Whether you’ve been on a diet or not, chances are you’ve heard about Jenny Craig. We were eager to start, so we dove into the ingredients and possible side effects of the diet. Customer complaints on cost had us jumping into the scientific research, grasping at anything we could to determine whether this diet was worth the super high price tag. Finally, we condensed everything down to bring you the truth about the Jenny Craig Diet.
What is the Jenny Craig Diet?
First, the Jenny Craig Diet is a three-level diet program that first started in Australia in 1983 and later launched operations in America in 1985. The three levels are ultimately aimed at delivering weight loss by teaching the dieter to eat what they like – but in smaller portions.
Part of the plan teaches the client how to boost their energy levels given their reduced amounts of food consumption, through simple and manageable physical activities.
The final part focuses on the mental health of the customer, showing them how to build and improve on their balance both mental and emotional to lose weight – and keep it off.
Our first indication that this may be a rough review were the slew of customer comments on price. A little research into cost and we were flat-out shocked.
Jenny Craig – Food, Body and Mind
The Jenny Craig Diet claims to help clients achieve their desired weight goal by using the three elements of food, body and mind.
The program specifically mentions that no food is a taboo, however they claim to help dieters become mindful of the number of calories that are in the foods they eat. This way a person can dictate the amount of food they will consume in a sitting depending on the weight they want to lose or maintain.
The program also claims to show dieters how to cook healthy and nutritious foods that won’t trigger weight gain.
The element of the body is as important as dieting is. According to the program, a person must be physically active for the digestion of food to happen effectively. To produce the maximum energy required by the body to function adequately, you need to stay active.
The program provides work out strategies that they say are client-friendly, simple and not too time-consuming.
The third element they focus on is the mind. An official of the program, Mr. Waltman says “Being positive and surrounding yourself with people that help is important.”
It has been scientifically proven that people animals and plants that live in a positive, encouraging and supportive environment tend to thrive more, but no research backing this plan specifically.
The Jenny Craig program claims to provide their clients with a support system and a set of affirmations that the clients can recite daily. Customers are also promised a weight-loss counselor on standby and a forum where the they can encourage each other. 
To us, this all sounds fine – except for one thing. We still need to determine whether this diet works, because all this talk of high costs and lack of scientific evidence has us a bit worried at the moment.
How Did the Jenny Craig Program Start?
After its conception in Australia and USA the program slowly grew in popularity. Jenny Craig, who is the founder of the company together with her husband, later sold this diet plan to Nestle in 2006. 
Jenny Craig Menu
The Jenny Craig diet consists of prepackaged foods that already have the calories counted for you. Generally, these foods are frozen and are meant for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert.
Their nutritional content is 50-60% carbohydrate, 20-25% protein and the same amount as latter for fats. The program advises the clients that indulge this diet plan to supplement each meal with fresh fruit, non-dairy products and vegetables for maximum satisfaction.
Jenny Craig meal plans do not dismiss or promote any specific foods. The numerous prepackaged foods do not have a limitation to what is considered healthy or not.
However according to WebMD, the program leans more toward low fat, low calorie foods that have high water, fiber and protein content. But in the case of vegetables and fruits such as broccoli, oranges and tomatoes, one can have as many as they want. Alcoholic beverages are also allowed occasionally. 
Jenny Craig from Home
After a while, when the client has shown growth and ability to stand on their own without the support, the program also teaches them how to do Jenny Craig meal planning at home. How does one do this?
Buy a Scale
First, you need to buy yourself a weighing scale. An electronic one is preferable because it shows your weight to the last point which makes it more accurate and easier to track your weight loss. Once you have your weight recorded, you can then calculate the number of calories you should be eating each day to lose weight. Using an online BMI calculator is also advised.
Get yourself linked to a weight loss friend, a dietitian or counselor. Someone who will be there for you whenever you needed them. As mentioned earlier, having someone who believes in you and relates to your struggles is very important in making any positive progress.
You should be able to have a set amount of time, say 20 minutes each day, where you meet and talk with your weight loss partner about your progress. By doing this, not only will you have an accountability partner who will always keep you in track and help you if you slipped, you will also have the motivation to do better because no one likes being a disappointment.
Stock up on Low-Calorie Food
The next and maybe most important thing is to stock up on the low-calorie foods. Throw away all the high calorie and high fat foods in your house and anything over-processed.
Remember the program does not ban any type of food, but chemical and synthetic products are not qualified as food. Instead buy and keep in large quantities whole foods, low dairy foods, fruits and vegetables of your liking, proteins such as lentils and black beans, nuts, chicken preferably skinless, canned fish and water.
You should then try as much as possible to cook these foods in very little oil. Deep frying should be in very limited occasions if any.
Divide Your Meals
The next step then is to take the calorie chart that you made when you recorded your weight and divide it into 6 meals that you will be taking throughout the day.
For example, if the calories that you are required to take to lose weight are 1200 a day, then you are supposed to make 6 meals, each carrying 200 calories and eat them.
A day has twenty-four hours, but 6-8 are for sleeping so you will be working with roughly 18 hours. This means that the 6 meals should have a three-hour spacing. You can choose to have all the meals with the uniform number of calories or, make some meals like breakfast heavier than day time snacks.
It’s important to make it a strict ritual to do physical exercise every day. You can start with as little as 20 minutes and work your way up gradually. The trick is to be consistent and disciplined. At this point it is advisable to have a food journal where you can be recording what you had for every meal and whether you stuck to the calories.
You can also record the length of time you exercised and what specific workouts you did. This is important to keep yourself on track and to also monitor your progress.
Eliminate the Urge
Maybe it’s time to buy some measuring cups to make meal preparation easier. You should also toss anything that might trigger you to snack or eat more than you should.
Make sure to keep in constant communication with your health partner and dietician being absolutely open with them. It is better to admit that you failed or slipped than to act like everything is fine while in real facts you are failing. Using these steps, apparently, will give you your very own Jenny Craig at home. 
To us, it seems you can save your money and do all of this without Jenny Craig taking your money – but we’re crazy.
Does the Jenny Craig Method Work?
Here’s where we start to really peel back the layers. Does this diet program work? At the high cost of the diet plan, will we actually lose weight?
According to WebMD many people can attest to the fact that the plan worked for them. The plan also works great for vegetarians and those that do not consume gluten since there are a variety of options.
However, the diet is not good for vegans because almost all the prepackaged foods have some levels of dairy in them.
According to a review of previous studies, it was seen that obese adults that were put on the Jenny Craig diet plan showed a 4.9% more weight loss than those that were enrolled in a normal controlled weight loss plan without the inclusion of support or intervention. 
One thing is for sure, everybody is different and literally every “body” reacts differently to individual diets and exercise regimens. Everyone burns calories differently, and for some, counting calories can be a bad thing. 
Jenny Craig Benefits
According to the company, the Jenny Craig Diet Plan provides:
- Weight loss
- Weight management
- Support system
Jenny Craig’s clients are promised a steady and balanced diet that is scientifically proven and is approved by nutritionists and dietitians. Customers are given prepackaged foods with the calories already counted and certified as okay.
Another supposed benefit is that no one has to go through the “journey of weight loss and control alone.” Jenny Craig diet claims to provide a great support system – and we’ve seen promises like this before.
It’s no surprise that eating foods like fruits and vegetables help boost a person’s immune system, remove toxins from their bodies and provide maximum energy – but will this diet deliver on these promises?
There is no scientific research linking this diet to weight loss and management. National Institutes of Health conducted a study on mice that were given a low-calorie diet.
“The diet was designed to mimic some of the beneficial effects of fasting, including improving markers of longevity and metabolism. Middle-aged mice (16 months old) were fed the diet for 4 consecutive days, followed by 10 days of unlimited access to food. The mice overate during these phases so that their overall calorie intake was similar to mice continuously fed a regular diet.” 
Meal Plans Don’t Work
Now, we’re not saying meal plans don’t work – we’re just highlighting some information we found surrounding the idea.
- Meal plans are meant to be temporary, but some dieters find themselves following the strict diet far longer than they should.
- Most people don’t even stick to the meal plan, and end up gaining back any weight they may have lost.
- Some studies even show subjects binge eating because of a low-calorie diet – we talk more about that later on.
Jenny Craig Cost
Here’s where we get a bit bummed out. The mega-downside is that this diet is super expensive. Jenny Craig prices are as follows:
- $14.99 and an extra 25 dollars for enrollment fee which does not include access to a health consultant.
- $19.99 is charged monthly with a $99.00 fee for enrollment for access to a maximum of three health consultants.
- For weekly consultation and no enrollment fee, $39.99 is charged monthly.
These prices do not include the cost of buying the foods. The Jenny Craig food prices of food are between $15 and $25 per day according to the company and shipping charges are also separate.
So basically, a person could end up spending close to $150.00 per week, which is not exactly something everyone can do. 
Jenny Craig Delivery
The Jenny Craig online website allows for people to order, choose and buy foods without having to physically go to the local Jenny Craig centers. The online system requires your information, so they can recommend the best foods for you.
When ordering online, the first order is usually chosen by the company as a way of giving you an idea of what would best work for you and from then on you choose the plans yourself.
Orders are made in batches of two weeks, but there is a three-day sample trial. This sample meal includes nine meals, three snacks and three salad dressings.
After giving all your information, the Jenny Craig Food Delivery team ships the food out to you. You can choose from picking up your food from the local center or have them directly delivered to you – which will cost you extra. 
Jenny Craig Side Effects
Sure, this is only a meal plan and diet and you don’t expect to see a list of side effects, but you would be surprised. Not all experts agree with low-calorie diets, pointing out the possible side effects – which are a bit shocking.
According to WebMD, possible side effects of a low-calorie diet include: 
They go on to mention that rapid weight loss can lead to gallstones.
Jenny Craig vs Nutrisystem and Weight Watchers
There is no shortage of weight-loss programs on the market.
Let’s look at each and compare them to the Jenny Craig Diet Plan.
All three systems include prepackaged meals in their diet plan. This can be attributed to the fact that with prepackaged foods, calorie control is a guarantee. However, for the Weight Watchers, the users can choose not to take these foods from the very beginning and just opt for a meal preparation guide – which the others don’t offer.
In terms of prices, Weight Watchers is the cheapest, followed by Nutrisystem. Jenny Craig was dead last in this category – the most expensive of the three.
When it comes to the support system, a study by the Colorado State University has shown that Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig offer constant weekly group or individual counselling and meetings that are physical and interactive as opposed to Nutrisystem whose support system is only online and among dieters. 
The other difference among these three systems is that Nutrisystem does not offer any background check or change for its clients. A background check in terms of their previous eating regimen, their exercise habits, etc.
Both Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig help in knowing the past of its clients to determine their problems and assist in changing their ways of thinking and doing things when it comes to their nutrition and health. 
What we gather from these comparisons, is that the only thing separating Jenny Craig from the competition is the outrageous price tag.
The Bottom Line – Does Jenny Craig Work?
Counting calories, eating healthy and exercising are sure to help you lose some weight, but at what cost? Is this diet plan going to catapult you to weight-loss glory? It might work for some, but there are just too many negatives for us to back this diet.
Jenny Craig Cons:
- Way too expensive
- No scientific research on the diet
- Low-calorie diets aren’t always effective
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