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Jenny Craig

The Promise

Jenny Craig has quite the diet package, and we're not just talking about the food. 

With this plan, you'll get prepackaged low-calorie food, a consultant to offer support in person or on the phone (if you want), online tools to help you plan and track meals, and an exercise plan

There are no banned foods, "detox" potions, or menus loaded with exotic foods that claim to melt fat.

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.  

Does It Work?

Jenny Craig’s web site has a section on the “hard science” behind the plan. 

The company points to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in which people on the Jenny Craig program for a year lost about 10% of their weight, on average, and were also more likely to keep it off for another year, compared to other dieters.

What You Can Eat and What You Can't

Besides Jenny Craig prepackaged meals, you can also have fresh fruits and vegetables, and reduced-fat dairy products.

Jenny Craig’s approach focuses on choosing low-fat foods that are rich in water, fiber, and protein to fill you up. In general, you can eat as many nonstarchy vegetables (like tomatoes, broccoli, and peppers) as you want.

You can also have occasional splurges like alcoholic beverages. No food is ever completely off-limits.

Level of Effort: Medium

You won't need to cook at first. When you're halfway to your weight loss goal, you'll start eating a few meals made at home. Once you reach your target weight, you spend four weeks transitioning to home-cooked meals.

Limitations: You'll be eating a lot of Jenny Craig's foods until you get close to your goal.

Cooking and shopping: Prepackaged meals make meal planning and preparation easy and cut down on temptation at the grocery store.

Packaged foods and meals? Required.

In-person meetings: Optional. There are more than 600 nationwide Jenny Craig Weight Loss Centers.

Exercise: You work with a consultant to reach a goal of 30 minutes or more of moderate activity at least five days a week.

Does It Allow for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences?

Vegetarians and vegans: There aren't a lot of prepackaged meatless meal options. If you're vegan, the plan wouldn't work for you, since all of the vegetarian entrees are made with dairy.

Low-fat diet: All of the prepackaged meals are low in fat.

Low-salt diet: Jenny Craig's meals have no more than 2,000 milligrams of sodium per day.

Gluten-free:  Gluten is not off-limits. If you have celiac disease or are avoiding gluten for other reasons, you would need to ask Jenny Craig if the company has any options that would work for you.

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