You’ve certainly seen the Nutrisystem commercials before — they involve a lot of smiling celebrities and successful tales of losing weight. In truth, this program is one of the most convenient weight-loss programs out there. You buy a plan that provides you with about four perfectly portioned, low-cal meals a day. And they’re even mailed straight to your home. Weight loss has never been so simple!
Before you go running to Nutrisystem with your next paycheck, we have a few facts you’ll want to keep in mind. Here’s why you shouldn’t waste your time.
1. The prepackaged food is incredibly expensive
Upon first glance on the Nutrisystem website, the food plans seem pretty affordable. A basic women’s plan starts around $10 a day — not bad when you consider going out to eat costs about $15 a person. The problem here is the $10 plan includes three frozen meals and a snack — and you don’t even get to choose what they are. If you want the option where you get to choose your meals, that’ll cost you an extra $2 a day at the least.
Some plans can cost you $400 a month or more, and that’s without your extra grocery store trips.
2. You’re limited to the food they offer
Nutrisystem does a really great job of making you believe you have options. Their “menu” boasts over 150 items, and you can snack on whatever fruits and veggies you love on your own volition. Once you take a look at what they offer, however, you can see how limited you really are. Many of the lunch items are cheesy wraps of some kind, and the pasta dinners are quite small in size to ensure you’re eating at a caloric deficit.
You do get a few “flex” meals per week, which allow you to eat a meal of your choice off the system. Aside from that, you’re sticking to strictly frozen meals. Yum.
3. They recommend you take a multivitamin during their program
Nutrisystem is all about reducing your caloric intake to lose weight. There’s nothing wrong with this approach in theory. But when you do this, you should aim to eat nutrient-rich foods so you’re not missing out on any essential vitamins and minerals.
According to The Leaf by Nutrisystem, you’re encouraged to take vitamin supplements while on this program. This means the meals they’re giving you may not have enough nutritional value to fulfill your needs.
4. The food can upset your stomach
When you start a plan like Nutrisystem, you’ll be taking in a lot more fiber than you’re used to. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing — but it certainly can be alarming. Livestrong.com reminds us upping your fiber intake can cause a lot of gas, and Essortment says some people who use the system have reported nausea and cramping. Some of these side effects can also be from the preservatives used in the meals. And any major change in your diet is likely to leave you feeling uncomfortable at first.
5. You’re unlikely to keep the weight off once you leave the system
Here’s the good news: You’re likely to lose weight on Nutrisystem. Unfortunately, Business Insider reports the rate of long-term weight loss success is unclear. When you have your pre-portioned meals mailed to you, it’s easy to see how much you should be eating. Once you leave this system, however, maintaining healthy habits becomes a lot harder. Leaving Nutrisystem means you essentially lose your diet structure.
6. The ‘Turbo Takeoff’ is only 1,000 calories
When you purchase a plan with Nutrisystem, you don’t just get your meals — you also get one full week of “Turbo Takeoff” to jumpstart your weight loss. This first week includes three meals, a shake, and a protein bar, and it promises results immediately. The only problem with “Turbo Takeoff” is it’s sure to leave you starving. U.S. News & World Report explains you’ll only be eating 1,000 calories, which certainly isn’t enough to keep you satisfied.
Who’s Nutrisystem good for?
Nutrisystem may be expensive and a bad choice for those who love to cook, but for some, it actually might be the right way to go. If you’re short on time and looking to see progress fast with minimal effort, this program can offer you that. Also, WebMD explains the meals are generally low in sodium and saturated fats, so people with heart disease looking to lose weight may benefit. But if you love to shop for your own food, cook your own meals, and learn healthy habits from the get-go without spending your entire paycheck, you should skip it.