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Home arrow Nutrition arrow Weight Management arrow Nutrisystem vs. Optavia: Which Meal Plan Would I Recommend?

Nutrisystem vs. Optavia: Which Meal Plan Would I Recommend?

Dr. Donika Vata
Written by Donika Vata, MD
HR_author_photo_Edna
Fact checked by Edna Skopljak, MD
Last update: October 9, 2023
9 min read 406 Views 0 Reviews
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Considering Nutrisystem or Optavia to aid your weight loss journey? I reviewed both subscription-based meal plans to see how they compare, and here’s what I found.

Nutrisystem vs. Optavia - Which Meal Plan Would I Recommend

How do we vet brands and products? Learn more.

Losing weight is no easy task, with boring diets and repetitive workouts that drain your motivation.

The overwhelming array of calorie trackers, meal planners, and workout apps on the market makes it even harder to decide what’s right and what’s wrong.

As someone with deep roots in nutrition and wellness, I’ve seen countless people struggle with these frustrations. As a result, I’m constantly on the lookout for solutions that can ease their journey.

This led me to explore two reputable subscription weight loss meal plans – Nutrisystem and Optavia. I decided to understand firsthand what these plans have to offer and share my experiences in this review. 

Nutrisystem vs. Optavia: Which Is a Better Weight Loss Program?

Nutrisystem and Optavia are both popular weight loss programs offering structured meal plans. But rather than looking for a better diet program, weight loss is more about finding the right fit. 

For instance, if your daily life is a whirlwind of commitment and busy schedules, Nutrisystem might be a better option since they mainly offer pre-packaged meals. 

On the other hand, if your goal is losing weight and learning culinary skills as you go, consider going with Optavia. 

Comparison Winner: Optavia
4.1
stars
4.2
stars
Brand
Nutrisystem
Optavia
Pros

Convenient and less time-consuming

Encourages regular eating

Personalization based on individual calorie requirements

Focus on balanced nutrition and portion control

Flexibility in food choices and frequency of meals

Includes fresh foods like fruits and vegetables

Minimal food preparation required

Promotes building healthier eating habits

A supportive community for motivation

Homemade recipes teach you to make nutritious meals

Cons

An expensive way to lose weight

Relying on pre-packaged foods may limit you from learning to cook nutritious meals

Might not appeal to those who prefer cooking from scratch

Recommended calorie levels may be lower than what’s recommended by healthcare professionals

Coaches aren’t certified health professionals

Relatively expensive compared to traditional meal planning

What Is Nutrisystem?

Nutrisystem logo
Our rating:
4.1
stars
  • Follows a high-protein, low-glycemic diet
  • Meal plans for different dietary preferences
  • Extensive menu selection
  • Online community support
  • Optional add-ons
Get Started
  • checkmark
    Convenient and less time-consuming
  • checkmark
    Encourages regular eating
  • checkmark
    Personalization based on individual calorie requirements
  • checkmark
    Focus on balanced nutrition and portion control
  • checkmark
    Flexibility in food choices and frequency of meals
  • checkmark
    Includes fresh foods like fruits and vegetables
  • checkmark
    An expensive way to lose weight
  • checkmark
    Relying on pre-packaged foods may prevent learning to cook nutritious meals
  • checkmark
    Might not appeal to those who prefer cooking from scratch

Nutrisystem is a subscription weight loss program that sends you pre-made, pre-portioned meals so you don’t have to stress about what to eat.

When signing up, you will be asked to enter your height and weight. Once that’s done, the system suggests meal plan options based on your daily calorie requirement. You have the flexibility to choose from a variety of options, including vegetarian-friendly meals and those designed for diabetes management.

Get your recommended plan

Essentially, you will be eating around 4–6 times a day, but you can also decide the frequency and what meals you would like to have. Nutrisystem offers over 150 items, including pancakes, pasta, pizza, and even brownies.

Other Plan Options

One thing I liked about Nutrisystem is how it allowed me to add extras to my own meals, like protein shakes, in case I feel extra hungry. My weight loss program also included a lot of fruits, veggies, and nuts.

Customize Your Plan

According to Nutrisystem, their meals are about balance and nutrition. Most meals are protein-rich and have a lower glycemic index (don’t cause blood glucose spikes). Such meals are effective in helping people shed pounds by keeping them satiated for longer.

What Is Optavia?

optavia logo
Our rating:
4.2
stars
  • Low-calorie, low-carb meal plan
  • Balanced meal prep education
  • Fuelings or mini-meals
  • Personal coaching and community support
  • Emphasis on habit change
Get Started
  • checkmark
    Minimal food preparation required
  • checkmark
    Promotes building healthier eating habits
  • checkmark
    A supportive community for motivation
  • checkmark
    Homemade recipes teach you to make balanced meals
  • checkmark
    Recommended calorie levels may be lower than what’s recommended by healthcare professionals
  • checkmark
    Coaches aren’t certified health professionals
  • checkmark
    Relatively expensive compared to traditional meal planning

Optavia is a program that takes a two-pronged approach to help people lead healthier lives. First, they give you diet programs, and second, they educate you on how to build healthy habits.

When it comes to the diet part, Optavia offers two weight loss programs and one maintenance program. These plans focus on low-calorie, low-carb meals and include a wide array of options, including meal replacements and “Fuelings” or mini-meals for when you are extra hungry.

Plans

Beyond pre-packaged foods, Optavia also provides easy homemade Lean and Green meal recipes. Depending on your plan, you’ll make at least one or more balanced meals by yourself every day. The idea is to gradually equip you with the skills to prepare healthy, balanced meals.

The educational aspect has two pillars – personal coaches and a community forum. Soon after you sign up for a program, Optavia matches you with a coach who will then offer you one-on-one guidance. One thing to note here is that these coaches aren’t certified professionals but previous Optavia clients who get paid on how well you do.

Similarities Between Nutrisystem and Optavia

While comparing the two subscription meal plans, I found that Optavia and Nutrisystem have three factors in common.

  1. Both brands deliver meals right to your doorstep.
  2. They have got a lot of positive reviews from customers.
  3. They offer healthy snacks that can save you from midday hunger meltdowns.

Main Differences Between Nutrisystem and Optavia

When analyzing how these subscription meal plans stacked against each other, the first thing I noticed was how Nutrisystem focuses mostly on pre-packaged meals, while Optavia encourages users to eat home-cooked meals.

But that isn’t all. Here is the real scoop on Nutrisystem vs. Optavia.

Meal plans and variety

Nutrisystem spoils you with over 160 choices and features special diet programs for vegetarians, people with diabetes, and more. The menu includes international food choices and boasts chef-inspired flavors. It is also budget-friendly and structured.

Optavia is more modest, with just over 60 meal options. It serves a decent number of cuisines, ranging from American classics to Asian, Italian, and even Latin American dishes.

Since the focus is mainly on teaching users to cook balanced meals, Optavia’s Lean and Green meals recipes are simpler and include lean protein, healthy fats, and non-starchy veggies. This brand also allows you to filter the menu for meals that don’t contain specific ingredients like nuts or shellfish.

Meal personalization

Nutrisystem has special diet plans for people with diabetes and those who follow a vegetarian diet. In addition, they offer gender-specific weight loss programs, and you can also choose the meal frequency and meal replacements like shakes and bars for your plan.

Perhaps the only downside is that they don’t have a certified gluten-free meal plan.

Optavia, on the other hand, features a filtering system. It lets you pick kosher, soy-free, low-fat, or heart-healthy meals. You can also chat with the coach appointed to you after signing up to seek advice on how to customize your program.

Nonetheless, Optavia’s coaches aren’t certified medical professionals and are commissioned.

Service

Signing up for Optavia and Nutrisystem is hassle-free and quick. With both brands, you choose a plan and meals that fit your preferences. If you need a tailor-made meal plan, you can always contact their customer service.

When it comes to shipping, Optavia ships to more regions than Nutrisystem, which ships only to the continental US. Optavia sends its pre-packaged meals to Alaska, Hawaii, and other territories besides the continental US.

Nutrisystem and Optavia ship ready-to-heat (arrives first) and frozen foods separately. The former lays out the shipping process on their website, while the latter makes you do some detective work to get the necessary details.

Customer support and coaching

Nutrisystem is definitely the winner when it comes to accessibility. They have a live chat, plus you can always call or email them. Optavia’s customer support can be reached through phone or email, but they skipped the live chat option.

When it comes to coaching, Optavia does it better. Optavia offers you a personal coach right after you sign up for a program. The coach will guide your diet, meal plan, and exercise. In addition, there is a huge community you can engage with.

With Nutrisystem, weight loss coaching is available on demand 7 days a week. But instead of having them on speed dial, you will need to reach out for guidance.

Nevertheless, remember that neither program’s coaches are certified dietitians. So, if you need medical advice, it is best to talk to healthcare professionals.

Cost

The price for Nutrisystem programs ranges from $300 to $407 per month. This includes shipping, and most of the time, they run promotions and deals.

Optavia diet is relatively more expensive, setting you back $379–423 per month. Shipping is on the house, but only for orders over $250. 

Now, here’s another catch. The price for Optavia doesn’t cover the ingredients for your green meals. You will have to shop for them yourself. So, you will definitely be paying a higher price for Optavia’s meal plans in the long run.

NutrisystemOptavia
Price range (per month)$300–407$379–423
ShippingFreeFree for orders above $250
Additional considerationsRuns frequent promotionsAdded expense of ingredients for the home-cooked green meal
Overall comparisonCompetitive pricingPotentially expensive in the long run

Best in the Weight Loss Category

Comparison Winner: Perfect Body
4.4
stars
4.2
stars
4.1
stars
Brand
Perfect Body
Optavia
Nutrisystem
Pros

A wide range of delicious recipes

Detailed breakdown of calories and macronutrients

Provides a grocery list, saving planning time

Allows water intake tracking

Video workouts

Minimal food preparation required

Promotes building healthy eating habits

A supportive community for motivation

Homemade recipes teach you to make balanced meals

Convenient and less time-consuming

Encourages regular eating

Personalization based on individual calorie requirements

Focus on balanced nutrition and portion control

Flexibility in food choices and frequency of meals

Includes fresh foods like fruits and vegetables

Cons

No option to track calories or log meals

Some meals seem repetitive

An expensive way to stay healthy

All metrics aren’t automatically tracked

May occasionally include foods that doesn’t align with your dietary preferences

Recommended calorie levels may be lower than what’s recommended by healthcare professionals

Coaches aren’t certified health professionals

Relatively expensive compared to traditional meal planning

An expensive way to lose weight

Relying on pre-packaged foods may limit you from learning to cook balanced meals

Might not appeal to those who prefer cooking from scratch

How I Compared Nutrisystem and Optavia

I did a lot of research on these brands because I wanted to know what I was getting myself into. While doing so and after subscribing to their program, I had a few criteria in mind to ensure my final verdict was in no way biased. So, let me tell you what these criteria were.

Quality

I looked into the quality of their meals. Are they tasty? Are they made with quality ingredients? Are they nutritious?

Quality matters when it comes to meal plans. If the food doesn’t appeal to your taste buds while supplying your body with essential nutrients, you will most likely not stick with it.

I can say for sure that Optavia and Nutrisystem appealed to my taste buds. They were also made with quality ingredients.

Effectiveness

For effectiveness, I first looked at what these brands put into their meals. Optavia and Nutrisystem meals include proteins, minerals, nutrients, and even probiotics.

I also researched whether these programs actually helped people lose weight and get healthier. Weight loss isn’t just about losing numbers on the scale, it’s also about improving overall health. I think both Nutrisystem and Optavia scored well in terms of real, lasting results.

Price

Not everyone can afford expensive meal plans. And while some people may find both products reasonably priced for what they offer, they are still expensive and even come with additional costs. However, there are no hidden fees, and the programs often include free shipping.

Brand reputation

The last criterion, and perhaps the most important one on my list, was brand reputation. Are Nutrisystem and Optavia known for delivering what they promise?

From what I saw, they have a good history of satisfied customers. This user on Reddit reports losing around 6 pounds in a week with Nutrisystem, and this user lost as much as 75 pounds in 6 months with Optavia.

FAQs

Can I order Optavia without a coach?

Optavia assigns you a coach as soon as you sign up for a program. It is best to order with a coach to get the discount and other freebies. Also, you get guidance along the way.

Are Nutrisystem and Optavia keto-friendly?

Nutrisystem isn’t strictly a keto-friendly meal delivery service. However, their menu contains keto-friendly options, which you can add to your plan. On the other hand, Optavia focuses on a low-carb diet and is very keto-friendly.

How much does Optavia cost per month?

Optavia plans range between $379 and $423 per month. In addition, you will have to spend extra on groceries for homemade meals. Therefore, Optavia is relatively more expensive than Nutrisystem.

Does Nutrisystem reduce belly fat?

Nutrisystem meal plans are designed for weight loss, which could also lead to reduced belly fat. However, the program’s primary focus is low-calorie meals and snacks rather than lifestyle changes. So, the results may vary.

A Word From Our MD

Expert image border HR_author_photo_Rosmy
Rosmy Barrios, MD
Medical advisor for Health Reporter

Nutrisystem and Optavia are designed to work when you stick to the guidelines.

Avoid skipping meals or indulging in junk food. Instead, make it a priority to eat regularly, stay physically active, maintain proper hydration, and include more veggies in your diet. Vegetables are not only low in calories but also rich in essential nutrients that help you feel fuller for longer and promote overall well-being.

If you closely follow the guidelines, you can expect to see results. However, remember that it is not just about the numbers on the scale. Your overall well-being should always be your top priority.

Assess how your body feels closely. Do you feel more energized? Or do you see improvements in overall health? Even if you don’t see any changes, don’t be discouraged.

Be patient and remember that gradual, sustainable changes are the key to success. It’s also worth trying other weight loss programs that are better aligned with your circumstances, preferences, and goals.

Final Verdict: Should You Consider the Products?

Nutrisystem is known for its extensive meal varieties. Their food is pre-packaged, nutritious, and delicious. So, it is a great choice for anyone who leads a busier life and craves diverse flavors. It is also more budget-friendly and structured compared to Optavia.

On the other hand, Optavia focuses on coaching and community support alongside its meal plans. Though the menu isn’t as extensive, it offers a decent range of options.

Both Nutrisystem and Optavia have a loyal fan base. Ultimately, the right plan for you comes down to what you value most. Is it a wide array of meal choices, coaching, and community or budget-friendliness?

Lastly, remember that whichever path you choose, the most important thing is your commitment. So, work hard for your goals, and you will soon be successful.

Written by Donika Vata, MD
Dr. Donika Vata is a highly accomplished MD whose extensive experience in the healthcare industry spans over 5 years, making her a distinguished Medical Writer and Researcher for the esteemed Health Reporter. Notably, she also holds the role of a General Practice Doctor and has rendered her exceptional patient care services in various clinics worldwide.
The article was fact checked by Edna Skopljak, MD
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Dr. Donika Vata
Written by Donika Vata, MD
HR_author_photo_Edna
Fact checked by Edna Skopljak, MD
Last update: October 9, 2023
9 min read 406 Views 0 Reviews
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