I'm no stranger to weight-loss services, having previously signed up to WW (formerly WeightWatchers) and Lite 'n Easy to help curb snacking and reset my idea of portion sizes. And it seems I'm not alone – with the industry boasting a market share of $458 million.
So when unhealthy eating habits started to creep into my daily life again I decided to get my health back on track and, having seen ads for Jenny Craig's latest plan – Rapid Results Max – I was curious to try it out.
So, for one week I followed the weight-loss plan. Here's how it went.
You can sign up at Jenny Craig centres nationwide, or online. For convenience, and because we're still living through a pandemic, I chose to sign up via the website.
Jenny Craig has three plans to choose from – Simple, Essential and Rapid Results Max. After entering my details, I was recommended the 7000kJ Rapid Results Max plan for $185 per week (although there are often discounts applied).
You also have to become a member to get access to the Rapid Results Max plan, although when I joined they were offering a free 12-week trial membership.
What is the Rapid Results Max plan?
The plan includes a full week of Recharge Bars, breakfasts, lunches and dinners, plus access to a personal coach. It also requires you to stick to an intermittent fasting regime in which you can only eat during a 10-hour period.
When choosing my meals for the week, I was pleased to find I had four menu options to choose from. I could also swap up to five items to suit my taste (extra costs may apply to some swaps).
I was a little surprised to learn I also needed to buy a selection of fresh food to supplement my meals for the week
But I was a little surprised to learn I also needed to buy a selection of fresh food to supplement my meals for the week (in my case, this included 18 cups of salad, 14 pieces of fruit, 13 fat serves and more).
This was an extra expense I wasn't expecting, but it did mean I had access to fresh, not frozen, foods all week. I also needed to spend a fair bit of time consulting Jenny Craig's Grocery Guide to work out what exactly I should shop for.
Jenny Craig offers a full vegetarian menu, but it doesn't currently have any vegan or gluten-free options. It also states "our menus are not suitable to accommodate your needs for Coeliac Disease".
After placing my order, a centre representative texted me to arrange a delivery time that was convenient to me. Two days later, my order arrived.
Everything came in a big silver box and was nicely chilled with an ice pack inside. There wasn't any information included in the box, so I had to log back into the website to print out my menu for the week and organise the meals into breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Now all I had to do was buy my fresh produce and I was ready to start my week on Jenny Craig.
Jenny Craig's Recharge Bars
I started each day with the Recharge Bar, which Jenny Craig claims is "specially formulated to be high in fat to support your 14-hour rejuvenation period".
It's essentially a fancy muesli bar with nuts and honey, and although it was tasty, it was a bit sweet for my liking first thing in the morning.
Because I was usually still full from my Recharge Bar, I wouldn't have breakfast until mid morning. But I generally enjoyed the options available – omelette, corn fritters, ham and egg muffin – as they were similar to what I'd normally choose for myself.
Two of the seven options were cereal based (tropical twist muesli and malty grain), which were perfectly fine, but not to my taste, as I'm not really a fan of breakfast cereals.
My breakfast options for the week.
Despite working from home during my week on Jenny Craig, I didn't have much time to make lunch from scratch, so I appreciated the convenience of the ready meals.
But the portion sizes were quite small – Day 4's Spinach & Fetta Roll was just 100g, for example. The plan does say you need to bulk up your meals with the fresh produce you've bought (on Day 4, that meant adding two slices of wholegrain bread, two fat serves, one boiled egg and two cups of salad to my lunch menu), but because I was often short on time I generally skipped this.
This won't be an issue for everyone, but it did mean I still felt hungry.
Jenny Craig lunches.
These came from the extra groceries I bought, and were mostly fresh pieces of fruit, or crispbread with reduced-fat cheese.
As with the lunches, you're expected to bulk up your dinners with serves of salad or vegetables that you've bought and prepared yourself. Unlike my experience with the lunches, I actually had the time to make these in the evening, so I found it easy to follow the suggested menu.
That said, to stick to my "10-hour nourishment period" I ended up eating dinner quite early at about 5.30pm (I'm an early riser, so needed to accommodate). This was earlier than my family's usual dinner time, and it felt a bit isolating not only to eat a different meal from them, but also to eat at a different time.
As for the supplied meals themselves, I was really quite happy with the selection, which included curry, pasta, crumbed fish and wedges, and even a beef pie. I wouldn't say any were a particular standout, but they were all enjoyable enough, and I could see myself eating them again if I were to continue on the plan.
Jenny Craig dinners.
So did it work?
At the end of the week I definitely felt like a healthier version of myself and I did lose weight so, in my opinion, the Rapid Results Max plan does work. But whether or not I could stick to it for longer than one week is up for debate.
I can definitely see the benefit in mixing the frozen foods from Jenny Craig with the fresh fruit, veg and snacks that you've bought yourself – it helps guarantee freshness and you get to choose the foods you like.
At the end of the week I definitely felt like a healthier version of myself and I did lose weight
But throughout the week I kept thinking I would have preferred the convenience of having all meals, snacks, fruit and veg supplied so I didn't have to cook (microwaving aside) or think about portion sizes and calories. Or, alternatively, I could have simply made what I wanted from scratch and tracked the calories.
I also struggled a little with the 14:10 intermittent fasting rules, particularly as they meant I had dinner earlier than my family. But if I were to continue with the plan, I think I could slowly adjust those times (i.e. have breakfast later) to align them better with my family mealtimes.
So although I would recommend Jenny Craig Rapid Results Max, I'd suggest you ask yourself what you're looking for in a weight-loss plan before signing up.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.