The NutriSystem Diet
What It Is
The NutriSystem weight management program is the ultimate in convenience. Dieters who don't want to think about portion sizes, planning, shopping for or cooking meals will love the NutriSystem diet plan. You simply make your food selections and then get a month's worth of meals delivered to your door in microwave-ready pouches.
Overall, the diet is healthy. The meals are low in sodium, saturated and trans fats, and include whole grains and a wide variety of foods. And portion-controlled meals offer an advantage for anyone who has trouble with portion size.
The NutriSystem diet plan started in 1972. Since then it has undergone many changes, and today features the NutriSystem Advanced plan (launched in 2008), a "glycemic advantage" approach promoting "good carbs," low fat, healthy protein, and high-fiber ready-cooked meals. NutriSystem Advanced meals also contain soluble fiber and omega-3 fatty acids to promote heart health and feelings of fullness.
The glycemic index is a popular weight loss tool, based on the idea that foods ranking low on the glycemic scale help stabilize blood sugar and reduce cravings. The premise of the NutriSystem plan is eating high-fiber, low-fat foods with optimal amounts of lean protein to curb cravings and satisfy hunger on fewer calories.
Women follow a 1,200-calorie plan and men are allowed 1,500 calories per day. Meals are chosen and delivered via mail from the NutriSystem web site or over the phone. Meal, snack, and dessert options are available in shelf-stable pouches that can be conveniently heated in a microwave oven. The food costs approximately $260-$340/month (plus additional costs for supplemental items from your local grocer).
In addition to receiving the prepared meals, dieters are encouraged to learn to modify their eating behaviors. They receive a 12-week, self-guided "Mindset Makeover" behavioral guide, written by Temple University obesity expert Gary Foster, PhD, which addresses everything from curbing cravings to the importance of social support. In addition, diet and fitness guidance, a weight loss community, and support are available online. Counselors are also available over the telephone.
Exercise -- at least 30 minutes daily -- is recommended while following the NutriSystem diet plan. Dieters can use the demonstration CDs included in their packet or choose online fitness plans that can be tailored to various fitness levels. Options include aerobics, yoga, and resistance-training programs.
What You Can Eat
Dieters choose from more than 150 entrees and desserts that promise to be balanced in protein, fat, and "good" carbs. The diet is made up of 55% carbohydrates, 25% protein, and 20% fat. Most of the NutriSystem meals are lower in saturated and trans fats, sodium (approximately 1,800-2,200 milligrams per day), and rich in whole grains. The meals are supposed to be supplemented with 6 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Dieters eat five to six meals a day, which should help control hunger.