What Is the Jenny Craig Diet?

Jenny Craig diet

Verywell / Debbie Burkhoff

At Verywell, we believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle. Successful eating plans need to be individualized and take the whole person into consideration. Prior to starting a new diet plan, consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian, especially if you have an underlying health condition.

What Is the Jenny Craig Diet?

Jenny Craig is a weight-loss program that attributes its effectiveness to the simple restriction of calories, fat, and portion size. Clients enrolled in the plan are provided packaged foods that cover all meals and most snacks; they supplement these with fresh food from the grocery store. Jenny Craig also provides motivational support through face-to-face or phone meetings with a consultant.

The 2021 U.S. News and World Report Best Diets ranks Jenny Craig number 12 in Best Diets Overall and gives it an overall score of 3.5/5.

What Experts Say

"The Jenny Craig diet is a meal delivery program based on whole, real foods. The meal plans are balanced, but the program is pricey and for most people, it isn’t sustainable."
Kelly Plowe, MS, RD

7-Day Diet Plan

On the Jenny Craig diet, you eat six times a day—three meals, two snacks, and a daily dessert. There is no need to count calories, weigh food, or measure portions while on the program, but people following the Jenny Craig diet consume 1200 to 2300 calories per day, depending on their weight, fitness habits, and motivation level.

You'll select your entrées and snacks from a menu of more than 100 options and order them by phone or online for home delivery. Or, you can shop at a local Jenny Craig weight-loss center. While there are many different versions of the diet, here is one example using Jenny Craig pre-made meals and snacks (everything below, except fruit, is a Jenny Craig product).

  • Day 1: Croissant breakfast sandwich; recharge bar; classic cheeseburger; strawberries; broccoli and cheese stuffed potato; BBQ crisps
  • Day 2: Blueberry muffin; chocolate peanut butter bar; tuna dill salad kit with crackers; apple; homestyle meatloaf and vegetables; cheese curls
  • Day 3: Cheesy egg and steak quesadilla; sweet and salty peanut bar; cheese ravioli; pear; chicken marsala; kettle corn
  • Day 4: Cinnamon coffee cake; recharge bar; fiesta chicken and rice; raspberries; classic Salisbury steak and vegetables; pumpkin spice cakes
  • Day 5: Egg white and bacon sandwich; chocolate peanut butter bar; turkey burger sandwich; peach; rotini and meat sauce; chocolate lava cake
  • Day 6: Cranberry almond cereal; recharge bar; ham and swiss baguette; blueberries; homestyle turkey and mashed potatoes; lemon cake
  • Day 7: Mixed berry protein smoothie mix; sweet and salty peanut bar; chicken tortilla soup; fruit; homestyle meatloaf and vegetables; vanilla buttercream cupcake

What You Can Eat

Jenny Craig is useful for people who don't have time to or prefer not to shop for or prepare food at home. On the program, you can choose from a wide variety of Jenny Craig breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts, and snacks. You'll also supplement these with additional fresh fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious food options.

Jenny Craig Pre-Packaged Foods

The majority of your food intake will be repackaged breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks including desserts, bars, shakes, and more. Jenny Craig also provides condiments, dressings, and soups.

Fruits

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Blueberries
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pomegranates
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

Fresh and Frozen Vegetables

  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Celery
  • Eggplant
  • Leafy greens
  • Peas
  • Tomatoes
  • Squash
  • Zucchini

What You Cannot Eat

On the Jenny Craig diet, you cannot eat foods outside of the Jenny Craig brand, except for fruits and vegetables.

Outside Foods

  • Restaurant food
  • Store-bought food other than fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables
  • Sweets and desserts other than Jenny Craig brand

How to Prepare the Jenny Craig Diet & Tips

There is no particular meal timing or fasting required for the plan. Almost all of Jenny Craig entrées are frozen and need to be kept chilled and then reheated. This may be a problem for some people who are frequently on the road or do not have access to a freezer and microwave. 

Clients are encouraged to "volumize" frozen entrées by adding high-fiber, low-calorie foods like fruits and veggies to the meal, so it is more filling. Known as volumetrics, this makes it easier to adhere to the diet without feeling deprived. Helpful tips for volumizing are provided on each entrée package.

For example, you can add a wedge salad with Jenny Craig salad dressing or a similar side dish to a Jenny Craig pot roast meal for increased satiety without a lot of additional calories. For breakfast, you might add some fruit or other fat-free toppings to your Jenny Craig waffles.

Pros of the Jenny Craig Diet

Every person who wants to lose weight has a different lifestyle to consider when they choose a diet. Jenny Craig provides a well-designed plan for weight loss, but it won't work for everyone.

  • Easy to follow: Clients on the Jenny Craig program get a comprehensive weight-loss program when they meet with their counselor each week. The plan includes food tips, recipes, exercise motivation, and your own personal cheerleader.
  • Convenient: All foods are pre-packaged, so the guesswork is taken out of portion control, and they are designed to be nutritionally balanced.
  • Includes support: Motivational support is built into the Jenny Craig program. For many, the face-to-face option for support gives it a leg up against competitor Nutrisystem.
  • Tastes good: Many users report that Jenny Craig food tastes good. Of course, not every person will enjoy every food, but in general, the quality is satisfying.
  • May promote healthy weight loss: According to research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2015, people who followed the Jenny Craig plan lost an average of 4.9% more weight over a three-month period than a control group who received nutritional counseling and education. In the study, Jenny Craig users also fared better than people following Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem plans.
  • May help you reach nutritional goals: For those who have struggled to reach or stay within recommended daily amounts of fiber, protein, carbohydrates, and fats, the Jenny Craig diet may help them reach these goals. The diet provides enough of these nutrients while mostly staying within the recommended limits.

Cons of the Jenny Craig Diet

  • Food needs to be reheated: For some, Jenny Craig is not the most convenient option. The meal entrées need to stay frozen and then reheated in the microwave. If you don't have access to these appliances during the day, the diet may be harder to follow.
  • Expensive: The cost of the Jenny Craig program is frequently cited as a drawback. Depending on the plan you choose, your location, and the time of year, the cost may range from $15 to $23 a day, plus shipping. A month's worth of food can cost between $550 and $800. There are also program fees in addition to the cost of food.
  • Uses processed foods: Many of the prepackaged frozen foods are processed, and some may be high in sodium. Additionally, some meals contain unhealthy ingredients such as white bread, sugar, or bacon. There may not be allergy-safe options for some people and eating out is not part of the plan when eating pre-packaged meals only.
  • Contains gluten: Jenny Craig is not a good option for anyone with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Almost all meals on the plan contain gluten ingredients. The few meals that include no obvious gluten are not intended for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity due to gluten cross-contamination in processing.
  • Contains allergens: Jenny Craig may not be safe for people with food allergies to peanuts, soy, and dairy products. While some products may not contain allergens, the potential for cross-contamination is high.
  • High in sodium: Since Jenny Craig's meals are processed, they can be high in sodium, making it difficult to stay under the recommended daily amount of 2300 milligrams. Keeping dietary sodium within the recommended range may help prevent high blood pressure, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.

Is the Jenny Craig Diet a Healthy Choice for You?

Jenny Craig is a popular weight-loss plan with a track record of success. It is a convenient and easy-to-follow program of heat-and-eat meals that offer variety and balanced nutrition.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) shares guidance for improving and maintaining overall health and well-being. Its dietary recommendations include calorie guidance and tips for a healthy, balanced diet. Jenny Craig provides the government’s recommended amounts of fat, protein, and carbohydrates, and the diet supplies ample fiber and calcium.

In addition to the meal plan, those following the plan get support from Jenny Craig consultants either by phone or in person. Many are former Jenny Craig clients who have undergone nutritional and fitness training.

A Word From Verywell

If considering the Jenny Craig plan, do a head-to-head comparison with other weight loss programs, tally the costs, and take a good look at how each plan fits into your lifestyle. In the end, the right diet plan will be the one you are willing and able to stick to.

Remember, following a long-term or short-term diet may not be necessary for you and many diets out there simply don’t work, especially long-term. While we do not endorse fad diet trends or unsustainable weight loss methods, we present the facts so you can make an informed decision that works best for your nutritional needs, genetic blueprint, budget, and goals.

If your goal is weight loss, remember that losing weight isn’t necessarily the same as being your healthiest self, and there are many other ways to pursue health. Exercise, sleep, and other lifestyle factors also play a major role in your overall health. The best diet is always the one that is balanced and fits your lifestyle.

5 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Malia Frey
 Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.