Weight loss should not come at the cost of health. An effective and healthy weight-loss program should focus on the importance of nutrients from whole foods and not just about cutting out bad foods. Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem are two such programs, but one offers more flexibility while the other provides a relatively structured approach. Which one would you prefer?
Weight Watchers vs Nutrisystem – Proper Nutrition is the Goal
Weight Watchers emphasizes proper nutrition through its SmartPoints system and myWW food plans.
SmartPoints simply assign point values to different foods. Healthy foods, or foods high in proteins and other nutrients, are given low values; less healthy foods, or foods that are low in essential nutrients and high in calories, sugar, and fats, are given high values; and over 300 healthy foods are classified ZeroPoint foods.
As a member, you will be given a daily SmartPoints limit, which will be based on your age, gender, height, kind of lifestyle, current weight, and weight-loss goal. To lose weight, you will have to stay under your daily SmartPoints Budget.
Using the SmartPoints app and Weight Watchers online food database of nearly 300 thousand foods, you will log every food/meal you eat to keep track of your daily SmartPoints accrual. If a meal is not listed on their database, you can just input every ingredient to get its assigned SmartPoints value.
Based on your personal preferences and lifestyle, one of three customized eating plans will be recommended to you; but you still have the freedom to choose to follow a different plan.
Weight Watchers’ SmartPoints system is a flexible weight-loss plan that is easy to follow and commit to. It also encourages members to adopt healthy eating as a lifestyle.
Nutrisystem is a subscription weight-loss program that provides healthy recipes and pre-made or easy-to-assemble meals designed by nutritionists. Depending on your age, gender, weight-loss goals, and even dietary restrictions, you can have your custom-made and balanced meal plan delivered to your home. The Nutrisystem diet includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and one or two snacks.
You can choose your meals from among the more than 150 food items they offer. But your personal meal plan will be pre-portioned to limit calorie intake specifically for your weight-loss needs and to provide your body with balanced nutrition.
The Nutrisystem diet plan is convenient – you won’t have to figure out how to plan a balanced diet on your own. Aside from choosing which Nutrisystem food items you want to be included in your food subscription, you won’t have to struggle with the difficult choices of which foods you should have on your grocery list and which ones you should leave out.
Nutrisystem designs different meal plans for women, men, vegetarians, seniors, and diabetics. The food subscription includes support services and online tracking. Certain Nutrisystem programs also provide access to on-call counselors.
Weight Watchers vs Nutrisystem – Flexibility vs Structure
Weight Watchers was only recently rebranded into WW, and this all-new program now offers three customized plans for their members. The new plans are based on two years of research, which boil down to the fact that people are more motivated to make healthy changes in their attitudes and behaviors towards their health and fitness when they are given personalized plans.
Current members can choose to follow any of the new plans; new members will be given recommendations as to the best plan that suits them after an initial assessment. The plans are not classified according to varying levels of healthfulness. Rather, they are designed to suit an individual’s personal preferences and lifestyle which will help make their weight-loss efforts sustainable and, therefore, more beneficial long-term. All three plans are also designed to minimize overeating and reduce hunger, while still maximizing proper nutrition and the development of healthy eating habits.
The three new plans are collectively called myWW and still use WW’s SmartPoints system:
- Green Plan. This includes more than 100 ZeroPoint foods (fruits and vegetables) and the highest SmartPoints budget per day.
- Blue Plan. This includes more than 200 ZeroPoint foods (fruits, vegetables, eggs, beans, nonfat yogurt, and lean proteins) and a lower SmartPoints budget than the Green Plan.
- Purple Plan. This includes more than 300 ZeroPoint foods (adds grains, whole-wheat pasta, and potatoes to the list) and has the lowest SmartPoints budget per day.
The new WW still offers professional guidance and support from coaches, experts, and 24/7 online messaging; access to WW’s online food database; a barcode scanner; and fitness videos, workout routines, and WW magazines and newsletters.
All three plans still give members lots of freedom and flexibility to choose what to eat, with zero food restrictions. Members can indulge in high-point value foods but within reason. At the same time, they are encouraged to and steered towards the more nutritious and low-point value options.
The Nutrisystem diet program has been around for more than 40 years. Its portion-controlled eating plan emphasizes whole grains, vegetables, and other carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, as well as lean protein. Subscribers are also supposed to supplement their pre-packaged meals with more lean proteins and vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy.
Nutrisystem’s strategy is based on the premise that providing people who wish to lose weight with ready-made and pre-portioned meals that are specifically designed to suit their needs will make it easier for them to achieve weight loss.
The meal-delivery service offers different diet programs for women, men, vegetarians, seniors, and diabetics, as well as for different types of dieters and different budgets. As a subscriber, you can choose what meals you want to include in your plan, or you can opt for the “Favorite Pack,” which is recommended for beginners and includes meals that are selected for you.
The “Turbo Takeoff” is the first stage of most plans and is designed to fire up your weight loss during your first week in the program. There are different levels of service offered for each plan.
The Basic Plan is a 28-day plan that starts with the Turbo 13 plan for the first week. The plan is designed to help you lose up to 13 lbs) in a month. Nutrisystem chooses the meals you get, or you can get an upgrade so you can choose the meals yourself.
The Core Plan has the same offerings as the Basic Plan, but with more food choices and access to on-call experts (dieticians and counselors), trackers, and other online tools.
The Uniquely Yours Plan includes the full selection of 150 meals (which include unlimited frozen meals) and all the perks and benefits of the Nutrisystem program.
All of these plans are available for diabetics, but the Turbo Takeoff is removed.
Nutrisystem’s food tracking up is NuMi and is designed to accurately track and log your daily intake based on your exact plan. NuMi can be synced with Fitbit, Jawbone, and Apple Health for a more comprehensive weight-loss strategy.
With Nutrisystem’s strictly portioned meals and strictly controlled calorie intake, you can expect to lose between 1 and 3 pounds per week. If you combine your Nutrisystem diet with regular exercise, you can lose even more. The meals are high in protein, which also make them ideal for muscle building.
However, the same calorie restrictions can make it difficult for a person who exercises a lot to get all the energy they need. Nutrisystem’s meals also include preservatives and processed and refined sugars; additionally, they’re ingredients are not organic. The latter may be a deal-breaker for individuals who wish not only to lose weight but also to switch to a genuinely healthy diet.
Weight Watchers vs Nutrisystem – Final Thoughts
Both Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem emphasize the weight-loss benefits of portion control. With Weight Watchers, however, you have more freedom to choose what you eat; whereas, with Nutrisystem, your choices are extremely limited. If you prefer more flexibility in your diet while working on losing weight and eating more healthfully, Weight Watchers is the ideal plan to consider. If you need a stricter strategy to help you achieve your weight-loss goals, then the Nutrisystem diet plan would be a good option.
In terms of long-term weight loss and healthy weight maintenance, however, Weight Watchers offers a more realistic approach. It is easier to commit to because there are zero restrictions. Along the way, you will also learn more about how to make healthy food choices.
In comparison, the food restrictions of Nutrisystem – while effective in promoting weight loss – can make it difficult for some people to stick with it for a long time, or even long enough to see any desirable results. And because the food-subscription strategy – while convenient – basically takes away most of the decision-making, it does not help one develop healthy, long-term habits.
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