Nutrisystem and Ideal Protein are both solid weight loss meal delivery services. Each has a different approach, however, so it may not be a clear choice which is the best fit for you. After researching and reviewing dozens of companies, I’m here to give you my expert advice.
I conducted a deep dive of these 2 services to help you decide. I checked several key parameters of both companies during the process and summarized them in my Nutrisystem vs. Ideal Protein comparison. Whatever questions you have, you’ll find the answers here.
Nutrisystem is my easy winner in this head-to-head contest. Ideal Protein has a unique approach to helping you shed pounds, but Nutrisystem’s menu is much more comprehensive and includes a wider variety of plans and programs.
Even though Nutrisystem gets my nod in this comparison, both services have strengths. Read on to get my in-depth thoughts on the biggest pros and cons for both Nutrisystem and Ideal Protein.
Nutrisystem has a larger meal variety compared to Ideal Protein on its website. Both offer a range of snacks, main courses, drinks, and more, but Nutrisystem’s selection is simply bigger. Furthermore, Ideal Protein publishes only a few options per recipe category on its website.
Both Nutrisystem and Ideal Protein offer a range of fresh and frozen meals for weight loss. Nutrisystem clearly indicates on its menu which meals arrive fresh and which you get frozen. This helpful distinction allows you to efficiently organize your refrigerator and freezer storage. With Ideal Protein, you'll have to visit a retail store for these details.
You'll get Nutrisystem's meals fully cooked. So, you won't spend a lot of time preparing them. You can heat most dishes in the microwave. Also, Nutrisystem provides information about preferred cooking methods on its website and packaging. And you won't need to warm up some of its recipes at all.
You'll find a handful of meals on Ideal Protein's website. But clicking on those won't lead you to actual results. It turns out that these are just images of the dishes and not clickable links. Furthermore, I found the Featured Recipes section below these images, but I couldn't find those dishes on the menu. So, I concluded they're likely meal-prep ideas, not actual menu offerings.
Nutrisystem draws inspiration from various famous cuisines. You'll usually find Chinese or Italian recipes on its menu, but it includes various Asian and Mediterranean recipes, too. Of course, American-inspired dishes are available as well. Ideal Protein doesn't publish its available meals. So, it's virtually impossible to determine the exact source of this company's meal ideas.
You can customize your meal plan with Nutrisystem via a series of menu filters. These are:
Storing Condition (Frozen and Non-frozen)
Narrow By (New, Bars & Bites, Beef Dishes, etc.)
Special Dietary Needs (Diabetes Friendly and Vegetarian)
Nutrition (Good Source of Protein, Lower Sodium, and more)
Preparation (No Prep Needed, Microwave, and Stovetop, among other options)
Exclude (Wheat, Milk, Eggs, Tree Nuts, and much more)
I like that Nutrisystem provides thorough information about these filters. Click on the question mark in the blue circle, and a text bubble will appear with a clear explanation. By contrast, Ideal Protein doesn't have any filter options for food customization whatsoever.
Nutrisystem caters to eaters with specific dietary needs. It has dedicated Women's, Men's, and Diabetes plans. There’s also a Complete 55 Plan for older women and a Complete 55: Max Vitality for men. Moreover, if you and your partner are looking to lose weight or eat healthily together, go for Partner Plans..
You can further tailor your mealtime with Nutrisystem upon selecting a plan. Available options per individual program are:
Women's: Essentials, Uniquely Yours Max+, and Complete 55
Men's: Essentials, Uniquely Yours Max+, and Complete 55: Max Vitality
Diabetes Plans: Basic Diabetes Plan, Uniquely Yours Diabetes Plan, and Uniquely Yours Ultimate Diabetes Plan
Plans for 2: Essentials, Uniquely Yours Max+, and Complete 55
Unlike Nutrisystem, Ideal Protein doesn’t offer any way to customize your diet plan. Its holistic weight loss regimen (which includes keto-friendly options) is meant to be appropriate for just about anyone. You may or may not appreciate this simpler approach.
Ordering Nutrisystem's recipes is easy through its website. Upon receiving the box, you won't have trouble unboxing it, which is a simple process. As for Ideal Protein, you'll have to go to the nearest store selling its products to purchase them.
Purchasing Nutrisystem's food is intuitive. Upon selecting your dietary plan, you start to build it. To complete the procedure, you go through several stages, which are:
Building your meal plan. You select the gender, whether to choose meals or take the service's recommendations, delivery terms, and more.
Creating an account or proceeding as a guest. The company advises the former to checkout faster.
Specifying your email address.
Stating shipping and billing info. Note that you may receive a few special offers before the system prompts you to these stages.
You can edit your order on the Nutrisystem website anytime. Simply log in by clicking on the Sign In Account icon from any page and select Edit Next Order next.
Unlike Nutrisystem, Ideal Protein isn't a meal delivery service. You need to locate its selling points via the website and visit them to get its products. To do so, select Locations on its website and enter your zip or postal code in the dedicated box.
Nutrisystem ships dishes to all 48 contiguous US states. Another big plus for Nutrisystem is that it serves customers in Alaska, Hawaii, and other US territories and dependencies. You can also order its weight loss recipes if you reside at a military address or an APO or PO box.
Delivery times depend on your exact location. Expect to receive your dishes within 10 days after you place an order with Nutrisystem if you live in the continental US, Alaska, Hawaii, or Puerto Rico. If you reside at a PO or APO box or military address, you may wait between 4 and 6 weeks to get your meals.
Note that the company ships fresh and frozen foods separately. So, if you order both, they may arrive on different days.
Nutrisystem ships boxes in 4-week batches. To delay your upcoming delivery, log into your account and choose a new processing date from the calendar. Remember that you have to make changes before 6 pm ET the day before your order processes. You won't be able to delay an upcoming shipment if you miss the deadline.
You'll get dedicated links in the email allowing you to track orders. If you purchased frozen and fresh meals, you'll get 2 emails.
Nutrisystem packs frozen and non-frozen recipes separately. You'll get frozen food in a white styrofoam cooler and non-frozen meals in a cardboard box. Use heavy gloves when unboxing the package containing dry ice. You don't have to store fresh items in the refrigerator, you can put them in the pantry or a cabinet. Place frozen dishes in the freezer upon receipt.
You'll notice that fresh recipes are differently organized than frozen. The former are separated into different box compartments while the latter you may find 1 atop the other. The meals are well labeled, so you'll know right away which is which. Depending on the meal, you may get some in a transparent plastic bag.
Nutrisystem's packaging is reusable and recyclable. The company also looks for ways to reduce print materials, without affecting the quality of packaging, of course.
Nutrisystem takes care of the hard meal prep work for you. It pre-portions and cooks meals before delivery, so you can simply warm them up, if that, and serve them. Heating times may vary depending on your preferred method – microwave, oven, stovetop, or other appliance – but they are generally quick.
If you microwave food, it should be ready in a few minutes. But if you opt for a traditional oven, it may take up to 30 minutes or so. Check the details by selecting the recipe on the website and scrolling down until you find Prep Method next to Q&A, Reviews, and other tabs.
Prep and serving times of Ideal Protein's recipes are inconclusive. I suggest you visit a store selling its products to learn more.
I had a great experience with Nutrisystem and Ideal Protein customer supports. Agents answered my questions promptly and precisely. And both services’ agents were ready to go the extra mile to provide me with additional tips and services. But one thing tipped the scales in Nutrisystem's favor in this round. And that’s a shorter response time.
I was curious about personalizing Nutrisystem's Plan for 2. Specifically, I wanted to know if it’s possible to customize meals separately for each individual if they follow different diets. I received the following answer in a matter of a few hours:
Given the positive reply, I wondered whether the service has some vegan options. So, I sent out another email and the following response arrived shortly:
Ideal Protein's customer support representative also sent me a brief answer. My question was whether the protocol supports keto dieters. Natasha sent me this reply within several hours:
You can easily get in touch with Nutrisystem's customer care. You'll find a dedicated phone number in the header. But if you prefer written communication, send an email, like I did. Alternatively, join a live chat. To do so, click on Help in the header next to the phone number, scroll down a bit, and select the Contact Us button.
Finding Ideal Protein's Contact options calls for a bit of research. Scroll down to the footer to find it among other links. Once you fill out the contact form, choose whether to be contacted by phone or email.
Nutrisystem has a great FAQ section. I was able to find answers to most of my questions there. As for Ideal Protein, its FAQ section is pretty limited. At the time of my research, it contained 5 questions.
Contact Nutrisystem customer support via phone to cancel your subscription. Unsubscribe no later than 6 pm ET before the processing day to prevent the following shipment. If you cancel your account after the cutoff time, you'll still receive another shipment.
You don't have to go through a cancellation process with Ideal Protein. Since you don't subscribe to the protocol, all you have to do is stop purchasing its meals.
Ideal Protein doesn't sell products on its website, so its pricing is inconclusive. It varies depending on which store you shop at. But you have a complete insight into Nutrisystem's daily cost, which makes it a clear winner in this category, too.
The starting cost depends on the dieter type and plan you select. Regarding gender-specific programs, corresponding plans for females are somewhat cheaper than those for males. The Partner plan is the most affordable, though. The lowest price per day, which includes main courses and snacks, is $8.54.
You'll get an estimated shipping fee at the checkout stage. If you’re a subscriber and prepay for 2 or 3 months, you don’t pay for shipping. But if you’re a 1-time buyer, your shipping fee starts at $7.99.
People with busy lifestyles, individuals and couples wishing to lose weight
People who want a unique weight loss approach
$8.54 per day
Free when you pre-pay;
One a la carte item
Over 150 items
3 to 35 minutes
Allergies catered to
Tree nuts, wheat, milk, lactose, fish, shellfish, eggs, tomatoes, pork, chocolate, sugar alcohols, onions, seeds, nuts, and corns
Balanced, carb-conscious, low calorie, vegetarian, diabetic
Phone line (1-800-585-5483) from 8 am to 8 pm ET on work days and from 9 am to 5:30 pm on weekends, live chat, email
No active deal
Nutrisystem is the undisputed winner in the Nutrisystem vs. Ideal Protein contest. With it, you can review plans and order your favorite dishes from the comfort of your home. As opposed to this concept, you'd have to locate the nearest shop selling Ideal Protein's recipes, which may not be anywhere near. And, Nutrisystem delivers food to any location, in or outside the mainland USA.
Ideal Protein proved a noteworthy competitor only in the Customer Service category. In every other, Nutrisystem reigns supreme. But if you follow a keto diet and have easy access to Ideal Protein products, you may find this protocol a suitable fit.
Nutrisystem claims that dieters can expect significant weight loss during the 1st month. Males may shed around 18 pounds in the introductory month, while females can anticipate a loss of roughly 13 pounds. After the initial month, you can expect to lose up to 2 pounds per week.
Eggs, beans, legumes, fatty fish, full-fat dairy products, almonds, and chia seeds are the best proteins for belly fat loss. You should also include yogurt, red bell peppers, broccoli, and diluted vinegar in your diet to reduce belly fat.
Ideal Protein's low-fat intake approach induces a state of nutritional ketosis. It's a metabolic state in which your body uses stored fat as a primary source of energy instead of glucose. It differs from a traditional keto diet, which typically includes higher fat consumption. When you're on a regular keto diet, your body relies on the provided dietary fat before tapping into its stored fat reserves.
Restrictive high-protein diets may limit carbohydrate intake. Thus, such diets, including Ideal Protein, may result in insufficient essential nutrients and fiber consumption. As a result, you may experience headaches, constipation, and unpleasant breath.