Diets 101: Jenny Craig vs Weight Watchers

Jenny Craig

The Jenny Craig Program was established in 1983 in Melbourne and has grown to become one of the largest weight management programs in the world.  The program adopts a ‘no diet’ approach and focuses on permanent lifestyle changes instead of short term dieting.

The trifecta of the Jenny Craig Program involves a manageable balance between eating delicious, healthy food, performing enjoyable exercise and getting motivational support from a personal coach to get you in the right frame of mind to complete the journey of weight loss.

Jenny Craig’s coaches are experienced and trained individuals who provide one-on-one consultations to help the dieter achieve their goals and stay motivated.  Consultations can occur online, over the phone or in person.

The program is designed to nurture a healthy attitude towards food and to teach dieters about kilojoules and which foods assist with weight loss.  Many of the suggested meals are healthy twists of traditional favourites like pancakes, fish and chips, lasagne and chicken parmigiana.  The importance of exercise is also emphasised as a way to burn calories and get fit.

There are a variety of programs to choose from that suit each dieter’s needs, goals and lifestyle.  The programs determine how much you eat and what combination of foods you require, as well as how much motivation and support you require to accomplish your goals.

Weight Watchers

The Weight Watchers Program is famous for using a point system instead of calorie counting to encourage dieters to lose weight.  The point system allows participants to budget and plan their meals ahead of time, so they can still eat what they want, provided that they stay within their points allowance and are creating a calorie deficit.

This did not go down well with some dieticians, who believed that many of the foods that were included in the points system should be removed because the foods were too heavy and decreased the motivation of the participant to exercise.

In 2010, Weight Watchers revised their points system and renamed it PointsPlus.  While the program still has the same ideas, point allocation has changed to encourage participants to eat more ‘Power Foods’ that contain protein and fibre, such as whole grains and lean meats, and fresh fruits and non-starchy vegetables are allowed in unlimited amounts.  Foods that are high in calories, fat and simple carbohydrates have been given more points to deter participants from eating them.  In this way, the points system is helping dieters learn to make healthier choices that will encourage weight loss, based not only on calorie counting but also where calories are coming from.

The age, gender, height and weight of new participants are used to calculate their daily allowance of points, which allows no less than 1200 calories a day.  To help with counting points, participants can use a pocket guide with the point value for hundreds of popular foods, or they can check the online database.  A mobile phone app and Points Plus calculator is also available.