Meal delivery services can be a great option if you’re looking to lose weight efficiently. When it comes to health-focused meal subscriptions, Atkins and Nutrisystem are two of the most popular programs out there. But between Atkins vs. Nutrisystem, who comes out on top?
Atkins is new to the meal delivery industry, but it has a long history of helping people lose weight with the keto diet. If you’re not into keto, Nutrisystem has a wider range of diet options.
Choosing a weight-loss plan can be a big commitment. So, to make it a little easier, I’ve taken a close look at Atkins vs. Nutrisystem and found out how they compare on the most important features like dietary options, price, and menu variety.
Weight loss, low carb/keto
Weight loss, vegetarian, diabetes-friendly
1,600 options including frozen meals and snacks
150+ meals available, customizable plans
From $2.50 per serving
$9.29 per day
Shipping is free on orders over $99. Shipping cost is from $9.95-15.95 for orders <$99. Shipping to Alaska and Hawaii has a $15 fee
Free with meal plans (minimum four-week commitment)
Microwave meals ready in minutes, snacks are ready to eat, recipe prep and cook times vary
Microwave meals ready in minutes, snacks are ready to eat
The biggest difference between Nutrisystem and Atkins is the number of diets that each caters to. Atkins focuses exclusively on a low carb or keto diet. It has tools to help you learn to live carb consciously, and all of the meals and snacks are designed to keep you between 20 and 40 grams of carbohydrates a day, depending on what phase of the diet you’re in.
The prepared snacks and meals aren’t designed to cater to a wide variety of clientele, but because of the broad selection of recipes, the Atkins diet can be personalized with just a little extra work.
One major flaw with Atkins that can’t be overlooked is that its meals aren’t organized by dietary need. It’s on you to check the ingredients and nutritional information if you have any special requirements.
Nutrisystem doesn’t have this problem as meals and plans are easily filtered into standard, vegetarian, and diabetic-approved categories when you're selecting your meals.
Nutrisystem has a wider variety of prepared meals and snacks than Atkins, and you don’t need to rely on a recipe catalog to cook meals yourself. It has the edge on Atkins thanks to its plan that caters to diabetics. Both programs have options for vegetarians, but with Atkins, you’ll have to design your own plan whereas with Nutrisystem you can pick from a pre-designed vegetarian plan.
I find that the most frustrating part about losing weight is how boring the food can get. Especially when you’ve got special dietary requirements or you’re doing a restrictive diet like the keto diet! Atkins crushes that by offering more than 1,600 meal and snack options. You also get free recipes and shopping lists that can help you change your eating habits for the long term. Nutrisystem, on the other hand, has a smaller range of meals (100+ on the Basic plan) aimed at convenience rather than variety.
Both Atkins and Nutrisystem are designed to help you lose weight without sacrificing the comfort foods you love. So it makes sense that the most popular type of cuisine for both of them is classic Americana with a healthy twist. Think pizza, pasta, and egg breakfasts.
Atkins also has a couple of Asian comfort food options as well, like Mongolian-Style Beef and Chicken Stir Fry.
Portion control is the key ingredient when it comes to satisfying cravings and staying on track with your weight loss goals. That’s where pre-portioned desserts come in handy. Both Nutrisystem and Atkins offer a wide selection of healthy desserts. Atkins desserts can be ordered online or bought in a grocery store. With Nutrisystem, you can add them to your weekly shipments.
Winner: Atkins has the edge thanks to its larger recipe collection.
Comparing starting prices is a bit complicated because of how differently the plans are designed. But don’t worry, I’ve done the number crunching for you.
Atkins is not strictly a meal delivery service, so prices are harder to nail down. Frozen meals start at around $7.00, but snacks are cheaper at about $1.50 per serving.
Overall, the cost per day will depend on how many meals and snacks you decide to buy. You can order bars, shakes, and desserts online and you can buy frozen meals from grocery stores. All the recipes and meal plans are free, so you can save a lot of money by cooking yourself.
If you’re only eating Atkins products, you’re looking at spending around $25 a day for three meals and three snacks, or $750 per month. But, if you cook one meal every day using an Atkins recipe, that cost goes down to $18.50 a day. If you cook two meals, it’s $11.50 a day or $345 a month (plus the extra money you’ll be spending on groceries to cook meals at home).
For Nutrisystem, let’s start with a look at the most basic plans. In the first week of its Basic plan, you’ll get all your meals and snacks delivered. This will cover three meals per day and includes probiotic shakes designed to give you a jumpstart on weight loss.
The remaining three weeks are designed to help you lose weight steadily. You also have some more flexibility in choosing exactly what you eat. You can choose to get five or seven days worth of meals, giving you the option to work on your healthy cooking skills a few times a week.
For women, during these three weeks, you’ll be eating three meals and one snack per day. For men, there are three meals and two snacks as men require more calories per day.
Nutrisystem plans are paid for monthly, so looking at daily prices isn’t ideal. Let’s assume you’re doing the bare-bones Nutrisystem plan. How much will you be spending per month?
For women, it’s $472.71 per month or $259.99 if you sign up for auto-shipments every month. That price covers meals and shakes for the first seven days and meals and a snack for five out of seven days of the next three weeks.
For men, the basic price is $545.44 per month or $299.99 with auto-shipments. The price is slightly higher because of the additional snack per day.
Another cost to consider is shipping. With Nutrisystem, you have to commit to a four-week plan, but all of your meals will ship for free.
With Atkins, there’s no commitment and no sign-up costs, but shipping can build up quickly if you’re shopping online. However, many Atkins products (including frozen meals) are sold at grocery stores, so that can be a quick cash-saving option.
Winner: It’s a tie. Nutrisystem works out cheaper if you want all of your meals covered by a delivery service. Atkins gives you more flexibility so is easier to manage on a budget if you don’t mind home-cooking some meals from scratch.
The meal prep time and skill requirements for both Atkins and Nutrisystem will vary depending on where you are in the plan and how many of your meals are prepared. Atkins-approved recipes can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour from start to finish.
Nutrisystem’s prepared meals are ready in only a few minutes. On a Nutrisystem plan, you’ll have all your meals and snacks delivered for the first week, but in the second week, you can choose to get a smaller shipment. That gives you some room to experiment with making your own healthy nibbles.
Atkins prepared meals are another option for saving time, but they can be costly if they’re all you eat.
Winner: It’s another tie!
Overall, Atkins wins on menu variety and long-term weight loss results because it teaches you how to change your lifestyle to maintain your health goals. With Atkins, you won’t be reliant on pre-packaged and portioned food, so you’ll be learning how to shop for and how to prepare your own healthy, low-carb meals.
The Atkins plan is also available free of charge, so you don’t have to spend any extra cash to see the results. However, the downside of all this freedom is that Atkins is not a highly structured meal plan and takes a considerable time investment to keep up with. Plus, if you do buy its prepared meals, shakes, and snacks, this can quickly add up.
Nutrisystem is more expensive but it’s also the ultimate in convenience when it comes to weight loss. So, if you’re short on time or simply don’t have the energy to plan out and cook a lot of your own meals, then Nutrisystem might be the better option for you.
Keep in mind though, these two aren’t the only options you have when it comes to health-conscious meal delivery. Check out our rankings for the Best Weight Loss Meal Delivery Services of 2021.
Overall winner: Atkins has more variety, flexibility, and more budget-friendly options, and teaches you how to lose weight without relying on premade meals.