What the Heck Are SmartCarbs and PowerFuels, Anyway?

Article posted in: Nutrisystem
SmartCarbs PowerFuels Nutrisystem

Your Nutrisystem® meals and snacks were created with the optimal balance of nutrients to keep you feeling satisfied as you lose weight.

But because it’s important for you to learn—and practice—healthy eating habits so you can sustain your weight loss for life, in addition to your Nutrisystem foods, you’ll also incorporate fresh grocery foods into your meal plan. We’ve separated these foods into five simple categories, which will make it easy for you to complete a well-rounded diet, learn healthy habits, and add some variety to your plan!

For help identifying in which category your favorite foods belong, check out the Nutrisystem Grocery Guide. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, give one of our counselors a call at 1-800-585-5483 between the hours of 7 a.m. and midnight—they’re standing by to help!


The term “SmartCarbs” refers to a specific group of carbohydrates that are nutrient-rich and lower on the Glycemic Index. These carbs are packed with fiber so they are digested more slowly, helping you feel fuller longer. Plus, they deliver vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients your body needs. Foods like whole grain rice, pasta and cereals, fresh or frozen fruit, and starchy veggies like beans, peas, corn and sweet potatoes all fall into the SmartCarb category.

On Nutrisystem, women should be enjoying one SmartCarb per day while men should be eating two.

If you’re on a program that includes Flex meals, you’ll get to add in even more SmartCarbs! Click here for a full run-down of what your Flex meals should look like. Or, check out the graph below for a quick overview of what your Flex meals should contain. Please note that if you are on a personalized program or use NuMi SmartAdapt™, these numbers will not apply to you. Find your specific Powerfuel and SmartCarb goals in the NuMi app.

flex meals


The foods included in the PowerFuels group include high-quality proteins that contain essential amino acids as well as nuts and nut butters that contain healthy fats. PowerFuels are a great addition to your diet because it takes longer for your body to digest them, so they help keep you feeling full as you go about your day.

On Nutrisystem, both women and men should be adding in three PowerFuels a day.

If you’re on a program that includes Flex meals, you’ll need to add extra PowerFuels into your Flex meals. Check out the chart above to find out how many you should be adding to your meals.

To make it easier for you to get your PowerFuel serving each day, Nutrisystem offers optional protein shakes that contain 15 grams of protein per serving and count as one PowerFuel. For other examples of PowerFuels, watch this quick video:


Since different veggies offer up different nutrients, we’ve split them into two main subgroups: starchy and non-starchy. Starchy vegetables like corn, potatoes and peas fall under the SmartCarb category, while the non-starchy vegetable group includes familiar staples like leafy greens, broccoli and tomatoes.

Each day on Nutrisystem, you should be eating at least four non-starchy vegetable servings along with your Nutrisystem meals. And since they’re packed with nutrients that are beneficial to an overall healthy lifestyle, many of these veggies are deemed “unlimited”—so indulge the urge to splurge! Be sure to visit our Recipe section for some great ways to prepare your veggies.


Free Foods are no-calorie or low-calorie optional add-ins that you can use to spice up your Nutrisystem foods or your SmartCarbs, PowerFuels and Vegetables. These optional extras are unlimited when they are less than 10 calories.


Extras are also add-ons you might use to add some flavor to your foods. Extras, however, contain between 11 and 35 calories per serving. To avoid loading up on too many added calories, we recommend limiting your Extras to three servings per day.