Jenny Craig vs Weight Watchers – Which Program Is Better?

(Last Updated On: December 9, 2018)

You might think that it’s easy to compare two diet programs and choose one of them but the process can be a bit daunting. Both Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers are well-known and comprehensive meal plans. In fact, they are more than that because they also offer workout ideas, tasty and healthy recipes, e-tools, and coaching. But are they as effective as their companies claim? Let’s find out in today’s comparative review.

A. Jenny Craig Program

Brief Overview

This is a popular three-level diet program. It was initially launched in Australia, in 1983. Two years later, its founders have brought it to the American market as well. All the program’s levels have the goal of teaching dieters the proper way to eat without giving up on the foods they like. Simply put, they are thought the concept of creating the correct portion size. Another part of this system is supposed to boost one’s energy level through easy physical activities.

Finally, Jenny Craig didn’t leave out the mental health of its clients which is a crucial element if you want to lose weight, maintain your health, and be happy. All things considered, this is, however, a pretty expensive diet program so not all people might be able to afford it.

Here are the three parts that Jenny Craig diet is made from:

  • Food – although no foods are taboo, you must become aware of your portion sizes and the number of calories you ingest. During the program, you will also learn how to prepare healthy and nutritious meals;
  • Body – besides eating properly, you must also stay physically active which helps digestion. This system offers some effective workout strategies that are quick, easy, and client-friendly;
  • Mind – you can eat healthy meals and exercise on a regular basis, but if you don’t have a good mood, you won’t achieve long-lasting results. Therefore, you should remain positive, think good about yourself, and surround yourself with supportive people.

The Menu

The menu consists of prepackaged foods. You will save a lot of time during this diet program because the meals are already portioned and the calories are counted. Most of these products are frozen and you will receive items that will cover all daily meals: from breakfast to dinner, including desserts. One rule that Jenny Craig follows is sticking to the following nutritional ratios: 20-25% of the diet provides proteins, 50-60% is made of carbohydrates, and 20-25% is assigned to healthy fat consumption.

According to the manufacturer, all meals should include non-dairy products, plenty of vegetables, and some fresh fruits. It is a flexible program that doesn’t promote or completely dismiss certain types of foods.

Here are some examples of what you will eat during the Jenny Craig diet (the meals listed above come as Jenny Craig branded prepackaged foods):

  • Blueberry pancakes;
  • Tuna salad;
  • Grapes;
  • Lasagna with meat sauce;
  • Egg white and turkey bacon sandwich;
  • Low-fat strawberry yogurt;
  • Chicken fajita;
  • Butternut squash ravioli; etc.

What to Eat

  • Vegetables;
  • Fruits;
  • Lean protein;
  • Non-dairy products;
  • Healthy fats;
  • Low-glycemic carbs;
  • All the meals included in the diet – dieters have the possibility to choose from more than 100 prepared foods: shakes, meals, snacks, bars, desserts, etc.

What to Avoid

Surprisingly or not, you can eat almost anything you want as long as you stick to low-calorie foods and small portions. Dieters can even drink alcohol but in moderation. Also, low-fat foods are also encouraged. On the other hand, you should be careful not to eat out as much as you used to because, at a restaurant, you don’t have complete control over the way your meal is cooked.

Pros and Cons

Advantages

  • It is a simple diet program that’s easy to follow – you will receive prepackaged and precooked meals and all you have to do is reheat these foods so it is not time-consuming at all;
  • You will learn nutrition-related concepts such as plate balance, portion sizes, and other things;
  • It is said to lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases while also balancing blood sugar levels;
  • The program offers social support to all its clients – you will receive guidance from the company’s health coaches, consultants, and other members.

Downsides

  • It is one of the most expensive diet programs out there. Following the Jenny Craig diet is anything but cheap. In fact, you will have to pay several hundred dollars when you first enroll as a member and then pay the monthly fees for the program plus the cost of the food you must purchase;
  • The meals are prepackaged and frozen which might not be something that all people like. For instance, the brand’s meals are not halal nor kosher and there’s no option available for vegan people;
  • Some say that the meals provided by the company are way too processed and contain potentially-harmful ingredients like additives and artificial sweeteners;
  • Dieters might need some additional support because Jenny Craig representatives are not actually healthcare professionals.

How Much Does the Jenny Craig Diet Cost?

Now, let’s get down to business. Here’s why I sometimes think that the Jenny Craig diet is not totally worth it. Considering some of the downsides mentioned above, this program is awfully pricey. The program’s costs are as follows:

  • Approximately $15 per month plus an enrollment fee of over $25 if you choose the basic program which doesn’t include the support of a health consultant;
  • Around $20 per month plus an enrollment fee of around $100 if you want to receive full access to three different health consultants;
  • If you also want to benefit from weekly consultations, you will have to take out of your pocket the sum of $40 which is charged on a monthly basis.

What’s even worse is that the prices listed above don’t include the costs of the other food items you must purchase which can range between $15 and $25 per day. Therefore, one could easily end up paying around $150 each week which is not something I would personally be willing to do, especially for a diet like Jenny Craig which includes processed meals with some shady ingredients.

Potential Side Effects

This is a calorie-restricted diet so it might lead to certain issues such as the ones listed below:

  • Fatigue;
  • Constipation;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Nausea.

Also, rapid weight loss might cause other serious issues like gallstones.

B. Weight Watchers Program

Brief Overview

Weight Watchers is another popular diet program that is trusted by many Americans. The company’s mission is to guide and inspire dieters in order for them to make healthier lifestyle choices. Even celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey have tried this system which is a very complex one. As a client, you will receive all the necessary things to lose weight and stay healthy.

The program was launched more than 50 years ago and it all started in Queens, New York. Weight Watchers is all about helping you adjust your eating habits and engage in physical activities that suit your overall lifestyle. Besides eating well and working out, you will also learn to change your mindset and you will gain access to numerous online tools to keep track of your weight-loss progress.

Weight Watchers has an impressive member base of over one million individuals. Active members benefit from regular meetings during which they receive support and useful advice. The program works on a point-based system. Each food item is given a SmartPoint value. For instance, if the meal you consume contains a lot of sugar and fat, it will receive a higher value. This way you will know what foods are good for you because the concept of SmartPoints encourages the consumption of nutritious food (with lower SmartPoint values).

The Menu

Unlike the Jenny Craig diet, Weight Watchers doesn’t require its members to consume prepackaged foods. In fact, they advise clients to prepare their own meals, at home. There are plenty of possibilities you can choose from to mix your desired ingredients and cook a delicious meal. Once you subscribe to this program, you will gain access to an app which acts as a guide and offers a list of more than 280,000 food items you are allowed to consume.

Furthermore, the program provides you with around 4,000 different recipe ideas as well as online coaching, nutritional and dietary tips, and regular support meetings.

What to Eat

  • Whole grains;
  • Vegetables;
  • Nuts and seeds;
  • Fruits;
  • Yogurt; etc.

What to Avoid

  • Potatoes and chips;
  • Sugary drinks;
  • High-processed foods; etc.

You are allowed to consume meat products but in moderation.

Pros and Cons

Advantages

  • You get an unlimited number of food choices. Also, you can eat almost anything you want, as long as you track your SmartPoints and stick to an overall healthy and well-balanced diet;
  • The program promotes whole foods such as veggies, fruits, and lean protein;
  • You will attend the company’s weekly meetings where you will receive a lot of support. Moreover, the system focuses on accountability;
  • You will learn how to make better nutrition-related choices and find out more about portion size;
  • Dieters become part of a huge community where it will be easy for them to find recipes, tools, tips, and other resources.

Downsides

  • It is a very expensive diet program that not many people can afford;
  • You must keep track of your SmartPoints which can be pretty difficult at first as well as time-consuming;
  • Some say that this program lacks a better structure because no one will tell you what exactly you should eat to lose weight.

How Much Does the Weight Watchers Diet Cost?

Like the Jenny Craig diet, Weight Watchers is also pretty expensive. There are three main plans you can select from:

  • The Online Plus plan – the program lasts for three months and the total cost of the entire period is approximately $65;
  • Online Plus with meetings included – for this plan, you will have to pay a bit over $8 per week which means that the total cost of the program will amount to almost $125;
  • Online Plus with coaching included – this is the premium option of the Weight Watchers diet that costs over $10 per week. A three-month period will sum up to more than $150.

All the prices mentioned above might vary depending on what you choose to eat, how many meals you include in a day, and how much coaching or support you want to receive. On the other hand, it is crucial to make sure if the company’s consultants and coaches are certified professionals because I couldn’t find this specific information anywhere on their online platform.

Also, another important aspect is that new members must also pay an enrollment fee of $20. So, be prepared to spend quite a lot if you want to receive all the benefits that this program has to offer.

Potential Side Effects

There are no studies that show whether or not this particular diet has any long-term adverse effects. Still, short-term side effects might appear. Although this is a comprehensive diet program which includes behavioral coaching and the encouragement of physical activities, dieters can experience certain mild issues:

  • Dizziness;
  • Nausea;
  • Constipation;
  • Minerals or vitamins deficiencies; etc.

Jenny Craig vs Weight Watchers – Final Verdict

So, which program is the best? This is definitely a tricky question. To be honest, the one that works the best for you and makes you feel better about yourself while also improving your health is the best diet, in my opinion. With Weight Watchers, dieters can consume anything they want while Jenny Craig is based mostly on prepackaged meals which some say are way too processed.

At first, Weight Watchers seems to be less expensive than the Jenny Craig diet, but the first one doesn’t include the costs of the foods you must purchase. Both programs encourage regular exercise and they provide several online tools that help you keep track of your progress. Furthermore, both these diets have coaches and consultants that are ready to offer you advice anytime you need it. One survey showed that Weight Watchers is far more popular than the Jenny Craig program but the final choice is all yours.

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