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Jenny Craig Diet Guide: Pros, Cons + What You Can Eat

Scrutinizing Tailored Weight Management Plans

Jenny Craig is a popular weight loss meal delivery program that offers prepackaged, low-calorie meals and snacks to take the planning, cooking, and portion control out of the challenges of losing weight.

The Jenny Craig diet plan involves eating six times per day—a combination of low-calorie meals and sweet weight-loss desserts or salty snacks—each of which provides just a couple hundred calories. 

In this diet guide, we discuss how the Jenny Craig diet program works, the types of foods you can eat, and the benefits and drawbacks of the Jenny Craig weight loss diet program so you can decide if it’s right for you and your weight loss goals.

Let’s jump in!

A person opening a box of prepackaged foods.

What is the Jenny Craig Diet Plan?

Jenny Craig is a popular commercial weight-loss program that relies on caloric restriction through managing portion sizes, calories, and fat by offering carefully formulated prepared meals and snacks and specified meal plans for weight loss. 

There are different options for the Jenny Craig diet program for weight loss in terms of how you select your prepackaged meals and snacks or if they are chosen for you. 

In addition to the Jenny Craig meals and snacks, clients who enroll in the program for weight loss have access to support with either video or phone one-on-one coaching with a consultant from the Jenny Craig Center.

A person on a zoom call.

What does the Jenny Craig diet consist of?

The Jenny Craig diet provides a prepackaged, prepared meal delivery service. 

There is an a la carte version, where you can choose all of your own meals or snacks, or there is a 14-day Jenny Craig trial plan with pre-determined meals and snacks.

You order your Jenny Craig diet foods ahead of time, and they arrive frozen in a box with dry ice. 

Unlike meal kit delivery programs where you get ingredients and a recipe to follow, the Jenny Craig entrees and snacks are either frozen and fully cooked or shelf-stable and already prepared in the box as is.

Then, you simply reheat the Jenny Craig meals, making them convenient and time-saving for dieters looking to lose weight who do not have the time, energy, or interest in cooking healthy meals.

On the Jenny Craig diet meal plan, you eat six times daily, including three meals, two snacks, and one dessert.

Packaged food.

The premise of the Jenny Craig diet for weight loss is that eating frequently throughout the day will help balance blood sugar and manage hunger levels to prevent overeating while still generating a caloric deficit for weight loss. 

Because all the foods are pre-portioned, you do not need to count calories, measure portion sizes, or weigh your food, which can help save time and effort for dieters.

Depending on the foods you choose and your caloric needs, the Jenny Craig diet program provides 1200 to 2300 calories per day.

Plus, because the Jenny Craig foods include diet-friendly desserts, sweets, and snacks, dieters will hopefully not feel deprived of some of their favorite foods while trying to lose weight. 

That said, all of the Jenny Craig foods are low-calorie recipes, so a Jenny Craig Chocolate Cheesecake won’t necessarily taste like a gooey, decadent chocolate cheesecake at a patisserie.

However, many dieters who follow this program for weight loss enjoy the ability to feel like there are more “indulgent” treats than there are on most weight loss programs.

The convenience of having ready-made weight-loss meals, recharge bars, and prepared weight-loss breakfast foods removes the need to shop, prepare, or cook food.

This convenience can potentially make sticking with this simple meal plan easier for busy people.

A person presenting a plate of fruits and vegetables.

What Can You Eat On the Jenny Craig Diet Plan?

The majority of the food that you eat on the Jenny Craig diet meal plan is the prepackaged Jenny Craig meals and snacks.

There are breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts, protein bars, weight loss shakes, and even soups and salad dressings to choose from.

The Jenny Craig diet menu of products includes over 100 different food options, hopefully enabling most dieters to find at least a few Jenny Craig meals they enjoy for each of the six meals per day.

In addition to the Jenny Craig diet foods you purchase online, you can supplement the menu with fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables.

However, the fruits and vegetables are the only food outside of the prepackaged foods that you can eat while on the Jenny Craig diet weight loss plan. 

The Jenny Craig weight loss program is intended to help control your caloric intake and reduce potential poor food decisions by providing everything you can eat in the appropriate portions.

A quesadilla.

The frozen or fresh fruits and vegetables that you can supplement your Jenny Craig plan with are intended to help increase the volume of your meal to promote satiety without significantly increasing the number of calories.

The Jenny Craig dinners, lunches, and breakfasts are all very small in terms of the portion size that you get in the prepackaged frozen meal.

By filling out the meal with steamed non-starchy vegetables or a big bowl of baby spinach, you can have a larger meal that is actually more nutrient-dense yet lower in calories per gram.

This is the concept of volumetrics as seen in the volumetrics diet.

Almost all of the Jenny Craig diet meals are frozen and you need to reheat them before serving.

This removes the need to shop, prepare, and cook meals for weight loss, but it does mean that you will need to have adequate freezer space for your Jenny Craig diet shipments and some way to reheat the foods.

Some Jenny Craig reviews also note that certain foods don’t reheat as well as others, particularly if there is some type of bread product along with wetter ingredients, such as a low-carb pita pocket sandwich with some type of lean protein and vegetables.

Packaged foods.

Is Jenny Craig Good for Weight Loss and Health?

Overall, the Jenny Craig diet meal plan is fairly well-balanced, and even though the foods are prepackaged, the meals are generally high in protein and fiber.

Registered dietitians and nutritionists reportedly designed the Jenny Craig diet recipes to meet certain dietary needs to be “nutritionally balanced,” providing healthy fats, proteins, fiber, and complex carbohydrates, but there aren’t many allergy-friendly options such as a gluten-free plan.

Depending on the Jenny Craig meals and snacks you choose, the Jenny Craig diet provides about 1200-2300 calories per day, which is a significant caloric deficit for most adults.1United States Department of Agriculture. (2020). Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020 -2025 . https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf

Packaged foods.

How Much Can You Lose on Jenny Craig?

‌The Jenny Craig website claims you can lose up to 24 pounds in your first eight weeks on the program. This would be an average weight loss per week of 3 pounds.

Note that this initial weight loss is not a safe rate of weight loss, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which suggests that safe and sustainable fat loss should not exceed 1-2 pounds per week.2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, September 19). Losing Weight . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Your own Jenny Craig weight loss results will depend on your current weight, the foods you choose, how well you follow the Jenny Craig diet plan (not adding outside foods), how long you do the Jenny Craig program, and your physical activity level. 

That said, studies suggest people often do lose weight in the first 12 months of Jenny Craig dieting, with comparative studies of Jenny Craig vs Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig vs Weight Watchers demonstrating that Jenny Craig weight loss results outperform these other two popular diets.3Gudzune, K. A., Doshi, R. S., Mehta, A. K., Chaudhry, Z. W., Jacobs, D. K., Vakil, R. M., Lee, C. J., Bleich, S. N., & Clark, J. M. (2015). Efficacy of Commercial Weight-Loss Programs. Annals of Internal Medicine162(7), 501. https://doi.org/10.7326/m14-2238

‌Although the Jenny Craig meals are designed by nutritionists and dietitians to be in line with nutritional guidelines outlined in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans,4USDA. (2020). Dietary guidelines for Americans 2020 -2025. In Dietary Guidelines for Americans. USDA. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2021-03/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans-2020-2025.pdf the food is still processed and packaged, so it is not as healthy as whole foods. 5Certain Foods Linked to Long-Term Weight Gain. (2015, May 22). National Institutes of Health (NIH). https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/certain-foods-linked-long-term-weight-gain

A cinnamon roll.

‌For example, the Cinnamon Rolls contain 14 grams of added sugar, and several problematic ingredients including refined flour, margarine, and partially hydrogenated oils.

Some of the meals are also quite high in sodium, which can be problematic for dieters with hypertension or who are at risk of high blood pressure.

Jenny Craig portions are also quite small and might not provide enough calories for sustainable, safe weight loss.

How Much Does the Jenny Craig Diet Cost Per Week?

The recommended 14-day plan currently costs $309.99, or $155 per week, but there are other options to consider, such as the a la carte option.

If you are trying to lose weight or reduce your risk of diseases, consider working with a registered dietitian or nutritionist, as well as your healthcare provider, for one-on-one support to find the best healthy eating and exercise program for your needs.

A nutrtionist pointing out a meal plan.

References

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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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