What is Nutrisystem?
Popular on CBS News. Of the 59 items we tasted in our main round of tests, only five scored Very Good—all from Jenny Craig. There's no real support other than their website. Nutrisystem has a great range of snacks and desserts varieties in its menu. Jenny Craig's edge came mainly from its lunch and dinner entrées, most of which were frozen rather than shelf-stable. Optional one-on-one support is available via telephone, web chat or email.
Jenny Craig edges out rival Nutrisystem
Consumer Reports gave top honors to the Jenny Craig program. It offers branded single-serving entrees and other dishes, weekly support sessions with a counselor in person or by phone, and an emphasis on exercise. But the key to its victory was how well people stuck to the plan. A whopping 92 percent were still using Jenny Craig two years after joining, according to a study in the journal of the American Medical Association.
Participants had lost an average of 8 percent of their body weight. Looking for an effective weight-loss plan? You have lots of choices, from Atkins to Weight Watchers. But which of the popular plans is best? Keep clicking to see the rankings just issued by Consumer Reports With no long-term studies available, Nutrisystem wasn't ranked in the same fashion as the others. We joined both programs, obtained menus, and ordered foods.
Our tests of a week's worth of food from the companies found that when it came to taste, Jenny Craig edged out Nutrisystem. But not by a large margin: Jenny Craig's food scored in the high end of the Good range compared with the low end of Good for its rival.
To our taste testers, "good" means OK but not great. Our bottom line for taste is that the plans might be worth trying if you're willing to stick with their branded foods.
But you can achieve the same portion control with diet meals and entrées from the supermarket freezer case that may be tastier. We didn't test Weight Watchers foods because they're not a required part of the program and anyone can buy them in grocery stores. Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem give you meal plans that include their branded foods. The programs have websites where you can track your progress, get tips for diet and exercise, and interact with trained consultants and fellow dieters.
With Jenny Craig, you pay a program fee that entitles you to weekly one-on-one counseling by telephone or at a walk-in center. If you want to continue after your initial program runs out whether or not you've lost the weight , you pay an additional fee.
You can pick up your food at the center or have it delivered to your home. Nutrisystem has no walk-in locations but provides optional online and phone support at no additional charge. Food is delivered to your home. It's the company's most popular option; all of the plan's meals are shelf-stable, which means they don't require refrigeration.
The meals were a mixture of frozen and shelf-stable items. We didn't evaluate the cost of the home-supplied items on the plans' menus. The best diet for you is the one you can stick to. These programs might appeal to people who have trouble with meal planning, have limited time and skill for cooking at home, struggle with portion control, or feel they might benefit from community support and counseling. If you don't like the restricted choice of the programs, you can devise a homemade version using frozen diet meals from the supermarket.
Two experienced sensory testers tasted, in total, 32 Jenny Craig products and 27 Nutrisystem Basic products. Where possible, we chose similar items. We also conducted a side test of six frozen entrées from Nutrisystem's more expensive Select line.
The products were tasted in random order within categories—breakfasts with breakfasts, snacks with snacks, and so on. Our tasters not only didn't know whose product they were tasting but also didn't know they were diet meals.