In the struggle to lose weight, many individuals turn to Weight Watchers or Nutrisystem. Each of these well-established weight-loss programs guides users towards healthier eating, but deciding which is right for you can be as challenging as shedding those extra pounds.
I have taken a close look at both programs, comparing their approach to nutrition, exercise, mental wellness, and community support – all key pillars in achieving sustainable weight loss. My criteria for success were not just about the pounds you can lose but also how easy these programs are to follow and how well they can produce lasting weight loss.
Nutrisystem is the winner in my comparison. Nutrisystem’s scientific approach to portion control and user-friendly meal planning and delivery system are a more comprehensive and hassle-free way to lose weight. Weight Watchers (now known as WW) is a tried and tested service, but I think Nutrisystem is the winning choice for your weight loss journey. Read on to learn more!
Nutrisystem wins this round by default, as Weight Watchers has no menu. With Weight Watchers, you buy your own food based on its recommendations. You have to do your own grocery shopping and follow the WW cooking instructions. This gives a WW dieter many possible failure points. Nutrisystem provides you with a complete meal plan, which helps you resist temptation and simplifies the dieting process.
Nutrisystem offers over 20 breakfast options, 25 lunch choices, and 50 dinner alternatives. You get a variety of meal replacement snacks and optional protein shakes. Nutrisystem sends a whole month's worth of prepared meals at once, which greatly simplifies the task of keeping track of your calorie intake.
Nutrisystem meals are typically lower-calorie versions of beloved American dishes. While the menu might not take you on a global culinary adventure, Nutrisystem strives to ensure its meals are flavorful while supplying all the essential nutrients needed for a reduced-calorie diet.
Despite being calorie-controlled, Nutrisystem meals are hearty and filling. For example, Nutrisystem’s Merlot Beef with Root Vegetables combines thick-cut beef, wholesome root vegetables, and potatoes simmered in a rich merlot reduction. With just 320 calories, this meal gives you steakhouse flavor without the fat and calories. It packs 20 g of protein and requires just 10 minutes in a skillet to heat it up.
Instead of meals, Weight Watchers provides you with 11,000+ low-calorie recipes. Each recipe comes with WW “Points.” You get a set number of points each day determined by your weight, height, age, gender, and desired weight loss.
When I entered my information, I was given 35 points per day for the first 5 weeks. This dropped steadily to 31 points by week 25. A 200-pound 5’6” female with light activity seeking to lose 50 pounds gets 28 points, dropping to 24 by week 25. WW predicted we would each lose around 2 pounds per week.
WW also gives you 35 extra points per week to allow for occasional indulgences. The Points should be allotted to healthy snacks and extra portions of low-calorie entrees.
The Turkey Smash Burger is a typical WW recipe made with ground turkey, reduced-fat cheddar cheese, and mustard. Sliced tomatoes and red onion and fresh lettuce make it a good substitute for calorie-packed fast food meals. With just 10 minutes of prep time and 15 minutes of cooking, it’s almost as fast as takeout and much healthier. Your whole family can enjoy Turkey Smash Burgers without feeling cheated.
Winner: Weight Watchers
WW wins this round because it lets you choose from over 11,000 recipes. While this requires extra work and shopping on your part, it also means you can find exactly the meals you want. Nutrisystem has excellent filtering options to help you avoid meals containing common allergens, but as a prepared meal delivery service, its customization options are limited.
In addition to recipes, WW also provides ingredient substitution instructions for people with dairy, gluten, or other sensitivities. It also offers a selection of vegan recipes, though I would recommend that vegan dieters check out BistroMD’s vegan weight loss meal plan.
I spoke highly of Nutrisystem’s filtering options in my review. Nutrisystem’s filters let you remove items containing common allergens like tree nuts, tomatoes, or dairy. Nutrisystem also offers a Diabetes-Friendly meal plan, as well as a Whole 55 plan for women over 55 and a Max Vitality menu for men over 50.
Nutrisystem wins another round by default. Since Weight Watchers doesn’t send food, there’s not really anything to unbox.
You sign up for WW on its website or app and can choose from a 1-month, 3-month, or 6-month subscription. All plans give you access to WW recipes, but you have to shop for your own groceries. While the WW Store offers a selection of low-calorie snacks and pantry staples, you have to order these separately, and you will still need to buy most of your ingredients on your own.
While the Essentials Plan provides meals for 5 days a week, we recommend Uniquely Yours Max+. On the Uniquely Yours Max+ plan, you can opt for a complete 30 days of meals, so you can be sure that you are getting all the necessary nutrients on a restricted-calorie diet.
On Nutrisystem, you eat 6 small meals a day. This means you don’t spend hours watching the clock and waiting for your next meal, and it also inhibits your temptation for a high-calorie snack to tide you over. All Nutrisystem boxes are labeled and color-coded, so you can distinguish between breakfast, lunch, and dinner entrees and snacks.
Most Nutrisystem meals arrive frozen and will need to be kept in your freezer. Meal replacement bars and shake powder is shelf-stable and can be kept in your pantry.
Nutrisystem is the clear winner in this round. With all its pre-prepared meals and snacks, you can enjoy a low-calorie Nutrisystem meal in minutes. Weight Watchers expects you to shop for, prep, and cook your own meals. If you’re trying to shed some pounds but have a tightly packed schedule, Nutrisystem makes dieting much easier.
Every item on the Nutrisystem menu comes with cooking instructions, which are also available on the website. Most Nutrisystem meals are ready to eat or can be heated in a microwave or conventional oven.
Some Nutrisystem meals may require a bit more preparation. For example, the Merlot Beef pictured above needs to be cooked in a skillet for 10 minutes. But overall Nutrisystem is a quick and convenient way to lose weight.
Winner: It’s a tie
Both Nutrisystem and Weight Watchers offer access to personalized coaching and have very good weight-loss support networks. I declare this round a draw.
The level of support you get from Weight Watchers depends on which membership you choose. Weight Watchers offers 2 plans, Core and Premium. Only the Premium plan offers Workshops. You can attend these workshops virtually or in-person at over 3,000 studio locations nationwide.
Workshop coaches share techniques designed by WW's team of nutrition and behavioral scientists to cultivate long-lasting healthy habits. Workshops focus on weight-loss topics ranging from nutrition (for example, “what constitutes a serving of pasta?”) to mindset shifts that help you overcome problems like stress-eating or midnight snack cravings.
You can cancel your WW membership on its website or through the app. When you sign up for a plan, it will automatically renew at the end of the period unless you cancel, so be sure to cancel before the renewal date if you don’t want to incur an additional charge.
Nutrisystem’s proprietary app, NuMi, logs both Nutrisystem and non-Nutrisystem meals. This makes it easy to monitor daily caloric and nutrient intake, as well as hydration levels. NuMi also encourages physical activity by recommending calorie-burning activities like walking and swimming. It even provides resources like recipes, articles, and diet tips to promote healthier eating habits.
Alongside the NuMi app, Nutrisystem offers personal weight loss coaches who provide a layer of human interaction and personalized guidance. They are available to answer any queries, offer advice, and provide essential moral support. This combination of digital tracking and personal coaching helps keep motivation levels high throughout your Nutrisystem dieting journey.
It's easy to ask about your order or cancel your subscription with Nutrisystem, as it offers easy access to its customer support reps via phone at 1-800-585-5483 or through the live chat feature. It's important to note that all cancellations must be done before 6 pm Eastern time on the day preceding your order's scheduled processing time.
Winner: Weight Watchers
Joining Weight Watchers will cost you less than signing up for Nutrisystem, so WW wins this round. But keep in mind that your subscription does not include the price of groceries nor of any items you purchase at the WW Store.
A 1-month WW subscription costs $43, which includes a $20 starter fee. The fee is waived if you sign up for a 3-month subscription at $15 per month or a 6-month subscription for $10 a month. After those subscriptions expire, your subscription price will go up to $23 a month, the standard monthly fee.
While you have to shop for your own groceries, most WW recipes are for 4 servings. If you are feeding a family, this may be more economical than a Nutrisystem plan, which gives you single-serving meals. (Couples who want to lose weight together can take advantage of Nutrisystem’s For 2 plans, which provide 2 portions of each meal).
Nutrisystem prices start at $11.43 per day for the Essentials plan. The Uniquely Yours Max+ plan costs $13.21 per day for women and $14.82 per day for men. Nutrisystem also offers optional but recommended protein shakes that will cost an extra $39.99 per month.
While Nutrisystem offers 1-time orders, you will pay a hefty additional fee. For example, a 1-month Essentials plan for women costs $319.99 with monthly auto-delivery and $581.80 for a 1-time order. Shipping is free with larger auto-shipped orders but will cost from $7.99 with 1-time orders.
Weight loss counseling and advice
Complete weight loss meal plans
$10 per month
$8.54 per day
Free when you pre-pay;
From $7.99 for one-time orders
1-month Core subscription
1 month plan
130+ choices per week
Depends on recipe
1 to 35 minutes
Depends on recipe
Frozen prepared meals
Allergies catered to
Gluten, dairy, soy, nuts, shellfish
Wheat, milk, lactose, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, eggs, tomatoes, pork, pork gelatin, chocolate, sugar alcohols, onions, seeds, nuts, corn
Diabetic, vegetarian, some vegan
Vegetarian, diabetic, Complete 55 (women 55+), Complete 55: Max Vitality (men 50+)
Insert text (e.g. 24/7 online chat, email, phone)
Text, chat, phone, NuMI app
|No active deal|
Nutrisystem’s pre-packaged, portion-controlled meals remove the guesswork from dieting. The WW plan relies on its Points system, which requires ongoing tracking and can be confusing.. On top of this, Nutrisystem’s NuMi app, which tracks meals, exercise, and water intake, coupled with access to dietitians and weight loss coaches, provides a comprehensive support system.
Nutrisystem's ease and simplicity makes it my choice for anyone embarking on a weight loss journey. But if Nutrisystem doesn’t appeal to you, you should check out the other meal delivery options on our list of the best weight loss meal delivery services.
Nutrisystem is a better choice for those looking for short-term weight loss. Nutrisystem provides a complete plan that includes all your daily meals plus optional protein shakes. This helps you avoid calorie-counting and ensures that you will get a fully balanced restricted-calorie diet.
On the WW Plan, you can expect to lose 1-2 pounds a week. WW’s goal is to teach you how to eat a healthy, sustainable diet for lasting results. While some diets you can shed pounds more quickly, you typically wind up regaining all the weight you have lost within a few months after going off those plans.
While Nutrisystem is not cheap, it provides you with a complete supply of meals, which ensures you get all the necessary nutrients on a restricted calorie diet. When you compare the cost of a Nutrisystem plan to what you spend every month on food, its prices are very reasonable. And you also get diet coaching and support on the Nutrisystem plan.