Of the best known home delivered meal replacement diet programs, Nutrisystem has consistently shown itself to be an effective weight loss solution.

One common question that is asked is, "How many pounds can you lose on Nutrisystem?"

This article sets out to answer that question while providing some useful background information about the company and the diets it provides for its customers.

What is Nutrisystem?

Nutrisystem is a for-profit company that sells special foods, beverages, and diet books to people who wish to lose weight.

In its early years of operation, dieters went to brick-and-mortar centers to get the diet plan and food, have behavioral modification counseling, and get weighed. But in 1999, Nutrisystem abandoned that model and went to selling products over the phone and the Internet.

The diet, nutrition and exercise plan Nutrisystem suggests is very similar to the federal government's nutrition and weight loss recommendations.

The company suggests and manufactures foods that are based on "good carbs" rather than relying heavily on "bad carbs" such as white flour.

How Many Calories are Allowed?

Most women on a Nutrisystem weight loss plan eat about 1,200 calories a day, while men eat about 1,500 calories. Again, these recommendations are in line with federal government recommendations.

Hence, Nutrisystem is geared to cause an average of 1 to 2 pounds of weight reduction each week. Losing weight more quickly is possible, but depends upon the dieter's body chemistry, food intake, and level of physical activity.

Some people have reported losing 8 pounds in their first week of following the Nutrisystem diet. A rapid rate of weight lost in the first weeks of any diet is to be expected, especially among people who are extremely overweight.

However, as the body adjusts to the new eating and exercise habits weight loss should level off. Losing too much weight too quickly is difficult to sustain and can cause harm to the body's muscles as well as electrolyte balance.

Food Choice

Nutrisystem provides more than 150 food choices in four categories. Most of the diet comes from prepackaged food that customers order from the company. Some of the meals are microwavable while others do not require heat.

Some items such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and low-fat milk must come from a grocery store. One of the keys to success using Nutrisystem is choosing a diverse array of foods from the dietary menus and avoiding the temptations of other types of meals.

Bearing this in mind, it may be that this diet program might not be an ideal choice for people who must dine out frequently or who are rather picky eaters, or those accustomed to eating home cooked meals.

Healthy Meals

More than 75 percent of the program's food choices do not have preservatives and the entire meal plan strives to be reasonably low in sodium. People with special dietary needs have vegetarian options and there are special alternative meals available for those with certain food intolerance such as gluten or lactose.

There is also a high quality meal plan called "Uniquely Yours" that consists of mainly fresh-frozen meals that you store in your domestic freezer. This plan is available for men and women and is also available as one of the diabetic plans (Nutrisystem D).

Finally, the amount of weight or number of pounds you can lose on this program will vary according to a number of variables, such as your starting weight, age, health level and general activity levels.

In the initial weeks, you can expect to lose more (up to 13 pounds is possible in the first week) but the rate of loss will slow to 1-2 pounds per week after that as you grow accustomed to the new way of eating. The key to success on the Nutrisystem diet food delivery program is following the plan closely and increasing your level of physical activity.