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Nutrisystem, or not Nutrisysem?

Monday, September 01, 2008

203 lbs. I'm Back!
1 pound less than when I started in March. *sigh*

I was thinking about doing the Nutrisytem diet, but did some reading about it that discouraged me, sounds like overpriced processed food, I can try to do the diet on my own with calorie counting.

But my BREAKFAST, which I finished 1 PM (as this is a holiday,) is already 618 calories! Hmmph! Really bites in to the days count! I was thinking of trying to have 5 meals @ 300 calories each, so I guess that will count as two meals, I guess that's okay...

Here is some info I took from this website about Nutrisystem:

Nutri-system average:
Typical daily calorie amounts will vary from 1200 to 1500, and each day's food consists of 3 meals and 2 snacks, 55% carbohydrates, 25% protein and 20% fats.
A day's worth of NS meals has less than the RDA of 2400mg or 1 tsp of sodium.
The full price for 4 weeks of food ($321). Sign-up for Auto-Delivery and you get 10% off, the first month you get a free weeks worth of food, then you can get $15 referral credits, $10 newsletter credits, and when you order your 4th month, you get 15%!
The calories in food come from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

A gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories.

A gram of protein also contains 4 calories.

A gram of fat, though, contains 9 calories - more than twice the amount of the other 2.

Here is the part that really discouraged me, aside from all the complaints about digestive problems:

Steve A. wrote:

"There are several errors in this review of Nutrisystem. Two errors are on the reviewer's part and the other is Nutrisystem's own misrepresentation of its food.

To start, the reviewer states there is no fee to join Nutrisystem (I'll refer to it as NS). While there is no up front fee, in order to use NS counselors and certain web features you MUST actively be placing orders. Actually, there is a seoond error also. NS FREQUENTLY substitutes foods and not just during holidays. You can choose to just have them ship an order of their choice to you (in which case you get MANY duplicate items) or you can choose every item you want, one by one. If they are low or out of stock they state they reserve the right to substitute food items...and use that "right" quite often.

One of the reasons I joined is that when you choose each food item you are presented with a complete Nutrition Label and ingredients list for each food item. I have several food allergies so when they exercise their "right" to substitute I have ended up with as much as a WEEK'S worth of food I can not eat! And if you read the disclaimer, that "right" to swap foods also states that they will not take back a substitution. It doesn't seem to matter if you have an allergy to it or not. It is a policy they are very stict about (a.k.a., a great way to make money and clear old stock out of the warehouse).

Finally are the NS foods themselves. About the only thing you can say for them is that they are portion controled...period. Read the labels on almost ANY item (breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack) and you will find ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, white sugar, white flour (all items containing pasta are made with enriched semolina flour...again, a.k.a., white flour). You can buy pasta in the local grocery store that is pure semolina, whole grain wheat or brown rice (the rice pasta actually tastes like regular white pasta where to me whole wheat pasta just tastes like boiled straw). They use white rice in "almost" (no quite) all their rice based dishes. Their foods contain MSG and half their desserts contain aspartame. I am sensitive to aspartame due to a medication I must take but can usually tollerate it in small quantities however I had one of their biscotti snacks and developed a full-blown migraine in under an hour! If you go on their OWN bulletin boards you will find others reporting similar situations.

While they have a wonderful explanation of what a "low glycemic" food is and how it effects your body it would seem as though they have never read their own materials. Like I said, just read the ingredients in their foods and they contradict everything they are telling the public.

There is also no real information or training that tells you specifically how to transition off their food when you meet your goal weight. The assumption, according to a NS counselor, is that 'by the time you lose the weight you need to you will be used to what constitutes a portion of any food group". That's quite an assumption.

I've spoken to the "counselors" more times than I can count. At one point I even had a counselor, 2 supervisors and a staff nutritionist on the phone. One of their meals is simply called beef and pasta in sauce. When I received this and read the ingredients I was appauled. With myself and the 4 people from NS on a conference call I sat in front of my computer. I had their product in front of me and the Chef boy r de web site in front of me on the computer opened to the page that lists the ingredients in their Beeferoni. Starting from the first to the last ingredients on the NS product and the Beeferoni, they were almost identical. From the white flour to the hydrogenated oils. The nutrition labels are nearly identical as well. The only difference is that NS adds soy protein to everything that contains meat or pasta (so if you are allergic to soy or soy flour, stay away).

After arguing with them to try to get them to take the product back (a single 1 cup serving, which is the standard size for the NS product, costs approx. $3.00 and change...their prices vary according to how much stock they have. If I am going to get the same nutritional value - or lack thereof - a can of beeferoni is only $0.98 at any Walmart and it would be TWO servings!). Even the nutritionist didn't believe my until she put me on hold and looked up the web site herself and found the Beeferoni ingredients.

When she came back on the phone the only justification she or any of the supervisors could come up with that they felt justified the high price for poor quality food was the fact that it was already portioned so there is no temptation to eat the 2 cups that come in a can of beeferoni! They couldn't argue the nutritional information and when I asked them to explain to me "exactly how this can be considered 'low glycemic'" I was told that it was too technical for me to understand and that the call had taken too much time from too many people. I was given no chance to respond; I was told "thank you for calling NS and if there are any other questions we can answer for you feel free to call back. Have a nice day." and they hung up.

And yes, I stopped ordering from them...
[]Steve A.
khantessa said:
This is my 3rd day on Nutrisystem. Food is okay; teaching me portion size. I'm following everything to the rule. However, I'm extremely bloated, stomach is swollen. My digestive system has slowed down to almost non-existent. I'm miserable. I talked to N.S. counselor online who said to choose juice instead of fruit. Anyone else have this problem[...]

Hi khantessa,

I just wrote a long comment on the NS program. If you read the ingredients on the food items you are eating you will find that it is pretty much most of the things any nutritionist would tell you to stay away from. As the reviewer said, Nutrisystem has gone through a major upswing in the number of customers. However, this is probably because most of the low carb, high protein, etc. diets are now starting to fade away so they are flooding the air waves with commercials. They (and Jenny Craig) seem to be the last diet programs out there (though there are many others).

The bloating feeling you are experiencing is not uncommon with Nutrisystem. They use inferior ingredients in most of their products (high fructose corn syrup, MSG, aspartame, white flour and rice and enough preservatives to keep a mummy looking good for years). The reason people lose weight on this program is simply portion control. Their claim about using "low glycemic" carbs is all hype. I am a diabetic. I started Nutrisystem, ate half the food I had been eating before starting the program and my blood sugar went crazy (and I did opt for the diabetic plan they is exactly the same food as everyone else gets. The only difference is that if they autoship to you they leave out some of the foods that have pure, white sugar in them. However, I did receive items that contained high fructose corn syrup and as I said before, white flour and white rice - both are converted and stored as sugar in the body).

Everyone has bacteria in their intestinal tract. It is normal and necessary. It is not uncommon for overweight people (a little or a lot), to have many forms of unhealthy bacteria in the small intestine or colon as well. It is generally caused by food that has not passed quickly enough out of the body and any bacteria ferments in the intestinal tract and causes bloating or gas.

Since Nutrisystem food is really not very different from what you were eating before (it's just in smaller portions), the fermentation process just continues but now that you are eating less there is more "open space" in the intestines for the fermentation to take place. To put it simply, you are more empty since you are eating less so any bacteria in your system will continue to grow and part of the growth process of bacteria is to give off gas which causes bloating.

I had the same problem initially and went on the message boards and a number of people suggested using Beano chewable pills. You can get it at any pharmacy, supermarkt or Walmart for that matter. You just chew a couple before eating and in about 3 to 5 days your system will adjust (usually) and you can stop taking them. Or you might try taking them and then tapering off slowly. But your body will adjust.

One last comment about the advise the Nutrisystem counselor gave you...wrong! As I said above, gas is generally caused by bacteria fermenting. They do this by eating what is in you digestive tract and one of their favorite foods are SUGAR. Fruit juice is the worst thing to take as it is a type of sugar known as fructose (but sugar no matter what you call it) so it just feeds the process. Your body needs something that bacteria that cause gas CAN'T eat. The only thing bacteria can't use to grow and give off gas in the process is fiber. The best type of fiber is one that not only won't feed the bacteria in your system but will actually help get rid of the type your system doesn't need. The best type of fiber is called psyllium husk fiber. You can also get it at any Walmart. Be sure to read the labels though; the only thing you want is pure psyllium. There are other types of fiber (like inulin which is popular because it doesn't taste gritty) but the other types won't solve your particular problem. Walmart sells pure psyllium husk fiber under their Equate brand name. It's cheap, it's natural, has no calories, sugar or carbs and it works in a few days. So try the Beano to solve the symptoms immediately and the psyllium fiber to solve the problem.

Hope you have better luck than I did. Try the Beano regardless of what the entree is and the fiber a few times a day for a while; it usually works. Good luck."
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I was on NS for about 5 months when I started experiencing weird sensation in my lips and face. I am now allergic to many preservatives and also soy protein both of which is abundant in all of their food. I am also chemical sensitive now which I never was before( I am not saying NS caused it, but believe it was one of the things that pushed my body over the edge). I would not recommend it esp. if you already have allergies. It is not cheap either.
    3336 days ago

    Comment edited on: 9/1/2008 4:38:04 PM
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