What Is the Mediterranean Diet and How Is It Different From Jenny Craig?By Carole Anderson Lucia Reviewed by Briana Rodriquez, R.D. Science-Backed
If you’ve decided to embark on a weight loss program, you’ve undoubtedly found that there are many, many different plans available, all with their own philosophy as to the best way to lose weight and improve your health. One of those plans — the Mediterranean diet — has been touted for years as one of the healthiest ways to eat, as it has been shown to have numerous health benefits. But can you lose weight on the Mediterranean diet? And how does it compare to Jenny Craig?
Read on to learn how Jenny Craig and the Mediterranean diet differ — and how they’re similar!
Remember to always consult your doctor before starting any weight loss program.
The Mediterranean diet: What you need to know
Here are some of the most common questions about the Mediterranean diet.
Q: What is the Mediterranean diet?
A: The Mediterranean diet is not a specific plan; rather, it is a way of eating that is similar to the diet patterns of such Mediterranean countries as Greece, Italy and Spain. In a nutshell, the typical Mediterranean diet has fewer carbohydrates and meats, and more plant-based foods and healthy fats, than the standard American diet.1
Photo by Ella Olsson on Unsplash
According to Harvard Medical School, the Mediterranean diet consists of:2
- An abundance of seasonal and locally grown plant foods, including fruits and vegetables, nuts and legumes, and whole grains
- Low to moderate amounts of cheese and yogurt, eaten daily
- Low to moderate amounts of fish and poultry, eaten a few times per week
- Small amounts of red meat, eaten infrequently
- Olive oil as the primary source of fat
- Sweets with added sugars or honey eaten only a few times per week; fresh fruit is usually eaten in their place
- Wine in low to moderate amounts, typically with meals
In addition, regular exercise is a cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet, as are meals with family and friends.3
Q: Is the Mediterranean diet healthy?
A: It is. Harvard Health2 reports that the Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and some cancers. And the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)1 says that the Mediterranean diet may lead to lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as more stable blood sugar.
The World Health Organization recognizes the Mediterranean diet as a healthy, sustainable dietary pattern.3 And the 2015–2020 Guidelines for Americans,4 includes a “Healthy Mediterranean-Style Eating Pattern.”
Q: Does the Mediterranean diet lead to weight loss?
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A: Research on the topic appears mixed. One review5 from 2008, for instance, analyzed 21 different studies and found that the Mediterranean diet might have a “possible role” in the prevention of overweight/obesity, although the authors reported that the results were inconsistent. Meanwhile, a large Italian study6 of more than 32,000 people, conducted over 12 years and reported in 2018, found that a Mediterranean diet may help prevent weight gain and abdominal obesity when followed long term.
Harvard Health,7 meanwhile, says that if it is used in conjunction with calorie restriction, the Mediterranean diet may help with weight loss.
Q: Are there any potential problems with the Mediterranean diet?
A: The NIH’s National Library of Medicine says the Mediterranean diet could be problematic for some people in a few areas:1
- You could experience weight gain from eating the fats in olive oil and nuts if you don’t watch your portion sizes.
- You may experience lower levels of iron from eating less red meat.
- You may experience lower levels of calcium if you eat fewer dairy products.
- Wine is a common component of the Mediterranean diet, but alcohol consumption may not benefit everyone’s health (here’s how alcohol can hinder weight loss).
In addition, the Mediterranean diet requires a significant amount of time spent shopping, prepping and cooking. And there is no personalized support.
The Jenny Craig program: What you need to know
Now let’s take a look at Jenny Craig.
Q: What are the main features of the Jenny Craig program?
A: The Jenny Craig program is based on a three-tier formula: one-on-one support; personalized plans; and premium, chef-crafted entrées with no artificial ingredients.
According to research,8 having social support can be instrumental in your weight-loss efforts, and one of the most important parts of the Jenny Craig program is the dedicated weight loss consultants. Jenny Craig’s specially trained consultants not only can help you craft a plan that works for your lifestyle, but they can also help hold you accountable and share techniques to help build healthier habits — something that is integral to both weight loss and long-term weight management.
Another cornerstone of the Jenny Craig program is the convenient, delicious food. Not only do Jenny Craig’s prepackaged foods take the work (and the guesswork) out of preparing your meals, but they’re designed by chefs and nutritionists … and they’re delicious! If you’re on the Jenny Craig program, you’ll have more than 100 convenient meals to choose from (even dessert!), augmented with five servings daily of fresh fruits and vegetables and a serving of low-fat dairy that you supply on your own.
Frozen premium foods lock in freshness, so you can be sure you're getting the best and most nutritious ingredients possible. The fruits and veggies are frozen at their ripest point to provide the best taste and nutritional value.
You can either visit a local center to pick up your food and meet in person with your dedicated personal consultant, or you can get your food delivered to your door with Jenny Craig’s weight loss meal delivery program. If you choose Jenny Craig’s meal delivery option, you’ll be able to meet with your personal consultant by phone or video chat.
A: It does. In addition to a plan for men and one for women, Jenny Craig offers a low-sugar menu, reduced-carbohydrate menu and a meatless menu.
Plus, we offer a diabetes weight loss plan specifically designed for individuals with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. Our diabetes plan follows expert guidelines and has been proven safe and effective: A recent review of 10 commercial weight loss programs by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, published in Obesity Reviews,9 found that people with Type 2 diabetes who were following the Jenny Craig program experienced a greater reduction in their hemoglobin A1c levels — a three-month average of blood sugar concentrations — at 12 months compared to those who were using weight loss counseling alone.
Q: Is Jenny Craig effective for weight loss?
A: Several studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of the Jenny Craig program. For instance, a 2015 review of 45 different studies, published in Annals of Internal Medicine,10 compared several commercial weight-loss plans and found that people on the Jenny Craig program lost the most weight over 12 months. And a 2013 study in the Journal of the American Heart Association11 found that after two years, overweight and obese women on the plan significantly reduced their weight and waist circumference.
Q: Does Jenny Craig evolve in conjunction with the latest research on weight loss?
A: It does! Jenny Craig is constantly innovating, using the latest science and research to create safe, effective weight loss programs. For instance, Jenny Craig’s Rapid Results program, launched in 2018, uses the science behind the body’s natural circadian rhythm — an internal clock that helps regulate our waking, eating and sleeping patterns — to maximize weight loss by employing time-restricted eating, which we refer to as a daylight nutrition strategy. With Rapid Results, you nourish your body during a 12-hour period (typically aligned with daylight hours) and take a break during a 12-hour rejuvenation period. The idea is to eat when your metabolism is usually more efficient, and refrain from food when your body is at rest. In two different studies, members who completed Rapid Results lost up to 16 pounds in their first four weeks!13 Average weight loss in studies was 11.6 lbs. for those who completed the program.
But Rapid Results isn’t Jenny Craig’s only groundbreaking program. Launching soon, Jenny Craig’s DNA Decoder Plan will analyze 15 unique genetic markers that impact weight loss. Based on your own unique DNA test results, your personal weight loss consultant will provide you with a tailored menu plan to help maximize your weight loss efforts.
A: A Mediterranean-style diet is definitely healthy for you, but the jury is out on whether it can help you lose weight. The Jenny Craig program incorporates elements of the Mediterranean diet to optimize your health while helping you lose weight:
- It emphasizes plenty of vegetables, as well as whole grains and fruit in moderation.
- It recommends a moderate dairy intake.
- It promotes physical activity.
- It encourages the consumption of healthy fats.
- It meets the minimum recommendation for fiber intake.
- It encourages freshness by freezing ingredients at peak freshness and urging members to incorporate Fresh & Free Additions in their daily diet.
There’s no doubt that the Mediterranean diet is healthy. Whether it can help you lose weight is another matter, and its lack of convenience is a drawback for some people. Why not choose a diet that’s safe, effective, convenient and delicious — and that incorporates many of the most important elements of the Mediterranean diet? Jenny Craig just might be the perfect plan for you!
Ready to get started on the path to better health and wellness with Jenny Craig? Find the chef-crafted menu plan that fits your lifestyle today!
Carole is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California who specializes in health and wellness topics. Her work has appeared in Parents, Fit Pregnancy, Mom & Baby, Yahoo News, Viv magazine and Lifescript. She's won several national awards for her work including a National Science Award and two National Health Information awards. A frequent contributor to Jenny Craig’s Blog, Healthy Habits, she enjoys gardening, spending time at the beach and adopting far too many rescue animals in her spare time.
Favorite healthy snack: jicama dipped in homemade hummus
Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.
Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and fact-checked by Briana Rodriquez, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Jenny Craig.
Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy.
This article contains trusted sources including scientific, peer-reviewed papers. All references are hyperlinked at the end of the article to take readers directly to the source.