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NutriSystem: Weight Loss is All in the Planning Beef Stroganoff with noodles…basil chicken with tomato sauce…tuna casserole…turkey with dumplings. These might not sound like diet foods, but they are, according to the NutriSystem diet program. The program offers separate pre-packaged food plans for women in general, men in general, diabetics, and vegetarians. And, according to medical research, dieters who use a plan such as NutriSystem lose 30 percent more weight over a period of four months than people who follow other weight loss programs. Visit the NutriSystem website at www.nutrisystem.com, and you’ll find a number of testimonials from successful dieters. For instance, there’s Janet Z, who lost 24 pounds and is quoted as saying, “My favorite thing about the NutriSystem program is the convenience of it all, the variety of food, and the fact that this Italian girl can eat pasta every night if she wants to!” And then there is Nicole S., who lost 28 pounds. Nicole states, “I thought it was extremely easy. I carried them in my bag and there were plenty of choices. I never got bored and I’d say that it’s foolproof.” The NutriSystem plan offers you food that ranks at the low end of the Glycemic Index, which determines the effect of carbohydrates on blood sugar. Those foods that lead to stable blood sugar have a low Glycemic Index ranking. The idea is that, by following the NutriSystem program, you will end up burning fat. The plan requires you to eat five times a day in order to speed up your metabolism. Originally, Dr. Jay Satz began the NutriSystem program as a diet plan which offered dieters only 400 to 500 calories per day of nutrition. Today, the calorie allowance at NutriSystem is much more generous. The program offers 140 different meals, from pancakes to fettuccini alfredo, and from cheesy potatoes to chili with beans. Satz himself is partial to the chicken marsala for his main entrée and chocolate crunches for dessert. Backers of the NutriSystem program say that it offers appropriate nutrition, enabling an individual to lose weight without sacrificing valuable nutrients. The food portions are determined for you, so you do not have to worry about eating too much. Also, since the food is sent right to your home, the program receives high marks in the convenience category. There is no need to visit a NutriSystem center, although you can call a weight loss counselor for support. Membership is free and includes unlimited counseling, newsletters, online classes, a computerized weight control diary, and online chat rooms. Also, when you enroll in the program, you will receive a complimentary diet analysis. With the NutriSystem program, you end up eating 55 percent of your calories from low-glycemic carbs, 25 percent from protein, and 20 percent from fat. The plan is low in sodium and derives less than five percent of its calories from trans and saturated fats. The meat tends to be lean and low-fat, while whole grain foods are also plentiful in the meal plan. Under NutriSystem’s guidance, you’ll eat more than four cups of fruits and vegetables a day—the amount advised by federal health officials. Another advantage to the NutriSystem program is that it enables you to plan meals far in advance. Generally speaking, you begin with four weeks’ worth of products, enabling you to have enough meals and snacks for a full 28 days. If you choose, however, you can order as much as ten weeks’ worth of food. Primary advantages to the NutriSystem plan include the fact that it is highly easy to use, since you will have food delivered directly to your door. The menus also tend to be rich in nutrients, making the meals a healthy choice. One of the major disadvantages, however, is that you will not learn how to shop for healthy food or learn how to prepare it, since the choices are made for you. Also, you may not like the NutriSystem food, which may make it difficult to stick with the program. In addition, the program can cost you hundreds of dollars—an investment you might not be prepared to make. Moreover, some health experts say that you are far better off working with a registered dietician than trying to follow a prepackaged meal plan.
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