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Weight Watchers vs. Nutrisystem vs. Jenny Craig

Vera Gibbons

Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to lose weight in the New Year?  Any idea how much it will cost you to shed 20 pounds if you forgo going it alone and join a specific program?

WeightWatchers, Nutrisystem, and Jenny Craig all promise to help you lose 1-2 pounds per week.  Realistically, though, if it takes you 5 months to lose all 20 pounds, here’s what you should expect to pay:

WeightWatchers, which is all about tracking points, recommends the online and in-person support, for $42.95 a month.  For 5 months of their help, plus the cost of food, the program will cost you about $86 per pound (That’s assuming you’re spending the national average on food, which is about $10 a day, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). The online-only version won’t save you that much, but is worth considering if you don’t want weekly weigh-ins and classes.

Nutrisystem is for the busy, on-the-go dieter who doesn’t want to track points.  Offering different meal plans for men and women, the “select” program they recommend goes for about $10/day, but they also suggest you spend $80/month for fresh groceries to supplement their processed meals.  Break it all down for 5 months, and the cost per pound is $120 for women; $127 for men.  “If you’re going to try Nutrisystem, use it for the ability to eat consistently throughout the day and learn portion control for the future,” Keri Glassman, founder and president, Nutritious Life.

Jenny Craig
This program provides coaching and pre-packaged meals, but costs the most at $163/pound for the most basic program.  It’s the meals that set you back, however as you get closer to your goal, your counselor will wean you off its meals so you can prepare your own less expensively.

Rounding it up: to lose 20 pounds, it will cost you $86/pound for WeightWatchers; $120 for Nutrisystem; and $163 for Jenny Craig--for the tools and the food.

Costs aside, what do the experts recommend? "Chances are, you’re going to learn the most from WeightWatchers, but if you're not the type of person who can apply the education to your life then Jenny Craig or Nutrisystem might be a better for you,” says Glassman. 

No matter what plan you do this year (For the skinny on other programs, click here. For other, affordable ways to drop a few pounds, click here.

"Make sure you manage your stress, practice good sleep hygiene, get proper hydration, exercise consistently, and listen to your body", says Glassman.  “Eat when you're slightly hungry and stop when you're slightly satisfied."

Which plan makes the most sense for your wallet and your health? Connect with me on Twitter @veragibbons and use the hashtag, #FinFit.