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Nutritionist Review: Thrive Meals

Posted on Nov 20, 2020 By Sarah Appleford Sarah Appleford

Editor's Rating

4

Several program options
Tasty meals
Low refined carbs
Calories very restrictive
Not allergy/intolerance friendly
Not individualised

Keen to lose weight? Then assessing your calorie intake and portion sizes is likely to be at the top of your list. Thrive aims to make the process easier for you with their programs that are designed to help you lose body weight and improve your overall health.

But is this a healthy and sustainable approach to weight loss and are the meals satisfying? Nutritionist Sarah Appleford, orders a Thrive meal box to find out.

Were the Thrive meals nutritious?

Thrive is a meal delivery service that aims to provide nutrition solutions for people to overcome health issues and achieve optimal health. In addition to individual meals and snacks, Thrive also offer meal plans and an 8-week weight loss program.

  • Lose Weight – low carb, low-calorie meals averaging about 1200 calories per day  (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
  • 8-week Weight Program – keto-based meals
  • Improve Wellbeing – nutrient-rich ranging from 893-1200 calories per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
  • Boost Protein – high protein meals

The 8-week program begins with a keto phase to a low / moderate-carbohydrate phase through to the final burning phase. In addition to the meals, the 8-week program includes a training program and nutrition guidelines to support your challenge.

The range of the Thrive meals is great with the provider offering options that are not typical for convenient meal brands including pizzas, fritters and even whole roast chickens. In addition to their main meals, you’ll also find granolas, treats, juices and protein powders.

Most of the main meals are 300-350g with most emphasising protein over carbohydrates. Thrive have made healthy swaps in many of their meals such as the addition of broccoli and cauliflower rice rather than a high glycemic white rice. In most of their meals, they also opt for olive oil rather than inflammatory vegetable oils which is a great improvement than many of the other meal providers.

While some of the meals contain only whole food, natural ingredients others have several thickeners, emulsifiers, flavours and anti-caking agents which for me, doesn’t reflect their brand intention. Some meals such as the Mexican Chicken Keto Bowl, have a very lengthy list of ingredients (50+) – perhaps that means they will be extra flavoursome?!

Upon receiving the meals, I did notice there was a variation in the ingredients that are listed on the package vs the website for items such as the Pancakes with Berry Compote. This for me is quite deceptive. Also, the pizza doesn’t come with any labelling (nutrition panel or ingredients) which, in my opinion, is a slight oversight.

The macronutrients will vary depending on the meal you’ve chosen. If you’re really wanting to restrict your carbohydrate intake or consume more protein, there are options for you with some containing as much as 65.5g of protein per serve.

With a focus mainly on portion control and low carb meals, the Thrive range doesn’t specifically cater to intolerances or allergens. For example, you won’t find a gluten-free or a vegetarian specific range. If you are eliminating certain ingredients, you will need to search through the complete range, but with the labelling inconsistencies, there is no guarantee you’re going to get a meal without the offending ingredient.

How convenient is the Thrive range?

Thrive is a home delivery service, however, they also have stockists in VIC, NSW and ACT. Orders can be one-off or you can commit to a weekly or fortnightly service and depending on your location, delivery dates vary.

Individual main meals range from $9.95 to $15.95. As they include a training program in addition to the meals, the plans are slightly more costly than if you compare to a 7-day meal plan from a traditional meal delivery provider.

For example, if you wanted to jump on the 8-week program and would like breastfast, lunch, dinner and a snack, for 7 days you’ll be paying $230.45. The high-protein 7-day plan including 28 meals and snacks costs $268.80. That’s an average spend of $38.40 per day.

In my first order, I ordered 8 meals and 2 snacks which totalled $104.50. I did take up the new customer $25 discount which made the order more affordable.

How was the taste of the Thrive meals?

The majority of the meals I tried were really yummy. They were full of flavour and the textures were palatable even after being frozen and reheated. Some meals I wouldn’t order again such as the pizza which was dry and the fritters with cauliflower rice which lacked texture variation and instead was mushy.

Another dish that didn’t rate well was the pancakes. My advice would be to try them cold as when heated parts of the pancake went crusty. Interestingly, my least favourite meals were the options I don’t see often on the menus of other meal providers.

Overall, the Thrive range offers some nutritionally balanced meals with a clear focus on smaller portions and keto options, but there’s no getting around it, the portions are small. If you have a weight loss goal, reducing your calorie intake is likely to be part of your plan. However, the standard breakfast, lunch and dinner meal Thrive plan is very low in calories and much more restrictive than you may need to lose weight. What concerns me is what happens when you stop the weight loss program. Also for women, in particular, adhering to such a low-calorie diet can have detrimental effects on your hormones. High exercisers will also need to be cautious.

That being said, you can add Thrive snacks and obviously include your own additions to increase the calories to meet your individual requirements. My advice, speak to a qualified health professional to ensure you’re eating for your needs and goals, and to create an exit strategy for when you complete the Thrive program or get to your weight loss target.

Sarah Appleford
Sarah Appleford
Sarah Appleford is a registered clinical nutritionist who believes achieving optimal health and wellbeing relies on living with intention.
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