America has had a weight problem for many years. Between 1960 and 1962, about 45% of Americans were considered overweight or obese, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But those rates have steadily climbed. By 2016, the most recent year for which data is available, nearly 72% of American adults were considered overweight or obese, the CDC reports.
In response to the expanding national waistline, various diets and companies have come and gone. But amid the sometimes-faddish environment that defines dieting in America, two companies have stood the test of time as popular options when trying to lose weight.
Nutrisystem was founded in 1972 and is based in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. It started out as a brick-and-mortar operation – clients would meet with weight-loss counselors at their locations across the country and purchase food products directly from those locations. By 1999, the company had moved online, selling products and providing counseling via phone and the internet.
"Nutrisystem is a program that looks at balanced nutrition," says Courtney McCormick, a registered dietitian and manager of clinical research and nutrition with Nutrisystem. The program focuses on portion control and managing blood sugars by understanding the glycemic index – values assigned to foods based on how they impact blood sugar levels. A lower carb, higher protein ratio can help support weight loss, and that principle guides the company's approach to nutrition.
Clients purchase pre-made food items directly from the company, but are also encouraged to supplement these ready-to-eat meals with fresh foods and their own meals. "We provide about 60% of the person's calories for the day, and then we provide guidance for them to add in fresh grocery additions," McCormick says. Clients can select from a variety of shelf-stable and frozen prepared options.
U.S. News 40 Best Diets Overall.
In response to user feedback that the diet could be a little too rigid, especially when dieters were faced with social events or other food-centric experiences where they couldn't be in full control of what was being presented, Nutrisystem has built in more flexibility. "We have more flex meals, and that gives the customer the opportunity to learn how to make their own meals or go out to dinner and still be following the program and be successful on it," McCormick says.
Web-based resources, including a new app and lifestyle blog, are also intended to support today's dieter. But the company still emphasizes personal counseling and support. "Everyone who's on our program has access to nutritional counselors," McCormick explains. "They can call in anytime they have questions or need motivation." For dieters with diabetes, these resources include certified diabetes counselors. "They can help those individuals personalize their meal plans," she says.
Beginning in January 2020, the company will be rolling out new programs that are even more personalized and customizable. "One of the things that we recognize is that body type can influence how we process certain macronutrients like fat and carbs," McCormick says. To address this emerging approach to dieting, the company already offers a DNA Body Blueprint program that includes an at-home DNA testing kit to help consumers better understand their unique biology and how it might be impacting their ability to lose weight. "When it comes to weight loss, it's not just one-size-fits-all," McCormick says.
Eleven years after Nutrisystem came onto the scene, another diet company was founded in Melbourne, Australia, by a woman named Jenny Craig and her husband Sidney. By 1985, their approach to weight loss had migrated to the United States, expanding rapidly across the country. Using a similar model to Nutrisystem with brick-and-mortar locations where dieters could meet with counselors and pick up food items, Jenny Craig also had a lot of success helping dieters lose weight. The company still has in-person locations, but also has a robust internet presence and options for dieters to work with counselors remotely.
Briana Rodriquez, a registered dietitian with Jenny Craig, says the company focuses on a "food-body-mind approach to help members lose weight and keep it off." It offers a nutritionally balanced menu with "100 great, delicious entrees developed by dietitians, nutritionists and personal chefs. It all comes with one-to-one personal support. That personal support is the cornerstone of Jenny Craig" and is offered in person, over the phone or via the web.
"These consultants really help with education on portion control strategies, but they also really take into account the strengths, challenges and goals of each member," Rodriquez says. The program "is tailored to the individual. We want each member to get what they're coming here for."
The aim is for members to lose the CDC-recommended safe and sustainable level of weight loss of one to two pounds per week. But beyond that, the overall goal is to help people lead healthier lifestyles and learn about how to feed their bodies better, she explains.
Members typically start out with a longer initial consultation to set goals and get oriented around the new plan. Subsequent counseling sessions serve to keep members on track or to let them bring challenges to the counselor, who can recommend tweaks and changes to keep the person losing weight. "We adjust every week to make sure they're continually losing weight," Rodriquez says. Counselors can also help members learn how to navigate eating out and social gatherings.
"The main pillar is that one-on-one support. The counselors are the backbone" of the program and its success, Rodriquez says. "If you don't have any idea where to start, they are there to help guide you the entire time. Ready-made food takes the guesswork and stress out and allows you to focus on reaching those health goals."
The company conducts regular food satisfaction surveys with members. According to Rodriquez, a recent survey found that 86% of members are happy with the taste of Jenny Craig's food and over 95% are happy with the convenience the food offers. She adds that the company is continually customizing its programs to "really give the experience members are looking for while staying on top of cutting-edge nutritional science."
To that end, the company is rolling out a new DNA Decoder Plan, which debuts Nov. 22 in select markets and across the county in mid-December. That program offers users an at-home DNA test that can help provide insight into how certain foods might affect an individual's body. "It's a simple cheek swab that looks at the genetic markers for sleep quality, eating behaviors, how the body processes food and how it responds to exercise," Rodriquez explains. That information can guide food selections and optimization of meal timing to support weight loss.
The company is also looking to the emerging science around circadian rhythm and how sleep and stress can impact weight loss and incorporates that into its Rapid Results program. That claims to help dieters lose up to 16 pounds in the first four weeks on the program.
Both companies can help members lose weight and reduce their risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Liz Weinandy, a registered dietitian with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, says she's had a number of patients use these programs over the years. "They're similar," she says, with both offering frozen and shelf-stable prepared food options in controlled portions. "The menu is set, but you can make some additions, mostly fruits and veggies."
She says some people have found these programs to be especially helpful because "there's no food tracking and very little or no cooking or meal prep time. They take a lot of the work off the dieter." That can help dieters get off to a quick start with weight loss. Such early results can help make weight loss more sustainable in the long run for some people.
The risk with any diet comes with the challenge of maintaining weight loss long term. To help clients do this, Nutrisystem offers a transition and maintenance program called Nutrisystem Success. "If someone has hit their goal, they graduate to portion-controlled containers and a meal plan that supports those containers," McCormick explains. Counselors help clients learn how to build balanced meals that fit the parameters of maintaining their weight loss.
"If they follow that plan and use the recipes in that system for maintenance, they'll still be aligning with weight maintenance caloric goals." The company also encourages clients to get enough exercise to support weight-loss goals and long-term maintenance.
Jenny Craig also helps successful dieters transition out of the weight-loss program and into long-term maintenance. "One of the things I like to say is that maintenance starts on day one," Rodriquez says. When members hit the halfway point in their weight loss journey, counselors begin having them incorporate their own meals more frequently to help them build skills for after they transition out of active weight loss.
Pricing is one of the main differences between the two programs, with Jenny Craig typically being more expensive than Nutrisystem.
Nutrisystem. The four-week basic plan starts at $8.10 per day (for women; $9.20 per day for men). It includes five Nutrisystem breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks each week and free FedEx shipping. The top-rated Uniquely Yours program starts at $9.89 a day ($10.99 for men) and includes everything in the basic plan plus a choice of over 160 menu items, unlimited frozen meals and snacks and freedom to pick the frozen and non-frozen foods you want. The top of the line plan, called Uniquely Yours Ultimate, starts at $10.99 per day ($12.09 for men) and includes all the Uniquely Yours benefits plus seven Nutrisystem breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks each week. It's the best option for people who need additional structure and convenience throughout the week. The company also customizes plans for those with diabetes and those who prefer to eat a vegetarian diet. The company often runs incentives to make getting started a little cheaper.
Jenny Craig. Jenny Craig has several different programs for members depending on how much weight you have to lose. All plans include coaching and consulting and menu planning. Plan fees can be split into a membership fee and food costs. Currently, they are offering a “Join for free and get 15 meals” promotion, plus the cost of food, for their 12-week trial. This plan is recommended for those who have 16 pounds or less to lose. The premium program, for those who need to lose more weight, includes a 12-month membership with a $99 enrollment fee and a $19 monthly subscription fee. The cost of food is added to these fees and costs less than $25 per day. This cost includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks. Enrollment fees are frequently discounted to entice new clients.
Which One Is Better?
From her perspective, Weinandy says the difference is mostly in the types and quality of food offered by each company. "The main differences I saw are in nutritional quality. Jenny Craig looks better" from a healthy foods perspective. On the Nutrisystem plan, there's "ice cream sandwiches, cupcakes, bacon and sausage," which raise flags for her because processed meat products are considered a "category 1 carcinogen" that can elevate risk of several types of cancer, specifically colorectal cancer. "Jenny Craig looks to have a higher quality menu and ingredients," but it's difficult to say for sure which is better.
In terms of efficacy, one 2015 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that dieters using the Jenny Craig program experienced at least 4.9% or greater weight loss at 12 months than the control group. Nutrisystem resulted in at least 3.8% greater weight loss at three months than the control group. In this particular analysis, the researchers noted that Jenny Craig came out ahead of Nutrisystem.
Another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that dieters using the Jenny Craig Classic programs lost three times more weight than dieting on their own and had an average weight loss of 10% after one year. These reductions translated to reduced risk for several chronic diseases including depression, diabetes, cancer and stroke. The weight loss also improved cardiopulmonary function.
A third study looking at Jenny Craig's type 2 program for people with Type 2 diabetes was published in 2014 in the journal Diabetes Care. It found that people with type 2 diabetes who followed the Jenny Craig type 2 program for one year lost more weight, had significantly lowered blood sugar levels and reduced heart-related risk factors than people who received the typical standard of care.
All that said, the best diet for any dieter is the one that's sustainable. Sticking with a diet comes down to individual preferences, resources and in the case of these two programs, how much you like the taste of the food provided.
The Best Diets for Your Heart.
The similarities between the two programs are many, but McCormick says that "the main difference comes down to the meal plan itself." Nutrisystem seeks to keep carbohydrate intake consistent throughout the day to eliminate spikes and crashes in blood sugar that can lead some people to overeat to compensate. Taste also factors in, McCormick says. "Anecdotally, the quality and taste of the food – people love (Nutrisystem)."
These subjective elements aside, Jenny Craig may work better for people looking for one-on-one counseling with a dedicated coach in an in-person setting. Nutrisystem doesn't have any remaining walk-in centers, so their coaching and counseling is all done remotely. However, Nutrisystem tends to be less expensive yet provides similar results, and may represent the more economical choice.
|Cost||Average monthly cost about $300.||Average monthly cost about $450.|
|Weight Loss||Target weight loss of about 1 to 2 pounds per week.||Target weight loss of about 1 to 2 pounds per week.|
|Food||Low carb, high protein ratio.||Nutritionally balanced, tailored to the individual.|
|Support||Online and phone support from consultants and user forums.||In-person or phone/online coaching sessions with a dedicated, personal consultant.|
Consider All Your Options
If you're considering trying either of these programs, discuss your options with a health care provider and do your own homework to find the right fit for your situation. For her part, Weinandy recommends that even if you do follow one of these programs, you should meet with a registered dietitian to make sure you're covering all your nutritional bases and building the skills you need to adopt healthy eating plans for life.
"The skill set to lose weight is different from maintaining weight loss. A lot of people on these programs can get bored or tired of the program, so actually maintaining that weight loss becomes my concern," Weinandy says. Because so much of the work is removed, it can be difficult for dieters to build the cooking and meal-planning skills they need to maintain their results after they leave either program.
"Behavioral change is the No. 1 goal that we're going for" when talking about weight loss, Weinandy says. It takes a lot of work and dedication to make those changes, and even more effort to make them stick for life, but introducing gradual change – making one swap for a few weeks before introducing another small change that builds over time – may be the best way to go. For some people, getting a jump start with a program like Nutrisystem or Jenny Craig can be an enormous help. "But they need to make sure that they are learning those tips" for healthier eating and "can transition off and follow a healthy eating plan that they're in control of."
Which is best Nutrisystem or Jenny Craig? ›
Nutrisystem comes out on top here—when compared to Jenny Craig, it's much more affordable, accommodates different dietary needs and allows for more flexible dieting that includes the freedom to eat your own meals twice a week.Which weight loss program has the best results? ›
|Product||Forbes Health Ratings||Best For|
|Weight Watchers (WW)||5.0||Best “No-Food-Is-Off-Limits” Weight Loss Program|
|Noom Weight||4.5||Best Psychological-Focused Weight Management Program|
|Atkins||5.0||Best Low-Carb Weight Loss Program|
Cons of the Nutrisystem Diet
The program can cost approximately $250 to $350 per month plus the cost of additional foods from the grocery store, such as vegetables, fruit, and dairy products. Unhealthy processed foods: The prepackaged food on the Nutrisystem diet is heavily processed.
Rather than turning to more restrictive diets that she dabbled in 20 years ago or so—including the Grapefruit Diet and Nutrisystem—any time Aniston feels like she's veering off track from a meal plan that makes her feel like her best and most vibrant self, she does a minor course correction.Can you lose 20 pounds in a month on Nutrisystem? ›
The company's website claims that women can lose up to 13 pounds and 7 inches in the first month and men can lose up to 18 pounds and 8 inches in the first month on Nutrisystem for Men. After that, dieters can lose an average of 1 to 2 pounds per week.
Some of the best weight loss apps are completely free — including MyFitnessPal, Lose It!, and FatSecret. Weight loss apps are programs you can download to your mobile device that provide an easy and quick way to track your lifestyle habits, such as calorie intake and exercise.What is the most realistic weight loss per week? ›
When you're trying to lose weight, it's natural to want it to happen very quickly. But people with gradual and steady weight loss (about 1 to 2 pounds per week) are more likely to keep the weight off.Why am I so hungry on Jenny Craig? ›
Low blood sugar, which can occur if you're not eating frequently enough, can trigger hunger. So, how often should you eat. Eat at regular intervals during the day to help keep your blood sugar levels stable.How much weight can you lose in a month on Jenny Craig? ›
With effective programs like Jenny Craig's Max Up, you can lose up to 18 pounds in a month depending on your starting weight. ‡ General guidelines recommend losing about 1-2 pounds per week after that.How to speed up weight loss on Jenny Craig? ›
- 7 Tips to Lose Weight Fast (And Safely!)
- Reduce your calorie intake moderately. ...
- Strengthen your workout routine. ...
- Try intermittent fasting. ...
- Stay hydrated. ...
- Focus on eating healthy foods. ...
- Get enough fiber. ...
- Eat frequently throughout the day.
How long do most people stay on Nutrisystem? ›
The NutriSystem diet has you eat their prepackaged meals until you get to the weight you want to be at. It will cost $360 to $420 to get 28 days worth of entrees, snacks, and desserts sent to your home. Most people lose 2 pounds each week and stay on the program for 10 weeks.
There are a few common reasons why you may not be seeing the weight loss results you want: You're skipping meals, not drinking enough water, or not getting enough sleep, to name a few. Always read the nutrition facts and ingredient labels on your grocery add-ins.Do people really lose weight on Nutrisystem? ›
In this study in 84 adults, those on Nutrisystem lost twice as much weight as people on the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet after 4 weeks (5). The same study found that the average weight loss after 12 weeks on Nutrisystem was 18 pounds (8 kg) (5).Did Marie Osmond really use Nutrisystem to lose weight? ›
"Nutrisystem worked for me and helped me lose 50 pounds sixteen years ago," added Osmond. ** "But it's not just about weight loss. It's about weight management and learning proper nutrition for a lifetime of health and wellness. Nutrisystem Complete 55 helps teach women how to do that."Has anyone had success with Nutrisystem? ›
After several years and many unsuccessful attempts of trying and failing to lose weight on fad diets, diet pills, and unsustainable programs, John and Sheila Chambers finally found something that worked for them - Nutrisystem. Together, John and Sheila Chambers have lost a total of 85 pounds on Nutrisystem.What is Jennifer Lopez's diet? ›
Jennifer prioritises eating vegetables each mealtime. Notably leafy greens like spinach and kale. She also adds complex carbohydrates to meals. Some of her faves are sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, rice bread, and porridge according to Romero and US Weekly.
All-in-all, Jenny Craig can be expensive. A basic plan will cost you about $10 per day at a minimum, and you can expect to pay anywhere from $420 to $856 per month for the Jenny Craig diet, which doesn't include shipping fees. There's also a $99 annual enrollment fee that some plans waive for a set amount of weeks.What is the fastest way to lose weight on Nutrisystem? ›
Eating small, frequent meals throughout the day prevents hunger and may boost your metabolism. On Nutrisystem, you keep your metabolism working continuously by feeding it steadily. Skipping Nutrisystem meals and undereating may actually slow your metabolism and hinders your weight loss progress.Can you eat fruit on Nutrisystem? ›
Nutrisystem says you should eat at least four servings of vegetables per day. As you progress in the plan, you will also have the option to include lean meats, dairy, fruit, or other healthy carbs.How do you keep skin tight while losing weight? ›
- Lose weight gradually. Although it may not always be an option, losing weight slowly is the best way to prevent loose skin. ...
- Lose weight by building muscle. ...
- Eat a balanced diet. ...
- Quit smoking. ...
- Stay hydrated. ...
- Protect your skin.
What is best weight loss diet for seniors? ›
Eat more veggies, fruits, whole grains, fish, beans, and low-fat or fat-free dairy; and keep meat and poultry lean. Limit empty calories, like sugars and foods with little or no nutritional value. Avoid fad diets because the results don't last.Does AARP have a weight loss program? ›
Complete with three prescriptive weight-loss plans, the AARP New American Diet helps you lose up to 10 pounds in 2 weeks while staying vital, happy and healthy for a lifetime.Does drinking water help you lose weight? ›
Water can be really helpful for weight loss. It is 100% calorie-free, helps you burn more calories and may even suppress your appetite if consumed before meals. The benefits are even greater when you replace sugary beverages with water. It is a very easy way to cut back on sugar and calories.What is the fastest weight loss program? ›
There are many different fasting regimens and it is unclear which may be the best. One of the most popular is the 5:2 system. This involves 2 days a week of fasting or VLCD and 5 days a week of eating your normal diet. Diets that incorporate fasting can cause rapid weight loss.
- Implement Long-Term Lifestyle and Behavior Changes. ...
- Focus on the First 5% to 10% ...
- Reduce Your Intake of Ultra-Processed Carbs and Sweets. ...
- Eat More Plants. ...
- Pump Up Your Protein. ...
- Drink More Water. ...
- Eat a Well-Rounded Breakfast. ...
- Stand Up and Move More.
Some popular examples of weight loss pills are Contrave (naltrexone/bupropion), Qsymia (phentermine/topiramate ER), and phentermine (Adipex-P). Some clinical studies suggest that Qsymia is the most effective weight loss pill.How long does it take to lose 50 lbs on Jenny Craig? ›
Lost 50 lbs ‡ on Jenny Craig. Average weight loss on Max Up in a study was 15 pounds in the first four weeks and 1-2 pounds per week thereafter. Cristalle lost 50 pounds in 15 weeks.How many times a day do you eat on Jenny Craig? ›
What Is the Jenny Craig Diet? When you are on the Jenny Craig diet, their meal plan features eating six times per day. Five will be prepared Jenny Craig meals, snacks, bars, or shakes, while one is your own snack.What is better Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig? ›
The key difference is that Jenny Craig delivers prepared food, while WW guides people in making their own nutritious food. Despite this, there is no evidence that one program is better than the other, and successful weight loss and management will depend on the individual.How long does it take a woman to lose 20 pounds? ›
Many healthy weight-loss guidelines say you should aim to lose one or two pounds per week (whether you have five or 50 pounds to lose), that means it could take anywhere from 10 to 20 weeks to lose 20 pounds.
How to lose 20 pounds in two weeks? ›
- Make A Commitment. ...
- Cut Your Caloric Intake. ...
- Up Your Protein Intake. ...
- Eat More Fibre. ...
- Plenty Of Sleep. ...
- Avoid Refined Carbs. ...
- Increase The Intensity Of Your Workouts. ...
- Drink More Water.
You'll mostly eat Jenny Craig's weekly menus of 70 different prepackaged foods, at least at first. You'll get about 1,200 calories a day, depending on your height and weight. In one study, Jenny Craig clients lost an average of 10% of their body weight the first year on the plan.Can you eat bananas on the Jenny Craig diet? ›
On Jenny Craig, one small to medium banana equals 1 Fruit serve. Bananas are also loaded with potassium and other vitamins and are naturally low in fat.How long will it take to lose 20 pounds? ›
Losing weight safely typically involves losing 1-2 pounds per week ( 1 ). This would allow you to lose 20 pounds within about 5 months at 1 pound per week or 2 1/2 months at about 2 pounds per week.Can you lose 20 pounds in 10 weeks? ›
How to Lose 20 Pounds in 10 Weeks. A safe, effective weight loss rate that's sustainable is 1-2 pounds weekly, suggests the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. If your goal is losing 2 pounds weekly to drop 20 pounds in 10 weeks, aim to burn 1,000 more calories than you eat every day.Which is better Nutrisystem or Jenny Craig? ›
Nutrisystem comes out on top here—when compared to Jenny Craig, it's much more affordable, accommodates different dietary needs and allows for more flexible dieting that includes the freedom to eat your own meals twice a week.What celebrities have used Nutrisystem? ›
Nutrisystem celebrity brand endorsers will make appearances at some stops. The brand's representatives include Marie Osmond, Dan Marino, Genie Francis, Jim Stuckey, Soleil Moon Frye, Julie Chrisley and Tanner and Jade Tolbert.How long does it take to lose 10 pounds on Nutrisystem? ›
Lose Weight Fast
We know you want to see changes right away and that's what happens with Nutrisystem. All you need is four weeks to lose 10 pounds or more. In our clinical trial of this weight loss plan, the study subjects shed up to 13 pounds in the first month.
Both systems may help you lose weight, but WW may be better for helping you maintain a lower weight over the long term.What is the average weight loss on Nutrisystem in one month? ›
Nutrisystem claims that within the first month, women can lose up to 13 pounds, 7 inches overall and average 1 to 2 pounds a week after that. Men can lose up to 15 pounds and 7 inches overall and average 1 to 2 pounds a week thereafter.
Why does my weight fluctuate so much on Nutrisystem? ›
Just know that, on the Nutrisystem program, you aren't eating enough calories to gain any fat when following the outline! Your body can be juggling changes in fat, muscle mass and water, so be patient, because your body knows what it's doing.Who should not use Nutrisystem? ›
Nutrisystem is not recommended for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as well as those with certain health conditions, such as celiac disease or those with allergies to peanuts, soy and/or latex. Children under 14 are not allowed to participate in the program.Is Nutrisystem the best way to lose weight? ›
BOTTOM LINE: Nutrisystem will likely help you lose weight in the short term, but it's expensive and restrictive. It also encourages a regular intake of highly processed foods. Plus, there's little research on its long-term success.Do you lose more weight on Weight Watchers or Nutrisystem? ›
Both systems may help you lose weight, but WW may be better for helping you maintain a lower weight over the long term.Why does Nutrisystem work so well? ›
You get portion-controlled meals.
The dieters in the prepackaged meal group also had lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, a blood fat also linked to heart disease. Our properly portioned, easy to prepare meals are one of the main reasons why Nutrisystem really does work.
But it is definitely doable. Many individuals have come into the Nutrisystem weight loss program with weight loss goals of 50 pounds or higher and achieved that target—many even pass it. The key is to be realistic with the challenges that lie ahead.How much does Jenny Craig cost a month? ›
All-in-all, Jenny Craig can be expensive. A basic plan will cost you about $10 per day at a minimum, and you can expect to pay anywhere from $420 to $856 per month for the Jenny Craig diet, which doesn't include shipping fees. There's also a $99 annual enrollment fee that some plans waive for a set amount of weeks.