Why Am I Gaining Weight On Nutrisystem?

Gaining weight while being on a diet can be really discouraging, especially if you spend a lot of money on programs like Nutrisystem.

Why am I gaining weight on Nutrisystem?

In general, you’re gaining weight on Nutrisystem because you’re overeating. After strict calorie restriction without having enough high-quality lean protein and regular resistance training, the body lowers energy expenditure. This leads to slow metabolic rate and weight gain.

This means your body will start to burn fewer calories than usual, and what used to be the maintenance calorie limit, now it becomes a calorie surplus.

Why Can’t I Lose Weight On Nutrisystem?

As a general rule, you can’t lose weight on Nutrisystem because after excessive calorie restriction your body slows down your basal metabolic rate and creates a positive energy balance. This will lower the energy expenditure and can lead to regaining the weight back up.

This is called metabolic slowdown. Here’s how it works.

You put your body into the steep calorie restriction to create a calorie deficit. After few weeks, your body weight is melting off like a Belgian chocolate.

But during the calorie deficit, your body will undergo some metabolic adaptations that will lower your metabolic rate.

Lower muscle mass, lower food intake, and increased liquid calorie intake, all combined together will radically change the rate of how many calories your body burns during the day (source).

Here are some of the examples:

  • Processed protein have much less impact on curbing hunger comparing to whole foods
  • Liquid calories pass through the GI much faster, therefore, require less calorie to get broken down, digested, and absorbed
  • A liquid diet and liquid calories don’t provide enough satiety and have a different impact on the satiety peptides, comparing to the whole, minimally processed foods
  • Restricted food intake lowers the thermogenic effect of food (TEF) so your body burns fewer calories
  • Under calorie restriction conditions, minimum or lack of resistance training often leads to excessive drop of lean body mass (muscle)

After you lost few pounds, and you get back to normal eating, your metabolic rate can be lower by even 20–40%. This means that what used to be a normal “maintenance” level of calorie intake, now will create a calorie surplus.

And you gain weight.

Also remember that people usually come back to the previous eating habits because they feel uncomfortable with hunger. The longer you’re hungry, you will feel more stressed and anxious. Which doesn’t help in the consistency.

Not Losing Weight On Nutrisystem

Other factors that contribute to not losing weight on Nutrisystem include physiological and psychological aspects. That involves things like age and health status, physical activity and lean body mass, hormonal balance, allostatic load, and stress regulation techniques.

Losing and maintaining weight requires a functional medicine approach. Its a root causes analysis approach. It covers not just the calories in versus calories out part. It should cover things like:

  • Sleep

Not just the recommendation to sleep more. If your problem is with sleeping, you should have clear practical strategies what to do based on your circumstances.

  • Stress

How to down-regulate and find the effective ways to lower the stress. We cannot do anything about the amount of the stress that is coming in. But we can focus on how we react to this stress.

  • Social life

People tend to overeat not only when they feel stressed out, but also when they feel misunderstood, lonely, untouched, invisible, and when they feel they can’t really depend on other people. This behavior leads to using on food as a comfort and stability (source).

  • Physical exercise

During the calorie deficit, unless you seriously prioritize your protein intake (not from shakes but from the real food) and have a regular strength training routine with progressive overload, you will lose muscle mass as fast as you lose fat.

Does this sound deep?

Well, because that’s what it takes to really maintain a healthy and lean body for a lifetime. Going on a Nutrisystem is like going to the doctor and getting a pill, without even looking at the root cause of the problem.

Can You Lose Weight On Nutrisystem Without Exercising?

In general, you can lose weight on Nutrisystem without exercising because weight loss depends on the calorie deficit only. However, adding regular strength and resistance training will ensure that you keep your energy expenditure high and you won’t lose muscle.

When people say they don’t want to exercise, they probably relate to exercise as spending hours on the treadmills or ellipticals. To be honest, I wouldn’t do it either. It get boring quickly.

But strength training is different. Because you actually feel better after each workout.

Properly prescribed strength training improves:

  • insulin sensitivity
  • resting metabolic rate
  • glucose metabolism
  • blood pressure
  • body composition
  • gastrointestinal motility

So whenever you’re on Nutrisystem or not, there are huge benefits from doing regular resistance training.

Nutrisystem Weight Loss Stall

In general, Nutrisystem weight loss stall happens after the first few weeks. In the first part, Nutrisystem recommends reducing calories and create a steep calorie deficit by introducing meal replacement shakes processed meals and dietary recommendations.

So initial weight loss may feel like this program is really working. You reduce calories down to the grain and drink protein shakes with low carb intake. With minimum carbs, the body will start to excrete water due to the fact that carbohydrates bond to the water molecules.

For 1 gram of carbs your body will store around 3 gram of water.

So just like when you’re on keto, or on any low-carb diet, you will lose plenty of water. For the first 1-2 weeks. But after that you will hit the plateau.

This is a well-documented strategy done by elite bodybuilders and physique competitors before the show. They reduce water and carbs intake, and a couple of days before the show they add carbs back up (source).

Because muscles are carb depleted, all the carbs go immediately into the muscle, water is being absorbed and as a result, we have the effect of pumped, well-defined muscles full of water.

Nutrisystem Alternative

Here is the list of things that you can start doing immediately as an alternative to Nutrisystem not only to lower the weight but to keep it off. This will include things like eating whole and minimally processed foods and add more resistance training.

  • Prioritize lean proteins – they provide not only the building blocks but have also the highest satiety levels. To get a full list of high satiety calorie deficit foods, check out my article.
  • Add foods full of fiber also suppress appetite and he’s with the GI motility. Extra water content with fruits and veggies gives extra vitamins and minerals.

For a full and comprehensive tutorial on how to stay in a calorie deficit without being hungry, check out my article.


Unless you’ve some athletic or performance goals, you shouldn’t be relying on shakes to deliver calories or suppress your appetite. You can get great results simply from eating less food.

However, people like to have everything measured for them because they feel sick and tired of counting calories and measuring foods. Just to let you know, there are other ways you can lose weight.

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is a personal trainer and writer at Millennial Hawk. He holds a MSc in Sports and Exercise Science from the University of Central Lancashire. He is an exercise physiologist who enjoys learning about the latest trends in exercise and sports nutrition. Besides his passion for health and fitness, he loves cycling, exploring new hiking trails, and coaching youth soccer teams on weekends.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts