(Courtesy of Jenny Craig)


Balanced Diet

These diets fall within accepted ranges for the amount of protein, carbs, fat and other nutrients they provide.

Pros & Cons

  • No guesswork
  • Prepackaged meals, delivered
  • Home-cooked and restaurant meals largely off-limits
  • Budget-buster

The aim: Weight loss and maintenance.

The claim: You'll drop up to 2 pounds a week.

The theory: Losing weight is as simple as restricting calories, fat and portions. Jenny's prepackaged meals and recipes do all three, plus emphasize healthy eating, an active lifestyle and behavior modification. Personal consultants guide members through their journeys from day one. You'll gain support and motivation, and learn how much you should be eating, what a balanced meal looks like and how to use that knowledge once you graduate from the program.


Jenny Craig Diet ranked #12 in Best Diets Overall. 40 diets were evaluated with input from a panel of health experts. See how we rank diets here.

Jenny Craig Diet is ranked:




  • Weight Loss Short-Term
  • Weight Loss Long-Term
  • Easy to Follow
  • Healthy
Scores are based on experts' reviews.

How does Jenny Craig Diet work?

You'll get a personalized meal and exercise plan, plus weekly one-on-one counseling sessions with a Jenny Craig consultant. Note: These are not nutrition professionals – anyone who is "health-oriented and customer-focused" can attend a training course and get certified – but they're trained in the basics of nutrition, exercise and behavior modification through a curriculum developed by registered dietitians in consultation with a science advisory board. Many consultants are former Jenny Craig members. Your diet, which ranges from 1,200 to 2,300 calories a day, is designed around your current weight, fitness habits and motivation level. 

Jenny Craig offers two programs: its standard program and Jenny Craig for Type 2, which is designed for people with Type 2 diabetes by including a lower-carb menu, reinforcement of self-monitoring of blood sugar levels, consistent meals and snacks, and other self-management strategies for weight loss and support for diabetes control.

The diet lasts as long as you need it to, be it three months or two years. For the first half of your weight loss program, you eat three prepackaged Jenny meals and one snack a day – options like cinnamon rolls and homestyle beef pot roast – in addition to five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables and at least two nonfat dairy product equivalents. Once you're halfway to your goal weight, you'll begin cooking for yourself again twice a week, using Jenny's recipes and low-fat food prep strategies. After reaching your goal weight, you'll spend four weeks transitioning back to making only your own meals, while adjusting to a slightly higher number of daily calories. In monthly consultations, you learn weight regain prevention strategies such as nutritional label reading, exercise and stress management.

One-on-one support plays a big role, although Jenny participants don't get together for group meetings, which is a part of some commercial diets. Instead, you'll typically talk with your personal consultant once a week, either in person at a center or through the Jenny Craig Anywhere program, which offers consultations by phone or via video chat. No matter how you connect with your consultant, you'll discuss how well you did the previous week, and whether you had trouble sticking to the plan. You'll also choose the next week's meals and order your food. On-the-go members who opt for "Jenny Craig Anywhere" have access to the same meals as those who pick up their meals in a center.

How much does it cost?

Jenny Craig is expensive enough to deter some dieters. As of August 2017, to become a member, you pay a $99 enrollment fee and at least $19 a month for the "Premium" program. If you're afraid of commitment and only want one consultation each week, you can skip the enrollment fee but shell out $39 a month for the "Trial" month-to-month option. If you want to go all-in, on the other hand, ask about Jenny Craig’s” Super Premium” program, which is available at the company’s centers and through Jenny Craig Anywhere. The prices don’t include food, which costs an average of $15 to $23 each day. Tack on shipping costs, if you plan to have your meals delivered. Keep your eyes open for deals, however, as the company shares various offers throughout the year.

Will you lose weight?

Probably, if you're motivated enough to stay on the diet.

  • A 2017 study in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism randomly assigned 133 sedentary, overweight women to follow Curves, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem or nothing for 12 weeks. The researchers found that Jenny Craig participants lost nearly 12 pounds, on average, which was slightly more than the other three plans. However, the study was designed to test how the plans improved overall fitness, in which case Curves – who funded the research – won out.
  • A 2015 review of 45 studies in the Annals of Internal Medicine comparing commercial weight-loss programs (including Jenny Craig, Weight-Watchers, Nutrisystem and Medifast) found that Jenny Craig participants lost the most weight over 12 months – almost 5 percent more than a control group given education and counseling. 
  • Other promising evidence comes from a Jenny Craig-sponsored 2010 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association that tracked 331 overweight and obese women who got free Jenny Craig meals and weekly counseling sessions. The study compared those women with another 111 women who were on their own other than an initial meeting and a six-month follow-up session with a diet counselor, plus sample diets and monthly phone or email check-ins. After 12 months, the Jenny participants had lost an average of about 10 percent of their initial body weight and after 24 months were still 7 percent under. Average weight loss for the non-Jenny group was 2.6 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively. But keep in mind the thousands of dollars worth of free Jenny products and intensive handholding. And while the study (and the company) noted the unusually high compliance rate – 92 percent of the women were still in the study at the two-year mark, which Consumer Reports called a "remarkable level of adherence" in a diet analysis in its June 2011 issue – the rate actually was slightly higher for the non-Jenny group.
  • A 2013 study in the Journal of the American Heart Association, funded by Jenny Craig, found that overweight and obese middle-aged women on the plan significantly reduced their weight and waist circumference after two years. 
  • In another study, published in Obesity in 2007, participants who stuck with the plan for about a year shed 12 percent of their initial body weight, while those who quit in the first month lost just 1 percent.
  • Keys to Jenny's success may be the prepackaged food and the psychological support of connecting with trained consultants, concluded a 2004 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. But that same research warned that the program's high cost may be a roadblock for some.

How easy is it to follow?

Jenny's nearly 100 entrees, desserts and snacks run the gamut, from "new global flavors" like ramen noodle bowl with chicken and veggies to desserts that feel like splurges (chocolate lava cake, anyone?). Though portions are small, you'll eat three meals and two snacks a day, and dinner comes with dessert. Plus, there's no carb-cutting or elimination of entire food groups. But for the most part, you'll have an exclusive affair with Jenny's packaged meals until you lose half the weight you want to lose.

Convenience: What's not to like about meals delivered to your doorstep or picked up at a center? Alcohol is allowed in moderation, as is caffeine, and your consultant will help you determine appropriate amounts. The company's online resources may be helpful.

Recipes: The Jenny Craig community, housed on the company site, offers low-fat recipes and tips from Jenny Craig members.

Eating out: Your Jenny Craig consultant will help you plan how to manage social events, holidays and dining out. The company also provides “Jenny Craig friendly” menus to help stay on track during the holidays. Jenny's "Weight Loss Manual" also offers dining-out tips and strategies.

Alcohol: Moderation is key. Though there's no hard-and-fast rule, the company suggests limiting alcohol, especially in the beginning of your program. Your consultant can offer multiple ideas for other calorie-free alternatives.

Timesavers: The diet itself is a time-saver, since it emphasizes prepackaged meals.

Extras: The Jenny Craig Community offers a space for members to share tips and encouragement, while “The Perfect Portion” blog provides free information for anyone, including interviews with a registered dietitian nutritionist and healthy cooking techniques.

Fullness: Nutrition experts emphasize the importance of satiety, the satisfied feeling that you've had enough. Hunger shouldn't be a problem on this diet. Jenny Craig incorporates “Fresh & Free” additions based on the so-called Volumetrics approach, devised by Penn State University nutritionist Barbara Rolls, which involves choosing the least "energy-dense foods" so you'll feel fuller for longer. Foods low in fat and rich in water, fiber and protein are the least energy-dense. Before a meal, for example, you might down a "Soup Addition" to keep your appetite in check. Members are also free to add as many vegetables to each meal as their stomachs desire.

Taste: In February 2011, Consumer Reports pitted Jenny's packaged meals against those of its rival, Nutrisystem, and concluded that Jenny took the cake. Testers sampled 32 Jenny products, including entrees and snacks, and rated them overall at the high end of the "good" scale, while Nutrisystem's meals landed on the low end of "good." However, both programs have updated their offerings since 2011, so you be the judge.

What is the role of exercise?

When you sign up, you'll get a tailored activity plan based on your fitness level and motivation.

The point is weaving activity into your daily life rather than embarking on a rigorous exercise plan. (If you're already very active, your consultant will analyze your routine to see if you can kick it up a notch, with weight training, say.) You may start by wearing a pedometer, for example, or parking farther away from the mall. Natural activities are emphasized, like walking around while watching a baseball game instead of sitting in the bleachers. So are playful ways to burn calories, such as dancing at home. Fitness isn't strenuous; it's part of the pursuit of a healthy, active lifestyle. The goal is to work up to about 30 minutes of moderate activity five days a week.

Diet Details


These diets fall within accepted ranges for the amount of protein, carbs, fat and other nutrients they provide.

Pros & Cons

  • No guesswork
  • Prepackaged meals, delivered
  • Home-cooked and restaurant meals largely off-limits
  • Budget-buster