Optavia and Nutrisystem are both familiar names in the weight loss industry, but which one is better for your lifestyle?
After some serious research (and more on that below), I've realized that Nutrisystem proves to be the most cost-effective, with a wider variety of meals, snacks, and shakes. Optavia, on the other hand, offers 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. You can also check out our full list of today’s best weight loss meal delivery services.
High-Protein, Vegetarian, Wheat-Free, Low Glycemic
Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free, No Peanut/Tree Nuts, Soy Free, Kosher Dairy
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, five or seven days per week
Six small meals per day
From $9.29 per day
From $10.66 per day
$5 on orders from $150 when you sign up to Optavia Premier; free on orders over $250
Three to five minutes per meal
20-30 minutes for the Lean & Green recipes
One to five minutes for snacks or Fuelings
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.
You can also filter meals according to the product benefits like high fiber or vitamin and mineral content, low fat or cholesterol, heart-healthy, no trans fat, and high in protein.
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: 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.
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.
And this Nutrisystem’s Mango Verde Chicken:
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 $414.60 (or $13.82 per day), while the Essential Optimal Kit for the 4&2&1 Plan costs $457.95 (or $15.27 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 $29.70 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 $9.29 per day, the Uniquely Yours Program starts at $11.07 a day, and the Uniquely Yours Max+ comes in at $12.50. You and a partner can also start a Partner Plan at $11.79 per day.
Likewise, the Vegetarian Plan costs $11.07 a day, and for diabetics, the pricing is the same for the Basic and Uniquely Yours, but the Uniquely Yours Ultimate Diabetes Plan costs $13.21. The Men’s Plans are comparable to the rest, starting at $10.71 for the Basic and $13.93 for the Uniquely Yours Max+.
So when it comes to pricing, Nutrisystem is more expensive at $472.71 per month.
Delivery and Packaging
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.
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.
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.
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.
With Optavia, you might find its programs to be less expensive, and if you like the idea of consistent communication from a coach and support group, this might be the service for you. 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.
Overall winner: Nutrisystem