Food, Nutrition and Science

The Science of Nutrisystem

How can the Nutrisystem® program promote cardiovascular health?

A reduction in excess weight generally contributes to improved heart health. The Nutrisystem program, which assists members in losing weight by following a proven, balanced plan, supports that goal.

The Nutrisystem program further promotes heart health by providing meal plans that are low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol; contain no trans fats; and meet the USDA's recommended sodium intake level of 2,300mg/day for the general population. For those who need to further reduce their sodium intake, customized meal plans are available that contain as little as 1,500 mg of sodium a day.

You can also contact the Nutrition and Dietary Services Department at 800-585-5483, ext. 1341, for assistance with customizing a low sodium meal plan (800-585-5483, option 3).

What is the Glycemic Index?

Nutrisystem is based on the science of the Glycemic Index, which measures the quality of carbohydrates and how they impact your blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates that break down slowly encourage stable blood sugar levels so they rate well or "low" on the Glycemic Index. The slow and steady breakdown also produces a greater feeling of fullness. Carbs that break down too quickly cause your insulin levels to spike, and high insulin levels can cause your body to store fat. These "bad carbs" are given higher-glycemic values and most often leave you hungry soon after a meal. So if you're looking to lose weight, you should stay away from "bad carbs" and instead, seek to incorporate more "good carbs" with low-glycemic values into your diet to help keep your blood sugar levels stable and your appetite in check. With the recommended combination of fresh grocery items and the Nutrisystem® entrees and snacks, we do the work for you.

Is the Nutrisystem® program low carb?

The Nutrisystem® program features "good carbs" (low glycemic), but it is not a low carb meal plan.

What if my doctor has questions about Nutrisystem?

You can encourage your doctor to visit our website for healthcare professionals at www.nutrisystem.com/hcp. There, your doctor can learn about the nutritional aspects of our foods and meal plans, and can read about the scientific evidence that supports the program and you can as well. You can also download and print information to discuss with your physician about Nutrisystem and how certain conditions and medications may be affected by changing your diet and losing weight.

What are SmartCarb and PowerFuel grocery add-ins?

SmartCarb grocery add-ins are carbohydrate sources that register low on the Glycemic Index, and are digested more slowly, helping you to keep fuller longer. They consist of things like brown rice, wheat pasta, grains and cereals, fresh fruit, and starchy vegetables such as beans and potatoes.

PowerFuel grocery add-ins consist of high quality proteins that contain essential amino acids, and healthy fats from nuts. They digest slower and help you stay full longer while providing an excellent source of protein. They also contribute to muscle tone which, in conjunction with daily activity, can help you feel strong. PowerFuels consist of items like meat, fish, dairy and nuts.

Our Food

What is the sodium content in the Nutrisystem® program?

All of the Nutrisystem® programs meet, and are often below, the USDA's recommended daily intake of 2300 mg sodium or less for the general population (Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010). The actual sodium level may vary based on which plan you choose and which grocery food items you add to your plan. Some individuals may need to limit their sodium intake to 1500 mg daily. If you would like to reduce your sodium intake, please contact Nutrisystem Nutrition and Dietary Services at 1-888-849-4686 to help you customize your program.

You can view the sodium content in our products by clicking here.

Do the Nutrisystem® foods contain MSG, sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners?

Nutrisystem® foods do not contain the ingredient Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). However many of our entrees contain ingredients that have inherent or free glutamate, such as tomatoes, meats, hydrolyzed protein, soy sauce and autolyzed yeast extract. Some Nutrisystem foods do contain sugar alcohols, including maltitol, sorbitol and isomalt, which act as sweeteners. Nutrisystem foods do not contain aspartame or saccharin but some foods do contain sucralose and/or acesulfame K.

Do the Nutrisystem® foods have trans fats?

Nutrisystem foods have 0g of trans fats pursuant to FDA regulations, and are not made with any hydrogenated oils.

Do the Nutrisystem® foods contain peanuts?

Yes, some Nutrisystem® entrees and desserts contain peanuts. Anyone who has a peanut allergy, whether mild or severe, cannot be on the Nutrisystem® program.

Do the Nutrisystem® foods contain any stimulants or appetite suppressants?

No, Nutrisystem® foods do not contain any form of stimulants or appetite suppressants.

Do the Nutrisystem® foods contain any gelatin?

The menu does include a few items that contain gelatin (derived from pork). These foods can be eliminated from your program by customizing your order. Please contact one of our counselors to assist you in this.

Can a vegan be on the Nutrisystem® program?

While we offer a lacto-ovo vegetarian plan, none of our programs would fit the needs of a vegan diet.

Does the milk I put on my cereal at breakfast count as my PowerFuel serving for that meal?

No, that milk is considered included with your Nutrisystem® breakfast entree. It does not count as an additional PowerFuel serving for that meal.

What is the nutritional composition of carbohydrates, protein and fat per day on the Nutrisystem® program?

The Nutrisystem® meal plans provide approximately 50% of the calories from low-glycemic, "good" carbohydrates, 25% of the calories from protein, and 20% of the calories from fat. For more detail on the nutritional averages within meal categories, please refer to the following chart.

Are the Nutrisystem® foods gluten free?

Although Nutrisystem does not currently offer certified gluten free foods, we do offer a few menu items that do not include gluten ingredients.

Contact the Nutrition and Dietary Services Department at 800-585-5483, ext. 1341, for assistance with customizing your meal plan.

What type of bread or roll can I use with the hot dog, hamburger, chicken patty, vegetable fajita and chicken and tuna salads?

A few of our entree items require you to include a whole grain bun or roll. Nutrisystem recommends that this roll be approximately 1 oz. or 80-120 calories.

Is the Nutrisystem® program kosher?

None of the Nutrisystem® foods or manufacturing facilities are certified kosher.

What preservatives are used in Nutrisystem® foods?

Preservatives are not required in most of the Nutrisystem® foods due to the type of processing methods used. Any preservatives that are used meet FDA Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) criteria and can be found in many grocery store foods; these include BHT, potassium sorbate, calcium propionate, and sodium benzoate. If you wish to avoid preservatives, please contact a counselor for a list of foods containing them.

Will changing my diet affect my medications?

It depends. Some medications will be unaffected by changing your diet while on Nutrisystem and losing weight. Other medications may need to be adjusted simply due to a change in the foods you eat, even before you start to lose weight (insulin, for example). Still other medications may interact with ingredients in our food, or with other changes to your diet. You should talk to your doctor before beginning Nutrisystem, or any weight loss or exercise program, to determine if your medications need to be adjusted prior to starting.

What is the soy, soya and soy protein content of Nutrisystem® foods?

Nutrisystem foods vary in soy protein content, and range from 0 to about 10 grams per entree. You can review nutrition and ingredient information for all foods by visiting the "Our Menu" tab on the Nutrisystem® website. Ingredients are listed by weight, with the most prevalent ingredients listed first.

Your Nutrisystem® menu can be customized to reduce the amount of soy protein consumed daily. Contact the Nutrition and Dietary Services Department at 800-585-5483, ext. 1341, for assistance with customizing the soy content of your menu.

Do Nutrisystem® foods expire?

The "Enjoy By" date on our packaging refers strictly to quality, not food safety. This date is recommended for best flavor or product quality. It is not a purchase or safety date. After the date passes, while not of the freshest quality, the product is still safe to eat when handled properly.

If you have received products in your order in which the "Enjoy By" date has passed, you may contact Customer Service via e-mail at customerservice@nutrisystem.com or via phone at 1-800-585-5483 to have the product(s) replaced at no cost to you. To be eligible for replacements at no cost you must call within 30 days of receiving your last order containing the past dated "Enjoy By" products.

Typically, the shelf life of Nutrisystem® foods varies from 6 to 18 months. The products have a code to indicate the production date. In order to know the expiration date on these products, it is then necessary to know how long the shelf life is. We will be more than happy to help if you give us a call at 1-800-585-5483, option number 4, and provide us with the following information: Nutrisystem SKU and Lot Number.

Dietary and Nutrition

Can I drink coffee, tea, energy drinks or other caffeinated beverages on the Nutrisystem® program?

Calorie-free or very low calorie beverages such as coffee, tea, and diet sodas can be used as unlimited extras. If you are adding sweetener or creamer to coffee or tea, we recommend that you select calorie-free sweeteners and low calorie creamers.

Can I still lose weight with the Nutrisystem® program if I have high blood pressure?

Overall, weight loss and weight management are important to improving and controlling blood pressure. All Nutrisystem® programs comply with the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, which recommends less than 2300 mg of sodium per day for the general population. For people with high blood pressure (or other risk factors for heart disease) the target is to restrict sodium to 1500 mg daily. Customized options are available through consultation with Nutrisystem Nutrition and Dietary Services to help you reach this level of sodium restriction, as well as other nutrition targets, in order to support your personal health goals. We always recommend that you consult your physician before beginning any exercise or weight loss program.

What if I am sensitive to lactose or am lactose intolerant?

Nutrisystem offers menu items for those who have lactose intolerance or sensitivity.

To determine which foods you can eat, visit the Our Menu section of the Nutrisystem® website, which includes a complete list of the Nutrisystem foods along with their ingredients. Ingredients are listed by weight, with the most prevalent ingredients listed first.

You can also contact the Nutrition and Dietary Services Department at 800-585-5483, ext. 1341, for assistance with customizing your meal plan

Does the Nutrisystem® meal plan meet USDA standards for a healthy diet?

The Nutrisystem® program meets, or in many cases exceeds, most of the recommendations set forth by the government in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Our programs provide an average of 1800-2200 mg of sodium per day, which is comfortably within the target of less than 2300 mg per day for the general population.

A critical new point to these guidelines was a more restrictive sodium limit for certain populations. In response to these new recommendations, we have made a commitment to further reduce the sodium content of our programs over the next few years. In the meantime, you can contact your Nutrisystem Nutrition and Dietary Services by calling 1-888-849-4686 to customize our current programs to meet lower sodium targets, as well as targets to support other health goals well as targets to support other health goals.

Can I drink alcohol on the Nutrisystem® Program?

Alcoholic beverages, which tend to be high in calories and often contain extensive fat, cholesterol and sodium, are not conducive to your weight loss goals. Therefore, we recommend that you refrain from, or limit, alcohol consumption while on the Nutrisystem program.

If you decide to have a drink, choose wisely since beverages vary in alcohol, sugar and caloric content. Wine, which contains about 100 calories per five ounces, and light/low carb beer, which contains approximately 95-100 calories per 12 ounces, are lower calorie choices.

As you move toward the Transition and Maintenance phases of your weight loss program, you can reassess your intake.

What are Nutrisystem® Omega-3 Softgels?

Omega-3 fatty acids help support an overall heart-healthy lifestyle and the Nutrisystem® Omega-3 Softgels can provide a natural source of heart-healthy omega-3s in a convenient, once-a-day supplement. Available for purchase in our A La Carte section, each bottle contains 28 softgels, with each softgel providing 300 mg of omega-3s.

Can I lose weight with the Nutrisystem® program if I have kidney disease?

Nutrisystem is not appropriate for people with chronic kidney disease, or people who have recently had a kidney transplant, as Nutrisystem programs are not designed to meet the complicated dietary needs of people with these conditions. Please note that having kidney stones is not the same as having chronic kidney disease. If you have had kidney stones but have not had renal disease or a kidney transplant, you may be eligible for the program. As with any medical condition, we recommend that you consult your physician before beginning any exercise or weight loss program.

What are Nutrisystem® Omega Chews?

Healthy eating guidelines often recommend consumption of fish, especially oily fish, twice each week to provide important omega-3 fatty acids. Nutrisystem® Omega Chews are a good option to ensure you're getting enough of this very important nutrient in your diet. Nutrisystem® Omega Chews can be added as a supplement to all Nutrisystem® programs. They're an excellent source of heart-healthy omega-3s packed with 170 mg of EPA & DHA in every soft chew. Plus, they're bursting with all-natural mixed berry flavor and are completely sugar-free.

What are Nutrisystem® Calcium Chews?

Nutrisystem® Calcium Chews offer bone-strengthening benefits in every delicious, chocolate-flavored bite. These convenient, fat-free supplementsare an excellent source of calcium (500 mg), and vitamin D (500 IU).

How much vinegar can I have on the Nutrisystem® program?

Many varieties of vinegar have less than 10 calories per tablespoon; these are considered Unlimited Extras on your program. Balsamic vinegar is slightly higher in calories; one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar can be consumed as a Limited Extra (we recommend keeping items that are between 10 and 35 calories per serving to 3 servings a day).

Can I chew gum with the program and if so, what kind?

Yes. Sugar-free gum is considered an Unlimited Extra on the Nutrisystem® program.

Can Nutrisystem help lower high cholesterol levels?

Clinical trials of participants on the Nutrisystem® D® program have seen reductions in total cholesterol and triglycerides. Learn more about our clinical studies at www.nutrisystem.com/hcp.

Can I have pickles on the Nutrisystem® program?

Yes. Pickles fit into the Limited Extras category, so we advise that you limit the serving size to 35 calories or less. Please be aware that some pickles are very high in sodium, so compare labels for the lowest sodium options.

If I have certain food allergies or special dietary needs, can I still lose weight with the Nutrisystem® program?

All of the ingredients and a nutritional breakdown of every food is listed clearly on its package and online–just click the name of the item you'd like to review and scroll down for the ingredients listed below the Nutrition Facts. Or, you can contact a Nutrisystem counselor who can help you set up a specialized plan according to your needs. Our Nutrition and Dietary Services Department is available for specific allergy related questions by calling 1-888-849-4686.