Jenny Craig vs. Weight Watchers vs. Nutrisystem - which is the best diet plan out there?

Putting diet plans to the test

Jenny Craig vs. Weight Watchers vs. Nutrisystem - which is the best diet plan out there?

Putting diet plans to the test

Forget about winter, spring, summer, and fall. Every dieter knows that the four seasons are New Year’s Resolution, Swimsuit Shape Up, Back to School, and Pre-Holiday Prep.  

Among the 75 million Americans trying to lose weight, the average dieter makes four weight-loss attempts per year, according to research from Marketdata Enterprises.

Once and for all, what’s the best way to lose weight? Teresa Strasser asked Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist and weight loss expert Jessica Lehmann to pick the best commercial diet plan.

Lehmann’s official verdict: “In the war of the diet plans, Weight Watchers wins! The only thing better than Weight Watchers is your own dietitian!”

Lehmann, who struggled with her weight for years and learned the hard way that lifestyle changes are the key to permanent weight loss, explains why dietitians outweigh any diet plan on her personal blog.

We asked her to summarize three popular commercial diet plans.

WEIGHT WATCHERS

Out of these three, Weight Watchers comes out on top because it has the most flexibility. Customers can choose to buy their prepackaged food at the grocery store or not. There are two options for social support, either attending group meetings facilitated by a Weight Watchers-trained employee or by visiting their online community.

Many people find their point system easy to use. The Weight Watchers system gives every food a point value and customers have a certain number of allowed points a day. People can either track points online or using the Weight Watchers app on their mobile device.

JENNY CRAIG

With Jenny Craig, the customer starts out with prepackaged food delivered to his or her doorstep and later adapts to eating non-Jenny food. The customer can meet weekly with one of their Jenny Craig-trained staff members at their facility.

NUTRISYSTEM

Like Jenny, the customer receives convenient, prepackaged food delivered to his or her home and then transitions to eating non-Nutrisystem food.

“Diets are short-term. Think long-term. What will you do after the diet? How will you transition off pre-packaged food? How will you change what you buy in the grocery store? How will you choose what to eat at a holiday party?”

One common challenge to reaching or maintaining a healthy weight is going out to eat. Did you know that restaurant portions are usually enough for two or three people?

When going out to eat, Lehmann recommends going online to look at a restaurant’s menu to figure out what to order and how to order before sitting down at the table. Lehmann says, “I love to eat out. I have three little kids and any meal that I don’t have to cook makes me very happy. But I order strategically to make sure I am getting my nutrients for the day as well as not getting too much salt, sugar, and fat.” Whether a person is trying to lose weight or not, she recommends these tips for sticking to a healthy eating plan when dining out.

At Applebee’s, there are seven options on Weight Watchers section of the menu to make complying with the diet plan a piece of cake. “The Weight Watchers-approved entrees stay within recommended calorie limits, which is fantastic, but not the whole story.”

Lehmann cautions that these entrees have close to entire day’s worth of sodium, which can cause high blood pressure in some people.

"So I would recommend asking your server to put the flavorings on the side so you have control over how much to add to your food,” she said. “I like Weight Watchers for its versatility, and it’s my favorite out of these three commercial weight loss chains."

To find a dietitian in your area, go to http://www.eatright.org and click on “Find a Dietitian”. You can enter your zip code and find an expert to coach you through healthy weight loss all the way to true wellness.

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