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Jenny Craig Diet 2012

Overview

Resembles these U.S. News-rated diets:

The aim:

Weight loss.

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. You’ll 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.

How does the 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 when consultants have questions, they seek advice from one of Jenny’s registered dietitians. Your diet, which ranges from 1,200 to 2,300 calories a day, is designed around your current weight, fitness habits, motivation level, and tendencies to chow down when stressed.

More about: How does the Jenny Craig Diet work

Jenny Craig offers several program variations, including Jenny Craig For Men, Jenny Craig Silver, and Jenny Craig Type 2. The difference: Weekly one-on-one counseling sessions are tailored to the people who sign up for each program; if you have diabetes, for example, and you join the Jenny Craig Type 2 program, you’ll be assigned to a counselor who is more knowledgeable about the disease.

The diet lasts as long as you need it to, be it three months or two years. During stage 1, you eat three prepackaged Jenny meals and one snack a day—options like apple cinnamon waffles and three-cheese ziti marinara—in addition to two to three servings of fresh fruits, vegetables, and non-fat dairy products. Once you’re halfway to your goal weight, you’ll begin cooking for yourself again twice a week, using Jenny’s recipes. 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.

Although success hinges on Jenny Cuisine, the program isn’t inflexible. A “splurge strategy” is built in from the beginning, allowing up to 250 extra calories for special occasions. It’s even OK to splurge a couple of times a week, if you balance it out with extra physical activity, like walking more each day.

One-on-one support plays a big role, although Jenny participants don’t get together for group meetings, which is part of some commercial diets. You’ll typically talk with your consultant once a week, either in person or by phone, and 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.

Will you lose weight?

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

  • The most promising evidence comes from a Jenny Craig-sponsored 2010 study in theJournal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) 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 followup session with a diet counselor, plus sample diets and monthly phone or E-mail 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.

  • 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.
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