Jenny Craig Analyzed

Introduction

Achieving and maintaining your ideal weight is a never-ending quest for many of us.

The good news is that there are more different types of weight loss plans than ever before, meaning that you’re guaranteed to find a program to suit your lifestyle and budget. From the disciplined Hackers Diet to the “quick results” oriented Cabbage Soup Diet, there are also different options based on how quickly you’d like to shed those pounds.

While many provide guidance on what to eat leaving you to plan your meals at home, the program provides a more structured and tailored approach to dieting. It is one of the most popular commercial subscription-based weight loss methods, which aims to minimize the guesswork (e.g., counting of calories, measuring portion sizes, etc.) – and provide “everything you need to succeed.”

There are plenty of success stories about how followers of this weight loss plan were able to shed the unwanted pounds – but, as always, it pays to be a little more skeptical at first.

In this post, we’ll look into what the program entails, discuss studies into its effectiveness, present the pros and cons, and cover all other aspects you should consider before deciding to invest your money into this popular program.

What Is Jenny Craig?

Jenny Craig, Inc. is a popular weight loss program that was founded in 1983 in Australia by businesswoman Jenny Craig. The program aims to provide followers high levels of professional weight loss support, while providing a delivery service for all the foods required to follow the diet.

The program offers peace of mind for someone who finds implementing a strict eating pattern overwhelming (e.g., shopping for food, planning your meals and snacks, weighing your food, etc.).

Jenny Craig removes the challenging process of shopping for low-calorie food, counting calories, and measuring portion sizes by providing low-calorie, nutritious pre-packaged foods as well as snacks.

Those who follow it will also receive personalized help from a consultant on the phone or in person, and access to many online tools to help plan and track their meals and exercise.

How Does It Work?

The diet isn’t about counting calories, which can be a relief for those who feel troubled by the idea of having to plan and carefully watch what they eat. The program attributes its effectiveness to the simple restriction of fat, calories, and portion size.

Here are the four stages:

Stage 1: Signing Up For The Diet

To begin the program, you need to sign up for a paid plan either at a local Jenny Craig center – or on the official Jenny Craig Diet website.

You’ll be expected to pay an initial sign-up fee (typically below $100), as well as a monthly membership fee (about $20). In addition to that, you’ll need to pay for the cost of your pre-packaged meals, which is about $150 (and depends on your selected food items).

Stage 2: Meeting Your Personal Jenny Craig Consultant

Once you begin Jenny Craig, you will be paired with a consultant who will provide personalized support and guidance along the way.

The consultant will be the one setting up your eating and exercise plan, help you plan your menus and deal with any challenges that arise during the program.

You’ll be expected to meet the consultant once a week – either in person or over the phone.

Stage 3: Eating Low-Calorie Pre-Packaged Jenny Craig Meals

Once you begin, you will start receiving pre-packaged frozen breakfasts, lunches, dinners and even desserts – as well as two low-calorie snacks per day. These will be delivered either to your local Jenny Craig diet center or directly to your doorstep.

The meals will contain:

  • About 50 to 60 percent carbohydrate
  • 20 to 25 percent fat
  • 20 to 25 percent protein

You will be consuming about 1,200 calories a day, with the exact number of calories depending on your weight and height.

The program encourages dieters to “volumize” their entrees. Essentially this means adding your own fruit, veg, and other low-calorie additions to make the meals more filling. You are also allowed to eat one extra snack a day.

With Jenny Craig, no foods are entirely off limits while following the diet, however it is vital to stick to low-calorie food when complementing the pre-packaged meals.

The good news is that there are also over a 100 different pre-packaged foods “on the menu,” so it’s unlikely that you will ever feel like you have the same thing over and over again!

During the program, dieters can expect to lose one to two pounds (i.e. 1% of their body weight) a week. To record the progress, they are asked to weigh themselves each week, which can be done either at the diet centre or at home.

Stage 4: Transitioning To Home-Cooked Meals

Once you’ve lost half of the weight, you will begin to gradually reduce the amount of pre-packaged meals a week, and start cooking your own meals with the guidance of your Jenny Craig consultant.

The consultant’s role during this stage will be providing recipes for low-calorie meals as well as guidance on portion sizes. The information you receive about portion sizes will also be particularly useful when you stop the Jenny Craig Diet and need to maintain your ideal weight. Often not knowing the correct portion sizes heavily contributes to overeating and weight gain.

Once you have successfully achieved your weight loss goal, you will stop receiving the pre-packaged meals entirely.

However, should you wish to keep seeing your Jenny Craig weight loss consultant, you can. It can be particularly helpful in making sure you keep the weight off.

To continue seeing your consultant, you will need to remain a member of the diet and continue paying a monthly subscription fee.

How Effective Is It?

The diet has been incredibly popular for decades – and many users praise it for its effectiveness as a long-term weight loss method.

Research into the program’s effectiveness also supports this claim. In one particular Jenny Craig Diet study, women were able to lose an average of 11.7 pounds each after following it for 12 weeks.

Another study compared the effectiveness of the Weight Watchers, SlimFast, Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig, and found that with this diet, people lost approximately 5 percent more than with the other diets after one year.

The Pros & Cons

Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons:

Diet Pros:

  • Many dieters have been able to successfully lose weight with.
  • The Jenny Craig Diet is highly nutritious and meets most of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It is rich in fiber, calcium, and potassium — which is a bonus because many Americans don’t get enough of these vitamins through their diets.
  • Due to the success rates of weight loss, it could be suggested that the diet could have cardiovascular benefits, and prevent – as well as manage – diabetes.
  • The fact that your foods are pre-packaged for you also make the diet easier to follow – and reduce the temptation to stray. It is an ideal weight loss method for those who don’t have the time to shop and plan their meals, because all the measuring, weighing and preparing work is done for you.
  • Receiving one-on-one support from a consultant helps users stick to the Jenny Craig Diet and ensure you have all your questions answered. The program also has an accessible helpline and lots of online support, which can sometimes be lacking in other diet programs.

Diet Cons:

  • It is quite a costly investment, mainly because it is a long-term solution rather than a quick weight loss fix. With the food costing about $150 a week, the sign-up fee and membership costs, you are looking at a hefty investment.
  • If you’re looking to achieve quick weight loss results, this isn’t for you. It is designed to help you lose 1 percent of your body weight a week, which means that you will most likely need to follow the diet for a few months, or even a year to achieve your weight loss goal.
  • Although receiving pre-packaged foods makes following the Jenny Craig Diet more manageable, the meals are processed rather than fresh – and transitioning to “normal” eating after the program finishes might be difficult.

Conclusion

Due to its structured approach, Jenny Craig diet plan is easier to follow than many others.

As you not only receive pre-packaged low-calorie food but also are offered hands-on, one-on-one support from a consultant as well as plenty of online forums where you can reach out to specialists and other users, the program does seem to offer more help than many different diets.

The main drawback of the Jenny Craig Diet is the cost. It is an expensive diet and sustaining it for the amount of time needed to see any results may be financially straining. For those who aren’t looking to invest hundreds of dollars each month, it may not be the best option.

Beth Coats, RD LN
Beth Coats, RD LN
Staff Writer & Fact Checker at DietProbe
Beth is a registered dietician with over 20 years experience in general nutrition.
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