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Nutrisystem Review: How I Lost 100 Pounds on the Plan

My Nutrisystem review tells how I lost 100 pounds on the diet plan. If you want to lose weight, read my honest take on Nutrisystem to see if they're for you

Nutrisystem is one of the most popular diet plans to lose weight. As I lost 100 pounds on the plan, I want to do a Nutrisystem review to share honestly what I think about it and if they offer a good solution to lose weight.

As I’ve shared in detail over the past 18 months, I’ve always struggled with my weight, even as a child. Although I was extremely active growing up, playing three sports, I always had a problem with weight. Having just turned 40 I knew if I didn’t make a change it likely wasn’t going to ever happen.

I was always tired. I had little to no energy and would be winded after walking a flight of stairs. That was not the kind of life I wanted. I knew a radical change had to take place. I wanted to add years back to my life and losing a significant amount of weight was the only way to do that.

Thus, I turned to Nutrisystem. This was not a financial decision, per se, as you’ll see they can be relatively expensive – though there are ways to save significant money on the plan. Rather, it was a life decision. There was no real reason why I chose Nutrisystem. I likely chose them after seeing their ads and thought I’d give it a chance. They have a variety of meal plans to choose from and I liked the customization aspect.

I pulled the trigger in February 2014 and on June 19, 2015 I reached my goal of losing 100 pounds. That all being said, let’s move on to my Nutrisystem meal plan review.

Nutrisystem Meals – The Good

 

As I see it, the Nutrisystem meal plan does one thing really well – it teaches you about proper portion size. Prior to going on Nutrisystem I was consuming over 4,000 calories, as I can best estimate, on a given day. I was eating the amount of food needed to feed a small Russian army. The problem is, I looked like a small Russian army. 🙂

Jokes aside, what I really like about Nutrisystem is they reset your mind to look at eating in a more balanced way. You eat what you need. No more, no less. Honestly, at first, this was a literal shock to my system. I went from the 4,000 calorie a day consumption to 1,000 calories per day – for the first week.

I had migraines. I was going through sugar withdrawals. It wasn’t pretty. Three days in, I didn’t think I could make it any longer. I called in and they bumped me up to 1,500 calories per day. That did the trick.

The other thing I liked about the Nutrisystem diet plan is they have a lot of variety, not to mention balanced meals. You have plenty of different foods to choose from. I never counted them, but for each meal there is at least 2-3 dozen different options to choose from. As you’ll see below that came in handy. Variety and portion sizing were key in helping me lose weight. Without either I don’t know if I would have been successful.

Nutrisystem Diet – The Bad

 

You can choose from three meal options with Nutrisystem. The first option allows no choice over the meals you receive – they select them for you. The second options allows you to select what meals you receive. The final option allows you to customize plus the ability to select frozen meals.

I chose the highest end option that came in at $360 per month. The other two plans cost $250 and $300 per month, respectively.

Let that sink in for a moment. $360 per month. Our grocery budget is $500 per month so this was another shock to the system. However, I don’t know I could have stayed with the plan without the frozen items. The plan allows you 10 frozen meals for each breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks with the other 18 meals being non-frozen – per monthly shipment.

To be quite honest, the tastiness of the food varies quite a bit. Some of the food was pretty good. Many of the frozen meals were no different than something you’d buy at the store, aside from the portion size. None of the meals are truly bad, though not too many of them are great. After about a month or two I learned what I liked and stuck with those. That does lead to a bit of monotony, but I was willing to do it if it worked. You should also keep in mind that the food is processed. If that’s important to you to avoid, you will want to keep that in mind.

Another challenge many face is what to do when you travel or go out to eat. I didn’t deal with that much though can see how it can be a challenge. Nutrisystem has quite a number of packaged meals you can take on the go to deal with the travel component. Think KIND bars, or something similar.

Eating out was more of a challenge for me, but I found a good rhythm, though we don’t eat out much anyway. My solution to eating out was to order a large leafy green salad, without dressing and I was usually good.

If you can manage those two challenges and find enough food you like, you’ll be fine.

I should also point out to get this pricing you do need to agree to a recurring monthly shipment. That was the route I took, but can see how you might not want that. They offer weekly plans at a slightly higher price. You can go that route at first to see if you can manage it, then move up to the monthly plan.

My Nutrisystem review tells how I lost 100 pounds on the diet plan. If you want to lose weight, read my honest take on Nutrisystem to see if they're for you

Nutrisystem Savings Hacks

 

As we try to live frugally I instantly wanted to find a way to save money on the Nutrisystem meal plan. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to do just that. Nutrisystem constantly runs different deals, especially at the beginning of the year. Often times they’ll allow you to try the first week or two for free and offer different customizable savings options.

My Nutrisystem savings hack actually came as a result of Costco. Our Costco sells a lot of different gift cards, one of them being for Nutrisystem. The standard deal is a $100 Nutrisystem gift card for $80. I would buy three per month and redeem them when ordering my food and save $60 for the month.

Several times during my 15 months on the Nutrisystem diet plan Costco lowered the price to $60 for a $100 gift card. I would stock up during those times, allowing us to save $120 per month.

I also bought discounted gift cards through EBay that provided similar savings. I believe I paid full price only the first month as there was ample opportunity to save money.

What Do You Eat on Nutrisystem

 

I was commonly asked what you can eat while on Nutrisystem. When you’re on the Nutrisystem meal plan you get your three meals plus two snacks per day. They allow you supplement that with a variety of items.

nutrisystem foodnutrisystem cooked

 

nutrisystem chicken enchiladanutrisystem cooked chicken enchiladaSome of those items are limited (3 cups of air popped popcorn for example) and some are unlimited (such as non-starchy vegetables). Below is a sample menu of what I’d eat each day:

Breakfast: Nutrisystem breakfast plus a low sugar Greek yogurt

Morning snack: One piece of fruit – usually a banana or orange

Lunch: Nutrisystem lunch plus, bell pepper and some protein (usually a ½ slice of cheese or serving of peanuts)

Afternoon snack: Nutrisystem snack

Dinner: Nutrisystem dinner, large leafy green salad and more protein (usually 2-3 pieces of turkey lunch meat)

Evening snack: Nutrisystem snack

As you can see, you’re eating throughout the day. You will be hungry many times, but that’s the point. You don’t eat to be full. You eat to be satisfied. Thus, the portion sizing I mentioned earlier. I will also point out that as I got closer to my goal I cut fruit and the protein at lunch to cut down on the calories.

Nutrisystem Review – My Take

 

I will be the first to say that a diet plan like Nutrisystem isn’t for everyone. I believe I had to be at a certain place to be successful with it. They do a great job of helping you learn about portion sizing, encouraging you to exercise and be successful.

Nutrisystem rewards bears

 

Nutrisystem also offers a lot of different tools to help encourage and motivate you. They have trained dieticians and counselors to speak with you if you ever have questions. They have an expansive website to get feedback or support. They encourage you to track your progress and reward you by sending a stuffed animal for every ten pounds lost. That’s admittedly a bit silly, but I found getting the next bear challenged me to move on. Stupid, I know, but it worked. You’ll see my haul above by the way. 🙂

I know it’s a challenge to spend money to lose weight, especially when the food isn’t always the best. I dealt with that. I used the money we spent as a motivation to continue. I knew if I went off the plan that I might as well be throwing money in the trashcan. That’s the last thing I wanted. That being said, if you’re committed and work at it the Nutrisystem diet plan is a good way to try and accomplish your weight loss goals.

Sign up for Nutrisystem and get your first week for free

 

Have you ever tried a diet plan like Nutrisystem and what was your experience? How many times can you eat the same thing in a week without tiring of it? Would you ever pay to lose weight?

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I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. I'm also a freelance writer, and regularly contribute to GoBankingRates, Investopedia, Lending Tree and more. If you're wanting to learn how to monetize your blog, check out my blog coaching services to see how I can help you take your site to the next level.

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15 Comments

  • That’s incredible weight loss, and the health consequences will surely make up for the cost.

    I tried Form-U-3 in the 90s. Lost 30 pounds (to get to my ideal weight) and kept it off for 2-3 years. But it was very restrictive (no cheese!) and I just drifted back. I’ve tried Weight Watchers, lost 20, had more to go but lost motivation. I admit, the processed food in Nutrisystem doesn’t appeal to me. I’m not sure I would be able to transition out well.

    My current plan is to increase movement (with my trusty Fitbit egging me on) and decrease food intake. My husband’s lost about 60 pounds over the last 5 years by cutting out a lot of sugar and drastically reducing his portion size of regular foods. So now I do things like split a beer with him at night, or split a hot dog. It’s slow, but I’m seeing progress.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Thanks Emily – that’s my thought exactly!

      I completely understand the lack of desire for the processed food. It was a challenge for me at times, but the cost and the end goal is what I had to lean on to drive me.

      That being said, congrats to your husband for his weight loss. I think you, generally speaking, need to find what you’re most comfortable with and works for you. So much of it comes down to cutting down that portion size and learning what works for you. Progress is the real goal, in my opinion, to be able to find some sort of balance. Best of luck on your journey – I know it’ll be a challenge I need to regularly stay on top of.

  • Catherine says:

    I’ve never tried anything like nutriaystem but i have tried weigh watchers with some success. I do well with accountability for sure, this I know. I also discovered that my failures with most “diets” is because all i tend to focus on is overall decrease in calories rather than quality of food choices. So sure i can lose weight with WW eating a bowl of low calorie cereal for breakfast and snacking on jello but to me i need to get to a place by eating good, quality food not crap thats low in calories which is where im finally at. I feel much better when i eat well and watch sugar and carb intake (natural and not)…both make me feel very bloated. It’s been a lot of trial and error but i finally feel like i knwo where my diet needs to be at
    Now i need to increase my activity!

    • John Schmoll says:

      I’ve heard good things about WW as well. I’d agree on making those decisions on quality food. The amount of calories is one thing, but making them “good” calories is better. That being said, glad to hear you’ve found that zone for the diet – the activity…I hear ya. 🙂

  • Kim says:

    This sounds like the perfect plan for a busy person who has other people in the house to feed. You don’t have to think about what you can and can’t have. It sounds like it’s all spelled out.

    I am so happy for you. This is such an amazing achievement and inspiration for others. What do you do now that you’ve hit your goal?

    • John Schmoll says:

      You nailed it on the head Kim. We’re so busy that I needed something to manage it for me. As I added completely changed eating habits outside of the plan it became much simpler to follow.

      Thanks! We’ve significantly changed how we eat. A lot of whole, organic foods with a lot of veggies. We eat very little red meat (1-2x month) with a lot of fish. The biggest change has been the portion sizing and eating til satisfied – not til I’m full. I’m working out 5-6 times per week as well as I want to lose another 20-30 pounds.

  • Mindy Jensen says:

    I, too used Nutrisystem to lose weight and had enormous success with it. In January of 2013, I started a 3 days a week, bootcamp style class at my gym. Hard workouts. I paid $400 for the class, and at the end of 2 months I had lost a whopping 2 pounds. My pants didn’t fit better, either.

    Discouraged, I saw the Nutrisystem sale at Costco and bought enough to get me through a few months. Coupled with their sale, I was able to save significantly, too.

    This is an excellent program for those who need to learn proper portion size, which is the key to reducing your weight. People asked me all the time what the food tastes like. It doesn’t taste bad, it just doesn’t taste great. I think this actually worked in my favor, because I would eat because I had to, rather than because I wanted to. My mindset changed and I lost 15 pounds in 2 months.

    Totally worth it. Congratulations John! You look great!

    • John Schmoll says:

      While I didn’t go the bootcamp approach, I did work out quite a bit and usually led to nowhere.

      Glad to hear you had success with Nutrisystem and would wholeheartedly agree with you on the portion sizing. I look at what I eat now vs. two years ago and it’s crazy. I got that from them and the changed diet was combo between them and us just changing our habits.

      I think you put the issue of the food well. Very few things were truly bad, but few things were really great either. I found what I could relatively enjoy and stuck with that.

      Thanks Mindy – I feel great!

  • Okay, well first off NO ONE should go down to 1,000 calories a day. I’m all for losing weight, but I count 1,200 (net after any exercise) as the bare minimum for health. That’s how much a 160 lb person burns lying in bed all day. Much below that — assuming you weigh more than 110ish lbs — and your body goes into starvation mode.

    All of that being said, I’ve been on Nutrisystem with relatively positive results. I have chronic fatigue and am a depressive, so when I took on a full-time job and still had a small daily side hustle (both done from home) I needed to take food out of the equation.

    It was nice to not have to worry about food too much, though it was annoying to have to stay stocked up on veggies and such. Overall, the meals and even desserts were pretty good, and it’s good that they get you eating several small meals a day. It’s something I picked back up again in the past year — and it’s done wonders for my blood sugar and how much I eat.

    But I don’t eat red meat and don’t like seafood, so the choices were limited. So I quit after the second month. Still, I probably lost around 10-15 lbs and wasn’t able to exercise during that time.

    The problem with these meal plans is that I actually don’t believe they teach you portion size. They’re keeping the portions small — too small, really — so that you see significant weight loss quickly.

    I’m glad it worked for you, but I don’t at all believe that Nutrisystem provides a long-term, healthy framework for eating. But if you need quick results, it’s a good way to go. Just make sure you eat at least 1,200 calories a day, people! Otherwise, as soon as you go back to anything resembling “real” food, you’re starvation-mode body will pack on as many pounds as it can in case you do that again.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I should clarify the calorie amount. It was a special 1,000/day for the first week and then they would move me up to 1,500/day. After 3 days I saw the 1,000/day was not sustainable. Adding the extra calories did the trick. Today, I’m usually in the 1,500-1,800/day range. It’s my opinion they start out with that crazy low amount for the first week to give you momentum and continue.

      Glad you had success losing some weight on the plan -especially without being able to exercise while on it.

      That being said, I’d have to disagree with you on the portion sizing. I think they were just fine and when you add in foods they allow you to add in it really is a lot of food – just the right food. I would also add that a big key to leaving the plan is continuing to live out what you learned as you go back to “real” food. If you don’t, you’re leaving yourself open to adding the weight back on.

  • John, Nutrisystem seems really promising! I am planning to lose weight this year and I think this one is perfect. It’s worth giving it a try. I am so excited for my first free for free,

  • This is a really great review, John! Kudos to you for putting in the time, money, and effort into Nutrisystem. It clearly works well for many people (you aren’t the only one I know who has positive reviews of it). I think it’s totally possible to “go it alone” when it comes to a diet and plan all your meals, etc. on your own, but for most busy people this simply isn’t an option. They obviously have a good system going.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Thanks DC. Yea, it definitely does work though so much of it comes down to being committed and being willing to fight through times where you want to give up. I agree, I think it’s totally possible but I know for me I needed a plan to manage it for me. The financial cost wasn’t too bad of a motivator either. 🙂

  • Starla says:

    I’m so glad I found this review! I was struggling with how I was going to afford 300 a month to keep going with nutrisystem… and then came your article with the ebay suggestion. Now I’m saving 80 a month and the 218 is well within my normal range for groceries :D. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

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