Optavia and Nutrisystem are both familiar names in the weight loss industry. But after some serious research (and more on that below), I've realized that Nutrisystem proves to be the winner. Not only is it more cost-effective, but it provides a wider variety of meals, snacks, and shakes.
Optavia might have lost, but it admittedly does offer more personal engagement and guidance with coaching and support groups.
Read on for a more in-depth comparison of Nutrisystem vs. Optavia, and where else Nutrisystem did better.
Winner: Nutrisystem, because it features more internationally inspired dishes and more prepared meals
Nutrisystem wins here, but Optavia isn’t doing that bad either. Optavia’s online menu displays a variety of snacks, drinks, and meals – most of which fall into the category of standard American fare, with some Asian, Italian, and Latin American dishes mixed in.
The most exotic dishes I found on the menu were the Latin Chili Lime Chicken, the Asian-inspired Ginger Lemongrass Chicken, and the Italian dish, Turkey Meatball Marinara.
Likewise, Nutrisystem has a good array of choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Similar to Optavia, most dishes reflect the standard American cuisine, but you’ll also find a variety of pizzas and other Italian dishes.
I even found a few Asian-inspired entrees, like the Teriyaki Chicken with Noodles and the Spicy Kung Pao Noodles.
I was also impressed by the Latin-inspired meals like the Mango Verde Veggie and Grain Blend. So, you’ll see a little more “international flavor” when it comes to Nutrisystem’s menu, like these Teriyaki noodles.
Winner: It’s a tie. Nutrisystem organizes its plans to make it easier to find diabetic or vegetarian meals but Optavia caters to more food intolerances.
Nutrisystem and Optavia break down their meal plans according to how intensive you want your program to be. Nutrisystem takes it up a notch though, by offering specialized menus for different dietary needs.
For example, the Nutrisystem D plan is for diabetics and offers an entire menu of low-glycemic foods.
The Vegetarian plan includes 90+ ovo-lacto meals and snacks. And the Men’s program offers an entire menu of meals with slightly bigger portions to allow for a higher calorie count.
You can also contact the Nutrition Support Team for a customized menu of wheat-free meals. Keep in mind, though, that none of the wheat-free meals are certified gluten-free. And if you’ve got a peanut allergy, Nutrisystem is not the weight loss program for you.
Optavia might not have plans geared towards specific dietary preferences, but its menu filtering options are pretty extensive when it comes to excluding certain ingredients.
Optavia offers 63 vegetarian options along with snacks, shakes, and meals that are free of soy, gluten, shellfish, egg, peanuts and tree nuts, and beef. You can even find meals and snacks that are certified Kosher.
Like Nutrisystem, Optavia also gives you the option of a free consultation call with a health coach for advice about tailoring your program to meet your dietary preferences. Unfortunately, the company somewhat lags behind here, as its health coaches on staff aren’t qualified to give you direct medical advice.
If you don’t mind doing your own research and want to skip the coaching call, Optavia lets you do that. Through your account, you’ll get access to a handy (though a little overwhelming) PDF file with a chart of the Fuelings, Shakes, and Lean & Green meals, indicating the dietary preferences they’re suitable for and any allergens they might have.
Winner: Nutrisystem for transparency, although Optavia ships to more territories
Both Nutrisystem and Optavia have portioned, prepared meals, and both vendors send their products neatly organized in boxes or cooler containers. Nonetheless, when you’re looking for details, Nutrisystem’s site is more transparent and gives a more detailed description of its packaging and shipping policy.
The ordering process is simple for both companies, and you can easily change your order before it’s shipped.
While Nutrisystem ships only to continental US, Optavia ships to all US states and territories. Orders take 5-8 days to arrive in continental states, and 10-15 in Alaska, Hawaii, and other territories.
Nutrisystem utilizes a type of biodegradable and recyclable packaging that works like a Styrofoam cooler. Once unpacked, it can be reused for carrying other items that need to be kept cold or taken to a recycling center.
The frozen food is shipped separately from the ready-to-serve items, which arrive first. You can expect your first order to arrive within three weeks. Then Nutrisystem’s frozen foods will arrive within 14 days after that.
Like Nutrisystem, Optavia goes green with its biodegradable packaging of individual products. You’ll receive 17 boxes of Essential Fuelings in the 5&1 Plan.
Similar to Nutrisystem, ready-to-go items are shipped separately from the frozen ones. You can expect your products to be shipped within five to seven days. However, delays might occur due to availability.
Winner: It’s a tie!
When it comes to the meals, both brands send frozen dishes that take just a few minutes to cook in the microwave.
Then there’s the convenience of grab-and-go bars and snacks.
From Optavia, expect a whole range of somewhat-processed products, including snacks like popcorn and crackers, granola bars, shakes and smoothies, and even dessert-style puddings and cookies. In most cases, prep is as easy as adding water to a powdered shake or unwrapping a bar.
You’ll also get access to recipe books, meal prep guides, and an Optavia coach to help you keep up your healthier eating habits on your own. Its Lean & Green recipes all take about half an hour to prepare.
Similarly, with Nutrisystem you’ll also find a range of comfort-food classics that are simple and easy to prepare and get on the table – think grilled chicken sandwiches, pizza, and mac and cheese. There are also snack bars available in a variety of flavors (apple strudel, anyone?) that contain around 200 calories each.
Winner: It’s a tie!
If you’re the type of person that prefers a personal relationship with a coach, you’ll be happy with Optavia. If you prefer to do this alone or by using an app instead, then you can safely choose Nutrisystem.
Optavia’s customer service can be reached by either email and phone, Monday to Friday: 11:00 am - 9:00 pm and Saturday: 11:00 am - 7:00 pm.
But Optavia shines in the counseling section. You will have a personal coach you can count on for guidance and encouragement regarding your diet, meal choices and exercise, but also to keep you in touch with the Optavia community.
Nutrisystem can be contacted via phone and email, but also live chat. All of these channels are available from Monday to Friday 8 am - 8 pm EST and Saturday to Sunday 9 am - 5:30 pm EST.
You can demand counseling from Nutrisystem if you need help to keep yourself on track. You can also request special assistance in choosing your meals if you have any dietary requirements or allergies.
Winner: Nutrisystem, with its $9.99/day Basic Plan
Nutrisystem’s starting prices are listed as “per day,” whereas Optavia’s pricing is based on which Fuelings package you order – you can also shop additional items, which will obviously change the overall price you pay.
For example, the Essential Optimal Kit and the Essential On-the-Go Kit for the 5&1 Plan costs $428.20 (or $14.27 per day), while the Essential Optimal Kit for the 4&2&1 Plan costs $472.95 (or $15.76 per day). It’s also itemized so you would have to tally up the amount depending on your plan.
As an illustration, almost all of the Lean & Green meals listed cost $30.75 each. Also, each plan contains a detailed outline of how many Lean and Greens & Fuelings you’ll need which allows for budgeting and meal planning. Plus, you’ll be guaranteed free shipping and even free meals if you join the Optavia Premier rewards program.
On the other hand, Nutrisystem lists its prices per day for each program, which includes either a five-day or seven-day option. When you choose a program, you’ll also see the option to choose shakes. In all programs, the shipping is free.
The Basic Program starts from $9.99 per day, the Uniquely Yours Program starts at $11.79 a day, and the Uniquely Yours Max+ comes in at $13.21. You and a partner can also start a Partner Plan at $9.99 per day.
Likewise, the Vegetarian Plan costs $11.79 a day, and for diabetics, the pricing is the same for the Basic and Uniquely Yours, but the Uniquely Yours Ultimate Diabetes Plan costs $13.93. The Men’s Plans are comparable to the rest, starting at $11.64 for the Basic and $14.29 for the Uniquely Yours Max+.
Quick weight loss meals on a budget
Weight loss counseling and community
$8.54 per day
Price: Missing Product medifast per day
Free on orders over $250
$508.71 per month (six meals a day every day)
160+ choices (fewer for those on the Basic plan)
60+ choices per week
Six minutes or less
Six minutes or less
spicy foods, wheat, milk, lactose intolerance, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, eggs, tomatoes, pork or pork gelatin, chocolate, sugar alcohols, onions, seeds, nuts or corn – diverticulosis
added caffeine, vegetarian, tree nuts, peanuts, kosher, wheat, egg, gluten-free, whey, soy, milk
Special Dietary Options
Diabetes-friendly, vegetarian, gender-specific
Online chat, email, phone
Both Nutrisystem and Optavia have their benefits, including expert coaches who will quickly answer your calls and address any concerns. However, Nutrisystem’s coaches and dietitians are licensed and certified. Plus, if you need to speak to a specialist diabetes coach, you also have that option.
Nutrisystem also does a better job of organizing its meal plans according to different diets, such as diabetic or vegetarian.
Optavia might be the service for you if you like the idea of consistent communication from a coach and support group. Also, it provides detailed information regarding allergens and foods that meet specific dietary requirements.
Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a well-established service that has little chance of running into obstacles with availability or shipping, Nutrisystem is the better choice. In addition to these perks, you can also access its NuMi app, which will help you to accurately track your progress.
Check out our current list of today’s best weight loss meal delivery services for even more ideas on how you can reach your health goals.
Both Nutrisystem and Optavia are suitable for weight loss. Nutrisystem promises quick results and has a dedicated NuMi app to help and guide you. Plus, as I mentioned above, Nutrisystem has plenty of prepared meals in the menu (read more about the meals above).
Optavia, on the other hand, is more focused on counseling and provides a more personal approach to losing weight. But you’ll also be eating more bars and shakes as opposed to real meals.
When it comes to price, Nutrisystem offers a six-month plan that beats Optavia’s affordable meals. It’s called the Complete plan and it starts at just $5.82 per day.
You can read more on how it works above. But if you’re interested in following a diet for at least half a year, this is a perfect match.
If you choose a monthly plan, however, Nutrisystem and Optavia have pretty similar prices.
Nutrisystem provides a more extensive and diverse menu than Optavia. Apart from providing special Diabetes-Friendly and Vegetarian plans, it also has more prepared meals compared to just bars and shakes.
Plus, with Nutrisystem you don’t have to cook anything. Optavia instructs you to cook at least one meal per day for yourself, or else you’ll be stuck with the same few options on the menu.