
    • Dec 8, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    When following the program guidelines correctly, you will see a nice weight loss pretty quickly, followed by a steady small decline in weight each week. Get out and do a little exercise here and there instead of sitting around all day, sneaking Big Macs and drinking beer like the people who say it doesn’t work. I recommend staying on Nutrisystem until you reach your goal weight, then slowly transition back to regular healthy foods from your local grocery store.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 11 out 12 people found this review helpful

    Poor customer service

    • Atlanta, GA,
    • Sep 25, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    The ordering process is very misleading and will automatically enroll you in a monthly subscription. You are unable to cancel online and must do so only by calling Nutrisystem. Expect to be on hold for 45 minutes or longer to do so. Both orders I received from them were infested with ants. When calling their customer service department, they could care less about the issue and were adamant that the ants had to come from the shipping agent. They actually refused to allow me to speak to management. Food is very subpar, and this is a very poor diet plan from a very poor company.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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