WeightWatchers vs. MyFitnessPal vs. NutriSystem: Diet Systems Compared
What are the key differences between the three programs?
All three programs are dedicated to helping you be a healthy weight, but each goes about it in a distinctly different way. In a nutshell the difference between the three programs is as follows:
- Nutrisystem supplies you with calorie controlled meals.
- WeightWatchers provides you with support programs, but you provide our own meals.
- MyFitnessPal provides online tools to chart your food and exercise consumption. They also do not provide meals.
The following is a more in depth look at what you get from each program:
MyFitnessPal is a free online program that helps you keep track of your weight loss goals. They provide the means for you to chart how many calories you are consuming and how many you are burning through exercise. So in essence they offer you an easy way to keep track of your DIY progress. They also offer some extra tools to help.
Signing up to MyFitnessPal simply involves filling in a short form, no credit card is required, because it really is a free program.
They ask for your height, weight, goal weight, activity level and how much exercise you are prepared to commit to each week. From this they provide your suggested fitness and nutrition goals as shown below. As you can see, they not only provide your recommended daily intake of calories, but suggest how many grams of protein, fat and carbs you should be consuming.
The example shown above is for someone maintaining their weight, but if you are trying to lose weight your projected weight loss per week and your expected weight loss in 5 weeks time (Presuming of course you stick to your goals) would be shown.
With your Food Diary, you can add what you eat as you go and they tally up how much you have consumed of your daily allowance and what you have left to consume. See the sample below. When it comes to adding foods, they have a great database that allows you to type in the food and search for it. You will find results for just about any type of food, including fast food chains. Then you specify the quantity consumed and they calculate the calories. This means you can quickly keep track of exactly where you are at.
Other things you can do with the food diary:
- Store whole meals or recipes that you consume regularly in the database. Instead of having to add the individual components up all time.
- Change what nutritional information they keep track of. For example, if you need to watch your cholesterol, you can add this to the nutrients tracked section and they will track this for you.
- Choose between keeping your information private, public or shared with select friends if you want to connect with others for motivation.
With the exercise diary, shown below you can easily keep track of how many calories you are burning. As you can see the sample shows that the participant has performed 60 minutes of exercise out of their 180 minute goal for the week and they have burnt 265 of 770 calories.
When it comes to calculating the calories you have burnt exercising, they once again have a nifty database and calculator that works this out for you. You simply type in the exercise and the time performed and it returns your calories burnt. See the sample below.
Additional tools they offer:
- See a report for your last 7, 30 or 90 days for your diet or exercise.
- Enter your measurements at different times and then see a report of your progress.
- Track your results on the go with free mobile app versions of their program. This is available for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows and Blackberry devices.
- Get, or create your own progress ticker. (as shown below)
- Calculate your BMI or BMR with their calculators.
- Connect with others in their online forum. This appears to be a supportive community. For example, people often post before and after pictures as they progress and many people congratulate them.
The NutriSystem diet plan provides you with portion controlled meals to help you lose weight, so you don’t have to work out and create well balanced meals for yourself. In addition to this they also provide some extra tools and support to help you in your weight loss goals.
They offer different meals plans to cater to different dietary requirements:
How does their system work?
You pick the correct plan for you and then enter details like your gender, current weight and how much weight you want to lose. Then you have a choice between the favorites menu which is a selection of meals they pick, or a customized plan where you pick your own for an extra fee. Each plan is for 28 days, but you can also choose to sign up for an ongoing auto delivery to save on the cost.
What choice in food do they offer?
You get 3 meals, 2 snacks and a dessert for every day. The total variety depends on how much you want to spend and any dietary requirements. Some plans just include ready to go food, whereas others include chef inspired, fresh frozen cuisine. (See more details in the prices compared category below)
Overall at the time of checking they offered the following options in each category:
- Breakfast- 32 choices. See the picture of 4 samples below.
- Lunch-35 choices.
- Dinner-37 choices. See the picture of samples below.
- Snacks and dessert-33 choices.
What additional tools and support and tools do they offer?
- An online discussion board to connect with others.
- Their top two plans offer phone access to counselors.
- Log your goal weight and measurements and you can receive personalized progress reports.
- A mobile app for on the go.
Their food also offers several other benefits beyond portion control, such as:
- It is protein rich to aid muscle recovery from exercise and help you feel full.
- It includes recommended vitamins, minerals and fiber.
- It is low GI to help you feel full for longer.
- It includes healthy fats over unhealthy ones.
- They follow the recommendations set by health organizations like the USDA, American Diabetes Association and the National Institute of Health.
WeightWatchers is a support group diet system. You are also responsible for your own meals. There are no rules on what types of foods you can eat. Instead they teach you strategies to help balance your eating. They give foods points and they provide you with your recommended daily allowance of points. This helps you to balance your food intake to your energy output to maintain a balanced weight.
They now also offer an online program that offers you a customized program to help you lose weight.
Their online program includes:
- A database of nutritional information with over 40,000 foods.
- Dieting tip cheat sheets on ways to make smarter choices.
- A recipe database with over 3500 recipes with allocated points & recipe builder to help you lighten up your favorites. See the screen shot below of the types of recipes and tips you can find on their site.
- Weekly personalized checklists, articles and tips geared at your stage of weight loss. You can then tweak this plan based on things like how active you want to be.
- Online tracking for your food, activity and weight, including grafts and charts showing your progress.
- How to videos-eg. Fitness how to’s (see the sample picture below)
- A mobile app of the program for on the go.
- An online community where you can discuss things on a message board, join a group, and get involved in challenges eg. Lose 10lbs by Valentine’s day.
- Private weekly weigh ins.
- Group meetings where you can have your say, and are provided with lots of tips and information on weight loss and motivation.
Where can you access the diet programs from?
If you have internet access you can use MyFitnessPal anywhere in the world. When you sign up they ask for your country and this is because they default to a nutritional database for your location. For example, if you live in Australia, and ate a KFC meal they would provide you with KFC Australia’s nutritional information.
WeightWatchers meetings are available in many cities around the world. If you live in the US you cn use their meeting postcode finder to see if there is one on your area. Their online program can be used anywhere as long as you have an internet connection. They have international websites dedicated to many different countries and some of these have the online program geared to that destination. To check the internationals sites page click here.
Nutrisystem meals are only available for delivery in the United States and Canada.
Success stories & program trustworthiness compared
Many celebrities have used and praise the WeightWatchers diet system. For example, Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Hudson. Check out the Jennifer Hudson spokesperson video from youtube below.
There are also lots of everyday people who have succeeded in their weight loss through Weightwatchers. You can read success stories here.
When it comes to using their online tools they are a TRUSTe privacy business, this means they come with the highest standards in protecting your personal information.
WeightWatchers is not a Better Business Bureau (BBB) certified business; however the BBB does have a report on them. They score an F on a scale of A+ though to F. Their issue seems to stem from the fact that they have failed to respond to two complaints. Advertising and billing issues are what their complaints are mostly about. You can check out the BBB report here.
Lots of users have posted success stories and praise on the MyFitnessPal community.
TamTastic says “I used MyFitnessPal to help me lose 135 lbs in a little over 16 months. The tools are very easy to use and the community is a wonderful support. I continue to use the site to keep myself on track during pregnancy as well."
You will find other success stories by clicking here.
Or check out the before and after photos of one user ningggsm below.
MyFitnessPal is not a BBB registered business, nor does the BBB have a report on them. This is probably due to the fact they provide a free service and therefore cannot be judged.
Nutrisystem is a BBB accredited business. They have an A+ rating as any complaints they have received have been closed. They have had 188 complaints filed in 3 years. You can view their report here.
Nutrisystem also has celebrity success stories and lots of pictures of people who have successfully lost weight on their site.
See Janet Jacksons Youtube success story below:
Or check out everyday people’s results by clicking here.
As mentioned MyFitnessPal is a completely free program to use. In addition, the amount of advertising you are exposed to is reasonable and they do not appear to overdo the emails they send out.
The price can vary by location, but in general there is a registration fee of around $30 and a weekly meeting fee of around $20. At times they waive the joining fee. Sometimes they also offer ongoing combined packages. You need to check with your local WeightWatchers group to get an accurate list of prices. Most places offer a free assessment and the ability to attend one meeting before you have to pay anything.
- $5 per week 3 month savings plan: $65 for the first 3 months, than $18.95 for each additional month.
- Or sign up to the standard monthly plan for $48.90 for the first month, than $18.95 for each additional month.
As mentioned there are different levels of plans and plans for men, women and specific dietary requirements. Men’s plans tend to be a little more expensive than women’s, because they typically require higher calories per day which amounts to more food. The following is a guide to the three women’s plans and prices:
Basic $327.47 for 28 days or $229.99 with auto delivery discount
- Ready to go food
- Unlimited access to member site
- Auto delivery discount
- Free shipping
*Choosing your own food over a pre selection on this plan is an extra $19.99.
Core $432.44 or $269.99 with auto delivery discount
- All of the Basic benefits and
- Priority processing
- Access to phone counsellers
- You can choose your own meals rather than a pre selection for no additional charge.
Select $518.01, or $319.99 with auto delivery discount
- All of the Core and Basic program benefits and
- The ability to choose chef inspired cuisine over just ready to go meals.
- You may also attract further discounts if you sign up for a family program over just an individual program.