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Jenny Craig Diet: Pros and Cons

Find out what to expect on the Jenny Craig program

By

Updated January 27, 2014

Jenny Craig Diet: Pros and Cons

Jenny Craig provides support to clients

Photo ©Jenny Craig
Jenny Craig Diet: Pros and Cons

Cheddar Cheese Omelet

Photo © Jenny Craig
Jenny Craig Diet: Pros and Cons

Broccoli Cheese Potato

Photo ©Jenny Craig

Jenny Craig is currently one of the largest weight management companies in the world. The company was founded in 1983, but in recent years has gained increased media attention by hiring high profile celebrity spokespeople including Valerie Bertinelli, Mariah Carey and Kirstie Alley. But what can Jenny Craig do for you?

Finding the best weight loss program for you requires that you ask yourself key questions about your health, your budget and about your dieting history.

By taking the time to evaluate the answers to these questions, you'll be able to define your own specific needs as a dieter. Then evaluate Jenny Craig to see if this weight loss program is right for you.

How the Jenny Craig Program Works

The Jenny Craig mantra is "Eat Well. Move More. Live Life." Jenny Craig clients do not count calories, weigh food or measure portions while on the program. Instead they eat pre-packaged Jenny's Cuisine® foods that are picked up at a Jenny Craig center or delivered to the client.

Dieters on the program weigh themselves once each week either at home or at the program center. The program is designed to result in a weekly weight loss of one to two pounds or 1% of your body weight. Weight loss is achieved by limiting calories and by increasing the client's exercise and spontaneous activity level.

Each Jenny Craig client is paired with a consultant. The consultant sets up your plan, checks in with you each week, helps to plan menus and addresses challenges as they arise. You can choose to meet with your consultant either on the phone or at a Jenny Craig center.

Jenny Craig Costs

When determining how much you'll pay on the Jenny Craig program, you should factor in the cost of the membership fee and the cost of pre-packed foods. Clients also provide their own fruits, vegetables and other healthy food options. Jenny's Cuisine® daily menu purchases range from $12 to $18 per day, based on each client's menu preferences, calorie intake and budgets.

Membership fees vary based on the level of membership you choose. For budget-minded dieters, Jenny Craig offers a 4-week program called Jenny-Set-Go that costs $30 plus the cost of food. Longer memberships include the Premium Success Program, which is currently $399 for a year and the Metabolic Max program that comes with a BodyMedia Fit Armband and six months of access to the BodyMedia FIT Activity Manager. Consult the Jenny Craig website for more specific pricing information if you choose to purchase a membership.

Part of the Jenny Craig program depends on increasing your activity level. If you require help with exercise programing, online fitness training is available for an additional fee. MyJennyFit services range from $10 to $18 per week.

Jenny Craig Food

Jenny Craig is a good program for people who don't have the time to shop for or prepare foods at home. On the program, clients choose from a wide variety of breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and snack items. The client is expected to provide additional fruits, vegetables and healthy food options.

Sample breakfast foods include:

  • Cheddar Cheese Omelet
  • Cinnamon French Toast
  • Triple Grain Crisp Cereal

Sample lunch choices include:

  • Cheesy Potatoes and Chicken
  • Broccoli and Cheese Potato
  • Beef Chow Mein

And for dinner you might choose from:

  • Beef Chili with Beans
  • Chicken Carbonara
  • Chicken Fajitas

Dessert and snack selections include bars, cookies and snack foods such as pretzels and cheese curls. Menu choices include foods that are typically high in calories and not typically part of a traditional diet. To keep the calorie count low, portion sizes are relatively small and Jenny Craig food scientists have adjusted the ingredients.

The Jenny Craig program is consistent with the 2005 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Dietary Reference Intakes issued by the Institute of Medicine in 2002. The program is based on guidelines geared towards weight loss for the general population. Clients with medical concerns, such as high blood pressure, may need to be careful about food choices. The salt content of some food choices is relatively high.

Jenny Craig Support

Jenny Craig clients are provided with motivational support through face-to-face or phone meetings with their consultant. Consultants are often former Jenny Craig clients who have successfully lost weight on the plan. They are likely to be familiar with the challenges involved with trying to lose weight.

If your health history or diagnosis requires that you work with a registered dietitian, it is important to note that the consultants at Jenny Craig are not required to have that background. Consultants are, however, trained by a team of nutritionists and registered dieticians. They use active listening skills and motivation-based behavior skills to achieve good general health through weight loss.

Pros and Cons of Jenny Craig

Several reputable sources have reviewed the Jenny Craig weight loss plan. The weight loss program was picked as a "best diet" by ConsumerSearch.com and also ranked highly by U.S. News and World Report. But these sources, and others, have found drawbacks as well.

Pros:

  • Easy and Comprehensive. Clients on the Jenny Craig program get a comprehensive diet and exercise plan when the meet with their support staff each week. Foods are pre-packaged so the guesswork is taken out of portion control. U.S. News and World Report ranked Jenny Craig as the second easiest diet to follow.
  • Support. Motivational support is built into the Jenny Craig program from the beginning of the diet plan. For many, the face-to-face option for support gives it a leg up against competitor Nutrisystem. Consumer Reports cited the Jenny Craig personalized approach when they gave the diet a top rating in May 2011.

Cons:

  • Taste. In a Consumer Reports examination of both Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig foods, Jenny Craig edged out Nutrisystem in terms of taste, but only by a small margin. According to the source, the food on both plans lacked taste.
  • Cost. The cost of the Jenny Craig program is frequently cited as a drawback of the diet plan. However, the cost of the program depends on the type of plan you choose, your location and on the time of year when you sign up. Jenny Craig offers occasional discounts on plans.

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