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Weight Loss Programmes

Nutrisystem vs Optavia (Medifast)

Megan Widdows
Written by

Megan Widdows

Medically reviewed by

Fiona Moncrieff

6 min read
Last updated June 2024

Lifestyle programs can provide a helpful structure for your health journey when you feel out of control with unhealthy habits. In particular, they can be especially useful in helping you achieve your weight goals. Programs are a great way to join individuals going on the same journey, which can be incredibly motivating.

Everyone is different, and there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to choosing a weight management program. It ultimately depends on what suits your individual needs and what fits into your lifestyle. Some people want rigid rules and a quick fix, whereas others like more flexibility and a long-term lifestyle change.

To save you some tiresome research and help to answer some important questions, this guide compares two popular online weight loss meal delivery programs; Nutrisystem and Optavia (previously known as Medifast).

Both Nutrisystem and Optavia are meal plan programs that provide pre-packaged low-calorie meals and snacks which are delivered to your door, taking away the need to plan or prepare healthy meals yourself.

With Nutrisystem, all meals and snacks are provided. With Optavia, you get 5 ‘essential fuelings’ provided each day and cook one ‘lean and green’ meal yourself.

Pre-packaged foods are not sustainable in the long term and the long-term aim is to transition from pre-packaged meal plans to cooking meals again for yourself.

When you do choose to start preparing your own meals again, you haven’t had the chance to learn skills such as meal planning, and how to prepare healthy meals. This can make it more difficult to stay healthy and maintain your weight after finishing your program.

We’ve also included comparisons with the Second Nature program. Second Nature is an easy-to-follow lifestyle change program that can help you achieve your weight goals sustainably, with scientific articles, in-app tracking, and dedicated support from a coach with expertise in nutrition and wellness. Second Nature gives you the tools you need to achieve their weight goals sustainably.

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Trustpilot is a platform where consumers can leave reviews and scores reflect overall customer satisfaction. Optavia don’t have many reviews on Trustpilot, so we’ve included reviews from Customer Affairs.

Nutrisystem Optavia (Medifast) Second Nature
Star rating Trustpilot reviews for Nutrisystem - 1.5 stars out of 5 5 stars
Score 1.5 / 5
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4.05 / 5
read reviews
4.8 / 5
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Nutrisystem Optavia (Medifast) Second Nature
Money back guarantee If you’re not satisfied with your first order, contact their customer service within 14 days and return any remaining food for a full refund minus shipping. If you are not completely satisfied with your order, you may return the consumable products in your order for any reason; non-consumable items are non-refundable. Please return consumable products within 30 days of receipt of your order for a full refund minus shipping. Full refund if cancelled within 14 days. After this point, any charges are non-refundable.
Clear breakdown of costs
Clear cancellation policy
Length of program The program is 4 weeks but can be repeated until you reach your goal Meal packs last for approximately 3 weeks and can be repeated for as long as needed Ongoing subscription (minimum 12 weeks)
Easy to cancel
Refer-a-friend scheme
Easy to include family


Nutrisystem Optavia (Medifast) Second Nature
Dietary approach Pre-packaged meals and snacks (low calorie) Pre-packaged meals and snacks (low calorie) Lower carb
Caters to vegetarian
Caters to vegan
Supplements encouraged
Other than Vitamin D


Nutrisystem Optavia (Medifast) Second Nature
Tailors the plan around diabetes
Tailors the plan around other health issues
Face-to-face meetings
Access to a qualified nutrition specialist
(for ad-hoc enquiries)
Daily support from a coach
(weekdays only)

*Second Nature coaches are all UK registered dietitians or nutritionists. This means they have completed university accredited degrees to gain this professional title. However, coaches are not registered in the US, so don’t meet the regulatory requirements to be considered US registered dietitians or nutritionists.

Program features

Nutrisystem Optavia (Medifast) Second Nature
Exercise videos in app
Recipe videos in app
Tracks sleep
Tracks steps
Tracks exercise
Tracks water intake
Tracks custom habits
Education of nutrition science
Requires calorie counting
(pre-packaged food is calorie controlled on your behalf)

(pre-packaged food is calorie controlled on your behalf)
Food diary feature
Meal planning tool
In-app journalling tool


When programs provide price plans in different formats, it can be hard to accurately compare prices. To make this easier, we have calculated the price of monthly digital price plans on each program to show you how costs compare (as of July 2021). All admin fees are included in these prices.

Nutrisystem’s pricing is based on their ‘Uniquely Yours Max+ programme’. Optavia’s pricing is based on their ‘Optimal Weight 5&1 Plan’.

The Nutrisystem program includes all meals and snacks. With Optavia, you get 5 ‘essential fuelings’ provided each day and cook one ‘lean and green’ meal yourself. A ‘lean and green’ meal consists of lean protein, 3 portions of vegetables, and 1-2 portions of fat. Ingredients for these meals would add additional costs to the program cost shown below.

Both programs include some degree of include coaching.

Nutrisystem coaches are either specially trained weight loss coaches, dietitians, or certified diabetes educators. There’s no ongoing coaching option so you aren’t assigned a personal coach, but you can contact a coach by phone or online as and when you need extra support.

When signing up for Octavia, you’re assigned a personal coach. However, Optavia coaches are typically past members and have no nutrition or health-related qualifications. They work by commission so have an incentive to encourage you to stay on the program rather than build lasting healthy habits.

Second Nature doesn’t include pre-packaged food. Instead, the Second Nature program offers an education in nutrition science, helping you to build better habits and develop a better relationship with food. Daily coaching is also included.

All Second Nature coaches are qualified nutrition specialists. Having a coach with an expertise in nutrition and wellness to support and guide you makes achieving your weight goals easier.

Another option to get support with your diet would be to see a registered dietitian. Weekly face-to-face sessions with a registered dietitian can be very expensive ($70-$100). We have added a column representing this to compare costs (Weekly RD – WRD).

Monthly digital subscriptions:

Nutrisystem Optavia (Medifast) Second Nature WRD
Access to a qualified nutrition specialist
The same, personal coach throughout the program
Price $409.99 / month $540 / month $60 / month $350 / month

Pricing for Nutrisystem is based on their ‘Uniquely Yours Max+’ program, priced at $12.50 each day, based on 31 days in a month. The program includes 3 meals a day, plus snacks.

Pricing for Optavia is based on their ‘Essential Optimal Kit’, priced at $414.60 for 119 servings, lasting approximately 24 days. This works out at a cost of $17.42 per day.

Take home message

  • When choosing a weight management program, it is important to consider what would fit into your lifestyle and help you achieve your goals
  • Nutrisystem, Optavia, and Second Nature are all app-based programs
  • Pre-packaged meal plans, although convenient, are difficult to include your family and you may feel restricted when eating out
  • Second Nature provides ongoing coaching with a qualified nutrition specialist to support you throughout your health journey
  • There’s no ongoing coaching option with Nutrisystem
  • Ongoing coaching is available with Optavia, but coaches do not have to have any relevant qualifications
  • Nutrisystem and Optavia focus on rapid weight loss, Second Nature tackles weight loss holistically, including education on exercise, nutrition, sleep, and mindset
  • Second Nature provides you with an education of nutrition, allowing you to make informed decisions yourself and develop a healthy relationship with food in the long-term
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Write a response

Janet C Campbell

11 October, 2021

What to say? Ian overweight and tired


18 October, 2021

Hi Janet,

Thanks for your comment! We’d love to help you reach your weight loss goal and improve your sleep and energy levels.

Our programme will cover topics like nutrition, sleep, exercise, stress management, thought patterns, and behaviours. 

If you’d like to learn more, you can take our health quiz here, or email with any questions 🙂

Lindsey Gomez

8 October, 2021

Scale won’t budge, I exercise. I know my diet is the reason I can’t loose weight.


18 October, 2021

Hi Lindsey,

Thanks for your comment! The Second Nature programme will help you to develop healthy eating habits.

We offer nutritional guidelines, a balanced plate model, a collection of delicious recipes, and the support of a health coach and peer group to guide and motivate you as you change your habits to develop a lifestyle you’re able to maintain for the long term!

If you’d like to learn more, you can take our health quiz here, or email with any questions 🙂


29 August, 2021

I work second shift


6 September, 2021

Hi Brenda,

Thanks for your comment! We’ll help you meal plan to accommodate your work schedule and ensure you have healthy meal options on hand.

To learn more about our programme, you can take our health quiz here, or email with any questions.

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