The Nutrisystem diet includes portion-controlled meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a snack or dessert. The meals are delivered to you after you order them from the website or by telephone. These pre-packaged meals are foods with a low glycemic index, according to Judith Rodriguez, author of "The Diet Selector." Foods with low GI help your body maintain healthy levels of blood glucose and insulin. The Nutrisystem program encourages you to supplement all the meals with fresh fruits and vegetables and low-fat or fat free dairy or protein products.
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Dairy and Protein
Nutrisystem does not ship fresh dairy products, but you are encouraged to enjoy your favorites including fat-free milk, low fat soy milk, or light yogurt. If you prefer cheese, you can have fat-free or low-fat cheese, non-fat or low-fat cottage cheese, or low-fat soy cheese with low sodium. The fat-free milk that you have with cereal does not count as your dairy serving for that meal.
You can have protein with your meal or as a snack if you do not want a dairy product. The serving size is only 1 oz., but choices include Canadian bacon, skinless chicken or turkey, ham, lean beef, lean pork, fresh or frozen non-breaded fish, or a sandwich meat with 2g of fat or less per ounce. You can have one egg, three egg whites or 1/2 cup of an egg substitute as a protein choice. Enjoy seafood in 2 oz. portions including clams, crab meat, lobster, sardines, or shellfish. Tuna canned in water is allowed, but you only get a quarter cup serving. For vegetarians, the protein choices include 1/3 cup of cooked, shelled edamame, 2 tbsp. of whey or soy-based protein powder, one link of a low sodium soy hot dog, 2 oz. of low-sodium tempeh, or 1/2 cup of tofu.
Low Glycemic Index Carbohydrates
Limited amounts of carbohydrates are allowed on some Nutrisystem plans such as the Men's Program. This includes one slice of multigrain, oatmeal, pumpernickel, rye, sourdough or whole-wheat bread. Cooked garbanzo, pinto, kidney and white beans are allowed in 1/3 cup portions. Other choices are 1/2 cup cooked corn, 1/3 cup cooked barley, 1/2 cup pasta, and 1/2 cup green peas. For low carbohydrate snacks, you can have 2 tbsp. of hummus, 3/4 oz. of whole-grain crackers or three graham cracker squares. One half of a whole wheat or multigrain English muffin is also a good snack.
Nutrisystem recommends as many "unlimited" vegetables as you want for a salad, which only counts as one vegetable serving. Vegetables include one whole artichoke, 1/2 cup carrots, green beans, or beets, and unlimited amounts of asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, radishes, green onions, peppers, lettuce, mixed greens, or fresh tomatoes. If you do not like fresh vegetables, you can substitute 3/4 cup of carrot juice, or 1/2 cup of low sodium tomato juice or vegetable juice.
Nutrisystem recommends a variety of fruits to supplement your diet including one apple or 1/2 cup applesauce, three dried apricots, 1/2 banana, 3/4 cup blackberries or blueberries, 1 cup raspberries, 1 cup cantaloupe or honeydew melon, 12 fresh cherries, 15 grapes, 1/2 grapefruit, one nectarine or orange, one pear or two plums. You can also have 1/3 cup of canned or 3/4 cup of fresh pineapple. Watermelon is limited to 1 1/4 cups because it is high GI. You can replace whole fruit with 1/2 cup of fruit juice such as apple, grapefruit, orange, peach nectar, pineapple, or prune, or you a 100 percent fruit juice blend.
Fats are allowed sparingly such as 1 tbsp. of regular or 2 tbsp. of reduced fat salad dressing. You can have nuts as a snack, such as two medium Brazil nuts, six almonds, five hazelnuts, three macadamia nuts, five cashews, 10 large peanuts, or four pecan or walnut halves. Mayonnaise is allowed in limited quantities such as 1 tsp. of regular or 1 tbsp. of reduced fat. You can also have 1/8 of an avocado, or five large olives as a snack.
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