I have a confession to make. I've had a crush on Marie Osmond ever since her days on the Donnie and Marie show when she was “a little bit country.” While NutriSystem has been around for decades, it wasn't until recently that I learned – via Marie's TV commercials – that they now offer weight loss shakes too. They call them “NutriCrush” shakes. So I bought some for this review to see how they tasted. In this review, I'll show you the ingredients in the NutriSystem protein shake and also show you what I believe is its active ingredients (if you decide to try to make your own version). Hopefully this review will help you decide if the NutriSystem shake is right for you.
NutriSystem Shake Nutrition Information
Each packet (41 grams) of the NutriCrush shake (chocolate flavor) has 150 calories the following nutrition information:
|Amount||Percent Daily Value|
|Total Fat||3.5 g||5% DV|
|Saturate Fat||0.5 g||3% DV|
|Trans Fat||0 g||N/A|
|Cholesterol||5 mg||2% DV|
|Sodium||230 mg||10% DV|
|Total Carbohydrate||21 g||7% DV|
|Dietary Fiber||5 g||20% DV|
|Protein||13 g||26% DV|
In the table above, “N/A” means no daily value established.
As can be seen from above, each NutriSystem shake has 150 calories. This puts it in line with other shakes I've looked at before.
The table above also tells us that the shake is “high” in both fiber and protein, as they have provide 20% and 26% of the daily values for those nutrients. According to FDA guidelines, daily values of 20% or more are considered “high” in that nutrient. That's not a bad thing in these cases. See below for more on the fiber and protein in the shake.
NutriSystem Shake Ingredients
Here are the ingredients in the NutriSystem shake. Read the table from left to right. This will tell you those ingredients that are present the most and least.
|Calcium caseinate||Fructose||Maltodextrin||Resistant maltodextrin|
|Sunflower oil||Cocoa||Whey protein concentrate||Natural flavor|
|Soy protein isolate||Milk calcium complex||Salt||Sodium caseinate|
|Konjac||Cornstarch||Soy lecithin||Cocoa extract|
|Whey solids||Monk fruit extract||Tocopherols||Mono and diglycerides|
|Xanthan gum||Modified cornstarch||Stevia leaf extract||Non fat milk|
|Carrageenan||Cocoa||Gum arabic||Vitamin D3|
Protein In The NutriSystem Shake
From the ingredients list, it appears the NutriCrush shake gets its protein primarily from a combination of these ingredients:
- Caseine (calcium casinate)
- Whey protein concentrate
- Soy protein isolate
- Milk calcium complex
- Sodium casinate (also a source of caseine protein)
- Whey solids
- Non fat milk
I've listed the protein ingredients, in order as they appear on the label. In the list above, I am not sure what “whey solids” refers to.
Protein slows down digestion and this might make people feel full longer. The NutriSystem shake is a combination of milk protein (caseine and whey) and soy protein.
Each NutriCrunsh shake provides 13 grams of protein per serving. Even though that allows it to be considered “high” by FDA standards ( 26% daily value for protein), it's not much better than 1 cup of 1% milk, which has 8 grams of protein. If protein were the only thing in the shake that curbed hunger, I'd say it was over priced.
Fortunately, there are a couple of other ingredients that I believe also contribute to curbing hunger. Let's discuss those next.
What Kind Of Fiber?
The NutriSystem shake has 2 different types of fiber that are worth mentioning. They are:
- Resistant maltodextrin
I believe these ingredients contribute significantly to curbing appetite. I might even go so far to say that they might be the main active ingredients in the shake. Let's briefly discuss them now.
This is a patented type of soluble fiber that comes from corn that is added to food and supplements to increase fiber content. The fiber is “resistant” to digestion. In other words, we don't absorb any calories when we eat it.
Other names for resistant maltodextrin are digestion resistant maltodextrin, and “Fibersol.” It also goes by the name “Fibersol-2.” This YouTube video is a short summary of Fibersol.
In a small 2015 study, that involved 19 people, 10 grams of resistant maltodextrin (“Fibersol 2”) decreased hunger and increased hormones that tell us to stop eating.
While more studies need to be performed, if this study is corroborated, I think resistant maltodextrin is might be one of the main active ingredients in the NutriSystem shake. The Nutrisystem shake label does not tell us how much resistant maltodextrin it contains.
Other weight loss shakes I've reviewed that have included resistant maltodextrin are:
See those reviews for more info about those weight loss shakes.
Other names for this ingredient are Konjac root extract and glucomannan.
Several products previously reviewed here have contained glucomannan (konjac). Just a few include:
Over the years, there have been several studies on Konjac and weight loss. For example, in this 1992 study, lasting 3 months, 4 grams a day of glucomannan -along with a low calorie diet- showed more effective for weight loss than a low calorie diet alone.
The author of this 2005 review of research noted 2-4 grams was appropriate for helping weigh loss.
In this 2014 review of research, the authors noted modest weight loss (but no change in body mass index) with glucomannan use.
While not all studies have shown konjac fiber works, there are enough that I think there might be something to it.
Ingredients With Weight Loss Evidence
- Resistant Maltodextrin
I believe these 3 ingredients have evidence that they might slow down digestion and help us feel full, longer. This in turn, could lead to weight loss in some people – especially in those who are eating fewer calories than usual.
What Are The Sweeteners?
From the list of ingredients above, these appear to the be sweeteners in the Nutrisystem shake:
- Natural flavor
- Cocoa extract (maybe)
- Monk fruit extract
- Stevia leaf extract
The ingredients are listed in order as they occur in the ingredients list above to give you an idea of whcih is present the most and least. Lets briefly touch on some of these ingredients.
According to this list fructose, which is listed first, makes up the most of the sweeteners in the shake. Fructose is controversial in some circles so, let's discuss it briefly and calmly.
While the amount of fructose in foods is very low and not to be of concern, higher levels of fructose, can raise triglyceride levels. This is a risk factor for heart disease. High levels of fructose also appear to increase the risk of insulin resistance. This is basically “pre-diabetes.”
While fructose does not raise insulin levels (that's good), it also doesn't appear to raise leptin levels either (that might not be so good).
Leptin is a hormone made in fat cells that is a signal for us to stop eating. If leptin release does not occur, we might to eat more food – and calories.
This same study linked to above noted fructose also stimulated ghrelin production too. Ghrelin is a hormone that tells us to eat.
The important thing to remember that we would need studies to know if the NutriSystem shake did any of this.
So how much fructose is too much? Well, according to this 2012 paper titled Fructose: It's Alcohol Without The Buzz, people tend to consume about 51 grams of fructose per day, which the author states is more than what is thought to be “toxic” (50 grams a day).
To say fructose (and high fructose corn syrup) is controversial is an understatement and that's why I wanted to calmly present some of the evidence here. This is not all of the research on fructose and that's why I feel it's best discussed with someone who knows about what you might be eating to make a more personalized assessment. Registered dietitians (RDs) are very good at this and you can find one in your area by going to their website – EatRight.org.
Is the fructose in the Nutrisystem shake too much? Is the effect of fructose blunted because of the fiber that is also in the shake? I don't know the answers to these questions. While I think most people on NutriSystem might probably be consuming less fructose than the average person, I would not be surprised if fructose is eventually removed from the ingredients.
For more on fructose, see this video from NutritionFacts.org
From the list above cocoa is listed 3 times -twice as “coca” and once as “cocoa extract”. I am not sure why.
This sweetener is also known as lo han or lo han guo. It has zero calories and is over 100 times sweater than sugar. For a run down of various natural and artificial sweeteners, see this article from Nutrition Action.
How Does It Taste?
I purchased a box of 5 shakes from Amazon for this review. I used chocolate flavor for my taste test, although Nutrisystem also has coffee and vanilla flavors.
When you tear open the packet, I could smell the chocolate when I brought it close to my nose. The directions say to add 1 cup of cold water and 1/2 cup of ice to a shaker bottle and shake vigorously until the powder is dissolved. I did as directed – except I mixed the contents for 10 seconds using my Vitamix.
My opinion is that I liked the taste. The shake was not thick or watery. It was not gritty either. It had a light chocolate taste that I thought was pretty tasty. When I drank all of the shake, there was no significant product left at the bottom of the glass either. That's good. The picture to the right shows what it looked like when I made it. I also used the glass that was included when I purchased the shakes.
Did it curb / “crush” my hunger for hours after I drank it? I think it did for about 90-120 minutes or so. I believe the effect was greater when I mixed it with 10 oz of water. It still tasted good when I mixed it with 10 oz of cold water. I believe the appetite reducing effects of the shake are the result of the volume of liquid used, along with the fibers and protein mentioned above.
Do you have to mix it with water? No. One could mix it with milk, almond milk, flax-seeds, etc. While this can adjust the taste, just remember that this will also increase the calories of the Nutrisystem shake.
Can Men Use It?
Yes. The same shake can be used by both men and women. While there may be differences in how men and women metabolize supplements, I am not aware of any evidence that the shake works differently in men. I expect it to work the same in both genders.
Can You Just Use The Shakes?
While I'm not aware of any studies comparing weight loss in those who only used the NutrisiSystem shakes verses those using the shakes in addition to the whole Nutrisystem program, my guess is that in those who ate fewer calories, drinking the shakes alone could lead to some weight loss.
Keep in mind that this is the same logic with any weight loss shake too. The shakes help by substituting a lower calorie meal for a higher calorie meal we might normally eat.
Do The Shake Contain Soy?
Yes, the ingredients list above mentions soy protein isolate. This makes up some of the protein in the shake.
Does It Contain Caffeine?
No. There is no caffeine in the Nutrisystem shake. That's good especially those who are sensitive to caffeine.
Can You Make Your Own NutriSystem Shake?
There are many ingredients in the NutriSystem shake but as far as I can tell, 3 ingredients appear to have the most evidence to help weight loss. They are:
- Protein powder
- konjac fiber
- maltodextrin (Fibersol-2)
I present these for those who are on a budget and want to do a little bit of experimenting to try to make their own homemade weight loss shake.
Another option is to try using a ready made fiber supplement like Metamucil. See my Metamucil review for more on that.
NutriSystem Shake Side Effects
I believe the Nutrisystem shake is safe especially if it's used in addition to eating real food. In other words, I feel it's safe as long as people don't just use the shakes to replace all the food they eat. Overall, I don't see the shakes causing problems in the vast majority of people use use them. That said, it's wise to consult ones primary care doctor first in cases of:
- About to have surgery
Nutrisystem also warns not to use the shakes in conjunction with a very low calorie diet (whcih they define as 800-1000 calories per day) unless supervised by your doctor. This is likely because this low amount of calories likely stops people from getting enough nutrients and is not safe for most people.
In those who try to make their own homemade weight loss shake, I prefer konjac powder over the capsules. Konjac fiber swells in size when it comes in contact with liquid. This could increase the risk of choking.
I also think people with type II diabetes should speak to their doctor, registered dietitian or pharmacist. This is because of the of the fructose in the shake. Does it raise triglyceride levels? I bring this up not to bash the product or be controversial, but just to be safe. If the shake helps diabetes lose weight, then this, in turn would be expected to reduce triglyceride levels -and improve diabetes.
Who Makes NutriSystem Shakes?
NutriSystem Inc. is the company and its world headquarters is located at 600 Office Center Dr
Fort Washington, PA 19034. Their corporate number is 215-706-5300. According to this 2014 Bloomberg article, the company began in 1972, under another name, Shape-Up.
NutriSystem had a Better Business Bureau rating of ” A+” at the time this review was written. NutriSystem has been a BBB accredited business since 2012. See their BBB file for updates and more information.
Does It Work?
I think if people just drink the Nutrisystem shake and keep eating like normal, then I don't feel most people will see any weight loss. If, on the other hand, people use the shakes and modify their eating – whether on their own or by using NutriSystem products – then I feel weight loss will occur. At the end of the day, it really does mostly come down to calories.Here's Nutrisystem Shakes on Amazon.