Feb 162017

**UPDATE: This post was written in February 2017. Since then, the Designed to Fit Nutrition founders have added one-on-one coaching to all plans, added four Registered Dietitians to their staff, and improved their software system. My experience is likely different from what current program participants will experience.**

Hi friends! As you know, right after Christmas I signed up for Designed to Fit Nutrition because I a) was looking for something to help me get my eating habits in gear before my upcoming bachelorette party and b) really wanted to know more about macros and learn how to count them/target them. I knew it was expensive, but I asked for the program for Christmas and my family was nice enough to gift it to me. It’s now been four weeks – which is how long the meal plan lasts – so I wanted to share my thoughts in case there’s anyone else out there who’s considering signing up.

If you’re a reader of Carrots ‘N Cake (which I would assume many of you are) then you’ve probably heard all about the program already. In a nut shell, it’s a four-week meal plan customized to your body type, eating/workout habits, and goals. The most attractive part for me was that the meal plan includes customized macro targets – i.e., the amount of carbs, fat, and protein you should be eating every day – which was definitely something I wanted to learn more about. The plan also comes with one-on-one coaching to help keep you on track.

So, what did I think?

To sum it up in a sentence: I learned what I wanted to learn, but ultimately I didn’t find it to be worth the cost. 

Here’s why.

To start off with, there were a couple of minor software bugs right from the get-go. My schedule was off when I received my first week’s worth of recipes (meaning I received recipes from Thursday – Thursday instead of Monday – Monday) and one time when I tried to access my account I got locked out because the developers were working on something (right around dinner time when I needed a recipe – grumble grumble). Luckily, both issues were resolved quickly and easily via email. I know DTFN is a new program with all new software, so these bugs are definitely to be expected. I think the DTFN staff did a great job at resolving the issues, and I’m sure they will continue to improve over time.

The biggest issue for me was the food. I guess I was expecting that the recipes given to me through DTFN would be unique since I was paying so much for the plan, but many of them were recipes that can already be found on Carrots N Cake’s blog. I liked all of these recipes – and some of them I hadn’t made before – but having been a reader of that blog for almost seven years (phew – that’s a long time!) I had seen a lot of the recipes before and was hoping for something a little more unique (especially given the price tag of this program).

I also was disappointed with some of the meals that weren’t recipes. For example, lunch some days included sandwiches made from Sara Lee bread, deli meat, American cheese, and pickles. I try to steer clear of overly processed foods, so having a meal plan that required me to buy these foods wasn’t ideal for me (in fact, I didn’t buy the American cheese at all, and used cheddar instead). I know Tina from Carrots N Cake has raved about Dave’s Killer Bread – an organic, non-GMO bread brand that does focus on wholesome ingredients – so why did this meal plan recommend Sara Lee? This is probably just a preference thing, but I feel like a heavier focus on wholesome ingredients wouldn’t be bad for anyone. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate shortcut meals – I definitely do! – but I also don’t want to be eating a lot of crap.

Lastly, the plan was just too much food for me. Again, this is probably just preference because a lot of people seemed to do well on their plans and lose weight, but I found myself eating much more than usual and didn’t feel comfortable with my progress. In fact, for this last week of the program I decided to ditch the meal plan altogether and follow my own instead. For $200, you don’t really want to be skipping 1/4 of your program, you know?

I also didn’t get any one-on-one coaching, but to be fair I think that might be a new add-on to the program (the price has gone up since then, which is what makes me think that feature might be new).

One caveat that is definitely important to mention here: There was an area to provide feedback and “check-in” with the DTFN planners, and I did not leave any of these comments there. Therefore, I didn’t really give DTFN a chance to course-correct these issues and I’m aware that is MY fault. I understand I shouldn’t complain if I didn’t even try to leave the feedback. BUT, I did leave some feedback about meals that I’d like to see repeated (which is one of the questions they ask you in the feedback section) and I never saw those meals actually repeated, so I didn’t know how much the DTFN planners were looking at those responses.

Anyway, I don’t want to be a downer or say anything bad about this program – after all it seems to work well for a lot of people and ultimately I did learn more about my target macros and how to track them after following this plan (which was my main goal). I wasn’t even going to write this post at all because I’m a big believer that if you don’t have something positive to say, then you shouldn’t say it. BUT, this program was a lot of money and I feel like I was very gung-ho about it in my first couple of posts about it, so I thought it would be important for me to share an update with my experience so you can make an informed decision about if this is something you want to try out yourself.

Alright, I think that’s all for now. Phew! That was a lot of words, and no pictures at all. Sorry about that. Tomorrow I’ll be back with my regular positive attitude. 🙂

Question of the day: Have you ever bought a meal plan like this one? What was your experience like?

 Posted by on February 16, 2017

  22 Responses to “Thinking of Signing up for Designed to Fit Nutrition? Here’s What I Thought.”

  1. Thank you for writing this post! I have actually been thinking about trying it about and its nice to see some realness about it! lets be honest not everything is rainbows and butterflies 😉

  2. I’m also a CnC reader and wanted to give DTFN a go after hearing all about it. I’ve been tracking macros for a while now, and I already have a macro plan through Lean Machine Nutrition, but with that current plan I, too, felt like I was over-eating (like, 1800-200cal depending on workout/rest days…crazy to complain about eating TOO MUCH on a diet lol). And even though I haven’t been gaining weight on it, it made me nervous to eat so much at first. Anyways, I purchased the Foundations package from DTFN ($39) which just gives you a personalized macro breakdown, and my intention was to compare it to my current plan and see if I was in fact eating too much, or what. The breakdown I got from DTFN was right in line with my other plan calorie-wise, though my other plan does have me eating more protein/carbs, less fat, which I am fine with. All in all, I was happy with that purchase through DTFN.

    Personally, I don’t like actual meal plans just because I have my go-to foods/meals, mostly clean whole foods, and I’d rather tweak portions to fit macros than adapt to all new meals. If you’re interested in continuing macros though, I’d recommend Lean Machine Nutrition highly- they do full meal plans and all, or you just purchase the “app” to input your own personalizations and get your breakdowns, then you can track it all through MyFitnessPal based on the targets you get. Based on your inputs, you get 3 different “cuts” to follow, each supposed to be for a 2-3wks, and it breaks down your macro targets for pre-workout meals, post-workout meals, and others. I love it and have found success with it. It’s only $50 and you can continue to change inputs as you lose weight/change goals, and it’ll set you up with 3 new “cuts” to follow.


  3. I really appreciate your honesty! I too considered this program, so it’s nice to hear some realness!

  4. Thanks for writing an honest review! I’ve been debating purchasing a plan but I think I’m going to try using MFP first to see if I can track macros and clean up my diet on my own.

  5. You can get a good idea of your macro breakdowns using sites like bodybuilding.com and it’s free. I will say that most people undereat. I’ve recently upped my caloric intake, which automatically ups macros and I’ve been noticing I feel stronger and am lifting heavier weights. I also take two full rest days a week which is SO important for muscle growth and repair. Carb cycling has also been interesting to play with. Basically, don’t fear food. Feed your body and you’ll get good results. That’s one thing I love as a fellow CNC reader. Tina eats!

  6. Thank you for your honest feedback! I read CNC but never considered DTFN because the meals on CNC honestly never really appeal to me (but to each their own!) but it’s just good to hear honest feedback instead of the usual push to purchase items. I’m glad that you did learn the macro info from it though!

    • Oh, and I promise I’m not trying to slam anyone here, but if I read a meal plan that contained american cheese, that’d be it for me. That would be enough for me to never, ever purchase it again. So gross!

  7. OK, so THIS is fabulous, but I wouldnt try to bring any of your suggestions to TIna, becuase your comment will just be deleted as mine was along with many others. The program sounds like a rip off and sarah lee bread!? What in the actual F!? Then again, Tuna is known for touting shit on your blog that she herself would never eat. Anyway, you just earned a new folower. Come check my blog out too! I am getting married (second time) in Sep! When is yours?! Havent had a chance to scroll through your previous posts.

  8. Thanks for the realness! I would never consider signing up for one of Tina’s meal plans, because I don’t find her meals appetizing at all, but it’s nice to see an honest review

  9. Thank you! I googled reviews for DTF(lol)N – mainly because the prices were so high. I appreciate the honest review.

    Will add you to my morning blog read, the salmon & cabbage valentine meal looks so good!

  10. Hi There, Just wanted to chime in as someone who decided to try out DTFN based on your initial recommendation. I’m actually glad I went ahead and did it before seeing this post. I have only been doing it for a week (just started week 2), but have already seen great results and have not had your experience with processed food choices. I’m on my second week and have found that about 90% of the recommended food options are indeed whole foods. The most “processed” foods I’ve had in my recipes are greek yogurt, dark chocolate, and whole wheat pita bread. It is definitely more food than I am used to eating, but I have already noticed my body responding positively to the different macro breakdown as well as the time of day that I’m eating certain macros (mostly, carbs). I have lost several pounds in my first week and plan to continue for my full 8 week program. Thought I should share my positive experience in the midst of overwhelmingly negative comments. As a note, I am in no way affiliated with Tina and actually don’t even regularly read her blog. I just wanted to share that it might be a worthwhile program for some people. I did pay up for the premium couples plan, so am doing it with my fiancé and paid a bit more than you did, so I may have gotten a more “custom” plan.

  11. I had the exact same experienced you detailed here. I was surprised they didn’t reach out to me after my plan was over to see how i did. I pretty much got my meal plan and then never heard from anyone again. That really disappointed me. I know i didn’t pay for coaching, but you would at least think they would send an automated follow up email or survey.

    • I absolutely agree – I had the same experience. I’ve been told they are making changes to this moving forward, however. I’ll post some details soon!

  12. I wish I had seen your post prior to purchasing my DTFN plan. I’m on the last two weeks of the 8-week plan. Well, I shouldn’t say I’m still on it because I’ve pretty much abandoned following it. Overall, I am dissatisfied with my experience. I agree there were more processed foods than I expected such as VitaTop muffins and sugar-free maple syrup. I often ended up substituting these things or just didn’t eat them. Some of the meals I really liked (most of those came from Paleomg). I often had to go to 3-5 different grocery stores to get everything on my plan for the week. For example, some things were sold only at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, so I had to go to these stores plus my local grocery stores. The grocery list provided by the software was useless and inaccurate. I felt as though my feedback was ignored or never looked at, so I eventually stopped providing it. This plan was not dynamic, meaning once the week’s plan was created, there was no going back. I ended up really disliking one of my meals, and I asked my coach if there was anything I could substitute it with. Her response was what did I want to substitute it with and not really! I didn’t intend to spend hundreds of dollars to then have to figure out my meals! I also thought I was eating too much initially, but my coach did reduce my caloric intake every week when my weight wouldn’t budge on the scale. I’m down to about a daily caloric intake of 1,250 on non-workout days, and I’ve lost about….a whole 3 pounds after 6 weeks. I followed this plan STRICTLY and exercised. My coach was very enthusiastic and encouraging at first, but I feel as though she has phantomed now that I am not progressing as expected. She sometimes does not even respond to my questions. She kept telling me to not go by the scale and to track my progress with how my clothes felt. I ageee with this to a point but my clothes do not feel any more loose! I think I am going to just try an upgraded version of MyFitnessPal to track my calories/macros next. Don’t make the same mistake I did!

  13. Ugh! I felt the same- I feel the plan is for severely overweight folks that really need to reign it in – lots of processed foods – viatop muffins, sugar loaded yogurt, prepackaged salads and recipes you can get for free on the internet – also my macros were never correct and ultimately I had to cut calories to see any improvement – if you already know the basics this plan is definitely not for you

  14. Found this post super helpful!! I’m also a long time CNC reader and thought about purchasing a plan. I’m so glad I didn’t now!

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