The Jenny Craig Diet

Does It Work?

Jenny Craig's Web site claims that they have "hard science" proving that their diet plan works. They cite a clinical trial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that says people who followed Jenny Craig's "in center" program (where they went to a local Jenny Craig center rather than doing the program at home) had the following results:
 
  • Lost approximately 10.5 percent of their initial body weight in one year
  • Had improvements in total/LDL cholesterol and leptin levels
  • Improved cardiopulmonary fitness.
 
The "in center" program had slightly higher success rates than the home-based program. This research also reported that those who followed the Jenny Craig program were more likely to keep the weight off after a year, compared to other diets.
 
Well, that sounds good, but let's take a look at the research that is not found on the Jenny Craig Web site. In general, this diet aims a loss of one to two pounds per week, approximately 1 percent of your weight. This is accomplished using the most up-to-date dietary guidelines for Americans and the dietary reference intakes issued by the Institute of Medicine. In general, the daily nutritional composition of a Jenny Craig meal plan contains:
 
  • Fifty to sixty percent carbohydrates
  • Twenty to thirty percent protein
  • Twenty to thirty percent fat.
 
A number of research studies have explored the various diet plans that are out there. In general, research has shown that "slow and steady wins the race" -- showing that the best way to lose weight is slowly, with a weight loss of one to two pounds per week. According to many of the studies that have been done, this amount of weight loss each week is doable, safe, and may help you keep the weight off. Losing weight slowly like this is also a good way to help give you the time to effectively make healthy lifestyle changes.
 
Studies have also looked at whether low-fat diets are better or worse than low-carb diets. Although research has shown that low-carb diets may result in a more significant weight loss initially, largely due to losing water weight, the amount of weight lost after 12 months was comparable between the two diets.

Therefore, it appears that weight loss is primarily from caloric restriction rather than carbohydrate restriction. At this time, the bulk of the scientific evidence available suggests that as long as caloric intake remains constant, there is no significant advantage to restricting carbohydrates.
 
Long story short -- the success level of Jenny Craig varies from person to person. A lot of it deals with the fact that some people have a difficult time strictly adhering to the plan.
 
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