In case you’re just joining us…
PLEASE READ FIRST: Ok let me start by saying this article is based on my opinion and over 19 years experience in the fitness industry. In my time in this industry I have managed health clubs, I’ve worked for supplement companies, I’ve assisted and contributed to product design, I am a registered massage therapist and a holistic lifestyle coach. To date I’ve personally assisted more than 3000 local individuals in reaching their fitness goals, overcoming injuries and eliminating pain through improved muscle balance and posture. As an amateur physique athlete I’ve even gained and lost more than 1000lbs of bodyweight in 15 different experiences with specific, measured, calculated nutrition and exercise strategies. I am very proud to say our training facility One-to-1 Fitness has built on this experience and to date has completed more than 60,000 training sessions in just three years of operation.
Recently on my Facebook account I acknowledged my disgust for one the latest weight loss crazes I’ve been hearing about, in this case the HCG diet. Over the years I’ve seen all kinds of gimmicks come and go. In this opinionated article series I’m going to put my credibility on the line and share with you what I think are some of the worst weight loss programs and why. You don’t have to agree with me, it’s ok if you don’t. You can likely easily find “research” that will discredit my belief and my opinion and that’s also ok. All I ask is that look at this with a reasonably open mind and decide for yourself if my opinions have some merit. All opinions and conclusions beyond this point are the result of real world, in the trenches experience with people just like you.
IMPORTANT NOTE: At the time of writing I am collecting the final measures from our most recent 6 week challenge. Using only exercise and nutrition I’ve seen 30+lbs lost, nearly 24” lost, over 10% bodyfat and 16lbs of actual bodyfat lost in just 6 weeks. Every single individual has preserved nearly all of their muscle mass (and in most cases gained more) ensuring their metabolic rate can only be higher than it was just 6 weeks ago.
Jenny Craig – Jenny Craig makes number 8 on my list for worst weight loss programs. Does this mean that I think Jenny Craig is terrible, bad, not recommended? No not at all, that is reserved for the weight loss programs that made 1, 2, and 3 on my list. But since these articles are meant to be critical let me tell you what I don’t like about Jenny Craig.
First off all the food is processed, because it’s processed and likely typically prepared in a microwave you need to understand that no matter what the raw ingredients are; metabolically they are not the same at the point which you consume them. Food processed by any means, designed with an extended shelf life and then reheated by microwave is broken metabolically, promotes free radical development and is not good for you. This is why even the meals we have made for our clients it’s always suggested they be reheated in the oven and we strongly urge people to minimize the use of a microwave as much as possible.
Next over the years it seems to me nearly everyone that uses the Jenny Craig system faces a 1200 or 1500 calorie diet, it’s very rare I’ve encountered a suggested meal plan that is based on a higher caloric intake. I am sure there must be some aimed for male clients but I haven’t seen them.
Below is the equation for Basal Metabolic Rate.
Women: BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) – ( 4.7 x age in years )
Men: BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.8 x age in year )
The BMR for a 30 year old, 5’6, 130lb female would be 1389 calories. At first glance this doesn’t sound so bad if the typical Jenny Craig diet is between 1200-1500 calories per day, but here’s what most people don’t understand. Basal Metabolic Rate is the total number of calories to maintain your current bodyweight and its standard function every 24 hours if…you didn’t get out of bed.
So how many calories do you burn just living life each day? Well on average people burn 150 cals/hour of walking, so let’s assume we only burn 1/3 that much for every waking hour living, for most people that’s still an extra 500-700 calories a day just living and performing daily activities. Now imagine increased needs for stress, recovering from illness, an injury, a physically demanding job or even exercise. It’s safe to say that if you are even remotely active your caloric needs will be easily 1000 calories or more over your BMR.
Now yes it’s true, between your exercise and nutritional program having a slight caloric deficit is an important factor for weight loss, but time and experience has shown that if this deficit is much more than 10-20% at any given time, or drastically reduced in a very short time frame your body responds by shutting down different aspects of your metabolism, immune system and other body systems. This means that if you do lose any weight you are highly likely to gain some or all of it back and even worse you are at a much greater risk for injury, sickness and disease.
In fact I previously wrote a blog post on this very topic – (Click Here)
The positives to Jenny Craig are the convenience of the food, which is a very strong positive as it’s critical for most people to learn and adapt to a high frequency of meals to stimulate metabolism. Combine this with coaching and support and you have a great environment. The major flaw of this program as I’ve pointed out is its disregard for how the body works.
Why would the system be designed this way?
Most people are already eating too few calories on a daily basis. As a trainer it’s a very tough sell to help them understand and believe that eating more is not only critical to permanent weight loss but also their long term health and performance. Additionally when you increase someone’s calories the body must go through an adaptation(metabolic recovery) phase which means their weight may go down, it may go up, or more commonly it will stay the same for a period of time. Unfortunately this period of time is very unpredictable and makes it a tougher sell to the average weight loss consumer who is emotionally looking for the instant gratification of immediate success.
There you have it, that’s my take on Jenny Craig, who will make #9 on my list? Find out soon!