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Jenny Craig

Diets That WorkRanked #8 by US News on its 2013 list of best diets (and ranked as the #2 best diet to lose weight) the Jenny Craig system is comprised of a pre-planned regimen of packaged meals that not only effects weight loss in people while they are on the program, but establishes patterns of reduced calorie consumption, nutritional balance, and portion control that ideally result in long-term weight maintenance.

The program has been around longer than most popular diets, launching in Australia in 1983 and opening American operations in 1985. Paid members can enlist through one of the 650 physical centers located in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Puerto Rico. Participants also have the option of following the program from home through the “Jenny Direct” program. One of the big advantages of Jenny Craig is the multiple levels of personal support, from a 24/7 phone line, to weekly counseling and online peer-support discussion groups. Anchoring its legitimacy in the medical and healthcare communities is an advisory board consisting of professionals in nutrition, medicine, and psychology.

Jenny Craig diet: personal counseling and portion control

Participants don’t have to worry about trips to the grocery store, as Jenny Craig frozen meals are delivered directly to your door. Members are provided with a personalized meal and exercise plan, as well as access to weekly one-on-one counseling sessions. One criticism of the Jenny Craig program is that the “consultants” that dieters meet with during these sessions are not health or nutrition professionals, but company employees whose only credentials are having graduated from a Jenny Craig training course. Professional dieticians are on staff, however, to advise the consultants in their dealings with customers.

Because the diet’s focus is on moderation and a balanced menu, no food is completely banned. The prepackaged frozen meals cover breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and several snacks. The meals are small, though they tend to feature foods that are low in fat and high in fiber and protein, which makes dieters feel fuller for longer. The nutritional balance in the meals usually works out to approximately 50% carbohydrates, 25% protein, and 25% fat. Members are encouraged to supplement frozen meals with fresh fruit, non-starchy vegetables, and non-fat dairy.

Several specialized Jenny Craig diet plans are available for members with specific needs or requirements, including Jenny Craig for Men, and Jenny Craig Type 2 for diabetics or clients who have been diagnosed with pre diabetes.

Jenny Craig reviews

Relative to typical frozen meals, the Jenny Craig food options usually receive positive, though not gushing, reviews in regard to taste and variety. A sample daily menu might include:

Apple cinnamon waffles
1 cup non-fat milk

Jenny Craig Anytime bar

Turkey burger

Three-cheese ziti marinara
1 ½ cups broccoli

Chocolate fudge cookie

The Jenny Craig diet has no fixed timeline or finish line. Paid members remain on the program for as long as it takes to meet their weight loss goals, which could last anywhere from a few weeks to a few years. During the first stage, dieters stick solely to the packaged meals—home-cooked meals and restaurant visits are strongly discouraged. In subsequent stages, however, members are encouraged to prepare their own meals based on Jenny Craig food guidelines, as well as to incorporate regular exercise into their weight loss regimen.

Jenny Craig reviews from doctors and diet experts tend to question the effectiveness of the transition from pre-packaged meals to having dieters eat all on their own. Speaking to WebMD, Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, says of the Jenny Craig diet, “The negative is once you go off of the packaged meals, it is difficult to translate those portions of food to real eating. Normal foods are not sold in those tiny portions.”

Bonci goes on to explain that in her opinion, “the crucial question is how to help someone back to a semblance of normal eating. That is where the program doesn’t hold up as well.”

How much does Jenny Craig cost?

One common complaint about the weight loss program from experts and dieters alike focuses on Jenny Craig cost concerns. Though the cost varies based on the geographical region, the initial sign-up fee can often rise above $400, while weekly meal plan costs routinely exceed $100.

Best way to lose weight: talk to a trained physician

Though the debate continues as to whether the Jenny Craig diet is the best weight loss program on the market, research has shown that it does produce demonstrable weight loss results. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that the average Jenny Craig member lost 10% of his or her total body weight after 12 months on the program. Though these findings are positive, they emphasize that the most proven and reliable way to achieve significant and fast weight loss is through a program administered and monitored by trained physicians. For instance, the American Journal of Medicine published a study showing that the average patient at the Center For Medical Weight Loss, the largest group of non-surgical weight loss doctors in the country, loses 11.1% of total body weight after only 12 weeks on the program—that’s more weight lost in 3 months than Jenny Craig members lose in a full year.

The dedicated doctors at The Center For Medical Weight Loss have produced thousands of successful weight loss stories by customizing individual diet and exercise plans, based on each client’s unique medical history, lifestyle, body composition, food preferences, and weight loss goals. The one-on-one counseling and professional support network ensures long-term success, as over 95% of patients maintain weight loss one year after the program.

To find out if there is a center in your area, enter your zip code in the search box above. Special offers are available for first-time visitors at select locations.