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Jenny Craig is an award-winning diet and weight loss program that the company says has helped millions of people lose weight. Founded nearly 40 years ago, this structured diet blends prepared meals with personal coaching to give Jenny Craig members everything they need to be successful on their weight loss journeys. As one of the most popular commercial weight loss programs in the world, Jenny Craig is often touted as one of the most effective and best diets, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for everybody—and, like any other diet, it has its pros and cons.
Our honest Jenny Craig review will help you learn exactly how this diet works, its features and who it’s ultimately best for. We’ll also share how it stacks up against competing leading diet programs, weight loss apps and everything else you should know before buying a subscription package.
This content is meant to be informative, but should not be taken as medical advice. It is not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention or treatment of health problems. Always speak with your doctor before starting any new nutrition or exercise regimen.
What is Jenny Craig?
Jenny Craig is a popular subscription-only weight loss program founded in Australia in 1983. The Jenny Craig program combines structured diet, meal plans and one-on-one support to help Jenny Craig members lose one to two pounds a week, which the CDC recommends as the safest timeline to lose weight. The U.S. News award-winning Jenny Craig diet was developed by registered dietitians and nutritionists and includes reduced-calorie, portion-controlled meals that provide just around 1,200-1,500 calories per day. This puts most men and women into a calorie deficit, or eating fewer calories than they burn (which is how weight loss occurs). Eating smaller portions has also been proven to help promote weight loss, and is therefore a guiding principle of the Jenny Craig diet. Jenny Craig members can select one of three subscription tiers that include breakfast, lunch, entrees, snacks and/or desserts, depending on their plan.
- Pre-portioned meals and snacks
- Nearly 100 menu items to choose from
- One-on-one personal coaching
- 100 percent money-back guarantee for first order
How Does Jenny Craig Work?
Jenny Craig has a fairly straightforward signup process. In addition to reading our review, we recommend visiting jennycraig.com to check out plans and any ongoing promotions, which change from time to time and can help save you money. When signing up for Jenny Craig, you’ll pick one of three subscription levels that each net you different features; the higher of a level you choose, the more you’ll get for your diet program. These include the Simple Meal Plan, Essential Meal Plan and Max Up Weight Loss Meal Plan. You’ll also be expected to complete weigh-ins. The program suggests daily weigh-ins on your own (which a smart scale can make easier) and weekly weigh-ins in-person at one of some 600 Jenny Craig centers or online.
Once you select your plan, you’ll soon receive your prepackaged foods and can then begin the first week of your diet. The Jenny Craig diet focuses on eating smaller meals roughly six times a day, which include breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus snacks, desserts and/or recharge energy bars. In addition to your Jenny Craig meals and snacks, the program also encourages eating fresh veggies, fresh fruits and low-fat dairy products. Depending on the plan you choose, you still might need to cook some meals on your own. The Jenny Craig weight loss program also recommends intermittent fasting for a 14-hour window followed by a 10-hour eating window.
Here are more details on the Jenny Craig meal plans and what you can expect to pay overall.
All-in-all, Jenny Craig can be expensive. A basic plan will cost you about $10 per day at a minimum, and you can expect to pay anywhere from $420 to $856 per month for the Jenny Craig diet, which doesn’t include shipping fees. There’s also a $99 annual enrollment fee that some plans waive for a set amount of weeks. A few multi-week plans also waive shipping fees. For the lowest-tier plan, you can add additional meals or snacks for an extra fee as well.
- Simple Meal Plan: $13.99 per day, which includes seven breakfasts and seven lunches per week
- Essential Meal Plan: $21.99 per day, which includes seven breakfasts, seven lunches and seven dinners per week, plus free delivery
- Max Up Weight Loss Meal Plan: $28.54 per day, which includes seven breakfasts, seven lunches, seven dinners, seven snacks and desserts, and seven Recharge bars per week, plus a $0 membership for 12 weeks, personal coaching, activity plans and free delivery
Shipping costs will vary greatly depending on where you live in the United States or Canada, the amount of food you’re buying and whether or not your membership plan waives shipping fees. For example, U.S. food purchases up to $546 come with a $29 shipping fee, while U.S. food purchases greater than $546 come with a $58 shipping fee. Overall, shipping fees range from free to $173 per delivery, so be sure to factor in shipping costs in your Jenny Craig diet budget.
The Pros of Jenny Craig
- Structured diet takes stress out of meal planning
- Large variety of food items to choose from
- Three membership plans with different features
- Customers say Jenny Craig food tastes good
- Studies show Jenny Craig diet is more effective than some others
- No long-term contract or obligation (cancel anytime)
The Cons of Jenny Craig
- Costs hundreds of dollars each month
- Personal coaching only offered to Max Up Weight Loss Plan subscribers
- Meals are processed and high in sodium, which can be bad for blood pressure
- Transitioning back to regular meals post-diet can be challenging
- Doesn’t accommodate specialty diets
- Contributes to cardboard and plastic waste
Sample Meals You Can Eat on Jenny Craig
Jenny Craig offers nearly 100 menu choices, so you’ll have a lot to choose from, but here’s a sample of what you can eat on the Jenny Craig diet. Your day might consist of eating a Recharge bar in the morning (which is Jenny Craig’s branded energy bar), a farmhouse breakfast bowl for breakfast that you can add protein or dairy to, a chicken burrito for lunch, carbs like fruit or a starch for a snack, a beef stir fry bowl with veggies for dinner and mint chocolate chip reduced fat ice cream for dessert. Jenny Craig doesn’t offer specialty diets like meatless or gluten-free, so if you have dietary restrictions, be sure to carefully look at food items before making a selection, or consider a different weight loss program like Noom with more flexible eating.
Can Jenny Craig Help You Lose Weight?
Yes, Jenny Craig can help you lose weight—and there’s science to prove it. One study found that a group of overweight, sedentary women who followed the Jenny Craig diet for 12 weeks lost about 11.7 pounds each. A second study on Jenny Craig discovered that the program was actually five percent more effective in helping people lose weight than WeightWatchers, Nutrisystem and SlimFast after one year of use. Still, losing weight will depend on how committed you are to the diet, your personal traits (like age and metabolism) and how active you are. Keep in mind that while you can find Jenny Craig substitutions in grocery stores, real Jenny Craig meals will have smaller portion sizes, which will better help you stay on track with your diet. To keep the weight off, it’s important to follow weight management strategies taught by the Jenny Craig program.
Jenny Craig vs Nutrisystem
Nutrisystem is another leading weight loss and diet program with a similar approach to Jenny Craig. Like Jenny Craig, you’ll select one of three subscription packages that each go up in value with the higher of a tier you choose. You’ll also get prepared foods and snacks delivered to your door. While customers say Jenny Craig foods are tastier than Nutrisystem foods, the Nutrisystem program has the edge in terms of specialty diets, offering vegetarian and even diabetes meal plans. It’s also much more budget-friendly. Nutrisystem costs anywhere from $300 to $407 per month and offers free shipping, so depending on your Jenny Craig plan, Nutrisystem could be up to half the monthly cost. For the average dieter, Nutrisystem will likely be much more cost-effective, but Jenny Craig still wins in terms of taste and menu choices.
Jenny Craig vs WeightWatchers
WeightWatchers is a main competitor of Jenny Craig, but operates on a different diet system. Rather than delivering prepackaged meals, WeightWatchers essentially lets you eat what you want as long as you stay within a set calorie budget. All foods are assigned points, so you’ll get a certain amount of points that you can use each day on meals, snacks and desserts. You can also buy branded WeightWatchers foods in grocery stores that already have points attached. While Jenny Craig is a much more structured diet, those who enjoy the freedom of eating what they want may be better suited for WeightWatchers. It also costs anywhere from $10 to $43 per month, which is a fraction of the price you’ll be paying for the Jenny Craig diet. If you’re looking for a serious diet regimen with a clear plan for your day-to-day eating, we recommend sticking with Jenny Craig, but WeightWatchers will be the more budget-friendly and flexible option.
Is Jenny Craig Right for You?
For some people, Jenny Craig is a great fit. For others, there are different weight loss programs to consider that may be better-suited for your needs. Jenny Craig can be an effective system for someone who wants to take the stress out of diet planning, and embark on a diet that’s already planned out for them-including what, when and how they eat. Jenny Craig works well for busy individuals who don’t have time or don’t like to cook, or have extensive weight loss goals. It can be hard to justify the high price tag of Jenny Craig for short-term weight loss goals, which can be better achieved through nutrition or calorie counting apps like Noom or MyFitnessPal.
However, if you have a smaller diet budget, or you just don’t like overly structured eating, you may want to lean towards a more budget-friendly weight loss program or one that allows less restrictive eating, like WeightWatchers. Jenny Craig also might not be right for you if you have specific dietary requirements or allergies, like needing to eat gluten-free or low-sodium. There’s little customization to be done with the Jenny Craig diet, except for picking out your foods, so choosing a diet program with more options may be better-suited for certain food intake needs. Then, there’s the issue of taste. While Jenny Craig customers write positively about taste, it’s important to check menu options and make sure the foods actually sound good to you. If you’re eating foods you just don’t like, you may become less motivated to stick to your diet and goals.
Here’s everything else there is to know about the Jenny Craig diet.
How much weight can I lose on Jenny Craig in 4 weeks?
If you stick to the diet as planned, you can lose upwards of eight pounds in four weeks, since Jenny Craig is designed to promote weight loss at a rate of one to two pounds per week. Still, everyone is different, so you could lose more or less weight depending on your metabolism, health, age and physical activity levels.
Is it easy to cancel Jenny Craig?
Canceling Jenny Craig is usually easy since you’re not locked into a contract or obligation. To cancel, you can go on the Jenny Craig website or call customer service. Keep in mind, however, that any meals already sent to you can’t be refunded, unless it’s your first time ordering and you’re not happy with your purchase (which is covered by Jenny Craig’s 14-day money-back guarantee). The only issue is that some members complain of problems reaching customer service, so you may experience long hold times if you call and try to cancel your subscription.
What do you eat on Jenny Craig?
Your Jenny Craig diet will consist of breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts and/or Recharge bars, depending on the plan you select. You can pick from nearly 100 menu choices so you’re not stuck eating the same foods every day. If some of your meals aren’t included in your Jenny Craig plan, you can cook on your own while following some simple guidelines provided with the diet plan. In addition to prepared foods, you can also eat fresh veggies, fruits and low-fat dairy.
Do Jenny Craig meals taste good?
When it comes to taste, the nice thing about Jenny Craig meals is that it offers healthier versions of what are often not-so-healthy foods, like chocolate lava cake, cheeseburgers, burritos and even cinnamon rolls. At the end of the day, dieting can be boring, so Jenny Craig aims to make eating more fun while remaining nutritious and within calorie budget. Customers tend to have positive things to say about Jenny Craig meals, calling them “tasty” (reviews of less-expensive competitors, like Nutrisystem, tend to say that prepared meals taste bland).
How long does it take to see results on Jenny Craig?
How long it takes to see results on Jenny Craig will depend on your weight loss goals, physical activity levels and overall wellness. While the diet program is designed to help members lose one to two pounds per week, you may lose less or more depending on your personal traits. Since this diet is slow and steady, those with more extensive weight loss goals can expect to see results over the course of several months, while those with smaller weight loss goals (such as 10-15 pounds) could see results in as little as two months if the diet is carefully followed.
Do you feel hungry on Jenny Craig?
In the beginning, you may feel hungry on Jenny Craig, especially if you’re used to eating larger meals or don’t follow an intermittent fasting schedule. Your activity level can also influence your hunger, and while it might seem counterintuitive, being physically active can actually assist in hunger control and appetite regulation. Still, Jenny Craig encourages eating fresh fruit and veggies, in addition to low-calorie and low-fat dairy, so you can incorporate your own snacks.
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