Your Comprehensive Guide to Flex MealsArticle posted in: For Customers
If you’ve explored the world of weight loss programs, you know just how different each approach can be. Some programs provide all the prepared meals and snacks you need; others just give guidelines and recipes to help you shop and prepare your own food from scratch.
At Nutrisystem, we do a little of both-and with good reason: We know that having delicious, ready-to-eat meals and snacks designed for weight loss and delivered right to your door is a foolproof way to ditch those pesky extra pounds. But we also know you want to maintain your weight loss success well beyond your days on the Nutrisystem® program. And to do that, you’ll need practice planning, shopping for and preparing healthy meals on your own.
That’s why we’ve incorporated a few “Flex Meals” into our program. These are healthy meals you cook on your own (or order while enjoying a night out at your favorite restaurant), that follow specific nutritional guidelines. Flex meals will set you up with the skills you need to stick with your healthy lifestyle far into the future.
And if making your own meals here and there sounds intimidating, don’t worry! Once you understand what you should be putting in these meals, they’re actually quite easy to make.
Here’s everything you need to know about Flex meals – what exactly they are, what goes into them, and some examples:
These are meals you cook using non-Nutrisystem food, but that stick to the same nutritional parameters. They are a combination of what we call “SmartCarbs,” “PowerFuels,” and veggies (more on these in a bit).
On the Nutrisystem weight loss program, you get to enjoy two Flex breakfasts, two Flex lunches, two Flex dinners and two Flex snacks per week (men will have four Flex snacks a week)—and you choose when to enjoy them. Planning a date night with your significant other Friday night? No problem: Just use our guidelines when you order, and you can count your restaurant meal as a Flex dinner. Is cooking breakfast with the grandkids on Sunday morning a family tradition? Keep it going! Just follow your Flex breakfast guidelines, and you can enjoy the meal right alongside them.
Flex meals aren’t just great practice for life after Nutrisystem. They’re also a way to continue living the life you love while you lose the weight you don’t.
These are “good carbs,” the kind that are packed with fiber and that won’t cause your blood sugar to spike and then plunge. Some examples include whole grain bread, brown and wild rice, ancient grains, beans, fruits and starchy vegetables, like potatoes and squash.
Not so “smart” carbs? White bread, rice and pasta, cakes, cookies and baked goods. These tend to cause a rapid spike in your blood sugar followed by a sudden crash. That crash can leave you craving more energy—and fast, which means you could find your hand right back in the cookie jar not long after you pulled it out.
So, when your Flex meals call for SmartCarbs, stick to those listed in your Grocery Guide.
You’ll notice that many of your Flex meals call for these. They’re lean proteins, like chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, Greek yogurt and tofu; and healthy fats, like nuts and nut butters. By sticking with these protein and healthy fat sources, you’ll help ensure you stay satisfied and strong long after meal-time.
Building Your Flex Meals
So how do you use these foods to create your Flex meals? First, take a look at this chart, which provides a breakdown of what should be included in each meal occasion:
*Men, don’t forget you get four Flex snacks each week!
Breakfast is the same for both men and women, consisting of two PowerFuels and one SmartCarb. Any of the following combinations would make for a great Flex breakfast:
- Scrambled eggs with cheese and rye toast
- “Protein pancakes” made by combining mashed banana and egg
- Peanut butter and sugar-free jelly on whole grain bread
- Low fat yogurt with mixed berries
- Lean sausage links with roasted garlic potatoes
- Cottage cheese with apples and slivered almonds
- Protein shake with water, protein powder and banana (add some spinach in there for some extra nutrition!)
Lunch consists of one PowerFuel and one SmartCarb for women, and two PowerFuels and one SmartCarb for men. But don’t forget-you can add in as many non-starchy veggies as you’d like, too. So any of the following would be a great option:
- Chicken or tofu with grilled veggies, brown rice and low sodium stir fry or soy sauce
- Turkey and cheese panini on rye bread with a side of roasted broccoli
- Beef lettuce tacos topped with black beans and salsa.
- Turkey burger with cheese, lettuce and tomato on a whole grain bun
- Grilled salmon salad with shaved Parmesan and a half cup of peas.
- Chicken stuffed with broccoli and cheese with a side of roasted sweet potatoes.
- Whole grain pasta with lean ground turkey or seitan, cheese and low sugar pasta sauce
- Quinoa, grilled chicken breast and veggies tossed in olive oil and garlic.
Dinner contains two PowerFuels and one SmartCarb for women, while men get three PowerFuels and one SmartCarb. Here are some versatile dinner ideas:
- Grilled chicken over a bed of greens with shaved Parmesan, a hardboiled egg and homemade croutons
- Cheesy quinoa with grilled salmon and roasted Brussels sprouts
- Brown rice with baked chicken or tofu, crushed peanuts, broccoli and low sodium stir fry sauce
- Stuffed peppers with brown rice, beans, lean ground turkey and melted cheddar cheese
- Tacos with a whole wheat tortilla, lean ground turkey, shredded cheese, lettuce and tomato
Snacks for both men and women consist of one PowerFuel and one SmartCarb. Some easy options include:
- A protein shake with fruit
- Greek yogurt with granola or berries
- Whole grain crackers and a cheese stick
- A hard boiled egg on toast
- An apple with peanut butter
To find out how much of each ingredient you should be using, simply consult with your personalized Grocery Guide by clicking here >
And don’t forget: If you need some help getting started with your Flex meals, we have Weight Loss Coaches standing by to help answer all of your questions. Your success is our priority, and we’re here to help you every step of the weight loss way!