Best Weight Loss Program: Jenny Craig vs Nutrisystem vs Weight Watchers vs South Beach Diet vs Atkins & More

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Weight Watchers logo
jenny craig logo
Nutrisystem logo

Have you tried to lose weight on your own, only to be less than impressed with your results? Everyone who’s tried dieting has their own horror story — after all, who wants to restrict their food intake? It’s often much easier to lose weight if you have a specific program to follow, which is why commercial weight loss programs are so popular.

Article Overview

Best Weight Loss Programs

We chose our best weight loss program winners based on a number of factors, including, but not limited to:

  • Sandwich with measuring tape (caption: Best Weight Loss Programs)Weight loss success
  • The potential of keeping weight off
  • How easy the program is to follow
  • Organic and/or sustainable food options
  • Cost
  • Community support
  • Online and mobile tools
  • Access to dietitian consultations

Winner: Weight Watchers Review

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Weight Watchers (aka WW) wins our top spot as best weight loss program for its reputation for success, community support, cost, and other features. Part of what’s so nice about Weight Watchers is its method of teaching you healthy eating and portion control, which sets you up for a lifestyle change, not just a short-term diet.

Independent researchers1 found Weight Watchers one of two most successful weight loss programs (the other was Jenny Craig). And the support you get from Weight Watchers and fellow members is unprecedented.

WW uses point system rather than counting calories, and you’re primarily responsible for making your own meals, so it can be more time-consuming than delivered meal programs like Jenny Craig or Nutrisystem.



  • No enrollment fee
  • Affordable basic monthly plan
  • Backed by independent medical research
  • You can include as many organic and sustainable foods as you’d like (within diet guidelines)
  • Access to dietitians and nutrition counselors
  • Community support online and at meetings
  • Online and mobile app tools, like weight tracker, food log, point converter, and much more
  • Exercise plans and tutorials on its website
  • Online resources — FAQs, blogs, articles
  • Higher monthly plans are expensive
  • Learning curve to work with a points system
  • No money-back guarantee


  • Digital: Starting at $3.19/week
  • Digital360: Starting at $4.23/week (includes live & on-demand expert-led digital content)
  • Unlimited: Starting at $5.96/week (includes everything in digital + unlimited face-to-face coach-led sessions with other members)
  • 1-on-1 Coaching: Starting at $9.23/week (includes digital tools + individual coaching instead of group sessions)

The following video explains how Weight Watchers’ point system works to help you lose weight.

Read Our Full Weight Watchers Review

Runner-Up: Jenny Craig Review

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Researchers found Jenny Craig one of the two best programs for taking the weight off and keeping it off, as we mentioned above. Jenny Craig is a home-delivery meal system, but you also get a dedicated dietitian through their in-person locations or via their Jenny Craig Anywhere online plan, including unlimited video consultations.

You choose your meals every week, and they have a variety to choose from (although we didn’t see as many vegetarian options as with Nutrisystem). Their prices are significantly higher than Nutrisystem’s, another home-delivery meal system. Still, we highly recommend Jenny Craig for the busy person, who would prefer to have prepared meals and a regular community of support.



  • Competitive monthly membership fee
  • Backed by independent medical research
  • Plan is very easy to follow
  • Dietitian consultations
  • Community support online and at meetings
  • Online and mobile app tools, like weight tracker, food log, activity tracker, and a few more (not quite as comprehensive as Weight Watchers’ tools)
  • Website learning materials — blogs and articles
  • Guaranteed to lose 12 pounds in 12 weeks or you’ll get 3 months of monthly fees back
  • Expensive enrollment fee
  • Food and shipping rates are expensive
  • Prepared foods aren’t organic
  • Lacking solid exercise plans, no tutorials


  • Simple: $12.99/day includes 7 breakfasts + 7 lunches
  • Essential Meal Plan: $20.78/day includes everything in Simple plan + 7 dinners & free delivery
  • Rapid Results Max Weight Loss Plan: $23.39/day includes everything in Essential plan +  7 snacks and desserts, 7 recharge bars, personal coaching & free delivery

3rd Place: Nutrisystem Review

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Nutrisystem is one of the most recognized weight loss systems on the market for a good reason — independent research has shown that following the Nutrisystem diet works to lose weight fast. Their new Turbo 10 plan guarantees you’ll lose 10 pounds (and 5 inches) in your first month alone.

With Nutrisystem, you don’t have to worry about counting calories or measuring portions because it’s a home-delivered meal plan, which is high in protein, fiber, and zero in trans fats. And overall, customers say their prepared meals are pretty tasty. You get three meals a day and snacks in between meals.

The downsides? You don’t have as much support from their dietitians as our top two picks, and long-term weight retention hasn’t shown the results that Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig have in independent studies.



  • Free enrollment and monthly membership
  • Prepared meals are affordable and include free shipping
  • Easy to follow plan
  • Independent medical research found Nutrisystem successful for initial weight loss (but more research needed for maintaining weight loss)
  • Online and mobile app tools, like weight tracker, food log, activity tracker, and a few more
  • Website learning materials — blogs, articles, videos
  • 14-day money-back guarantee
  • Fewer consultations with dietitians and counselors (online only)
  • Online support group but no in-person community support available
  • Prepared foods aren’t organic
  • Exercise plans could use improvement


Nutrisystem offers several plans, including no enrollment fees, no monthly membership fees, and free shipping. Below are the most popular plans. For a full list of programs (including men’s, vegetarian, and diabetes), check out their website.

  • Basic: Starting at $8.93/day for ready to go meals and snacks
  • Uniquely Yours: Starting at $10.71/day for meals tailored to your metabolism
  • Partner Plan: Starting at $10.71/day per person for you to lose weight with your partner

Other Weight Loss Program Reviews

Although the following weight loss programs didn’t make our top three, they’re still worth serious consideration, especially if you’re looking to lose weight fast.

21 Day Fix | Atkins | Diet-to-Go | South Beach Diet

21 Day Fix Review

21 Day Fix logo

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Unlike our top three picks, 21 Day Fix by Beachbody is a package you order that contains an eating plan booklet, six exercise DVDs, and portion control containers to help you lose weight.

It’s one of the best exercise and diet plans to lose weight fast on the market, with a lot of happy customer reviews on Amazon and around the web. Instead of calorie counting, you follow their easy-to-use portion control containers with their healthy food suggestions for each meal.

And they claim you’ll lose up to 15 pounds in 21 days. This kind of weight loss comes with fairly rigorous exercise (30 minutes required per day using their workout CDs). The cost is pretty high for a 21-day weight fix, but we think 21 Day Fix is worth the price if you want fast results.



  • You can substitute as many organic and sustainable foods as you’d like (within diet guidelines)
  • Online and mobile app tools, like weight tracker, food log, activity tracker, and a few more
  • Effective exercise program
  • Decent online articles
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Pricey for a short-term program
  • Diet & required exercise regimen could be too restrictive/difficult for some people
  • Not backed by independent medical research
  • No access to dietitians, nutrition counselors
  • Online community forums but no in-person support


  • 21 Day Fix Essential: $59.95  + $12.95 Shipping & Handling

Atkins Review

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Atkins was once considered a fad diet, but thanks to research to back it up, it’s now a well-respected weight loss program. Another low-carb, high-protein diet, Atkins aims to kick your metabolism in gear to burn fat instead of carbs and sugars — hence, the weight loss.

Atkins has two plans: Atkins 20, geared towards people who want to lose more than 40 pounds or are diabetic or pre-diabetic. Your carb intake is much more limited with Atkins 20, especially in the first two weeks. Your other option is Atkins 40 with limited restrictions in the types of foods you can eat.

While you can get a free quick start guide and mobile app through their website, there’s not a lot of detail. We recommend purchasing an Atkins book and cookbook to set yourself up for success (see below).

What are the downsides of Atkins? More food restrictions than some other weight loss programs, and you don’t have access to community support or access to dietitians. But if you don’t need a support system, Atkins has proven successful for millions of people.



  • The least expensive plan we reviewed (no enrollment or monthly fees)
  • Include as many organic and sustainable foods as you’d like (within diet guidelines)
  • A decent mobile app includes weight tracker, food log, activity tracker, and a few additional tools (not available via the website)
  • Book is a resource for healthy living
  • Atkins 20 plan could prove difficult to follow with a restrictive diet
  • No access to dietitians or nutrition counselors
  • No community support in-person or via their website
  • No exercise programs
  • No money-back guarantee


Diet-to-Go Review

Diet-to-Go logo

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Diet-to-Go is a meal plan system that works with health professionals (including a registered dietitian, a nutritionist, and a certified health coach) to develop fresh, no prep meals delivered to your door. Similar to other diet plans, they say your subscription includes resources and a community to motivate you. Think of Diet-to-Go as a meal subscription, but the food is healthier, already cooked, and you have a built-in network of support to meet your weight loss goals.

Select a plan: Balance, Balance-D, Keto-Carb30, Vegetarian, Original (option for no Seafood) note if your sex Women’s (1,200 calories per day) or Men’s (up to 1,600 calories per day), then pick the number of days per week (5 or 7) and how many meals (2 or 3). The two-meal plan doesn’t include breakfast. After you purchase, pick the meals and menus. They offer free pick up if you are in select markets.



  • Ready-to-eat meals in 2-3 minutes
    Flexible delivery, pause or cancel any time
  • Free pick up in DC, Baltimore, New Jersey, San Fransisco Bay Area, and greater LA
  • Wide-variety of meal options
  • Good value for the price
  • $9.99 per delivery (2 per week) can add up quickly
  • No app or access to as many resources as other plans
  • No individual access to dietitians or nutrition counselors
  • You can’t view menus until after you purchase
  • No exercise programs
  • No money-back guarantee


South Beach Diet Review

South Beach diet logo

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South Beach Diet is a three-step weight loss program started by a cardiologist in 2003. It is one of the most popular low carb diets out there. It’s also one of the best diet plans to lose weight fast — in the first two weeks (Phase 1) you can expect to lose an average of 10 pounds.

South Beach Diet is ideal for diabetics, but some people may find the diet too restrictive. During Phase 1, you eat a lot of lean proteins, vegetables, and healthy fats. What’s not on the menu? All fruits and fruit juices, all starchy foods, and dairy products. During Phase 2, you slowly introduce these back into your diet until you reach your goal weight. Phase 3 involves learning how to maintain your weight loss.

South Beach Diet has online tools and a decent online community, but your access to dietitian consultations is limited compared to some other weight loss programs.



  • Competitive monthly membership fee
  • Include as many organic and sustainable foods as you’d like (within diet guidelines)
  • Online and mobile app tools including food log, activity and weight trackers, calorie counter, and more
  • Community forums and message boards
  • Variety of exercise plans and tutorials
  • Decent online learning resources
  • Pricey enrollment fee
  • Must sign up for a minimum of 3 months (similar programs only require 1 month)
  • The initial phase (2 weeks) is fairly restrictive
  • Only weekly consultations with dietitians (online only)
  • Not backed by independent medical researchers
  • No money-back guarantee


  • Initial Registration Cost: $65
  • $20/ month (3-month minimum)

So, What’s Our Skinny On Weight Loss Programs?

One of the best long-term effects good weight loss programs can impart is educating you about which foods are healthier options and how to control portion sizes. Follow the advice from — most modern (non-diet) cookbooks include increasingly larger portions, which they call serving sizes.

They’re not the same thing, and you can really cut your calorie and food intake by learning what healthy portions are. Many of our best weight loss programs do just this for you, and it can have a lasting impression on maintaining your weight loss once you’ve completed the diet.

Alternatives To Dieting

If you’re someone who loves to cook, we recommend trying out one of these meal delivery services, many of which have some for special diets, including vegan. If you tend to graze frequently, consider these healthy snack alternatives.

Which weight loss program has worked for you?

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