Jenny Craig Diet Review

What’s it Really All About? 8 Questions Answered.


Overview: Where did the Jenny Craig diet come from and what is it exactly?

The Jenny Craig Program was developed in 1983 by Jenny Craig, with the goal of helping people lose weight through lifestyle changes that have been scientifically proven to reduce weight and improve overall health. Her diet and exercise plan was developed with the guidance of registered dietitians and her Science Advisory Board in order to ensure that it reflected the latest research.

According to Jenny Craig, a successful weight loss program is personalized and combines knowledge with motivation. Her program uses a Food-Body-Mind approach and provides the support needed to help clients create a healthy relationship with food, develop an active lifestyle, and cultivate balance within their lives. It includes a food delivery service, a personalized exercise program, one-on-one nutritional counseling, and online resources including tools to plan, track, and monitor progress, chat rooms, and message boards.

The Jenny Craig Program is broken up into four phases. The first phase is the most restrictive; from there, you are gradually given more autonomy over what you eat and when you eat. This slow gradual process allows you to learn the skills you need in order to lose weight and keep it off.

In the first and second phase, you consume exclusively Jenny Craig’s pre-packaged meals. This usually includes your selection of 3 main meals plus snacks (calories range from 1,200 – 2,300, depending on your height, weight, gender and a few other individual factors). During the first phase you are restricted to eating within a 12 hour time frame, from 8am to 8pm. This allows you to take advantage of your circadian rhythm and eat during the time when your metabolism is naturally the fastest. During the second phase you are not eating within a time restricted window and the Jenny Craig menu is expanded, providing you with more food options from within the Jenny Craig product line. These first two phases are designed to reacquaint members with healthy foods and appropriate portion sizes.

During the third phase of the diet—at which point you’re nearing your goal weight—your nutritional consultant will help you transition to cooking at home and eating out, providing sustainable strategies to help you stick to healthy eating habits in the long-term. You’ve reached the final stage when you’ve achieved your goal weight, and this “maintenance” phase lasts for life.


Tell me more: Program Details

Exercise: The Jenny Craig “Move More” component was developed around the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Members work with a personal consultant who will provide the strategies and tools needed to develop an exercise program that meets members where they are at. It is a stage-based approach with 4 stages: Contemplation, Preparation, Action, and Maintenance. Members work towards building up to at least 30 minutes of physical activity 5 or more days per week, with the ultimate goal of reaching 60 minutes of physical activity each day for weight maintenance.
Supplements: Jenny Craig does not recommend any specific supplements, however if you are already taking supplements that you like, you may continue to do so while on the Jenny Craig Diet.
Counseling/Support: Jenny Craig provides lots of counseling and support. All members are guaranteed at least one personal counseling session a week. Consultants are not necessarily credentialed health professionals, but they are trained in the Jenny Craig program, which means they have knowledge about nutrition, exercise and behavior modification with an emphasis on how to increase motivation, set goals, and problem solve. Additionally, many of the consultants were Jenny Craig members at one time themselves, so they are very familiar with the program, including its challenges and the best ways to achieve success.

Is there research supporting the Jenny Craig Diet?

Effect of a Free Prepared Meal and Incentivised Weight Loss Program on Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance in Obese and Overweight Women: This randomized controlled trial of 407 women reviewed the effectiveness of Jenny Craig by comparing the weight loss over 2 years of those on the Jenny Craig Diet as compared to a control group. The study found that Jenny Craig participants lost, on average, 10% of their body weight during the first year and were able to maintain a weight loss of 7.9% into the second year. In comparison, the control group only lost 2% of their body weight. The Jenny Craig participants also had a reduction in biochemical risk factors that could lead to diseases such as depression, diabetes, cancer, and stroke.


What’s a sample diet plan?

The following is a sample diet from stage 3. At this point you are nearing your goal weight and are starting to re-incorporate your own food back into your meals.

1 Jenny Craig Mini Blueberry Loaf
1 Serving of fruit
1 cup of nonfat milk
Jenny Craig Peanut Butter Chocolate snack bar
1 Jenny Craig Personalized Pizza
2 cups of salad
1 serving of balsamic dressing
1 serving of fruit
1 Jenny Craig Turkey Chili
½ cup of vegetables
1 Jenny Craig Red Velvet Cupcake

Praise, Critiques, and Cautions


Jenny Craig’s program makes dieting easy and convenient. In the first half, the guesswork of figuring out what to have for dinner is removed entirely. Jenny Craig also has the advantage of providing its members with a strong support crew in order to help you overcome weight loss challenges and reach your health goals. All members are provided with a personal consultant and member-exclusive blogs and forums.

From a nutrition standpoint, the Jenny Craig diet is nutritionally balanced—and you won’t have to say goodbye to any of your favorite foods. As a weight loss plan, studies have shown that Jenny Craig can be effective—in a review of Jenny Craig in comparison to other commercial weight loss plans, Jenny Craig participants lost the most weight over 12 months.


The food provided by Jenny Craig is highly processed. Their meals are calorie restricted and nutritionally balanced which allows you to lose weight safely, but by relying on pizza and peanut butter chocolate bars you aren’t learning a more healthful way to eat. Furthermore, as a general rule of thumb, it’s more healthful to consume whole foods as opposed to processed meals.

Jenny Craig can be costly. The initial trial period of 12 days is only $16 plus the cost of food (around $20 per day), but if you want to continue with Jenny Craig after this trial period the least expensive membership costs $19.00 per month (not including food) plus a $49 enrollment fee. Premium membership is a $299 one time payment plus the cost of food.

And lastly, during the first three stages, you are predominantly eating (if not exclusively eating) Jenny Craig meals, which can make it challenging to stick with if you regularly have family dinners or social obligations that revolve around food.


Summary: Why is this a top diet?

A careful review of Jenny Craig indicates that its convenience and effectiveness allows this diet to rank within the top ten diets for weight loss. Additionally, Jenny Craig provides its members with an incredible support system that helps you develop the tools you need to sustain a healthy lifestyle even after completing their program.


Using MealEnders to support you on the Jenny Craig Diet

As you are transitioning away from Jenny Craig’s meals, you may be tempted to fall back into old eating patterns. If you find yourself tempted to snack outside of your pre-established eating pattern or are craving a second helping of dinner, try taking a MealEnder instead. This will help you re-establish your own personal healthy habits when you not longer have the support of Jenny Craig.


How do I learn more about the Jenny Craig Diet?

Visit the Jenny Craig Website or give them a call at 866.706.4042. Their representatives are incredibly helpful when it comes to answering any question you might have.

*Individual Results May Vary