Jenny Craig was founded in 1983 by Jenny Craig and her late husband, Sid Craig. After having her first child, Jenny Craig wanted to shed the baby weight. She eventually shed the body weight herself through a combination of diet and exercise. However, she realized that there were not many options for weight loss that included supportive human touch in the form of one on one personal support from a dedicated weight loss consultant. This led her to open her first Jenny Craig Weight Loss Center with the help of her late husband.
Jenny Craig now has more than 600 Weight Loss Centers globally and about 2, 500 Jenny Craig consultants worldwide. In addition, Jenny Craig dominates 13% of the commercial weight loss market share in the United States.
Jenny Craig is a popular diet, having the support of celebrities such as Jessica Simpson, Kirstie Alley and Valerie Bertinelli. Since its inception, it has offered a comprehensive approach to weight loss that consists of having a healthy relationship with food, an active lifestyle and developing a balanced approach to living.
Specifically, the diet provides nutritionally-balanced pre-packaged meals that are designed to take away the guess work over what to eat, and the hassle of purchasing and preparing well-balanced meals. This, along with the one-on-one personal support from dedicated weight loss consultants makes it suitable for those seeking convenience, structure and support.
Jenny Craig is available online and in-person at one of their 600 global centers. If a member is not within easy reach of a physical Jenny Craig center or if going to a physical location does not suit a member’s lifestyle, the same one-on-one support can be attained through Jenny Craig Anywhere. Jenny Craig Anywhere offers members one-on-one support with a dedicated Jenny Craig weight loss consultant over the phone or via video chat. Below you’ll find the available options:
Online/Phone + Delivery:
With this option, you can talk to a dedicated Jenny Craig weight loss consultant anywhere you are and have Jenny Craig meals delivered to your door. This option includes weekly personal coaching with a Jenny Craig consultant, unlimited access to “Text A Coach”, a dedicated concierge team to help you with your meal orders, and access to digital tools to help you with your weight loss. These online tools help you monitor your weight, calories and physical activity.
Local Center + Pickup:
With this option, you will meet with a Jenny Craig consultant at your local Jenny Craig center and pick up your food at this center. This option includes weekly personal coaching sessions with a Jenny Craig consultant, weekly measurements to keep you on track, premium menu selection for instant pickup, unlimited access to “Text A Coach”, and access to digital tools to help you with your weight loss.
The program is a behaviour change plan based primarily on healthy eating and exercise. Initially, there is a reliance on Jenny Craig’s prepackaged meals. There are over 100 entrees, desserts and snacks to choose from. These meals have been developed by registered dietitians, nutritionists and food technologists.
Another distinguishing feature of Jenny Craig is the personalized support of regularly meeting with a dedicated Jenny Craig weight loss consultant. Below are the features of the Jenny Craig weight loss system:
Perfectly balanced menu plans: Jenny Craig menu plans are designed by dietitians and made to meet the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Also, even though the meals are prepackaged meals, they are designed to be lower in fat and sodium than a lot of prepackaged foods.
Fresh and Free Additions: A key part of Jenny Craig is their Fresh & Free Additions. You add your own fresh fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy for more variety and nutritional adequacy. Based on the menu plans plus fresh and free additions, you can expect to have 3+ servings of vegetables a day, 2-3 servings of fruit a day, 2-3 serving of dairy a day, 6-7 ounces of protein a day, and half of your grains as whole grains.
Caloric deficit: As with all diet plans, the program aims for a caloric deficit. The Jenny Craig diet aims for a daily deficit of 500 to 700 calories.
Physical activity is recommended: Since its inception, Jenny Craig has incorporated physical activity as part of its comprehensive approach to weight loss. The program recommends 150 minutes of activity per week for weight loss and 200 to 250 minutes of activity per week for weight maintenance.
Regular meetings with a weight loss expert: Jenny Craig involves meeting regularly with a Jenny Craig weight loss expert. Research indicates that meeting regularly with a weight loss expert can turbocharge your weight loss; it can help you lose up to 3 times more weight than losing weight on your own.
How often you meet with a Jenny Craig weight loss expert depends on your goals. For weight loss, you meet once a week (in person or by telephone), while for weight maintenance, you meet once a month. Your Jenny Craig weight loss expert will help you set goals, understand the Jenny Craig menu and help you with strategies for success.
Eating small, frequent meals: On the Jenny Craig plan, you will eat every 2- 3 hours. This adds up to 6 times a day. You will have a prepackaged Jenny Craig breakfast, lunch, dinner and 2 snacks and incorporate your own fresh fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy with your entrees, plus one fresh snack of your own. Research suggests that eating smaller, balanced meals during the day encourages more weight loss and weight maintenance.
Rapid Results Program: For those looking to lose weight faster, Jenny Craig offers their new Rapid Results Program. The Rapid Results Program is based on research that shows that what you eat and when you eat help you lose weight. Research shows that your metabolism follows a curve; it ramps up in the morning, reaches a peak around noon, and begins to taper towards the evening. With the Rapid Result Program, your meal plan is aligned with this curve. You eat from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. in order to utilize your metabolism, thereby burning more calories.
Promotes a balanced mind: In addition to healthy eating and physical activity, Jenny Craig promotes mental balance. On their maintenance program, you learn how to manage stress. One of the techniques you will learn is how to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness helps you to eliminate and/or reduce your emotion and stress eating and the resultant weight regain. Mindfulness also helps you stay in the present moment, instead of ruminating on the past or worrying about the future.
The plan is quite simple to begin with as it is primarily based on nutritionally balanced prepackaged foods with the addition of fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy for variety and nutritionally adequacy. The program is quite flexible as long as you stick to your calorie allowance during the day.
Suits various health goals
Your eating and exercise plans evolve as you progress with your weight loss. The main idea is to start off with Jenny Craig prepackaged foods, and gradually transition to regular foods as you progress in your weight loss. Likewise, your frequency of exercise changes as you progress to weight maintenance.
Offers personalized support
Your dedicated weight loss consultant will plan out your meal plan and provide you strategies for keeping on track and facing food temptations.
Suits various dietary preferences
On the Jenny Craig diet, you can order pasta, burger, pizza, tacos, burritos, chocolate and much more from their over 100 meal options. In addition, meatless/vegetarian options are available.
Suits various dietary needs
Nutritional needs for females differ from those of males. As a result, Jenny Craig offers meal plans tailored specifically for female and male clients.
In addition, Jenny Craig’s meal plans are designed to be low fat and low sodium in content. As a result if you have health conditions that require low fat or low sodium meals, Jenny Craig is a good option.
Additionally, Jenny Craig has a diabetic weight loss plan tailored specifically for clients with Type 2 diabetes.
Can be used in adolescents
Jenny Craig is designed for use in those ages 13 and up. Adolescents are free to follow the Jenny Craig Classic menu as long as they have no health conditions other than asthma or seasonal allergies. A parent’s permission is required.
Incorporates fitness into your life
Jenny Craig incorporates fitness as part of its weight loss plan. Physical activity goals are made according to member’s preferences, abilities, and stage of readiness. However, the goal is to incorporate at least 30 minutes or more of physical activity at least 5 days per week. This goal aligns with national recommendations for physical activity.
For the trial program which runs for 12 weeks, you pay $16.00. This provides you access to a dedicated personal consultant and access to their Jenny Craig menus. This plan is recommended if you have 16 pounds or less to lose. If you have more than 16 pounds to lose, the Premium program is recommended. This includes a 12-month membership with a minimal enrollment fee and monthly cost. The enrollment fee is $49.00 and the monthly cost is $19.00. In addition to these fees, is the cost of prepackaged Jenny Craig food. The cost of food depends on your location. For the U.S., this works out to about $20 a day for breakfast, lunch, dinner and 2 snacks. For Canada, this works out to about $21-$27 per day.
Jenny Craig suggests that members can lose on average of 1-2 pounds per week with their regular program. If members are on the Rapid Results Program, they can expect to lose about 12 pounds in the first 4 weeks. However, research has not been conducted on how much weight members on the Rapid Results Program lose thereafter.
However, the goal of Jenny Craig is to help members not only lose weight, but acquire healthy habits that will facilitate their weight maintenance. Once members have achieved their weight loss goals, Jenny Craig’s Maintenance program teaches proper portion sizes, stress management, daily physical activity, and changing your thinking/relationship with food and physical activity.
There are numerous success stories attesting to the fact that Jenny Craig works. But what do studies say?
A 2015 systematic review published in the Annals of Internal Medicine looked at 39 randomized controlled trials that consisted of a number of commercial weight loss programs. The programs examined included Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Medifast, Optifast, Atkins, Slimfast, eDiets, and Biggest Loser Club. Compared to the control group, the researchers found consistent evidence regarding the efficacy of Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers on long-term weight loss.
Specifically, participants on Jenny Craig had the most weight loss. They lost on average at least 4.9% more weight than the control group at 12 months. Participants on Weight Watchers came in second, losing at least 2.6% more weight than the control group at 12 months, Of note, the Atkins diet, was quite variable in its efficacy as participants achieved anywhere from 0.1% to 2.9% more weight than the control group at the 12 month mark.
How much weight can you expect to lose after one year on the plan? In randomized control studies evaluating the effectiveness of Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers, participants on Jenny Craig lost on average 7 to 11% of their initial weight, while participants on Weight Watchers lost on average 5 to 6% of their initial weight. Losing just 5 -10% of your initial weight can help reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even hypertension, or can help you better manage these health conditions.
Does Jenny Craig give you the best bang for your money? A 2014 systematic review published in the Obesity Journal compared two programs that emphasize lifestyle change with no meal replacements (Weight Watchers and Vtrim), one program that involves meal replacements (Jenny Craig), and three weight loss medications (Qsymia, Lorcaserin, and Orlistat). Of the programs compared, Weight Watchers was the most cost-effective as it came out to $155 spent per kilogram of weight lost. Qsymia came in second at $204, followed by Vtrim at $213, Jenny Craig at between $338 and $424, Lorcaserin at $545 and Orlistat at $546.
Can being on the Jenny Craig diet help you control or even prevent you from getting type 2 diabetes? A 2016 systematic review published in the Obesity Review Journal compared the effect of 32 commercial weight loss programs on glucose control in those who had type 2 diabetes or who were at increased risk of getting type 2 diabetes. These programs included Jenny Craig, NutriSystem, Optifast, SlimFast and Atkins. Of the programs compared, Jenny Craig was the most effective at reducing A1c (a measure of long term glucose control). Jenny Craig participants reduced their A1C by at least 0.4% more than the control group, while both Nutrisystem and Optifast participants reduced their A1C 0.3% more than the control group.
What’s more, in a trial of 227 men and women with type 2 diabetes, Jenny Craig participants reduced their A1C 0.9% more than those receiving standard diabetes care and 72% of the Jenny Craig participants reduced or even eliminated their use of insulin.
Is the Jenny Craig diet as nutritionally adequate as it purports to be? According to research, it may be deficient in at least one key micronutrient. A 2014 study published in the Endocrinology Practice Journal comparing 3 commercial weight loss programs (Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem and Optifast) found that all 3 weight loss programs contained significantly less iodine than the recommended iodine intake of 150 micrograms per day for adults. Jenny Craig contained 34.2 micrograms of iodine, while Nutrisytem and Medifast contained 12.2 and 70.1 micrograms of iodine respectively. Why is iodine important? Having a low intake of iodine can put you at risk for developing hypothyroidism (which leads to a sluggish metabolism) and goitre.