Weight Loss Programmes

Optavia (Medifast) vs Jenny Craig

Lifestyle programs can provide a helpful structure for your health journey when you feel out of control with unhealthy habits. In particular, they can be especially useful in helping you achieve your weight goals. Programs are a great way to join individuals going on the same journey, which can be incredibly motivating.

Everyone is different, and there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to choosing a weight management program. It ultimately depends on what suits your individual needs and what fits into your lifestyle. Some people want rigid rules and a quick fix, whereas others like more flexibility and a long-term lifestyle change.

To save you some tiresome research and help to answer some important questions, this guide compares two popular online weight loss meal delivery programs; Optavia (previously known as Medifast) and Jenny Craig.

Both Optavia and Jenny Craig are meal delivery services that provide pre-packaged low-calorie meals and snacks which are delivered to your door, taking away the need to plan or prepare healthy meals yourself.

With Jenny Craig, all meals and snacks are provided during your subscription. With Optavia, you get 5 ‘essential fuelings’ provided each day and cook one ‘lean and green’ meal yourself.

Pre-packaged foods are not sustainable in the long term and the long-term aim is to transition from pre-packaged meal plans to cooking meals again for yourself.

When you do choose to start preparing your own meals again, you haven’t had the chance to learn skills such as meal planning, and how to prepare healthy meals. This can make it more difficult to stay healthy and maintain your weight after finishing your program.

We’ve also included comparisons with the Second Nature program. Second Nature is an easy-to-follow lifestyle change program that can help you achieve your weight goals sustainably, with scientific articles, in-app tracking, and dedicated support from a coach with expertise in nutrition and wellness. Second Nature gives you the tools you need to achieve your weight goals sustainably.

Reviews

Trustpilot is a platform where consumers can leave reviews and scores reflect overall customer satisfaction. Neither Optavia nor Jenny Craig have many reviews on Trustpilot, so we’ve included reviews from different sites.

Optavia (Medifast) Jenny Craig Second Nature
Star rating Optavia reviews - 4/5 5 stars
Score 4.05 / 5
read reviews
3.5 / 5
read reviews
4.8 / 5
read reviews

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Signing up

Optavia (Medifast) Jenny Craig Second Nature
Money back guarantee If you are not completely satisfied with your order, you may return the consumable products in your order for any reason; non-consumable items are non-refundable. Please return consumable products within 30 days of receipt of your order for a full refund minus shipping. Under the 100% Satisfaction Guarantee you can contact customer service within the first 7 days and return the remaining food to get a full refund. Full refund if cancelled within 14 days. After this point, any charges are non-refundable.
Clear breakdown of costs
Clear cancellation policy
Length of program Meal packs last for approximately 3 weeks and can be repeated for as long as needed Ongoing subscription (minimum 4 weeks) Ongoing subscription (minimum 12 weeks)
Easy to cancel
Refer-a-friend scheme
Easy to include family

Nutrition

Optavia (Medifast) Jenny Craig Second Nature
Dietary approach Pre-packaged meals and snacks (low calorie) Pre-packaged meals and snacks (low calorie) Lower carb
Caters to vegetarian
Caters to vegan
Supplements encouraged
(immune boosting supplements are available to be purchased, here)

Other than Vitamin D

Support

Optavia (Medifast) Jenny Craig Second Nature
Tailors the plan around diabetes
Tailors the plan around other health issues
Face-to-face meetings
(for the Rapid Results Max program only)
Access to a qualified nutrition specialist *
Daily support from a coach
(weekly consultations available on the Rapid Results Max program)

(weekdays only)

*Second Nature coaches are all UK registered dietitians or nutritionists. This means they have completed university accredited degrees to gain this professional title. However, coaches are not registered in the US, so don’t meet the regulatory requirements to be considered US registered dietitians or nutritionists.

Program features

Optavia (Medifast) Jenny Craig Second Nature
App
Subscription to the Habits of Health app is included when purchasing the Habits of Health Transformational System (included in your first order)
Exercise videos in app
Recipe videos in app
Tracks sleep
Tracks steps
Tracks exercise
Tracks water intake
Tracks custom habits
Education of nutrition science
Requires calorie counting
(pre-packaged food is calorie controlled on your behalf)

(pre-packaged food is calorie controlled on your behalf)
Food diary feature
Meal planning tool
In-app journalling tool

Pricing

When programs provide price plans in different formats, it can be hard to accurately compare prices. To make this easier, we have calculated the price of monthly digital price plans on each program to show you how costs compare (as of July 2021). All admin fees are included in these prices.

Optavia’s pricing is based on their ‘Optimal Weight 5&1 Plan’ and Jenny Craig’s pricing is based on their ‘Rapid Results Weight Loss Plan’.

The Jenny Craig ‘Rapid Results Weight Loss Plan’ includes all meals and snacks. With Optavia, you get 5 ‘essential fuelings’ provided each day and cook one ‘lean and green’ meal yourself. A ‘lean and green’ meal consists of lean protein, 3 portions of vegetables, and 1-2 portions of fat. Ingredients for these meals would add additional cost to the program cost shown below.

Jenny Craig’s ‘Rapid Results Weight Loss Plan’ is their only program that includes coaching. Coaching is weekly with your personal Jenny Craig consultants. However, Jenny Craig consultants aren’t nutrition experts and are typically from a sales background, rather than health experts.

Optavia coaches are typically past members and have no nutrition qualifications. They work by commission so have an incentive to encourage you to stay on the program rather than build lasting healthy habits.

Second Nature doesn’t include pre-packaged food. Instead, the Second Nature program offers an education in nutrition science, helping you to build better habits and develop a better relationship with food. Daily coaching is also included.

All Second Nature coaches are qualified nutrition specialists. Having a coach with an expertise in nutrition and wellness to support and guide you makes achieving your weight goals easier.

Another option to get support with your diet would be to have private sessions with a registered dietitian. Weekly face-to-face sessions with a registered dietitian can be very expensive ($70-$100 per session). We have added a column representing this to compare costs, labelled weekly registered dietitian (WRD).

Monthly digital subscriptions:

Optavia (Medifast) Jenny Craig Second Nature WRD
Access to a qualified nutrition specialist
The same, personal coach throughout the program
Price $540 / month $805.69 / month $60 / month $350 / month

Pricing for Optavia is based on their ‘Essential Optimal Kit’, priced at $414.60 for 119 servings, lasting approximately 24 days. This works out at a cost of $17.42 per day.

Pricing for Jenny Craig is based on the ‘Rapid Results Max’ program priced at $25.99 per day, based on 31 days in a month. The program includes 3 meals a day, plus snacks.

Take home message

  • When choosing a weight management program, it is important to consider what would fit into your lifestyle and help you achieve your goals.
  • Jenny Craig and Second Nature are app-based programs.
  • Optavia doesn’t have an app to track your progress, so you may want to choose another app to help with this part of your journey.
  • Pre-packaged meal plans, although convenient, are difficult to include your family and you may feel restricted when eating out
  • Optavia and Jenny Craig focus on rapid weight loss and may be difficult to continue over time, Second Nature tackles weight loss holistically, including education on exercise, nutrition, sleep, and mindset
  • Second Nature provides you with an education of nutrition, allowing you to make informed decisions yourself and develop a healthy relationship with food in the long-term

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