Nutrisystem and WW (Weight Watchers) are two popular weight loss programs.
Both promise to help boost weight loss, but there are many key differences between the two programs.
This article takes a closer look at some of the similarities and differences between Nutrisystem and Weight Watchers to determine which of the two options may be a better choice for you.
Here’s what Nutrisystem and WW (Weight Watchers) are all about.
Nutrisystem is a commercial weight loss program that delivers fully prepared meals directly to your door.
Although it’s a 4-week program, you may repeat it multiple times until you reach your desired weight.
The company offers several plans, which vary in price, customization options, and the number of meals.
- Basic Plan: includes 5 days of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks each week
- Uniquely Yours: includes 5 days of customizable breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks each week from the full menu
- Uniquely Yours Ultimate: includes 7 days of customizable breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks per week from the full menu
In addition to the meals and snacks each plan provides, Nutrisystem encourages customers to add two additional healthy snacks each day.
WW (Weight Watchers)
WW, formerly known as Weight Watchers, is a weight loss program aimed at promoting healthy eating habits.
The program gives members a daily SmartPoints budget based on their age, sex, height, and weight.
The company also assigns each food a SmartPoints value, which is based on the calories, sugar, fat, and protein it contains.
It considers certain foods ZeroPoint foods, meaning they do not count toward your daily SmartPoints budget and you do not need to track them.
ZeroPoint foods are ingredients that are typically high in protein or fiber and low in added sugar, including non-starchy vegetables, fruits, legumes, and dairy products.
When signing up, you can choose between three different plans that offer varying amounts of SmartPoints and ZeroPoint foods.
The three WW plans include:
- Green: provides the highest amount of SmartPoints with 100+ ZeroPoint foods
- Blue: provides a moderate amount of SmartPoints with 200+ ZeroPoint foods
- Purple: provides the lowest amount of SmartPoints with 300+ ZeroPoint foods
No foods are off-limits on WW, but the company encourages customers to track their intake and stay within their daily budget of SmartPoints.
Here’s a rundown of the different menu items you can expect with Nutrisystem and WW.
Nutrisystem boasts an extensive menu with more than 160 items, including options that are vegetarian, diabetes-friendly, low in sodium, or high in protein or fiber.
The company offers both frozen and nonfrozen dishes with nutritional facts and ingredient lists for each.
With the Basic plan, you can select from 100 meals and snacks that arrive ready to eat.
Meanwhile, on the Uniquely Yours and Uniquely Yours Ultimate plans, you can select from the full menu of more than 160 items.
Unlike Nutrisystem, WW does not provide any food. Instead, it encourages members to create their own menu using the SmartPoints system.
The company also has more than 8,000 recipes on its website, which you can easily filter based on the meal type, number of SmartPoints, and prep time.
Plus, the WW app allows you to scan the barcode of many products at the grocery store for easy SmartPoint tracking, and you can search through menu items from restaurants. This makes it easy to stay on track while still enjoying your favorite foods.
Here’s how the two services stack up when it comes to cost.
Nutrisystem offers several plans that range in price.
Here are the prices for each plan with monthly delivery:
- Basic: $8.57 per day for women, $10 per day for men
- Uniquely Yours: $10.36 per day for women, $11.79 per day for men
- Uniquely Yours Ultimate: $12.50 per day for women, $13.93 per day for men
All plans include free shipping, and you can prepay for up to 3 months of meals at a time for additional savings.
However, keep in mind that prices for one-time orders are higher, and plans do not include optional add-ons like protein shakes.
WW plans vary in price depending on which options and add-ons you select.
The Digital plan is the cheapest membership option and includes full access to the website and app for $3.19 per week.
The Workshop + Digital membership allows you to also connect with a WW coach and other members for weekly group workshops. This costs $5.96 per week.
Finally, the Personal Coaching + Digital plan provides individual support from a WW coach for $8.65 per week.
Both systems may help you lose weight, but WW may be better for helping you maintain a lower weight over the long term.
Nutrisystem claims its program can help you get healthy and lose up to 18 pounds (8.2 kg) quickly.
This claim is based on a study that reported that participants on Nutrisystem lost an average of 17.8 pounds (8 kg) over 12 weeks and significantly more belly fat than those on the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet (1).
However, it’s important to note that Nutrisystem directly sponsored this study.
Although research is limited, a few other studies have also found that Nutrisystem may be effective for short-term weight loss.
A study in 69 people with type 2 diabetes found that participants who followed Nutrisystem for 3 months experienced significantly greater weight loss than those who attended a diabetes support and education group (2).
Similarly, a review of 39 studies reported that Nutrisystem participants achieved an average of 3.8% more weight loss after 3 months than those who received education or behavioral counseling (3).
However, further studies are needed to determine whether Nutrisystem is effective for long-term weight loss.
According to WW, members should expect to lose between 1–2 pounds (0.5–1 kg) per week.
Several large studies support this claim, showing that WW may be effective for weight loss.
For instance, one study in more than 1,200 people found that participants who followed WW for 1 year lost more than twice as much weight as those who received self-help materials and brief nutritional advice (4).
While the WW group did regain some of this weight after 2 years, they still maintained a greater total amount of weight loss than the control group (4).
According to another large review, people who followed WW for 12 months lost 2.6% more weight, on average, than those who received nutritional education (3).
Additionally, because the program encourages other healthy habits, such as regular physical activity, it may be a good option for sustainable, long-lasting weight loss.
The systems also offer a few other perks.
Nutrisystem is convenient and easy to follow, which may make it a good option for those who prefer a more structured eating plan.
It also provides most of your meals and snacks each day, which could be appealing for those with a busy schedule and limited time to spend on meal prep.
In fact, according to one review of 18 studies, Nutrisystem was more effective at increasing blood sugar control than nutritional counseling in people with type 2 diabetes over a 6-month period (6).
WW is flexible and easy to follow. Unlike other diet plans, there are no complicated rules. The plan permits all foods, as long as they fit within your daily allotment of SmartPoints.
Because WW encourages regular physical activity and helps teach you how to make healthier food choices, it may be more sustainable in the long run as well.
Plus, it may also benefit other aspects of health.
One study in 563 people with type 2 diabetes found that participants who followed WW for 1 year experienced greater weight loss, greater reductions in belly fat, and increased blood sugar control compared with participants who received standard diabetes counseling (7).
Another study in 225 people with prediabetes showed that those who followed WW for 1 year lost more weight and experienced greater improvements in blood sugar control and levels of HDL (good) cholesterol than those in a control group (8).
Nutrisystem and WW may both come with a few drawbacks.
Although Nutrisystem can be a convenient option for weight loss, it’s very expensive and difficult to follow long term.
Additionally, because the plan relies on premade, processed foods rather than sustainable diet and lifestyle changes, anyone following it is likely to regain weight once they resume their normal diet.
Nutrisystem offers only a limited selection for people with certain dietary restrictions. The menu options may not be suitable for those with severe food allergies or people following a vegan or gluten-free diet.
Furthermore, Nutrisystem can be very restrictive, with most plans providing 1,200–1,500 calories per day.
This is much lower than what most adults require to maintain their weight. Even those looking to decrease their calorie intake to lose weight may want to consider that restricting calories too much may slow their metabolism over time, increasing the risk of weight regain (9, 10).
While WW is more affordable than Nutrisystem, it does not include any food. You may also find it somewhat pricey to follow long term.
Additionally, plans with a lower amount of ZeroPoint foods may require you to track your intake more carefully to stay on track, which could be time-consuming.
Furthermore, the program does not have any strict rules or regulations and allows you to enjoy any food as long as you stay within your daily SmartPoints budget. Therefore, some people may find the system difficult to follow and may prefer additional guidance.
If you’re trying to decide between WW and Nutrisystem, consider which one suits your personal needs and preferences better.
Although Nutrisystem is a bit more expensive, it may be a better option for those looking to achieve short-term weight loss and save time on cooking and meal prep.
It may also be a better fit for people who need a more structured meal plan and prefer additional guidance on which foods they should eat.
On the other hand, WW offers more flexibility and may be better for people who want to establish healthy eating habits to promote their long-term health.
Because WW allows you to dine out and enjoy your favorite foods, it might also be a better choice for people who do not want their diet to interfere with their daily routine.
Nutrisystem and WW are two weight loss programs with several similarities and some key differences.
Nutrisystem delivers fully prepared meals and snacks designed to promote weight loss. It may be a better option for dieters who prefer an eating plan that leaves little room for error.
On the other hand, WW’s point-based system offers more flexibility and puts you in control of which foods you fit in your diet.
This way of eating can help you build long-term healthy eating habits, which may help you maintain weight loss over the long term.
Get started with either program here