The South Beach Diet vs. Nutrisystem: Comparison and Review
The South Beach Diet and Nutrisystem are two popular programs often used by those looking to lose weight.
While both programs have several things in common, many key differences set them apart.
This article takes a closer look at the South Beach Diet and Nutrisystem to determine which is better for weight loss.
Here’s a brief overview of how each program works.
The South Beach Diet
The South Beach Diet is a low carb diet designed to promote weight loss and improve heart health. It’s based on a book by Dr. Arthur Agatston, a cardiologist.
The diet promotes lean sources of protein, non-starchy vegetables, and heart-healthy fats while limiting added sugars and high carb ingredients.
Although you can follow the diet using the principles described in the book, the South Beach Diet also offers plans that provide fully prepared meals and snacks delivered to your door.
The company has three plans, including:
- Silver: 5 days of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners per week
- Gold: 5 days of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners per week, plus snacks
- Platinum: 5 days of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners per week, plus snacks and 15 probiotic shakes
The program also has a 1-week reboot kit. According to the company’s website, this contains an array of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks specifically selected to help you lose up to 7 pounds (3 kg) in 1 week.
Nutrisystem is a commercial weight loss program that offers an assortment of fully prepared fresh and frozen meals each week.
The company offers several plans with varying meals, prices, and customization options.
Here are some of the plans offered by Nutrisystem:
- Basic Plan: 5 days of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks per week
- Uniquely Yours: 5 days of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks per week from the full menu
- Uniquely Yours Ultimate: 7 days of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks per week from the full menu
- Partner Plan: 5 days of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks per week from the full menu for two people
The program is designed to be followed for 2–4 weeks but can be repeated as many times as necessary to help you reach your goals.
In addition to the meals and snacks provided by Nutrisystem, dieters are encouraged to enjoy two additional healthy snacks per day to round out their diet.
Here’s what kind of foods you can find on the menu of each program.
The South Beach Diet
The South Beach Diet features a large menu with a variety of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks.
When placing your order, you can mix and match items to create your own meal plan.
You can also filter items to view meals that are vegetarian or diabetes-friendly, as well as those that contain specific allergens and ingredients.
Additionally, you can sort items by their carb content, storage needs, and preparation required.
The nutrition facts and ingredients are also listed for all meals and snacks on the menu, along with customer reviews and details on the preparation method.
Nutrisystem offers an extensive menu with over 150 fresh and frozen meals and snacks to choose from.
The menu also includes a selection of diabetes-friendly, high fiber, high protein, low sodium, and vegetarian options.
Each menu item is accompanied by a list of ingredients and its nutrition facts. You can also filter the menu to exclude items that contain certain ingredients, including pork, wheat, or milk.
With the Basic Plan, you can choose from 100 items on the menu to create a custom meal plan. All other plans allow you to select from the full menu.
Here’s how the two programs vary in terms of cost.
The South Beach Diet
The South Beach Diet offers several plans, each of which varies in price and its selection of meals and snacks.
Here’s how much 1 month’s worth of meals costs on each plan:
- Silver: $12.50 per day for women, $13.75 per day for men
- Gold: $13.75 per day for women, $15 per day for men
- Platinum: $15.18 per day for women, $16.43 per day for men
- One-Week Reboot Kit: $99.99
All plans include free shipping, and additional discounts are available if you prepay for multiple months or sign up for auto-delivery.
You can also add other items to your order for an extra fee, such as meal bundles, protein bars, and shaker bottles.
The prices for Nutrisystem differ depending on which plan you select.
Here’s how much each plan costs:
- Basic: $8.93 per day for women, $10.36 per day for men
- Uniquely Yours: $10.71 per day for women, $12.14 per day for men
- Uniquely Yours Ultimate: $12.86 per day for women, $14.29 per day for men
- Partner Plan: $10.71–$12.14 per day per person
All plans include free shipping, as well as a discount if you preorder multiple shipments.
You can also add an assortment of protein shakes to your order for an additional fee.
Both programs have been shown to increase weight loss and fat loss.
The South Beach Diet
While there’s very little research on the South Beach Diet specifically, several studies have found that high protein, low carb diets may aid weight loss.
One study in 331 people with obesity noted that those who followed a low carb, low calorie, high protein diet lost significantly more body weight and fat mass over 9 months than those following a standard low calorie diet (
Another study in 164 people showed that reducing your carb intake may help you burn more calories throughout the day, thus promoting weight loss (
One older study found that people with metabolic syndrome who followed the South Beach Diet for 12 weeks lost an average of 11.5 pounds (5.2 kg) (
Plus, they experienced significant reductions in total percent body fat, belly fat, and body mass index (BMI), an estimate of body fat that’s calculated using your height and weight (
Increasing your protein intake may also enhance feelings of fullness and affect certain hormones that control hunger and appetite, such as ghrelin (
Although there’s limited research on the effectiveness of Nutrisystem for long-term, sustainable weight loss, several studies show that it may be beneficial for increasing short-term weight loss.
For example, one small study in 69 people with type 2 diabetes indicated that following the Nutrisystem program for 3 months was more effective for weight loss than attending a diabetes support and education group (
Similarly, a review of 39 studies reported that participants who used Nutrisystem for 3 months achieved an average of 3.8% more weight loss than those who received behavioral counseling or education (
What’s more, another study found that people who used Nutrisystem for 12 weeks lost an average of 17.8 pounds (8 kg) and more belly fat than those who followed the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet (8).
However, keep in mind that this study was directly sponsored by Nutrisystem.
Finally, any low calorie diet is likely to result in rapid weight loss. The Nutrisystem diet that resulted in the 17.8-pound (8-kg) weight loss mentioned above contained only 1,000–1,500 calories per day, which is much too low for the energy needs of most adults.
Both the South Beach Diet and Nutrisystem may also offer additional benefits.
The South Beach Diet
The prepared meals offered by the South Beach Diet make it easy to follow a low carb diet and can help save you time and energy throughout the week.
Unlike many other prepared meal services, the South Beach Diet book also offers clear guidelines on healthy eating and physical activity, which may help transition off the service.
In addition to increasing weight loss, the South Beach Diet may improve several other aspects of your health.
For instance, one older study in 20 people showed that following the South Beach Diet decreased levels of fasting insulin, which may help support healthy blood sugar levels (
Another study found that participants who followed a diet pattern similar to the South Beach Diet for 24 weeks experienced greater improvements in blood sugar control and triglyceride levels than those following a high carb, low fat diet (
With a variety of fully prepared meals and snacks on the menu, Nutrisystem offers a quick, convenient, and simple solution for weight loss.
It may be a particularly good option for people looking to save time during the week, without having to worry about monitoring their portion sizes and counting carbs or calories.
Plus, it may help support healthy blood sugar levels.
In fact, most Nutrisystem meals have a low glycemic index (GI), which means that the meals are less likely to significantly affect your blood sugar levels (
In addition to improving blood sugar control among people with type 2 diabetes, some research suggests that low GI diets may be beneficial for weight loss (
Both diet programs also have a few downsides to consider.
The South Beach Diet
Although it’s possible to follow the South Beach Diet by employing the guidelines in the book and preparing your own food at home, the meal plans offered by the company use highly processed and prepackaged foods like cookies, snack bars, and nacho puffs.
While some may enjoy the ease and convenience of these meals and snacks, regularly consuming processed food has been linked to chronic conditions like obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes (
Plus, easing back into a regular diet may be more difficult if you’re relying solely on these prepared meals, and it could potentially increase your risk of weight regain.
Additionally, the meal plans offered by the South Beach Diet only provide 1,200–1,500 calories per day. While the diet may result in short-term weight loss, this calorie range is far too low for most adults, unsustainable, and may result in weight regain.
Furthermore, the South Beach Diet is expensive and more costly than many similar services, including Nutrisystem, with prices starting at $12.50 per day.
Options to accommodate specific dietary restrictions are also limited. This may not be ideal if you have any food preferences, allergies, or intolerances.
Unlike other programs that promote healthy dietary and lifestyle changes, Nutrisystem relies on premade, preportioned meals and snacks to encourage weight loss.
While this may be effective for short-term weight loss, it’s likely to lead to weight regain once you resume your typical diet.
It can also be expensive to follow long term, with plans starting at almost $9 per day.
Nutrisystem may not be a good option for those with certain dietary restrictions, including people following vegan or gluten-free diets.
It can also be somewhat
restrictive and may not provide enough calories for many adults.
In the long run, decreasing your calorie intake too much can slow your metabolism and make it harder to lose weight (
There are several factors to consider when determining which program is right for you.
With a large menu of meals and snacks that require little to no preparation, Nutrisystem is a simple and convenient option for weight loss.
It’s also more affordable than similar services, including the South Beach Diet.
On the other hand, while the meals provided by the South Beach Diet are a bit more expensive, you can also follow the diet using the guidelines described in the book instead of purchasing the premade meals.
Doing so can not only make it easier to incorporate other foods into your diet but also ease your transition back to a regular diet to maintain weight loss long term.
Nutrisystem is a weight loss program that offers fully prepared meals and snacks to support weight loss and save you time during the week.
Meanwhile, the South Beach Diet is a low carb, high protein diet based on a book that also offers a variety of prepared meals.
Although the premade meals from the South Beach Diet may be more expensive, the book offers additional guidelines on healthy eating and physical activity, which may ease your transition back to a typical diet once you’ve reached your goals.