Since the 90s, dieters have been signing up for food delivery services as a way to lose weight worry-free. It saves dieters from trips to the grocery store, as most services in this $1 billion industry are home-delivered right to the doorstep.1
Plus, all the decisions are made for you right off the bat: no impulse potato chip or pie buys. Sounds awesome, right?
As with anything, diet delivery services can be great tools or can be unrealistic in terms of a sustainable plan. There are numerous options to choose from as well, so if you’re thinking about trying one out, you should consider which program will be the best fit with your lifestyle and fitness goal.
1) Bistro MD is a weekly service, providing chef-prepared, fully cooked foods throughout the country. Each meal plan provides meals and snacks totaling 1,100 to 1,400 calories a day. The service focuses on helping dieters to maintain lean muscle mass through eating protein (40-50% of overall nutrient intake) throughout the day and even out blood sugar levels with low-glycemic carbs (30-35%). The remaining calories come from 20 to 25% of fats.
Bistro MD meals are flash frozen and can be reheated using a microwave, or hot water, giving them a more homemade taste. It offers four types of plans, ranging from $130 to $180 each week (about $26 to $29 per day), plus a $25 weekly shipping fee.3 As a BistroMD customer, you can also speak to a nutritionist for free. BistroMD is currently recommended by BuilLean for those who want try a diet delivery service.
2) Ediets is a large online dieting resource, and while it has one of the more expensive services, at nearly $40 per day (including shipping), it’s praised for offering more than 400 food choices. The company delivers meals on a one-week or two-week basis, and includes menus totaling 1,000 to 1,100 calories for females and 1,300 calories for men. Most Ediets meals are microwavable and are ready within two minutes. Ediets reported their active members typically lose two pounds a week during the first five consistent weeks of the program.4
3) Jenny Direct is the Jenny Craig weight loss program with home meal delivery, and it’s available in the U.S., plus Canada and Australia. The meals are shipped in 2- to 4- week increments to customers’ doors. Starting daily calorie intake is 1,200, and is created to help a person lose 1 to 2 pounds per week, depending on motivation and amount of physical activity. Each shipment also includes two vitamins. However, the plan requires customers to purchase a certain number of meals, estimated to total $400.
4) NutriSystem is a U.S. service, delivering foods from 1 to 4 weeks at a time, and is considerably cheaper than most of its fellow weight loss services (totaling around $12 per day). However, the shelf life of NutriSystem meals exceed six months and no freezing or refrigeration is necessary, but the company did recently start a line of new flash-frozen foods. The company caters to men, women and diabetics, with daily calorie intakes ranging from 1,200 to 1,500.
5) Chef’s Diet is simultaneously known for its sophisticated flavors and its high prices. A New York Times reporter investigating diet delivery services said Chef’s Diet cost him nearly $400 for the first week.5 Calories range from 1,300 to 1,500 per day, although the company claims to focus more on portion sizes and food groupings. The company claims customers lose anywhere from 8 to 10 pounds in the first month, followed by 6 to 8 pounds in each month thereafter. All Chefs’ Diet meals are microwaveable.
While there are indeed several benefits the services can bring, there can also be downsides. It really depends both on your personal preference and how realistic it is for you to sustain these delivered diets, or a facsimile of the portion control, in the long term.
Convenience: Perhaps it is the convenience of diet food delivery services that appeals to people committed to make a positive life change. The weekly or monthly trips to the grocery store may seem daunting and difficult to someone trying to shed pounds.
Time-Saving: Busy people want simplicity, and don’t want to add stress or time to their already-hectic lives. Many people think eating healthy requires a lot of time and effort, and delivery services seem like the solution.
Portion Control: Paying attention to portion control is one of the main issues with weight management. With these services, portion sizes are under control, without having to bust out the measuring cups or think twice about how much you actually should eat.
Cost: If your budget is tight, delivery services may not be the best option. While there are cheaper deals, like NutriSystem’s $12 per day, some other brands like Chef’s Diet can reach over $50 per day.
Band-Aid: There are several underlying causes of overeating. Having portion sizes pre-set is essentially covering up and failing to address the real problem.
Unsustainable: While it is important to attain a healthy weight and to say “no” to external temptations, it is also important to maintain a well-rounded outlook on life. Limiting yourself to only delivered meals could eventually hinder social interaction, which is important to our health as human beings. If you are one to travel and/or enjoy being around people, delivery services are probably not sustainable tools to lose weight.
First, consider doing the work yourself. Eating healthy does not have to be expensive or inconvenient. Create a budget to fit your finances, and put a little time aside each week to plan nutritious and realistic meals.
And if you are set on diet delivery, and believe it would be a sustainable and affordable way for you to get lean, try it out. However, it may be smart to first speak with a dietitian who can work with you, and make sure your meals fit your personal goals and lifestyle. One study of 200 adult patients with hypertension and/or diabetes concluded a combination of dietary counseling by dietitians and delivery of calorie-controlled meals was effective in reducing body weight, as well as blood pressure.6
If you try out one or more of these diet food delivery services, let us know how it works out and what you think about these options.