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Written by Megan Ayala. Last Updated: July 19, 2023
Table of Contents
In the pursuit of health and weight loss, a plethora of dietary programs has surfaced, all promising results tailored to your unique lifestyle. Among them, Nutrisystem and OPTAVIA have emerged as two leading contenders in the market. Both have their merits, but understanding their key differences and what each plan entails can be vital in making the right decision for your health.
In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the specifics of these two dietary programs. We’ll explore what sets them apart, their cost implications, the variety of food options they offer, and the distinct coaching methodologies they employ. Ultimately, our aim is to empower you to make an informed decision about which program best aligns with your weight loss goals.
Key Differences Between Nutrisystem & OPTAVIA
- Meals Right to Your Door
- Easy to Follow
- 170+ Menu Items
- Most Affordable Diet Delivery
- Nutrisystem primarily focuses on portion control, balanced nutrition, and frequent meals, while OPTAVIA focuses on portion-controlled meals alongside a “Lean and Green” meal component that you prepare yourself.
- Nutrisystem offers different plan tiers with increasing levels of choice and variety, while OPTAVIA has a more singular approach with slight variations.
- Coaching: Nutrisystem offers optional access to dietitians and weight-loss coaches. OPTAVIA, however, assigns a dedicated health coach to each member as a fundamental aspect of their program.
- Price: Nutrisystem is generally more affordable upfront, whereas OPTAVIA tends to be more expensive due to the coaching aspect.
- Food choices: Nutrisystem offers more than 150 meal options, while OPTAVIA offers around 60 “Fuelings.”
Nutrisystem is the most affordable diet delivery program available, features 150+ menu items, and offers a convenient and easy-to-follow plan for reaching your weight loss goals
- A+ Rating with the Better Business Bureau
- Plans Starting at Just $9.99 per Day
- Top-Rated Smart App
- On-Demand Coaching
- Fully Prepared Meals
“Within a few days, I started feeling completely different. I was shocked by how much weight came off and how fast it came off.” -Lindsay (Lost 47 Pounds)
- Portion-Controlled Meals: Nutrisystem provides pre-packaged, nutritionally balanced, and portion-controlled meals, aiming to take the guesswork out of dieting. Learn more about their new Complete 55 Program.
- Meal Frequency: The program suggests eating six times a day (breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, and evening snack) to help maintain a consistent metabolism and prevent excessive hunger.
- Tiered Plans: Nutrisystem offers various plans—Basic, Uniquely Yours, and Uniquely Yours Ultimate—each with different levels of variety and flexibility. The Basic Plan offers a pre-selected menu, Uniquely Yours offers a more extensive variety and the option to select your meals, and Uniquely Yours Ultimate includes all the features of Uniquely Yours plus more meals and snacks.
- Balanced Nutrition: Nutrisystem’s approach emphasizes balance, providing meals that are high in protein, contain the right amount of fiber, and are low in trans fats. They also cater to specific dietary needs, such as diabetic-friendly and vegetarian meal plans.
- User-Friendly: Nutrisystem is designed for convenience, with meals that are easy to prepare (typically microwavable or ready-to-eat out of the package) and a program that is straightforward to follow.
- Weight Loss Rate: The program is designed to help individuals lose weight safely and sustainably. The company promises up to 13 lbs and 7 inches lost in the first month, but weight loss typically averages 1-2 lbs per week after that.
- Access to Dietitians and Counselors: Nutrisystem offers optional access to registered dietitians and weight-loss coaches who can provide advice and answer questions.
- Exercise Component: Nutrisystem encourages regular physical activity alongside the dietary plan but does not provide a structured workout regime. It suggests 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each day, which can be broken up into shorter periods.
- Food Choices: With over 150 meals and snacks to choose from, Nutrisystem offers a wide variety of food options to suit different tastes, from comfort foods to desserts.
- Cost: The cost of Nutrisystem depends on the specific plan chosen but typically ranges from around $10-$13 per day.
- Scientific Approach: OPTAVIA (read review) utilizes scientifically proven plans that promote sustainable weight loss and overall wellness. It’s not just a diet plan but a complete lifestyle modification program.
- Meal Plans: OPTAVIA offers three meal plans: “5&1,” “4&2&1,” and “3&3.” These numbers represent the balance between OPTAVIA’s pre-packaged meals (Fuelings) and homemade meals (Lean and Green).
- The “5&1” Plan involves eating five Fuelings and one Lean and Green meal per day.
- The “4&2&1” Plan includes four Fuelings, two Lean and Green meals, and one snack.
- The “3&3” Plan, designed for weight maintenance, consists of three Fuelings and three balanced meals daily.
- Fuelings: OPTAVIA provides around 60 different Fuelings, which include bars, shakes, smoothies, drinks, crunchers, hearty choices, soups, and desserts. These Fuelings are nutrient-dense, portion-controlled, and low-glycemic.
- Lean and Green Meals: These are meals that you prepare yourself. Each Lean and Green meal includes 5-7 ounces of lean protein, three servings of non-starchy vegetables, and up to two servings of healthy fats.
- Personal Coaching: One standout feature of OPTAVIA is its emphasis on personal coaching. Every member is assigned a dedicated coach to provide guidance, answer questions, and offer support throughout the weight loss journey. The coaching is conducted through phone calls, text messages, emails, or group meetings.
- Community Support: OPTAVIA also offers a community aspect, where members can connect with others on the same journey for additional support and motivation.
- Habits of Health System: This system is designed to help members make healthy lifestyle changes. It includes educational resources and tools to guide members in creating healthful habits.
- Transition and Maintenance: OPTAVIA includes a phase for transition and maintenance once weight loss goals are achieved. This helps members gradually increase caloric intake and learn to sustain their weight loss over time.
- Cost: The cost of OPTAVIA is more than just the price of the meals—it also includes the coaching. Depending on the chosen plan, OPTAVIA costs approximately $350-$450 per month.
Biggest Differences Between Nutrisystem and OPTAVIA
- Approach to Weight Loss: One of the key differences between Nutrisystem and OPTAVIA lies in their approach to weight loss. Nutrisystem emphasizes portion control, balance, and frequency. It offers pre-packaged, ready-to-eat meals, emphasizing the convenience of not having to cook or plan your own meals. On the other hand, OPTAVIA focuses on creating a holistic lifestyle change. Along with portion-controlled Fuelings, it encourages members to prepare one or more Lean and Green meals per day, fostering healthy eating habits.
- Meal Variety: Nutrisystem offers a larger variety of meals with over 150 options to choose from, including a wide selection of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, and desserts. OPTAVIA, on the other hand, offers approximately 60 Fuelings, but with the addition of the Lean and Green meals that you prepare yourself, this can add more variety and personalization.
- Coaching: Coaching is another major difference between the two programs. Nutrisystem offers optional access to registered dietitians and weight-loss coaches, who can provide advice and answer questions. This service is available via phone or online. On the other hand, OPTAVIA offers a more personal approach. Every client is assigned a dedicated coach from the start. This coach guides them through the program, provides motivation, and helps them navigate any challenges they might encounter.
- Cost: The cost of these programs is another significant difference. Nutrisystem is generally more affordable upfront, with plans starting from around $10 per day. The cost of OPTAVIA, however, can be higher, depending on the specific plan chosen and the individual’s choice of Fuelings. The higher price tag is due in part to the included coaching aspect.
- Exercise Component: While both programs encourage physical activity, neither provides a structured exercise plan. However, Nutrisystem suggests 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each day and provides guidelines on how to achieve this. OPTAVIA’s focus is more on lifestyle changes, which may include increased physical activity as part of an overall healthier lifestyle.
- Lifestyle Change vs. Diet: While both programs aim to help individuals lose weight, their long-term goals differ. Nutrisystem is more focused on being a diet plan—helping individuals lose weight through portion-controlled, balanced meals. OPTAVIA, however, positions itself as a lifestyle transformation program. It emphasizes the development of healthy habits and maintenance of weight loss beyond the duration of the program, with a stronger emphasis on personal coaching and community support.
Price is an essential factor to consider. The Nutrisystem program tends to be less expensive, starting at around $10 per day for the Basic Plan. As you move up the tiers, the price increases, with the Uniquely Yours Ultimate Plan costing around $13 per day. See most up to date Nutrisystem pricing.
OPTAVIA’s cost, however, depends on the specific plan chosen. The most popular “5&1” Plan averages around $400 per month, translating to approximately $13 per day, but this can vary depending on the choice of Fuelings and additional purchases. See most up to date OPTAVIA pricing.
One of the most crucial aspects to consider when choosing between Nutrisystem and OPTAVIA is the food they offer. Here’s how the two compare:
- Meal Variety: Nutrisystem offers a wider selection with over 150 meals and snacks to choose from. You can find options for every meal of the day, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. The meals include comfort foods like lasagna and macaroni and cheese, as well as desserts. The options for OPTAVIA, called “Fuelings,” are slightly more limited, with around 60 choices. These include bars, shakes, soups, smoothies, and some snack-like options.
- Meal Preparation: Nutrisystem meals are either ready-to-eat or microwavable, designed for convenience. OPTAVIA’s Fuelings are similar in this regard, requiring minimal preparation. However, OPTAVIA also includes “Lean and Green” meals that you prepare yourself. These consist of lean protein, non-starchy vegetables, and healthy fats, allowing for more flexibility and cooking practice.
- Taste: Taste is highly subjective and can vary from person to person. Both Nutrisystem and OPTAVIA have had mixed reviews regarding taste. Some individuals prefer the flavor of Nutrisystem meals, while others prefer OPTAVIA’s Fuelings. Trying both may be necessary to decide which one suits your palate better.
- Nutritional Balance: Both programs aim to provide balanced nutrition. Nutrisystem meals are high in protein and fiber, with an emphasis on lean proteins and whole grains. Similarly, OPTAVIA’s Fuelings are designed to be nutrient-dense, low-glycemic, and portion-controlled. However, the Lean and Green meals of OPTAVIA provide a more personal touch on ensuring a balanced diet as they allow you to select your protein source and fresh vegetables.
- Dietary Restrictions: Both programs offer options for individuals with specific dietary needs. Nutrisystem provides vegetarian and diabetic-friendly options. OPTAVIA, on the other hand, doesn’t cater as specifically to different dietary preferences or restrictions, but with the Lean and Green meals, you can control the ingredients to accommodate your dietary needs.
- Frequency of Eating: Nutrisystem recommends eating six times a day (three meals and three snacks), which is designed to keep your metabolism steady and prevent overeating. OPTAVIA’s meal frequency depends on the plan you choose but typically includes eating every two to three hours.
In the end, the food comparison between Nutrisystem and OPTAVIA comes down to personal preference. If convenience, variety, and ready-to-eat meals are your priority, Nutrisystem might be a better choice. But if you prefer a more hands-on approach to cooking and a program that incorporates homemade meals into your plan, OPTAVIA could be more suited to your needs.
Coaching is a significant aspect of both Nutrisystem and OPTAVIA, as it can provide the guidance and motivation necessary for sustainable weight loss. Here’s how these two programs compare:
- Presence of Coaching: Both Nutrisystem and OPTAVIA offer coaching, but the extent and nature of coaching provided are different. Nutrisystem provides optional access to registered dietitians and weight-loss counselors who can answer your questions and provide advice. This can be particularly helpful for individuals who want occasional guidance or have specific dietary concerns. On the other hand, OPTAVIA includes a personal coaching component as a core aspect of its program. Every member gets a dedicated coach who helps them navigate their weight-loss journey.
- Coaching Style: Nutrisystem’s coaching style is more flexible and tends to be less personal. You can reach out to their team of experts for advice via phone or online, but it’s up to you to initiate the interaction. OPTAVIA, in contrast, provides more personalized coaching. Your coach checks in with you regularly, providing support, motivation, and guidance to help you stay on track.
- Group Support: Beyond one-on-one coaching, OPTAVIA also has a strong community aspect. You have access to online community support through forums and live and recorded video conferences. Nutrisystem also has a community forum where members can share their experiences and support each other, but this aspect is less emphasized.
- Training of Coaches: In Nutrisystem, the coaches are registered dietitians and weight-loss experts. In OPTAVIA, coaches come from a variety of backgrounds. While they receive training from OPTAVIA, they are not necessarily health professionals. Their primary role is to offer support and motivation, sharing their own experiences with the program, and guiding others through it.
- Incorporation into the Program: Nutrisystem’s coaching is an additional service, while OPTAVIA’s coaching is a fundamental part of the program. The cost of the coaching is included in the price of the OPTAVIA program, making it more expensive than Nutrisystem.
In conclusion, if you’re someone who values personal, one-on-one support and regular check-ins, OPTAVIA’s coaching system might be more appealing to you. However, if you’re more independent and prefer to have professional dietary guidance available on an as-needed basis, Nutrisystem may be a better fit.
You Should Pick Nutrisystem if…
- You prefer a simple, straightforward diet plan.
- You appreciate variety in your meals.
- You prefer ready-made meals over cooking.
- You are cost-conscious and prefer a more affordable upfront price.
- You don’t require or want the ongoing support of a personal coach.
You Should Pick OPTAVIA if…
- You are looking for a lifestyle change, not just a diet.
- You want dedicated coaching and support throughout your weight loss journey.
- You don’t mind cooking some of your meals.
- You appreciate the structure and don’t require a wide variety of food choices.
- You are willing to invest more for the structured support and coaching.
The decision between Nutrisystem and OPTAVIA comes down to personal preferences, lifestyle, and budget. Both offer effective, scientifically backed weight loss strategies but deliver their services in different ways. Nutrisystem provides simplicity and variety, while OPTAVIA focuses on holistic lifestyle change and provides a dedicated coach.
Remember, successful and sustainable weight loss is about more than just a diet—it’s about cultivating healthy habits and a positive mindset. Regardless of the program you choose, consistency, patience, and a commitment to your health are key. Before making a decision, it’s always recommended to consult with a healthcare provider or a nutritionist. They can provide personalized advice based on your health status, dietary needs, and weight loss goals.