Best Weight Loss Program: Jenny Craig vs Nutrisystem vs Weight Watchers vs 21 Day Fix vs Atkins & More!

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Weight Watchers logo
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jenny craig logo
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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 his or her own horror story — after all, who really wants to severely restrict their food intake?

Often times, it’s much easier to lose weight if you have a specific program to follow, which is why commercial weight loss programs are so popular. And yes, some really do work!

Best Weight Loss Program Winners

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

  • 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,
  • and access to dietitian consultations.

Weight Watchers Review

#1

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Weight Watchers wins our top spot as best weight loss program for its reputation for success, community support, cost and other great features. Part of what’s so great 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.

It’s based on a point system rather than counting calories, and you’re largely responsible for making your own meals, so it can be more time-consuming than delivered meal programs like Jenny Craig or Nutrisystem.

Pros

Cons

  • Very competitive joining 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)
  • Great access to dietitians and nutrition counselors
  • Excellent community support online and at meetings
  • Excellent online and mobile app tools, like weight tracker, food log, point converter and much more
  • Good exercise plans and tutorials on website
  • Great online resources — FAQs, blogs, articles
  • Higher monthly plans are expensive
  • Learning curve to work with points system
  • No money back guarantee

Weight Watchers Pricing

There is a $20 initial joining fee for each plan, and Weight Watchers offers discounts on monthly pricing if you sign up for three months. The pricing below is for one month. Discounts are available for longer memberships.

  • $19.95 per month for Online Plus Plan
  • $44.95 per month for Meetings + Online Plus
  • $54.95 per month for Personal Coaching + Online Plus

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

Jenny Craig Review

#2

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Jenny Craig comes in second place as our choice for best weight loss program. As we mentioned above, researchers found Jenny Craig one of the two best programs for taking weight off and keeping it off. 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, which includes unlimited video consultations.

You choose your meals every week, and they have a good 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, but we highly recommend Jenny Craig for the busy person, who would prefer to have prepared meals and a regular community of support.

Pros

Cons

  • Competitive monthly membership fee
  • Backed by independent medical research
  • Plan is very easy to follow
  • Excellent dietitian consultations
  • Excellent community support online and at meetings
  • Good online and mobile app tools, like weight tracker, food log, activity tracker and a few more (not quite as comprehensive as Weight Watchers’ tools)
  • Good 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

Jenny Craig Pricing

  • $99 Enrollment Fee
  • $19 per month (1 month minimum)
  • $532 per month (average cost of food)
  • $116 per month (average cost of shipping)

Nutrisystem Review

#3

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Nutrisystem, our number three pick for best weight loss program, 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. With Nutri System 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.

Pros

Cons

  • 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)
  • Good online and mobile app tools, like weight tracker, food log, activity tracker and a few more
  • Good 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 Pricing

Nutrisystem offers three plans, all of which include no enrollment fees, no monthly membership fees and free shipping.

Basic Plan

  • $300 per month (average cost of food)
  • No access to dietitians or counselors
  • Not as many food choices

Core Plan

  • $310 per month (average cost of food)
  • Access to dietitians and counselors
  • Choose from over 100 foods

Uniquely Yours Plan

  • $355 per month (average cost of food)
  • Access to dietitians and counselors
  • Choose from over 150 foods, including frozen foods

Other Best 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 | 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 if you want fast results, we think 21 Day Fix is worth the cost.

Pros

Cons

  • You can substitute as many organic and sustainable foods as you’d like (within diet guidelines)
  • Good online and mobile app tools, like weight tracker, food log, activity tracker and a few more
  • Excellent 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 Pricing

  • $59.85 Essential 21 Day Fix
  • $12.95 Shipping & Handling

Atkins Review

Atkins logo

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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, which is 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, which isn’t as restrictive 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 foods are restricted 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.

Pros

Cons

  • Least expensive plan we reviewed (no enrollment or monthly fees)
  • Include as many organic and sustainable foods as you’d like (within diet guidelines)
  • Decent mobile app includes weight tracker, food log, activity tracker and a few additional tools (not available via website)
  • Book is an excellent resource for healthy living
  • Backed by medical researchers
  • Atkins 20 plan could prove difficult to follow with 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

Amazon List Pricing

“The New Atkins for a New You” (View on Amazon) – $11.69

“The New Atkins for a New You Cookbook” (View on Amazon) – $12.20

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

Pros

Cons

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

Pricing

  • $65 Initial Registration Cost
  • $20 per 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 WebMD.com — 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. Or if you tend to graze frequently, consider these healthy snack alternatives.

Which weight loss program has worked for you?

Source: [1] Annals.org

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Sally is a huge fan of fresh, organic food. One of her favorite hobbies is cooking with as many fresh herbs, spices and veggies as possible. And she's devoted to her all-natural skin products and cosmetics. It's saved her and her daughter from the curse of skin allergies. When she's not writing and researching (and being a Mom), you can find Sally getting down to earth in her home garden.

Leave a Reply

8 Comments on "Best Weight Loss Program: Jenny Craig vs Nutrisystem vs Weight Watchers vs 21 Day Fix vs Atkins & More!"

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Jane
Make sure you cancel your auto-shipment with Nutrisystem right after an order arrives or you will have to pay for another shipment! Very frustrating company to work with!
Sadie Cornelius
Jane, great tip and good to know! Appreciate you sharing your experience with Nutrisystem with us!
Jane
Sadie, Thank you for your openness to my feedback. I have tried to post my experience and found the comments deleted or in perpetual “pending” mode. My participation was disappointing primarily from a customer service standpoint but also from a sense of being censored in communicating my perspective.
Sadie Cornelius
Jane, we check all comments for spam and appropriateness, spelling/grammar etc. As part of our publishing policy, we don’t allow swear words on our site however we welcome and encourage readers to share any feedback (positive or negative) so rest assured your comment and its integrity is kept and posted in a timely manner and not deleted unless they are found to be spam, offensive or rude. Thanks for understanding and for sharing your experience, good luck with your weight-loss program!
Jane
Oh Sadie, I was not referencing any issue with your site. It was for posts made elsewhere that were made over 6 months ago…still pending. Again, thank you for your unbiased professionalism.
Sadie Cornelius
Jane, sorry for the confusion, thanks for the kind words and for clarifying and so glad to hear it’s not our websites you and the issue with! 🙂
Bobby Rose
I’ve always thought that the “calories in/calories out” philosophy made sense (in other words, you can eat whatever you want long as you’re exercising), but after spending some time on your site I see that it is actually more along the lines of “you are what you eat.”
Sadie Cornelius
Bobby that’s very well said, thanks for sharing your opinion and experience with us!
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