Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig are two very popular weight loss programs that have been around for decades.
Although both companies offer similar services, many people wonder how they compare and whether one is better than the other.
This article explores the similarities and differences between Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem, their main benefits and downsides, as well as how to know which one is right for you.
Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig offer a similar lineup of products and services.
They both provide a broad selection of ready-made, packaged meals and snacks that are delivered to your door. Plus, they both offer multiple meal plan options, all of which are comprised of low calorie meals designed to promote weight loss.
Meal selections vary slightly, but Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem offer an array of standard American-style dishes, such as hamburgers, egg scrambles, pastries, cereal, and pizza.
Each meal plan comes with a certain number of meals and snacks, and you can choose which of their menu options you want to include in your plan.
Both companies also encourage customers to supplement their meal plans with a variety of low calorie foods like fresh vegetables and fruit.
Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem are similar weight loss programs that ship low calorie, packaged meals to your residence.
Although Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig use the same general approach, they have a few differences.
Arguably, the most significant difference between Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem is your access to personalized weight loss support.
Research suggests that diet and fitness plans may be more effective when paired with personalized coaching and accountability to help you stay on track (
Jenny Craig’s highest tier meal plan comes with personalized, one-on-one weekly weight loss coaching. For many people, this feature may make the difference between successful weight loss and another failed diet attempt.
Jenny Craig also has over 600 centers across the world. Thus, you can visit a coach in person depending on where you live — though it’s worth noting that Jenny Craig weight loss consultants aren’t required to have any formal coaching credentials or experience.
Nutrisystem doesn’t have any physical locations but allows you to call and speak with their team of weight loss counselors any day of the week. However, you’re not assigned to a coach who’s specifically dedicated to your needs.
If you’re fairly self-motivated, these features may not make much of a difference. Yet, if you think you’d benefit from extra support, Jenny Craig could be a better option.
Meal plan options
Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig each offer a variety of meal plans to suit your needs, but they’re structured differently.
Jenny Craig has three packages to choose from — Simple, Essential, and Complete. The Simple meal plan is the most affordable and provides the fewest number of meals. The other options are progressively more expensive and offer additional meals, snacks, and support.
Nutrisystem features eight meal plans, all at varying price points. Their offerings include meal plan options for men, women, and people with type 2 diabetes.
Thus, Nutrisystem may offer slightly more flexibility.
Both Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem utilize tiered pricing options to fit different budgets. However, Nutrisystem is generally more affordable than Jenny Craig.
Jenny Craig costs $390–675 per month, depending on the meal plan option you choose.
Nutrisystem’s meal plans start at $257 per month and top out at about $418 per month if you sign up for their automatic delivery option. Nonetheless, if you only purchase a one-time delivery, it may cost as much as $709 per month.
As you might expect, the more affordable options equate to fewer meals and limited personal support, while the expensive options come with more menu choices and perks.
Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem differ slightly in their meal plan options, price, and availability of personalized weight loss support.
Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem offer several potential benefits for people trying to lose weight.
May save time and simplify meal planning
When you’re on a Nutrisystem or Jenny Craig meal plan, the vast majority of your diet is comprised of shelf-stable or frozen foods.
As a result, you’ll probably spend far less time grocery shopping and cooking fresh food. You may also save time cleaning up, as you likely won’t be using as many dishes.
What’s more, Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem don’t require any meal planning or calorie counting. All you have to do is select your menu and wait for it to arrive.
Still, both programs encourage you to supplement your diet with extra produce like veggies.
May promote weight loss
Given that weight loss is complex, numerous factors may affect your ability to lose weight.
That said, on the most basic level, you need to eat fewer calories than your body burns to lose weight (
Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem meal plans provide roughly 1,200–1,500 calories per day, which is likely low enough to stimulate weight loss for most adults.
A recent review of studies on the efficacy of commercial weight loss programs found that Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem led to 4.9% and 3.8% more weight loss, respectively, than a control diet (
Yet, short study durations and inconsistent experimentation methods hampered this research. Thus, no specific results can be guaranteed.
May improve blood sugar control
Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig may improve blood sugar control due to the portion controlled, low calorie nature of the diets.
Research suggests that modest weight loss of 5–10% of your body weight may lead to significant improvements in blood sugar control (
Moreover, both programs can be customized for low carb eating patterns, depending on which meals and snacks you choose.
Nutrisystem offers a specific meal plan for people with type 2 diabetes that’s higher in protein and lower in carbs than their standard offerings. Jenny Craig doesn’t provide this option, but you could easily tailor your selected plan toward lower carb dishes.
Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig may promote weight loss, encourage blood sugar control, and save you lots of time on shopping and meal prep.
Although Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem have several potential benefits, it’s equally important to consider their downsides before making an investment.
Limited support when transitioning off of the diet
One of the biggest drawbacks to Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig is their lack of support for managing your nutrient intake and maintaining your weight loss as you transition off the program.
Each program effectively ends as soon as you stop paying for meal delivery.
Some people may find it difficult to plan healthy meals and keep their calorie intake within their target range if they become too reliant upon the program to do it for them.
Diversity of meal options is lacking
Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem offer hundreds of meal options, but they’re lacking in several key areas.
First, most of the meals in these programs reflect a Western diet with very few culturally diverse options.
Furthermore, neither program is suitable for people who follow a vegan diet. While both offer a decent selection of vegetarian options, the vast majority of dishes still contain animal products like dairy or eggs.
Moreover, neither Jenny Craig nor Nutrisystem tailors their programs for food allergies. Thus, if you need an allergy-friendly meal plan, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
Most meals are highly processed
Although both programs encourage a liberal intake of fresh vegetables, they’re built upon a foundation of highly processed, packaged foods.
These foods are portion controlled to optimize weight loss, but diets comprised of whole, minimally processed foods tend to be of higher nutritional quality (
Most of the available meal options are low in fiber and contain lots of refined grains and oils.
You can certainly boost the nutrient quality of a Jenny Craig or Nutrisystem meal plan by adding your own whole foods, such as fruits, veggies, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
Yet, if you’re willing and able to do so, you may be better off creating your own meal plan and skipping these processed meals altogether.
Nutrition recommendations aren’t personalized
Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem operate on a one-size-fits-all model.
All of their diet plans provide roughly 1,200–1,500 calories, but aside from buying more meals, there aren’t many options for people who need additional calories, protein, or fiber for individualized weight loss and fitness goals.
Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig may be cost prohibitive for many people.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average monthly cost of groceries for a single adult in the United States in June of 2020 was about $252 (6).
In comparison, the cheapest Nutrisystem plan, which doesn’t include meals for every day of the month, is $257 per month. The monthly price tag rises to $418 for the most expensive auto-delivery plan and spikes to $709 for one-time delivery.
Jenny Craig’s general cost is even higher, at $390–675 per month.
For some people, the convenience of these programs makes the hefty price tag worthwhile. However, if you’re looking to lower your grocery bill, you can put together a healthy meal plan on your own for a lot less.
Not very eco-friendly
Another drawback of Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, and other similar meal delivery services is the amount of waste they produce.
Each food item comes individually wrapped in cardboard boxes and plastic wrap. Over time, the waste produced from these single-use packages adds up, contributing to your carbon footprint.
Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem come with considerable downsides, such as a lack of diverse meal options, high costs, excessive packaging, and one-size-fits-all nutrition recommendations.
Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem utilize a nearly identical model, so either could work for you depending on your goals.
Both programs may suit people who work long hours, travel frequently, or struggle to stay consistent with their diet.
When deciding between the two, you’ll want to consider your budget, food preferences, and personal support needs. While Nutrisystem is generally more affordable, Jenny Craig is a better fit if you’re interested in receiving personalized weight loss coaching.
Their menus are quite similar, but there could be a few differences that make you prefer one over the other. Keep in mind that you’ll have an easier time sticking to a diet plan if you like the food you’re eating.
Before deciding, consider your game plan for quitting the program. There’s a high risk of weight regain if you don’t learn basic nutrition, cooking, and meal planning principles to help you maintain your weight loss once the program is over.
If your goal is to form more sustainable habits and lifestyle changes, you may be better off investing your time and money on a registered dietitian.
Both Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem may be effective if followed properly, but it’s a good idea to consider their price points, menus, and weight loss support options before choosing between the two.
Get started with either program here
Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig are popular weight loss programs that deliver highly processed frozen and shelf-stable meals to your door.
Each program offers various meal plan options, all of which fall within a 1,200–1,500 daily calorie range to promote weight loss.
Both programs are generally more expensive than buying your own groceries and preparing meals at home, but many people find the convenience worth the price.
While neither program is dramatically better than the other, the main differences include their price points, number of meal plan options, and availability of personalized weight loss coaching.