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The South Beach Diet and Jenny Craig are two popular commercial weight loss programs.
Both offer premade meals and snacks designed to support weight loss and help save you time on meal prep.
However, while the South Beach Diet and Jenny Craig are similar in many ways, several key features set them apart.
This article compares some of the main similarities and differences between the South Beach Diet and Jenny Craig to help you decide which is right for you.
|The South Beach Diet||Jenny Craig|
|Basics||• low carb diet based on a book|
• encourages non-starchy vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins
• offers plans with prepared meals and snacks
|• delivers fully prepared meals and snacks|
• personal coaching available with certain plans
|Menu options||• variety of premade meals and snacks available|
• menu can be filtered to exclude specific ingredients and view vegetarian, low carb, diabetes-friendly items
|• over 100 prepared meals and snacks available|
• offers low carb plan for type 2 diabetes
|Cost||• Silver: $12.50–$13.75 per day|
• Gold: $13.75–$15 per day
• Platinum: $15.18–$16.43 per day
• One-Week Reboot Kit: $99.99
|• Simple Meal Plan: $12.99 per day|
• Essential Meal Plan: $20.78 per day
• Rapid Results Max Meal Plan: $25.99 per day
|Effectiveness||• low carb, high protein diets may be effective for weight loss and fat loss|
• may increase the number of calories you burn and support appetite control
|• may support weight loss|
• members can expect to lose an average of 1–2 pounds (0.5–1 kg) per week
|Benefits||• requires little to no effort|
• additional guidance is available in the book
• may improve blood sugar levels among people with type 2 diabetes
|• convenient and easy to follow|
• coaching is available with certain plans
• may help promote blood sugar control among those with type 2 diabetes
|Downsides||• encourages the intake of processed foods|
• limited options for people with dietary restrictions and food allergies
|• encourages the intake of processed foods |
• few options for people with dietary restrictions, food allergies, and intolerances
Here’s a basic overview of how each program works.
The South Beach Diet
The South Beach Diet was developed by Dr. Arthur Agatston, an American cardiologist.
It limits high carb ingredients and added sugars while promoting non-starchy vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein sources.
The principles of the South Beach Diet are outlined in a book written by Dr. Agatson, which you can use to follow the diet on your own.
The South Beach Diet also offers plans that deliver a variety of premade meals and snacks to help simplify weight loss.
The three available plans are:
- Silver: includes 5 days of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners per week
- Gold: includes 5 days of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners per week, plus snacks
- Platinum: includes 5 days of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners per week, plus snacks and 15 probiotic shakes
The South Beach Diet also sells a 1-week reboot kit, which includes a selection of meals and snacks that can supposedly help you lose up to 7 pounds (3.2 kg) in just 1 week.
Jenny Craig is a diet program that delivers fully prepared foods designed to promote weight loss.
Several plans are available, each of which varies in price and the number of meals provided.
Some plans also include in-person or virtual coaching with a Jenny Craig consultant each week.
Here are the plans that Jenny Craig offers:
- Simple Meal Plan: includes 7 breakfasts and 7 lunches each week
- Essential Meal Plan: includes 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, and 7 dinners each week with free delivery
- Rapid Results Max Meal Plan: includes 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners, 7 protein bars, and 7 snacks or desserts per week with free delivery and personal coaching
In addition to the meals and snacks provided by Jenny Craig, members are encouraged to enjoy one healthy snack per day and exercise regularly.
Jenny Craig also offers a maintenance plan, which involves slowly transitioning from prepackaged foods to preparing your own meals at home.
Here are some of the menu options available for each program.
The South Beach Diet
The South Beach Diet’s menu has a wide range of options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
It also offers several sweet and salty snacks, including protein shakes, nacho puffs, cookie bites, and mixed nuts.
The South Beach Diet allows you to make your own meal plan each week by choosing your favorite meals from the company’s menu.
You can also filter the menu to view items that are vegetarian, diabetes-friendly, low in carbs, or free of specific ingredients.
Each item contains a detailed list of ingredients, along with preparation instructions and nutritional information.
The website also displays customer reviews for each menu item, which may be useful when selecting the items you’d like to add to your meal plan.
Jenny Craig offers a variety of premade meals and snacks, with over 100 menu items.
Each week, you can customize your order by selecting your favorites from the full menu.
All items include information about their nutritional value and ingredient content.
Although Jenny Craig offers a low carb plan specifically for people with type 2 diabetes, limited options are available for other restrictive eating patterns, including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free diets.
Here’s how the two programs compare in terms of price.
The South Beach Diet
The cost of the South Beach Diet depends on which plan you select.
Here’s the price for each South Beach Diet plan:
- Silver: $12.50 per day for women, $13.75 per day for men
- Gold: $13.75 per day for women, $15 per day for men
- Platinum: $15.18 per day for women, $16.43 per day for men
- One-Week Reboot Kit: $99.99
Free shipping is offered with all plans. You can also purchase multiple months in advance or sign up for a recurring subscription to receive additional savings.
Optional add-ons are also available, including extra snacks, protein bars, desserts, and meal bundles.
Jenny Craig has several plans to choose from, each of which differs in price.
Here’s the cost of each Jenny Craig meal plan:
- Simple Meal Plan: $12.99 per day
- Essential Meal Plan: $20.78 per day
- Rapid Results Max Meal Plan: $25.99 per day
Both the Essential Meal Plan and Rapid Results Max Meal Plan include free delivery.
However, there’s an additional charge for shipping if you order fewer than 2 weeks’ worth of meals at a time on the Simple Meal Plan.
You can also purchase optional extras when checking out, including snacks, shakes, and desserts.
Both programs have been shown to support short-term weight loss.
The South Beach Diet
According to the company’s website, members can expect to lose 1–2 pounds (0.5–1 kg) per week while following the South Beach Diet.
One older study in 20 people with metabolic syndrome showed that those who followed the South Beach Diet for 12 weeks lost an average of 11.5 pounds (5.2 kg) and experienced reductions in belly fat and total body fat (
Other research has also found that dietary patterns similar to the South Beach Diet may aid weight loss.
For example, one study in 331 people with obesity showed that following a low carb, low calorie, high protein diet for 9 months led to greater weight loss and fat loss than a standard low calorie diet (
Another study observed that decreasing your carb intake may help boost the number of calories you burn throughout the day (
Plus, research shows that protein and fat may have a greater effect on hunger-regulating hormones, such as ghrelin and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), compared with carbs, which may help promote appetite control (
Like the South Beach Diet, Jenny Craig claims that members typically lose an average of 1–2 pounds (0.5–1 kg) per week on the program.
Citing a study published on the Jenny Craig website, the company also claims that you can lose up to 17 pounds (7.7 kg) within your first 4 weeks on the Rapid Results Max plan (6).
However, keep in mind that this study was not published in a peer-reviewed journal. Additionally, neither information about its funding nor other potential sources of bias was made available.
Still, several other studies have found that Jenny Craig may aid weight loss.
For instance, one large review of 39 studies showed that people who used Jenny Craig for 1 year achieved 4.9% greater weight loss than a control group (
Another small study found that women who followed the program lost an average of 11.8 pounds (5.3 kg) over 12 weeks (
There are also a few other benefits associated with each program.
The South Beach Diet
With a variety of fully prepared meals and snacks to choose from, the South Beach Diet makes it easy to follow a low carb diet.
The book also offers detailed information and guidelines on how to follow the diet, which may be beneficial if you decide to start preparing your own meals at home instead of purchasing the premade meals.
It may also help ease your transition back to a typical diet once you have reached your weight loss goals.
Jenny Craig may be a good option for those who prefer a more structured and simple weight loss program that leaves little room for error.
Because all dishes are delivered fully prepared and ready to enjoy, Jenny Craig can also help you save time throughout the week on meal prep.
Certain plans also offer personal coaching, which may help those who benefit from having additional social support and increased accountability.
There are some drawbacks to consider with both programs as well.
The South Beach Diet
While it’s possible to follow the South Beach Diet using the recommendations found in the book, the company promotes the use of its premade meals and snacks to speed weight loss.
Eating only the meals and snacks provided by the South Beach Diet could also make it more difficult to transition back to a typical diet.
Additionally, the South Beach Diet may not be suitable for those with specific dietary restrictions or food allergies, as there are limited options available to fit certain needs.
Finally, with plans ranging from $12.50–$16.43 per day, it can be pretty pricey, compared with similar programs.
Instead of teaching you how to prepare healthy meals at home, Jenny Craig encourages the intake of fully prepared, highly processed meals.
While this may be convenient, it can make it much more difficult to transition back to a typical diet and maintain your weight loss long term.
Furthermore, the program may not be a good fit for everyone, as it offers very few options for those with dietary restrictions, food allergies, or intolerances.
It’s also very expensive, with plans ranging from $12.99–$25.99 per day.
This means you could spend over $800 on the program in a single month, which may be challenging for those on a budget.
Both Jenny Craig and the South Beach Diet provide prepackaged meals and snacks designed to help simplify weight loss.
Unlike the South Beach diet, Jenny Craig offers coaching and peer support to help hold you accountable and provide personalized advice.
On the other hand, the South Beach Diet can be followed using only the recommendations described in the book.
This can not only ease your transition back to preparing healthy meals at home but also be more cost-effective and sustainable in the long run.
Jenny Craig is a commercial weight loss program that delivers a variety of fully prepared meals and snacks.
Meanwhile, the South Beach Diet is a low carb diet plan that offers prepackaged meals and snacks.
Although both programs may aid weight loss, Jenny Craig offers social support, while the South Beach Diet provides additional guidance in the book to support long-term weight loss.