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We all live busy lives – between work, family, and the unexpected emergencies that always come up at the worst possible time; planning meals around your weight-loss goals can be almost impossible.
But, by outsourcing meal-management, it can become effortless. Nutrisystem Turbo 13 plus the Turbo Takeoff jump start week will take care of:
- Portion control
- Preparing and delivering pre-made meals to your home
- Setting the optimum meal schedule for weight-loss
- Jump-starting your weight-loss for fast results
The Nutrisystem Plan
Nutrisystem is a time-saving meal delivery plan designed to get rid of excess weight through meal planning and portion control. Nutrisystem meals are high-protein to prevent the hunger pangs that can derail most self-directed diets. Nutrisystem meals also supply healthy carbs like vegetables and nutrient-rich grains that the body digests slowly. You’ll feel fuller longer and eat fewer calories to lose weight without going hungry.
What is Nutrisystem Turbo 13?
Early weight loss is a proven predictor of dieting success. Nutrisystem offers a fantastic diet plan that promises to help you lose up to 13 pounds and 7 inches in your first month!
Nutrisystem Turbo 13 could be your ticket to successfully transform your appearance, get healthier, and feel better about yourself.
Nutrisystem’s Turbo 13 speeds your weight loss from the first week with:
- Three satisfying and delicious meals per day
- A TurboShake every day to keep hunger pangs at bay
- Nutrisystem’s brand new delicious and nutritious NutriCurb bars included – free! Enjoy them for a hunger satisfying between-meal snack
- 7 free TurboBoosters to boost metabolism and increase your energy
The only food item you’ll need to add on your own is four healthy servings of non-starchy vegetables per day during the Turbo Takeoff jumpstart week.
Nutrisystem Offers Lots of Help
The first week doing Turbo Takeoff could be tough.
Bad habits are hard to break, but Nutrisystem offers lots of help to keep you on track with their handy Daily Tracker log and “Numi” food-tracking app that helps you keep an eye on your results.
You’ll have access to a professional support team of trained weight-loss counselors and certified diabetes educators that you can call for advice and emotional support any day of the week.
Use the Nutrisystem Daily Tracker log, Numi app, and counselors to make losing weight fast and easy.
Is Nutrisystem Turbo 13 a Crash Diet?
No, Nutrisystem Turbo 13 isn’t a crash diet. Crash diets are nutrient poor, unhealthy, and you’ll usually gain the weight right back (plus a little extra).
Nutrisystem is a meal delivery system that will help you learn healthy eating habits while effortlessly controlling portions for steady and long-term weight loss. Turbo 13 jump-starts weight loss with a week of nutrition-packed meals calculated for quick success as part of an effective weight loss strategy.
Once your Turbo Takeoff jumpstart week is over; you’ll keep losing weight with the standard Nutrisystem meal plan for the next three weeks to continue watching the pounds melt away.
Wow your friends and family by using the Turbo 13 program to quickly look your best for any special occasion – or just to show off great pics from that beach holiday. You only need to begin the Nutrisystem Turbo 13 at least a month before to impress everybody with a new, incredible, thinner, amazing you!
The holiday season between November and December means that the average American will gain between five and ten pounds of weight. When you include the effects of increased alcohol consumption, skipped workouts so you can make time for shopping and visiting family – the holidays can be a challenge to anyone’s health.
But, there are ways to avoid the worst of it.
The holidays aren’t the time to lose weight, but it doesn’t have to be an excuse to ruin your health. The trick is to go into this time of year with a plan. Here are eleven ways to maintain your health through the unavoidable get-togethers, parties, and family functions.
#1 Don’t Get Sick
Winter is cold and flu season. Avoid infection by regularly washing your hands and urging others you work or live with to do the same. Keep warm by layering clothes so you can quickly take a layer off when indoors to avoid over-heating. Use salt or grit liberally on any icy patches. Keep a close eye on little ones and the elderly, who are at higher risk of falls during this time.
#2 Avoid Excess Stress
The holiday months are a necessarily stressful time. You’re managing work responsibilities along with added commitments to friends and family. The stress of paying for gifts and emotional strain of dealing with difficult family members can be overwhelming. Anticipate these sources of stress and prepare for them. This could mean committing to fewer social gatherings or sticking to a strict budget.
#3 Don’t Think that this is the Most Depressing time of Year
Your mental outlook has a strong influence on your health. Keep a positive attitude, and many potential crises will turn out to be only inconveniences. In fact, depression isn’t more common during the holidays, and suicide rates in the United States are lowest in December. Enjoy the season, but don’t over-think things like party invitations, absent loved ones, and unexpected problems.
#4 Take Your Vitamins
While it’s not exactly a happy pill, some supplements may elevate your mood. Some studies show that consuming omega-3 fatty acids could help relieve depression; other research has concluded that increased vitamin D intake may improve mood. Consider adding a daily omega-3 or vitamin D supplement to your diet. You can also just increase your intake of foods rich in omega-3s, such as fish, flaxseed, and walnuts and drinking more vitamin D fortified milk.
#5 Don’t Obsess over Social Media
This is the time of year when people are posting to social media to show off the trips, gifts, and holiday bonuses they’re enjoying. Take it all with a grain of salt – much posted to social media is exaggerated or utterly false. Even when someone’s impressive holiday posts are true; remember that you’re not the only one who didn’t spend New Year’s Eve in Bali.
#6 Try to Catch-up during Weekends
There is a lot going on, and it can be difficult to catch up on sleep and household chores. Use your days off to try and catch up on all of it. With a little planning in advance, you should be able to schedule eight hours of sleep, putting the house in order, shopping, and anything else that has to be done. The most important thing is to get some quality sack time – sleep deprivation could cause all sorts of health problems, and chronic sleep deprivation has been identified as a risk factor for diabetes and weight gain.
#7 Moderate Your Alcohol Consumption
Drinking too much could result in a severe hangover, but that isn’t all you need to worry about. This is the time of year that doctors also report observing a significant spike in erratic heartbeats also called holiday heart syndrome. It’s more prevalent in people who aren’t usually heavy drinkers but drink a lot for a short time. Doctors believe that past a certain amount, alcohol could be toxic enough to cardiac cells that it disrupts the normal heart rate.
Try these ways to keep holiday drinks from impacting your health:
- Put ice in your drinks. The ice will melt, dilute the strength of the drink and reduce your alcohol (and calorie) intake
- Stop drinking at least a couple of hours before going to sleep. Metabolizing alcohol will disrupt sleep patterns, cause you to wake frequently, and keeps you from getting the full restorative benefits of sleep.
- Just say no. It isn’t rude to politely refuse a drink when you don’t want one.
#8 Travel Safely
Make sure that you’re in good condition to drive before getting in the car. If you’re tired or have had a couple of drinks too many – don’t get behind the wheel. Never be in such a rush that seatbelts and child car seats are being used correctly. A car accident may ruin some other family’s holidays as well as yours.
#9 Make Time for Exercise
While fitting in time for everybody and everything else, don’t forget to make time to take care of yourself. As difficult as it may seem, keep to your fitness routine (if you have one). If you don’t exercise regularly, there’s no reason not to start now. If you join a gym this is the emptiest time of year – there’ll always be a treadmill or exercise bike available!
#10 Stock the Fridge with Healthy Eating Options
From the office to your Aunt’s living room; there’s going to be sweets, pastries, and cakes everywhere. Take care of your health by stocking your refrigerator with healthy foods. Keep a ready supply of fruit juices, vegetables, lean meats, dairy, and nuts to get the fiber, vitamins, minerals, and essential fats that can help undo some of the damage from the six donuts you had at work today.
#11 Politely Refuse More Often Than Not
As difficult as it may be, sometimes it’s best to politely decline that extra slice of pie and risk offending somebody. The weight gain people typically experience over the holidays is strictly the result of over-eating. Minimize the damage from eating way more than you do the rest of the year by learning to refuse offered food.
I know, it’s your mom or grandmother’s traditional holiday cookies or cakes, and it can seem rude or hurtful to refuse – but if you want to keep your holiday weight gain to a minimum; it’s the only way to go.
For decades the advice has been to eat a diet high in carbohydrates and low in fat to prevent many chronic illnesses – especially heart disease. We’ve also been taught that the brain needs copious amounts of glucose in the form of sugars to work at peak efficiency. But, what if that advice was wrong?
There’s been lots of buzz recently about an alternate energy source that our bodies and brains can use: Ketones.
According to the most recent research, ketones are a naturally occurring substance that the human body can produce under certain conditions, and may offer a broad range of health benefits that starches and sugars don’t.
What Are Ketones
To understand ketones, and their role in human nutrition we need to go back to our early hunter/gatherer origins before the advent of agriculture.
For early man, there was no such thing as three meals per day. People ate when food was available and went hungry when food ran out until a new supply could be gathered or hunted down. We can assume that they went hungry more often than not – between winter shortages, the occasional drought and over-hunting an area, food could be scarce for weeks at a time.
When there isn’t a ready supply of the glucose which the body uses as its principal fuel source, and glycogen levels have been depleted, the body looks for another source of fuel – stored fat. This can happen when someone fasts, during starvation, or when eating a low-carb diet.
When the body breaks down fats for energy, ketones are produced to fuel the body and brain. This is known as being in ketosis.
People following a ketogenic (low-carb) diet intentionally reduce their carbohydrate intake to below 50 grams of carbs per day to produce ketones for energy. Recent studies have concluded that there are some incredible benefits to eating a ketogenic diet.
Ketones fight Diabetes
Eating a ketogenic diet keeps blood glucose levels at a low (but, still healthy) level which stimulates the break down of body fat into ketones. Being in ketosis can mean that people taking insulin may require smaller doses, which minimizes the risk of health-damaging dosing errors. A ketogenic diet encourages the body to burn fat and therefore causing weight loss that can help eliminate one risk factor for diabetes or reverse prediabetes if it’s already a problem.
Ketones and Brain Health
According to several recent studies, using ketones instead of sugar as the primary source of the body’s energy can have a protective effect on the brain. In the 1920s researchers found out that a ketogenic diet controlled epilepsy, and ketosis is still one of the most effective treatments for it. Since then, further studies have confirmed that ketones can alter brain metabolism in ways that help many neurological problems and even improve behavioral issues like ADHD.
Over the last ten years, other studies have supported the health benefits of ketosis in patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. A 2004 study treated twenty individuals with Alzheimer’s or mild dementia with a placebo or ketones. Treatment increased the level of ketone 90 minutes later, and these higher ketone levels corresponded with greater memory improvements.
By severely restricting sugar and starch intake, the ketogenic diet already reduces a major risk factor for heart disease: Obesity. But, using ketones for energy has other benefits for our cardiovascular health.
Changing to a ketogenic diet reduces almost all risk factors for heart disease. When carbohydrate intake is reduced, and fat intake is increased, these cardiovascular disease risk markers change:
- Blood glucose levels drop, reducing tissue damage from glycation (internal ‘cooking’ of proteins)
- Triglycerides in the blood are reduced
- There is an increase in ‘good’ cholesterol
- Blood sugar and insulin levels go down
Slowing the Aging Process
Ketogenic diets that encourage the production of ketones could slow the aging process in two ways:
- The ketogenic diet can reduce oxidative damage inside the body, and increases the levels of uric acid and other powerful antioxidants in the body. As written earlier, recent studies have suggested that ketosis and the relying on ketones for energy could provide relief for many neurological disorders. Besides Alzheimer’s disease, ketones could help heal ALS, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke. There is even one study that showed a ketone called beta-hydroxybutyrate could slow down aging by initiating a gene which modifies factors related to the aging process.
- Ketones support mitochondrial function by increasing glutathione, a potent antioxidant found in all our cells that functions directly inside the mitochondria (power generators in the cells). This is critical because the antioxidants we eat in our diet can’t easily make it into the mitochondria.
Ketones in Your Diet
Besides eating a low-carb diet, there are other ways to increase your ketone levels. Coconut oil is almost 65 percent ketones (in the form of medium chain triglycerides) and has been used by people to help improve the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological issues.
It’s also possible to purchase medium chain triglyceride oil online and in many health food stores. There is also an increasing number of ketone containing drinks hitting the market. But, maintaining a low-carb diet is still one of the most convenient ways to reap the health benefits of ketones.
There are incredible stories circulating about people who have used the macrobiotic diet to overcome incurable, end-stage cancer.
Unsurprisingly, people dealing with cancer typically find these stories incredibly compelling. One of the things that make a cancer diagnosis so overwhelming is the feeling of helplessness that it often brings both patients and loved ones.
While your cancer is outside of your control; diet and nutrition is something you can take control of.
Keep reading to find out:
- What is the macrobiotic diet?
- The benefits of eating this way
- What results have other cancer patients had?
- What does science say?
What is the Macrobiotic Diet?
Let’s start with the word – macrobiotic.
It’s a combination of two ancient Greek words macro; which means large or long, and bio; the Greek word that means life.
The macrobiotic diet is plant-based and was originally conceived by a Japanese philosopher called George Ohsawa in the 1920s. He concluded that we could live in greater harmony with nature by eating a simple, healthy diet.
According to Ohsawa; whole, living food possesses abundant energy and where it was grown and how it was prepared, among various other factors – affects how that food energy will flow.
So, when you eat, this energy is transferred to your body, influencing the way you feel and affecting your health.
He was also firmly convinced that a macrobiotic diet would also cure cancer and other serious illnesses.
Macrobiotic diets became trendy in the U.S. during the 1960s as a “counter-culture” eating approach that encouraged:
- Living with greater harmony,
- Adopting a positive mindset
- Viewing food as more than merely fuel
The aim of the macrobiotic diet is to avoid any foods that contain toxins.
Many people on a macrobiotic diet limit themselves to an entirely vegan diet (no dairy products or meats). But others follow a diet to that includes limited amounts of organically sourced fish and meat.
There are many different varieties of the macrobiotic diet being followed around the world, but most have the following things in common:
Complex carbohydrates; such as barley, brown rice, oats, millet, and corn make up a large part of the food eaten, totaling roughly 30% to 40% of daily calorie consumption.
Sea vegetables are a staple component of most macrobiotic diets. Sea vegetables are usually about 5% to 10% of total calories.
50% to 80% of calories on a macrobiotic diet will come from complex carbohydrates, composed of:
- 15% to 30% of healthy fats
- 10% to 20% of proteins
Even though carbohydrates are eaten in relatively high amounts – refined carbs like processed grains and pure sugar are typically avoided.
The Benefits of Eating this Way
Particular studies have discovered substantial evidence that macrobiotic-style diets support cardiovascular health, including by lowering your serum lipid levels and reducing blood pressure levels.
This conclusion isn’t surprising when you consider the broad range of both high-antioxidant and anti-inflammatory foods that are eaten in a macrobiotic diet.
The macrobiotic diet is rich in dietary fiber because it includes all kinds of high-fiber foods, such as vegetables, beans, and ancient grains. Eating lots of fiber has been shown to mitigate cardiovascular disease risk factors by multiple mechanisms, including:
- Lipid reduction,
- Body weight regulation
- Improved glucose metabolism
- Blood pressure control
- Reduction of chronic inflammation
Similar to other whole food-based diets that get rid of junk foods, packaged food products, processed drinks, and fried and fast foods; the macrobiotic diet is extremely low in refined sugar, fats, and artificial ingredients.
This makes for a highly nutrient-dense diet that’s high in fiber, vitamin E, vitamin C, and fiber while remaining low in overall calories.
The diet can have potential benefits for people with food allergies because it eliminates many allergens that may cause indigestion, such as; dairy, virtually all wheat gluten and nightshade plants (such as tomatoes).
One major drawback is that macrobiotic diets will tend to include high quantities of high-sodium foods, consisting mostly of things like soy sauce, fermented soy products, and those sea vegetables mentioned earlier.
The Macrobiotic Diet and Cancer
While diet is only one component in a complex puzzle when it comes to cancer prevention, and results will vary from one person to another; research strongly suggests that eating a macrobiotic diet may help to lower your risk of developing cancer in part by supplying extraordinarily high levels of antioxidants and phytoestrogens.
A 2011 paper published in the Journal of Nutrition states that,
“On the basis of available evidence and its similarity to dietary recommendations for chronic disease prevention, the macrobiotic diet probably carries a reduced cancer risk.”
Women who consume a macrobiotic diet will tend to have slightly lower circulating estrogen levels – which has been tied to significantly lowering your risk for breast cancer.
The various macrobiotic diets may do this by providing large amounts of phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogens) from foods like sesame seeds and fermented soy products.
These foods might help regulate the production of natural estrogen by binding to the estrogen receptor sites in your body.
While excess estrogen can come with certain health risks; in the case of women older than 50 who are experiencing a natural decrease in estrogen levels during menopause – the extra estrogen from this diet could help reduce their cancer risk, along with the other health benefits of following a plant-based diet.
What does science say?
The macrobiotic diet is one of the most popular dietary approaches to treating many chronic diseases, including cancer, but few studies have proven any effectiveness in either preventing disease or managing it.
More research needs to be done before we can draw any reliable conclusions about this diet’s potential healing benefits.
Concerns about the Macrobiotic Diet and Cancer
There are serious concerns regarding the treatment of cancer using a dietary approach, including:
- Life-threatening delays of medical treatments or doctor visits
- Hindered immune function from nutritional deficiencies, such as too little protein, calcium, iron, vitamin B, and vitamin D
- Eating too few calories, which may cause fatigue and muscle loss
Many people also find that following a macrobiotic diet can create social limitations due to strictly adhering to the diet that makes it hard to maintain.
Furthermore, macrobiotic foods can be hard to find, while salt intake on this diet plan is too high according to some medical professionals.
And, for obvious reasons – there’s substantial disagreement about the requirement that dieters eliminate almost all fruits.
If You Have an Existing Condition
These are all valid concerns about using the macrobiotic diet.
And anyone considering following a macrobiotic diet should weigh them against
- Personal preferences
- State of your overall health
But, if you have an existing condition, like heart disease or cancer, or if you take medications, you should ask your doctor before you start any new way of eating to avoid risking your health or experiencing any signs or symptoms of poor health.
A Final Word
Evidence shows that a plant-based, macrobiotic diet can be a significantly effective way to improve your overall health by:
- Helping to reduce your blood pressure
- Lessen the risk of developing diabetes
- Help you maintain a healthy body weight
- Reduce inflammation
The increased anti-oxidant and phytoestrogen of a macrobiotic intake may also act to prevent the development of certain cancers.
But, so far, there is no scientific evidence that shows that following a macrobiotic diet will help treat or cure anyone currently fighting cancer.
Are you the type that snacks a lot throughout the day, and then skips the healthy lunch and dinner that the people in your life prepare for you? Consider this, for the best uptake of calories, minerals and nutrients everyone should eat six small meals a day. Many of us love to skip breakfast, which is a bad idea as it delays the pace at which your metabolism gets doing its job of supplying the body with energy from the foods you’ve eaten versus burning your energy stores. Then we eat an unhealthy lunch like a burger with fries, what ever convinced people that a burger with minimal veggies on it and lots of carbs from the bun needed the complement of an excessive amount of carbs and fats from the fried french fries? Top it off with a double sized soda that has more sugar in it than the FDA recommends in an entire day. Then mid-afternoon you go ahead and grab a sugary snack like a bag of gummy bears or a bag of chips. With just the size of that caloric undertaking alone it is no wonder that when you get home and look down dismissively at the healthy balanced meal that has been prepared by your parents or wife, Including vegetables and a reasonable piece of meat, likely with a complex carb thrown in to fill you up. But low and behold when it comes time to watch 3 plus hours of TV on the couch nothing could be finer than a bag of Fritos and a couple of beers or some more sugary soda.
Does that kinda living sound familiar to you? If you want to do it right you need to have the awareness to recognize what it is that you’re doing and the discipline to change it. Many dietitians, athletes and regular folks just like you have found through trial and error that they remain healthiest when they eat multiple smaller meals throughout the day. Start with a light breakfast that is likely richer in carbs than most of your meals. The earlier you eat your carbs the higher likelihood that you’ll burn them for that day.
When you feel the need to eat between meals try snacking on nuts and fruits. Not only will the nuts provide protein for whatever physical activity you take on daily. The other upside of the fruits and vegetables is that they provide better than 90% of your vitamin and mineral needs daily. Besides the benefit of the fiber in them being a big positive for your digestion system. Particularly if you have a craving for sweets you will find that the natural sugars in fruit does a good job of satisfying them.
Eating better doesn’t have to mean abstaining from the foods that get you excited. If you like McDonalds eat it once in awhile but make it a treat. I am not trying to turn this into a zen awareness thing but the reality is that if you are aware of your dieting behavior it is much easier to make changes to it. Practice awareness when it comes to your diet. When you know that you have eaten really well all week and feel like a treat it then may be time to go to Five Guys for that double burger w/ bacon, jalapeños, mushrooms and a double order of cajun fries with a large Coke.
The reality of eating decent is that you end up feeling better and I don’t just mean mentally. I mean you literally feel better, less bloating, more energy. All those things end up having you feel more comfortable in your skin. What you’ll find is the better you eat the more comfortable you are stacking on the activities in both your professional life and personal physical activities. Yeah we’ve all heard it before but the reality is this it’s a cannonball effect that begins with making a few good decisions about what you’ll put into your body on the regular and then recognizing which of those things you can get away with enjoying once in awhile as a special treat.
Much like the recent discovery that coffee drinkers, 3-4 cups per day, tend to be pretty fit healthy eaters will share a similar observation. Meaning this, the jury is still out on whether or not 4 cups a coffee per day is good for you, however, there is no doubt that most of the people drinking four cups of coffee daily are in better shape than a lot of people purely because they are more active and are burning more calories throughout the day to their increased energy. In that sense being a heavy coffee drinker is a lifestyle. Well eating better can be a lifestyle too.
I am a testament to eating well with a moderate amount of physical activity in my life. I typically will eat two cups of fruits and veggies every day along with whole grains and meats. I do not exclude red meats from my diet and am passionate about them. My exercise routine is 2-4 times per week in the gym and whatever physical activity I can get in on the side, mountain biking, wakeboarding and even walking. I am certainly not the most physically active person that I know. However I have the same waist size I had in college and have added muscle mass to my body and gained weight. I did a body fat analysis at the end of last fall and was at around 14.5%. Likely better than when I was in college which I attest purely to eating with a solid awareness of what foods I put into my body, pretty good as I am into my forties now. Working to keep a balance of healthy foods with the occasional treat of Fast Foods or the routine Pizza isn’t that hard versus the satisfaction and overall health returns I see from it.
Weight loss is a journey. Some people attempt to find their own way, while others prefer a roadmap. Nutrisystem is one such navigation system on the road to losing weight.
The basics of Nutrisystem involve selecting a plan of 1200 calories for women or 1500 calories for men. The plans are structured to eat 6 small meals every 2-4 hours with the goal of maintaining energy levels. Research has shown that when energy levels remain steady through consistent intake of quality nutrition sources, metabolism will work more efficiently to promote weight loss. Increasing your body’s ability to burn calories at rest (known as basal metabolic rate) is one of the main goals of the Nutrisystem plan. Safe weight loss is ½ to 2 pounds a week, which promotes long term success while reducing risk of gaining back weight.
Meal Timing and Metabolism
A common weight loss mistake is skipping meals or drastically cutting calories. It is assumed that less intake of calories automatically leads to weight loss. And if significant calories are cut, weight loss should occur faster. However, our bodies don’t follow this logic. When we go long periods of time without providing energy, our body assumes there is an emergency and goes into survival mode. This means the body is conserving energy by slowing down metabolism because it doesn’t want to waste unnecessary energy (ie. calories). In turn, fat stores are built up. Fat is a very rich source of energy the body doesn’t like tapping into unless absolutely needed. Essentially, it’s the energy equivalent of a 401K – lots of money but impossible to withdraw from the account. While you simply are trying to lose weight through reducing calorie intake and skipping meals, your body assumes you’re stranded on a desert island with no sources of food or water. This triggers “starvation mode” and a slower metabolic rate.
Nutrisystem attempts to keep the body out of starvation mode by supplying meals and snacks and a suggested meal timing schedule of every 2-4 hours. The meals provide an average of 150-250 calories, while snacks are around 150 calories. This allows the body adequate energy to meet nutrition needs while simultaneously promoting weight loss.
As a registered dietitian nutritionist, my main goal is educating clients on meal timing and quality food choices. Some need just a few pointers and encouragement to get them on track. Others need a very “paint by numbers” approach, like Nutrisystem. I had an opportunity to review Nutrisystem in more depth to determine if it’s a potential option to offer clients.
What Works with Nutrisystem Plan
When it comes to weight loss, behavior change is more important than the actual food being consumed. Nutrisystem is a plan that encourages behavior change through meal timing, portion sizes, cooking skills, and some planning. One sign I tell my clients to be wary of when looking at weight loss programs are those that require the purchase of special food items. However, the premise of Nutrisystem is following their meals that are pre-planned and pre-portioned with healthy weight loss in mind. As I mentioned, there are some people who need that extra hand-holding when it comes to starting a weight loss plan, which Nutrisystem’s meal plans can provide. As a dietitian with a “food first” philosophy, I appreciate that Nutrisystem puts emphasis on food rather than promoting the use of supplements.
The key to success on the Nutrisystem plan is the reinforcement that meals or snacks must be consumed every 2-4 hours and discourages skipping meals in order to keep metabolism boosted. This plan also heavily encourages the addition of fruit and veggies to all meals. The recommendation is to have at least four servings of veggies (1 serving = ½ C cooked or 1C raw) and 1-2 servings of fruit per day. When it comes to changing eating habits, any plan that does not promote the intake of fruits and veggies is questionable. Bravo, Nutrisystem! It should be noted that most meals or snacks provided by Nutrisystem don’t come with a significant serving of veggies or fruit (if they are included at all), so those must be purchased on your own at a local grocery store. Water is another nutrient that is encouraged on the plan, with a general guideline of at least 8 eight ounce glasses per day. Other positive lifestyle factors like adequate sleep and smoking cessation are also encouraged to promote optimal success on program.
All Nutrisystem plans begin with a Turbo Takeoff during the first week of the program. This portion was designed to shock the system in preparation for the duration of the Nutrisystem plan. Select breakfast, lunch, and dinners are provided during this week, along with TurboShakes™ and NutriCrush bars. Personally, I’m not a fan when shakes and bars are promoted as a meal replacement instead of eating wholesome fruits and veggies, but it is only for the first 7 days before fully transitioning on to the program.
Once a participant is fully utilizing the Nutrisystem plan, they have the flexibility to select their own meals. Participants receive daily trackers with meals outlined and color-coded, a food diary, and a Grocery Guide to help in selecting supplemental fruit and veggie items. Food are categorized as follows:
- Smart Carb: complex, high fiber carbohydrates including fruits, whole grains, and starchy veggies
- Power Fuel: lean sources of protein including meats, dairy, and nuts
- Veggies: non-starchy vegetables
- Free Food: items used as flavoring including spices and seasonings
- Extras: sweeteners, fats, and oils including butter, mayo, avocado, honey, and dressing
Need more info on specific foods that fall into these categories? Check out this helpful guide. The NuMi tracking system, available online and via smartphone app, helps participants monitor program progress. This can also sync to fitness device.
An important aspect of the Nutrisystem plan is the incorporation of FlexMeals. These are meals that participants prepare for themselves. One breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack are required on your own each week (no all in the same day). I like this feature because it forces participants to take some ownership and control of their meals. While I’m sure Nutrisystem would love people to be on their plan forever, it’s not realistic. People need to be given tools to fly on their own for long term success.
Which brings us to the Nutrisystem Success plan, a guided transition off the Nutrisystem meals and promotes maintenance of positive habits in addition to weight loss. Nutrisystem Success provides meal plans, portion control containers, and a start-up guide to eat more self-prepared meals. Participants are given the option to continue ordering meals and snacks a la carte.
What Needs Improvement for Nutrisystem
The premise of meal timing and incorporation of fruits and vegetables are two positive factors for the Nutrisystem plan. However, upon viewing the options available to participants, the quality of foods offered could use a makeover. Breakfast and snacks are particularly the most concerning, as they are very carb-heavy foods including cinnamon buns, muffins, and bars. One area of emphasis I work on with my clients is ensuring breakfast include a source of protein and high fiber foods to feel fuller longer and slow glucose absorption. While the items are labeled as “good sources” of protein and fiber, the amount of protein provided in these items is inadequate for a meal. There should be more PowerFuel items promoted for breakfast and potentially even recommend supplementing as needed.
Likewise, the snack options available still promote intake of cookies, cakes, chocolate bars, pretzels, and cheese puffs. Sure, the items are considered “diet-friendly”, but swapping a Nutrisystem cookie in place of non-Nutrisystem cookie is not changing the behavior to make better choices. Instead the plan should be encouraging intake of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, nuts, and healthy fats such as nut butters and avocado. The same can be said when pizza and stromboli make up a lot of lunch and dinner options. More emphasis should be placed on portion size and the incorporation of veggies rather than swapping a less desirable choice for a different brand.
Another educational area I work on a lot with my clients is the intake of bars. A bar is not a meal. It can sometimes be a snack. But the quality of bars can be questionable and often a glorified candy bar in disguise. Seeing Nutrisystem include a multitude of bars as a breakfast or lunch option is a little discouraging when it comes to truly changing behavior.
Lunch and dinner provide more substantial sources of protein. However, it feels like there is a missed opportunity here to incorporate more variety and educate on whole grains and plant-based proteins. Whole grain options can be incorporated into meals where rice or pasta are currently being used. Whole grains actually freeze better and don’t lose their texture like pasta, which can get mushy after freezing. With movements like Meatless Monday, it would be ideal to incorporate more bean, soy, and other plant-based proteins into meals. You have a captive audience, so why not try something new?
Cost is another factor to take into account with a program like Nutrisystem. Plans range from Basic ($9.82/day), Core ($10.54/day) and Uniquely Yours ($11.96/day). This does not include supplemental items including fruits and vegetables that need to be purchased as well. However, I always ask my clients to assess the cost of convenience before assuming something is too expensive. With Nutrisystem, you are paying for meals that are prepared, portioned, and ready to eat, along with a plan and support. When taking all those features into account, the cost isn’t as prohibitive as one may think. Plus, with Nutrisystem, food waste (which leads to money waste) can also be eliminated due to frozen meals and having a plan in place.
There are a few areas that could use more emphasis with Nutrisystem. Physical activity could definitely use more attention within the program. The USDA recommendation of 30 minutes most days tends to be casually mentioned, but not promoted as much as meal consumption. When it comes to behavior change and health, exercise is as important as food choices. Another missed opportunity is teaching clients how to read food labels, which becomes extremely important once someone transitions to the Nutrisystem Success maintenance plan.
Nutrisystem has a few contraindications for people to consider before starting the program. The ingredients are not ideal for people with celiac, latex/soy/peanut allergies, or chronic kidney disease (CKD). Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not be cutting calories and therefore this program would not be appropriate. There are lacto-ovo vegetarian options (dairy and eggs), but no vegan options are available at this time. One area where Nutrisystem has put focus is offering a diabetes-friendly plan, but this is another area where more education could be provided on carb counting and label reading.
Finally, as the author of the couple’s nutrition blog, Nutrition Nuptials, one area I heavily stress with couples is aim to consume as many meals together as a couple – and ideally the same meal. Eating different meals all the time can feel like a disconnect. We don’t realize it, but mealtime is an incredibly important bonding time with our significant other. And for households with children, parents eating different foods can send a confusing message. This can promote pickiness or food/eating issues in children. Significant others can show support for partners participating in Nutrisystem by doing the program as well or having the occasional Nutrisystem dinner together for support. Partners can help participate in planning and prepping for FlexMeals, and becoming educated as well to help with long term maintenance and motivation on the Nutrisystem Success plan.
The Dietitian Verdict on Nutrisystem
This dietitian feels Nutrisystem can provide a good starting point for those aiming to really get a jump on their weight loss goals. Working in conjunction with a registered dietitian nutritionist addresses gaps in education to ultimately set you up for success. Many dietitians accept insurance, which can help offset cost concerns. To find a registered dietitian in your area, consult your insurance plan or visit the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics dietitian database.