We rank vendors based on rigorous testing and research, but also take into account your feedback and our commercial agreements with providers. This page contains affiliate links.Advertising DisclosureThis is a user-oriented comparison website, and we need to cover hosting and content costs, as well as make a profit. The costs are covered from referral fees from the vendors we feature. Affiliate link compensation does not affect reviews but might affect listicle pages. On these pages, vendors are ranked based on the reviewer’s examination of the service but also taking into account feedback from users and our commercial agreements with service providers. This website tries to cover important meal, coffee and pet food delivery services but we can’t cover all of the solutions that are out there. Information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
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Author Joey Kendrick
Joey Kendrick
Updated on Jan 22nd, 2024
Fact checked by Deborah Leigh

Nutrisystem vs. Optavia 2024: The Weight Loss Battle

Optavia and Nutrisystem both offer weight-loss meal plans that rely on small, healthy snacks to quell mid-day cravings. Their goals are similar on the surface, so I put them to the test in a head-to-head comparison.

After extensive research across 6 categories, I found Nutrisystem to be the easy winner. It offers a much broader variety of meals and snacks, and it’s more cost-effective, too. Nutrisystem offers a full line-up of shelf-stable and frozen meals, while Optavia offers very little beyond basic snacks like granola bars and brownies.

Optavia gives you access to healthy recipes, but you’ll have to shop for the groceries yourself, which makes it less convenient. Optavia does have some unique resources including a network of weight-loss coaches. However, its multi-level marketing approach to business means new customers should be wary.

At a Glance: Who Won Each Category?

💲 Price:

Nutrisystem ($8.54 per serving)

🍔 Menu Variety:
Nutrisystem (Up to 160+ choices per week)

🥦Ingredient Quality and Nutrition:

Nutrisystem

⏰ Prep Time:

Tied

🍴 Customization:

Nutrisystem (6 diet plans)

👍 Ordering and Delivery

Nutrisystem

🙋 Customer Support:

Nutrisystem

👑 Overall Winner:
Nutrisystem

Menu Variety

Winner: Nutrisystem, because it offers a much bigger variety of prepared meals.

Both services have a huge selection of nutritionally-balanced, single-serving snacks like cookies and nut bars, but only Nutrisystem has a large menu of prepared meals.

Optavia’s leading plan is its “5 & 1” program, which refers to the 5 snacks or meal replacements you’ll eat every day (Optavia calls these “Fuelings”). The “& 1” refers to a “Lean & Green” meal to round out your daily nutritional needs. Optavia’s other plans, like the “4 & 2 & 1” or the “3 & 3” plans, all center around the same Fuelings of snacks and smoothies. The only difference is the ratio of fuelings to Lean & Green meals.

Two stock photos of a Strawberry Shake and a Creamy Double Peanut Butter Crisp Bar from Optavia

You'll only find a small handful of savory meals on Optavia's menu.

With Optavia, you’ll still be doing some grocery shopping and cooking every day. It has a very limited selection of shelf-stable meals you can add to your order, but in general, you’re expected to cook for yourself. The company provides recipes and guidelines to help you make healthy, balanced meals, but that’s about it. You can find plan-approved recipes on the Optavia app.

Two stock photos of Nutrisystem's Teriyaki Chicken with Noodles and Mango Verde Chicken dishes
Nutrisystem's dishes cover a range of cuisines. Like most weight-loss services, the portions are on the smaller side to keep calories down.

Nutrisystem is much better designed for convenient meals, and it offers lunches, dinners, and snacks. Most of the dishes are American cuisine, with some international dishes like Chicken Teriyaki to round out the menu.

In short, Nutrisystem makes it easier to stick to a weight-loss diet with minimal effort. Its long-term plan lets you transition to making your own meals or even eat out while keeping to your diet.

Sample Meals

You can find Optavia’s offerings in its shop on the website. You can order items from here whether or not you’ve chosen to order one of the plans or not. I like that you can filter products by flavor profile, product benefits, and special diets.

Optavia's Turkey Meatball Marinara
This is a shelf-stable meal that can be eaten as your Lean & Green choice on Optavia's plan

Here are some top choices on the Optavia menu:

  • Best comforting dish: Turkey Meatball Marinara
  • Best lunch dish: Essential Homestyle Chick’n Noodle Soup Mix
  • Best snack: Essential Drizzled Chocolate Fudge Crisp Bar
  • Best dessert: Essential Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

Nutrisystem has a great filtering system on its menu. This makes it really easy to choose the right meals for you. As a more comprehensive menu than Optavia it’s divided into breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

Nutrisystem's Asian Style Salmon with Pasta
This is a comforting Nutrisystem dish that's ready in minutes

Here are some top choices on the Nutrisystem menu:

  • Best comforting dish: Asian Style Salmon with Pasta
  • Best lunch dish: Chicken Mozzarella Melt
  • Best snack: Peanut Butter Oat Bar
  • Best dessert: Chocolate Brownie Sunday

Meal Customization

Winner: Nutrisystem because of its better menu filters.

Prepared meal delivery services don’t usually offer ingredient swaps or omissions because the food items are prepared and packaged in bulk.

The best you can do with either service is swap out individual items in your shipment, such as 1 flavor of shake for another. Because of this, it can be difficult to use these services if you have any dietary restrictions.

Screenshot of Nutrisystem's menu, displaying a variety of frozen and shelf-stable meals

I love the variety on Nutrisystem's menu, with loads of staple dishes that are easy to prepare.

While Optavia’s plans are organized by intensity, Nutrisystem has specialized menus for different dietary needs. For example, the Nutrisystem Diabetes plans offer an entire menu of low-glycemic foods for people with diabetes. It also has a great plan for dieting couples.

There are 5 plan categories in total at Nutrisystem:

  • Men’s Plans

  • Women’s Plans

  • Partner Plans (for 2 people)

  • Diabetes Plans

  • Complete 55 Plan

Each plan has further options depending on how many meals you want each week and how many days per week you want to eat Nutrisystem meals.

A screenshot of Nutrisystem's menu filtering options.

Nutrisystem offers many filters, though they can quickly limit your results.

Nutrisystem’s menu filters allow you to narrow down the menu further by excluding certain items. It’s easy to view which meals are nut-free, wheat-free, and more. However, applying too many filters can limit your options, and anyone with allergies should use caution as many meals are produced in the same facility.

Screenshot of a portion of Optavia's Product Claims sheet, containing allergen information for its food offerings

If I had severe allergies, I wouldn't bother consulting this chart: I would simply choose another meal delivery service.

Optavia’s diet and allergen filters are almost non-existent. The company leaves it to you to figure out if dishes are suitable for your diet.

Ingredient Quality and Nutrition

Winner: Nutrisystem

Nutrisystem takes the lead in this round for its extensive selection of meals and ingredients. You'll find that most of these meals are free from preservatives thanks to its unique preparation method. By prioritizing natural ingredients, Nutrisystem offers a menu that is both tasty and healthier.

Unlike Nutrisystem, Optavia's menu is more limited. Every item or "Fueling" from Optavia contains preservatives, which some health-conscious individuals might find less appealing. However, it's essential to note that while preservatives are present, Optavia strictly avoids artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners in its offerings.

Screenshot of the Nutrition Facts tab showing the details for an item on Nutrisystem's menu
The Nutrition Facts are available on every item on Nutrisystem's menu

For those who want to understand the nutritional content of their meals, I'd recommend Nutrisystem. It provides straightforward access to this crucial information. Simply scroll down on your chosen item and click on the Nutrition Facts tab. With this user-friendly feature, you can stay informed and make decisions that align with your dietary goals.

Despite the presence of preservatives, Optavia doesn't skimp on health benefits. You'll find that its Fuelings contain probiotic cultures. These probiotics are known to support digestive health, helping to ensure that your gut remains balanced and functional.

Image of the nutrition facts for Optavia's Creamy Vanilla Shake
This is the nutrition information for Optavia's Creamy Vanilla Shake

Both brands make it relatively easy to find the nutritional information. For Optavia, you can find this information by selecting the Nutrition Facts tab after clicking on a product. Additionally, if gluten-free options are on your radar, ensure to check Optavia's full product list to find out which items are certified gluten-free.

Ordering, Delivery, Unboxing

Winner: It’s a tie

Both Nutrisystem and Optavia send portioned, prepared meals and food items in boxes or cooler containers. All items are clearly labeled.

Nutrisystem’s minimum order is for 1 month of the Uniquely Yours plan, which consists of frozen and pantry-ready meals. Most people opt to choose a 5-day or 7-day plan that comes with all the meals they need for each day.

You can expect your first order to arrive within 3 weeks. The frozen food is shipped separately from the ready-to-serve items, which arrive first. Nutrisystem’s frozen foods will arrive within 14 days after that.

Screenshot of a graphic from Nutrisystem's recycling information page

I always like to see when meal delivery services make an effort to help the planet.

Optavia also uses biodegradable packaging for individual products. You’ll receive 17 boxes of Essential Fuelings in the 5 & 1 Plan. You can expect your products to be shipped within 5 to 7 days if there are no issues with availability.

Optavia doesn’t have a minimum order – you can order a single box if you wish. However, the shipping fee will be high as only larger orders benefit from free shipping.

Neither Nutrisystem nor Optavia offers a guaranteed delivery date thanks to the shelf-stable nature of the products. You’ll have to follow the provided tracking information when your order is shipped.

Both Nutrisystem and Optavia ship beyond the contiguous United States. Both services ship to Alaska, Hawaii, and US territories. Nutrisystem even ships to Canada!

Meal Prep

Winner: Nutrisystem

Neither of these services requires much prep because most of their offerings are grab-and-go items like bars and other snacks.

Nutrisystem’s food items are premade and ready to eat in a matter of minutes. Depending on the dish, the recommended preparation method may be tossing it in a skillet, popping it in the microwave, or heating it up in the oven.

Stock photo of Nutrisystem meals stored in the freezer

Nutrisystem offers a selection of frozen meals in addition to its shelf-stable offerings.

Optavia offers a range of processed products, from popcorn and crackers to granola bars to puddings and cookies. The most intensive prep you’re likely to find is adding water to a powdered shake mix. For most items, it’s just removing a wrapper.

However, you’ll spend more time prepping overall with Optavia, as you’ll be shopping for and cooking your own meals using its recipes. Many of these recipes are advertised as “ready in under an hour,” which is far more effort than heating up 1 of Nutrisystem’s prepared dishes.

Customer Support and Diet Coaching

Winner: Nutrisystem because the NuMi app is free, and because Optavia’s coach program is a multi-level marketing scheme.

Both companies have fairly standard customer support offerings. Optavia’s customer service can be reached by email or by phone from 8 am to 11 pm ET on weekdays and 9 am to 6 pm ET on weekends.

Nutrisystem’s hours are slightly shorter, but it offers a live chat option in addition to phone and email lines. The customer support team is available from 8 am to 8 pm ET on weekdays and from 9 am to 5:30 pm ET on weekends.

Screenshots of interactions with Nutrisystem's chat bot

Nutribot wasn't much more helpful than the FAQ page, but it's a handy way to access information if you can get the chat to work.

I ran into some trouble when I tested Nutrisystem’s chat feature. It wouldn’t work at all on my Chrome browser, and I still had some issues getting a response when I tested it on Safari. I finally got the answers I was looking for from “Nutribot,” though I wasn’t able to get in touch with a real person as advertised.

Nutrisystem is more flexible if you ever want to cancel an order or your service completely. You can make changes up until 6 pm ET the day before a shipment is scheduled to be processed. With Optavia, you have a maximum of 24 hours from when you place an order to cancel it. This difference is because Nutrisystem functions more like a subscription, while Optavia is generally for on-demand orders.

As weight loss programs, both Optavia and Nutrisystem incorporate a coaching element into their business model. Nutrisystem has the free NuMi app, while Optavia has a network of live coaches, giving you the opportunity to connect with a real person. However, there’s a pretty big downside to Optavia’s coach program.

Screenshot from Optavia's website, advertising its Coach program
Be wary of Optavia's coaches, who are highly incentivized to upsell you at every opportunity.

Optavia’s coaches can be more focused on profits than helping people lose weight. This is because Optavia’s corporate structure requires would-be coaches to pay hundreds of dollars in startup costs. In turn, coaches are obligated to upsell customers in order to make back their own expenses.

Nutrisystem offers a phone line where you can reach out to dietitians to help with questions about your diet or if you just need some extra support. It’s perhaps not as comprehensive as Optavia’s coaching program, but I think you’ll get better advice without an agenda.

Screenshot of a list of blog posts from Nutrisystem's NuMi app

The NuMi app is a helpful resource and one of Nutrisystem's biggest advantages.

Nutrisystem’s main day-to-day resource is the NuMi app. There are no ulterior motives here, and it’s free. The NuMi app lets you track your progress, participate in challenges, browse recipes, and much more.

Pricing

Winner: Nutrisystem, which starts at just $8.54 per serving (with discounts).

Nutrisystem’s starting prices are listed as “per day,” whereas Optavia’s pricing is based on which Fueling package you order. For example, Optavia’s Optimal Weight 5 & 1 Plan Kit costs $511.50 for 154 servings. You can customize the shipment at no extra cost by swapping out boxes of your favorite snacks.

This kit provides enough Fuelings for 30 days. Keep in mind that you will still have to purchase ingredients and do the cooking for your 1 meal each day.

This makes Optavia a really expensive service. You still have to pay for grocery shopping and make your own dinner from scratch every day.

Screenshot from Nutrisystem's plan finding tool: entering some basic information will reveal your recommended plans

Nutrisystem's many differing plans can be confusing, but this feature helps narrow down your options.

On the other hand, Nutrisystem lists its prices per day for each program, which includes either a 5-day or 7-day option. In all programs, the shipping is free for larger, prepaid auto-shipped orders (2-3 orders). You’ll pay $7.99 per month for all other auto-shipped plans.

As well as offering lower prices than Optavia, Nutrisystem also has more frequent discounts. For example, you can try Nutrisystem starting as low as $8.54 per serving with this current deal ($30 off weight loss plans).

There’s a caveat to Nutrisystem’s pricing, too. If you order a 1-off month of meals, the price per day is almost double what it is with a subscription. You can also prepay up to 3 months for a further discount.

Nutrisystem vs. Optavia — Quick Overview


Nutrisystem

Optavia

Best for

Quick weight loss meals on a budget

Weight loss snacks without meals

Starting price

$8.54 per day

$13.18 per day

Shipping cost

Free for larger, prepaid autoshipped orders (2-3 orders); $7.99 per month for all other auto-shipped plans

Free on orders over $250

Minimum order

$305.40 per month with subscription (6 meals per day)

$511.50 per month (5 snacks per day)

Menu variety

160+ choices (fewer for those on the Essentials plan)

60+ choices per week

Prep time

7 minutes or less

5 minutes or less

Low-prep options

Prepared meals

Prepared snacks

Allergies catered to

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

shellfish, fish  

added caffeine, vegetarian, tree nuts, peanuts, kosher, wheat, egg, gluten-free, whey, soy, milk

Special diets

Diabetes-friendly, gender-specific

-

Customer support

Online chat, email, phone

Email, phone

Promotions

$30 off weight loss plans

-

And The Winner Is: Nutrisystem

Nutrisystem outperforms Optavia in nearly every aspect, particularly in terms of cost. Nutrisystem's approach to weight loss is comprehensive, offering an all-inclusive plan tailored for those aiming to lose weight. Moreover, there are often coupons available for new customers, enhancing its affordability (here’s the latest I found).

Optavia does have a few commendable features. However, it also raises certain concerns. One of its standout features is the opportunity for users to foster close relationships with their coaches. This personalized touch can be a motivator for many.

However, the way Optavia operates worries me a little. The program's noticeable absence of real meals arguably makes it less convenient than its competitors. Such a factor could be a deterrent for those seeking both nutrition and ease in their weight loss journey.

Check out our latest list of top weight loss meal delivery services. This might provide additional insights into what might work best for different preferences and needs.

FAQ

Which is better for weight loss, Nutrisystem or Optavia?

Both are suitable for weight loss, but Nutrisystem is better overall, as it sends you prepared meals, as well as snacks on some plans.

Optavia is more focused on counseling and provides a more personal approach to losing weight. But you’ll be eating more bars and shakes – and you’ll still have to cook your main meals yourself.

Which is cheaper, Nutrisystem or Optavia?

Nutrisystem is more affordable than Optavia for monthly meals. When I compared the pricing between the 2 services, I found that although you can pay less for smaller orders from Optavia, Nutrisystem’s subscription model makes it much cheaper in the long run.

What's the difference between Nutrisystem and Optavia?

Nutrisystem has a larger menu than Optavia and offers prepared meals compared to just bars and shakes. Plus, with Nutrisystem, you don’t have to cook anything. Optavia asks you to cook at least 1 meal per day for yourself, or else you’ll be stuck with the same few options on the menu.

What are the cons of Optavia?

Optavia’s unclear pricing model can lead to you spending more than you expect. It’s also a multi-level marketing company, so coaches you interact with may try to upsell to you.

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We rank vendors based on rigorous testing and research, but also take into account your feedback and our commercial agreements with providers. This page contains affiliate links.Advertising DisclosureThis is a user-oriented comparison website, and we need to cover hosting and content costs, as well as make a profit. The costs are covered from referral fees from the vendors we feature. Affiliate link compensation does not affect reviews but might affect listicle pages. On these pages, vendors are ranked based on the reviewer’s examination of the service but also taking into account feedback from users and our commercial agreements with service providers. This website tries to cover important meal, coffee and pet food delivery services but we can’t cover all of the solutions that are out there. Information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
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