South Beach Diet vs Nutrisystem: Which Weight Loss Program is Better?

Finding the right weight management plan is never easy. But if you grope in the dark for too long, it may cost you a lot of money, energy, time, and – most importantly – your precious motivation. Today we’re going to compare two of the most renowned and popular weight-loss programs in the U.S.: South Beach Diet vs Nutrisystem

One is based on the principles of low-glycemic index, while the other focuses on smart carbs. Both of them provide you with all-inclusive packages of dietary meals and guidance, promising to help you lose weight, tone up your body, and cope better with diabetes or other nutrition-related diseases.  

But which one is the best for you? In this article we’ll discuss these popular dietary plans in detail and compare their qualities and weaker points. We hope it will help you make the right decision and get on the right track as soon as possible.  

Main differences between South Beach Diet and Nutrisystem  

The main differences between South Beach Diet and Nutrisystem are:

  • The South Beach Diet promises fast and drastic weight loss, whereas Nutrisystem offers slower and more gradual effect.
  • South Beach Diet focuses on low glycemic index, whereas Nutrisystem meals are based on low carb + high protein combination.
  • The South Beach Diet is slightly more expensive, whereas Nutrisystem is a bit more budget-friendly.
  • The South Beach Diet is more restrictive in its initial phase, whereas Nutrisystem is more balanced.

What is South Beach Diet

Named after one of Florida’s most prolific beaches, South Beach Diet was developed in mid 1990’s by American celebrity cardiologist Arthur Agatston and promoted in his best-selling book published in 2003. Firstly focusing mainly on cardiologic patients and patients with diabetes, this diet emphasizes importance of food with low glycemic index, “good” carbohydrates and “good” fats.

The program is organized in three stages (or phases) with gradual increase of carbohydrate intake and simultaneous decrease of fats and proteins. If you want to transform your nutrition completely, this diet will introduce lots of recommended healthy foods into your diet: vegetables, lean meat, monounsaturated fats, and others. The plan also includes exercise recommendations and doesn’t bother you too much with calories counting.  

People who choose this method usually do so because it promises very rapid weight loss in the first stage (and studies suggest it really works). However, this phase is often described as ‘drastic’, especially for those who don’t have any previous experiences with similar dietary programs. On the other hand, once you get through the hard beginning, you will adapt to a diet that is often compared to a healthy and enjoyable “Mediterranean” style of nutrition.  

What is Nutrisystem

If you’ve ever searched for some information on weight loss programs, you surely must have heard about Nutrisystem. It’s one of the oldest and most popular weight management systems in the country and aside from thousands of “normal” happy customers of both genders, Nutrisystem was also tried and approved by celebrities including Janet Jackson and Soleil Moon Frye. 

Nutrisystem was founded back in 1972 in Pennsylvania. At first it served as a brick-and-mortar service, but later focused more on the direct-to-customer services. Today Nutrisystem offers one of the most sophisticated systems of dietary meals delivery in the country. Once you subscribe to the program, you basically get all-inclusive care with regular deliveries of pre-made meals and 24/7 professional support. 

Nutrisystem is great if you need to lose some pounds, but it is also an efficient means to get on the healthier track with your overall lifestyle. By receiving about ⅔ of your daily meals right to your door, you also save your precious time and energy, which is an extremely important factor to many of us. On the other hand, once you decide to quit this program, you risk falling into your old habits quite quickly, because most of the perfectly-balanced Nutrisystem meals are hard to replicate at home and almost impossible to stick to if you like to eat out.  

South Beach Diet: Main Features

South Beach Diet is praised for providing a fast and efficient solution to those who really need to lose some weight. How does it work, and what are SBD’s main features?

Plan options 

If you’re used to weight-loss programs with complicated structure and many diverse schemes to follow, South Beach Diet will probably surprise you with its simplicity. The program is currently offered in three separate plans – Silver, Gold and Platinum. What makes them different is mainly the amount of delivered meals or the variability of menu you can choose from. The Gold plan is also available in a modified version for diabetics.


Unlike many other weight loss programs, SBD can be followed on your own. If you’re up to the challenge, you can simply buy the South Beach Diet book (I recommend the updated Supercharged version) and build your own plan. However, although this cuts the costs of your dietary plan significantly, be prepared to spend a lot of time and energy on planning, researching, shopping and preparing your meals. 

Fortunately, there’s a more convenient alternative – SBD’s pre-made meals home delivery. The shipment comes right to your door once per 4 weeks, and you don’t pay any extra fees for the delivery. All you have to do is heat your meals and stick to the schedule, which makes the whole process much less demanding. 


If you need live support, South Beach Diet has quite a responsive customer care telephone line with standard operating hours. Aside from that, if you sign up for any of SBD’s delivery plans, you also get professional online support anytime you need it. 

South Beach Diet is a very popular program, so you can also find many users’ support groups in your area or online. These can be valuable sources of additional motivation and information.        

Long-term effectiveness

South Beach Diet promises to help you lose from 8 to 13 pounds in the initial restriction phase, which takes two weeks. This is, of course, very tempting, but keep in mind that the faster you lose your weight, the harder it usually is to maintain it. 

With diets like this, it’s very important to follow the plan even once you’re already satisfied with the outcome. In the second and third phase, you’re going to gradually adapt your body again to carbohydrates and learn how to maintain your new habits permanently.   


Cancelling your South Beach Diet auto-delivery can be a bit tricky – especially early on, before you receive your second batch of products. If you do so, be aware that a cancellation fee of $125 will be applied. 

If you want to cut your loss, you can use one simple trick: Reduce your plan for the second delivery. That will reduce your expenses below the amount of cancellation fee, and still provide you with some valuable products in return. After the second month, you can cancel your membership free of charge. You can do so via website or telephone. Check out our South Beach Diet cancellation guide for more details.  


South Beach Diet users claim this really is an effective and satisfying diet that works very fast. On the other hand, many of them state that the initial phase was extremely hard – some even experienced temporary issues with worsened concentration, feelings of exhaustment, or shortness of breath and dry mouth. These difficulties, however, tend to disappear fast, and reviewers mostly find 2nd and 3rd phases of the program quite enjoyable and easy.

Nutrisystem: Main Features

Nutrisystem is an established brand with many happy customers all around the world. But how does it really work and what are its main features?

Plan options 

Nutrisystem works as a delivery of ready-to-eat meals which cover about 60% of your recommended daily calories intake. At the beginning, you take a survey and answer questions about your overall health and lifestyle. After that, you can choose from 4 different schemes (all of them have slightly different male and female versions).   

These plans differ mainly in the number and variety of meals you’re going to receive for each day. Of course, their different price differs accordingly too. 



Nutrisystem is built around the idea that an effective weight-loss program should be as convenient and easy to follow as possible. When you subscribe to their program, you’re basically going to get a full package of pre-prepared meals, educational materials, and professional support.  

These meals are shelf-stable or frozen, and include healthy and tasty combinations of low-carb, low sodium, and high-fiber ingredients. Some plans even provide you with healthy snacks and shakes, so you should feel comfortable on this diet even if you have a sweet tooth. On the other hand, with a diet like this, eating out is a tabu, which might be viewed as an inconvenience. 


If you sign up for Nutrisystem, you will benefit from a complex support system, which includes telephonic support, live chat via smartphone application, and even a possibility to meet your Nutrisystem counselor in person.

Whether you need help with your delivery or just want someone to help you with your motivation, it’s always easy to find someone to talk to. 

Long-term effectiveness

Nutrisystem can help you get rid of approximately 1 to 2 pounds per week. This might not sound overly exciting to someone who dreams about getting thin really quickly, but it complies perfectly with what the experts call healthy and sustainable weight loss. 

Unfortunately, some Nutrisystem users cannot maintain their new weight in the long-run, because they find it too hard to replicate the composition of Nutrisystem meals on their own. If you want to achieve permanent results, you should adapt the principles of this diet into a more sustainable and less demanding version and stick to that. 


If you cancel your Nutrisystem subscription during the first two weeks, you can do it easily and without any penalties. You can even return unopened boxes of meal for full refund thanks to the money back guarantee. 

If you cancel your auto-delivery later on, you will be charged $125 cancellation fee, so you shouldn’t underestimate good timing. More information including the contact details can be found in our Nutrisystem cancellation guide


In general, Nutrisystem is viewed as one of the most sophisticated and effective dietary programs on the market. After all, it’s been around for almost 50 years now, so it must be doing something right.

Reviewers often mention the very good quality and taste of Nutrisystem meals, and they also like how variable and customizable their plans are in comparison with one-fits-all solutions provided by some other companies. Some of the users, however, complain about the rather slow onset of the diet’s visible effect or inability to maintain it for a long time.  

South Beach Diet vs Nutrisystem – Pros and Cons

  South Beach Diet Pros

  • Fast and significant results
  • Offers alternatives for diabetics
  • Possibility to proceed on your own following the guidebook  

South Beach Diet Cons

  • More expensive than most of the competition
  • Hard to keep up with the restrictive first phase

Nutrisystem Pros

  • Nice variety of healthy and tasty meals 
  • Customizable plan
  • Healthier, more gradual weight-loss with less restrictions 

Nutrisystem Cons

  • Achieving long-term effect can be difficult
  • Eating out is basically off the limits

South Beach Diet vs Nutrisystem – Pricing

South Beach Diet

If you sign up for the South Beach Diet delivery program, you can choose from 3 different schemes:

  • The Silver Plan (from $7.97/day): Good entry point for total beginners. You’ll get 4 weeks worth of breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Essentials only. 
  • The Gold Plan (from $9.07/day): The most popular of all SBD plans. You’ll get everything that’s included with the Silver Plan + snacks and expanded menu to choose from.
  • The Platinum Plan (from $9.89/day): All-inclusive package. You’ll get meals from the expanded menu, snacks and filling protein shakes.

Note that the lowest price can only be achieved by signing up for the auto-delivery program. While this saves you more than half of the total costs, strict cancellation policy may discourage you from this choice.  

If you want to learn more about current promotions and discounts, check out the SBD’s official website


Nutrisystem offers four different plans, all of them come in male and female versions with different pricing:

  • Basic (women $10.18/men $11.61 per day) – Basic kit with preselected pre-made meals
  • Core (women $11.07/ men $12.50 per day) – Choose from the menu, or try recommended “favorite” meals
  • Uniquely yours (women $12.50/men $13.93 per day) – More food variety to choose from + less processed and tastier frozen meals
  • Uniquely yours + (women $13.93/men $15.36 per day) – Best available food choices + popular high-protein shakes

Nutrisystem regularly offers various promotions and price reductions. You can find all of their latest offers on their official website.

Are There Any Alternatives?

Although there are various differences between South Beach Diet and Nutrisystem, their general concepts are quite similar. If you want to try something different, these are some of your other options:  

Mayo Clinic Diet

Mayo Clinic Diet is one of the oldest and most popular weight-loss programs on the market. Based on the bestselling diet book first published in 1949 as a manual for those, who want to achieve a permanent transition, this diet focuses on replacing your bad habits with good ones. Mayo Clinic is a long-term diet that allows you to lose 1-2 pounds per week, or 50 to 100 pounds over the course of one year.

Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers program was launched in the early 1960s, quickly becoming an international enterprise with numerous franchises. Today WW is one of the most flexible and popular weight management programs, promoting a holistic approach and providing custom-made plans that really work. Weight Watchers introduced their own SmartPoints system, which replaces standard counting of calories and makes the whole process more enjoyable. If you’re on a budget, you can select their basic digital package, which is much cheaper than regular all-inclusive plans.

Frequently Asked Questions About South Beach Diet and Nutrisystem 

What meals can I expect to find in Nutrisystem and South Beach Diet deliveries?

Both companies offer shelf-stable and pre-frozen doses of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, and shakes. You can usually select your prefered meals from their menus. Note that these are mostly high processed foods, which should be supplemented with fresh vegetables. 

How much do these dietary programs cost per month?

That depends on the plan you choose. In general, average monthly costs for South Beach Diet and Nutrisystem programs range between $300 and $380.

Can I participate in any of these programs if I am diabetic?

Yes, both South Beach Diet and Nutrisystem offer special plans or support to patients with diabetes. In fact, both of these dietary plans can help you cope with your diabetes better by introducing low-GI meals, promoting healthy exercise, and self-monitoring of your daily eating habits. 

Our Verdict: South Beach Diet vs Nutrisystem 

If you look at the Top 35 Diets ranking, which was created with input from a panel of health experts, South Beach diet made it no. 18, whereas Nutrisystem occupies 20th place. This nicely reflects how similar these programs really are both in their structure and quality. 

Which one would be the best for you? That depends on what you really expect and want from your diet. After trying both of them, I must say that I personally liked Nutrisystem more. The idea of slower, less aggressive weight loss and not-so-drastic initial phase somehow appeals more to me. Besides that, I also liked most of the Nutrisystem’s pre-made meals more (I particularly enjoyed their protein shakes, they are really tasteful and filling).  

On the other hand, I totally understand that this program might not be the best for those who need their results fast and don’t mind working hard to achieve them. Just keep in mind that the hardest part will come only once you quit the program and start maintaining its effect on your own.  


We hope this article helps you decide which one of these dietary programs should be the best for you, and we wish you a smooth and enjoyable journey to your thinner and healthier “you”. 

Don’t forget that whichever program you choose, the most important part of the process is your very own motivation, strong will and positive thinking. After all, any weight-loss scheme should be perceived only as a jump-starter of a long-term transition. Otherwise you risk falling into the trap of weight cycling and endless search for “the right” diet. 

Are you dissatisfied with your current weight management plan? Check out our series of “How to cancel your weight-loss program membership” guides right here.