Medifast Diet Review
By CANDICE GREY
Update: Dec 27, 2022
What Is Medifast
In announcing its ranking on Forbes’ lists, Medifast described itself as “a leading portion-controlled weight-loss program.” Actually, Medifast is a very low calorie diet (VLCD) consisting of Medifast prepackaged meal replacement shakes and other foods. It’s also a multi-level-marketing (MLM) diet business, which the company calls its “Take Shape for Life” personal coaching division. Medifast also sells its program and products online and through call centers, in its Medifast Weight Control Centers and through a network of doctors.
Medifast, now called Optavia, will sell to anyone online or through distributors, but in its centers people should be at least 30 pounds overweight based on body mass index guidelines. It’s a very big and lucrative business—especially for those at the top of the MLM pyramid.back to menu ↑
“Medifast is safe and effective to do on your own whether you want to lose 15 or 120 or more pounds.” That’s the weight loss claim. Medifast says it is safe and effective and used by doctors for years. In fact, Vitale sold the diet to fellow doctors and that’s how he got that direct marketing business model rolling.
Medifast says tens of thousands of doctors have recommended it over the decades but adds, “It’s only been within the past decade that Medifast was formulated to be available to you without a doctor’s supervision.”
Medifast claims that their weight loss meals are “nutrient-dense and fortified with 24 vitamins and minerals, so you can lose pounds and inches without losing out on nutrition. Each meal has essentially the same nutritional profile, and has been designed to have enough low-fat protein and healthy fiber to help you feel full and satisfied, without the between-meal hunger that can sabotage a weight loss plan.” Medifast says the key to weight loss on its plans is simple: “After a few days on either Medifast weight loss plan, your body will start to burn fat so you can lose weight while preserving muscle tissue.”back to menu ↑
There are two plans. Medifast Go was formerly known as the Medifast 5 & 1 Plan. Let me digress here for a minute; the Medifast 5 & 1 Plan was the subject of a sweeping 2012 federal investigation and lawsuit, wherein federal agencies alleged the company engaged in false advertising when it claimed you’d “lose 2-5 pounds” per week with no scientific proof of that claim. Medifast ultimately settled by paying a $3.7 million fine, but declined to admit guilt.
Medifast has changed the program name to Medifast Go, and added a new weight loss meal replacement program, Medifast Flex, previously known as the Medifast Achieve Plan. Each will run you around $75 to $100 a week.
On the Medifast diet you eat “Medifast Meals fortified with the essential vitamins and minerals you need for healthy weight loss.” Medifast claims it’s nutritionally balanced meals, more than 65 of them, “are all based on a similar design, so they are easily interchangeable and you’re assured of getting great nutrition every day.” These ‘meals’ are bars, shakes, soups, snacks, desserts and a few pasta entrees.
You do need to, obviously, supplement with real food. Medifast has that part covered with its “lean and green” recipes, described as including 7 ounces of protein, 3 servings of vegetables, and up to 2 servings of healthy fats, the latter “depending on your lean protein choices.” The recipes are available to Medifast customers on their blog and in their cookbook. But they also sell individual Medifast ‘Flavors of Home Lean and Green’ meals.
A 14-day Medifast diet meal replacement kit is $149 and includes an assortment of Medifast “meals” (70 total) that include shakes, snacks, and soups so I’m not sure if a shake constitutes a meal, but I am assuming it does. So you’ll get stuff like a pasta dish, brownies, chicken noodle soup, peanut butter crunch bars, vanilla shakes, and mashed potatoes. And you receive a welcome kit, food journal, dining-out guide and a plastic blender bottle.
Similarly, the 30-day kit at $329 provides a month’s worth of Medifast Meals, 147 in total with dishes like the 14-day but it appears like you get more variety like oatmeal and pretzel sticks, but the list on the website appears to be mostly snack foods, shakes and a couple of side dishes, also known as meal replacement stuff.back to menu ↑
The meal at Medifast isn’t particularly impressive; you could only describe it as “sufficient yet functional.” The majority of Medifast meals are shakes, bars, and “simply add water” meals, which are considerably inferior to an Olive Garden dinner. (Perhaps the Fettuccine Alfredo at the Olive Garden, which has 1900 calories, is the reason you’re here in the first place.)
There are 65 alternatives, including breakfast items, bars, smoothies, soups, pastas, and desserts. Every meal replacement has been designed to have more protein and vitamins and minerals. The curriculum can be modified to accommodate vegetarian, gluten-free, and diabetic clientele.
The “Lean and Green” Meal
- Lean meat options include skinless turkey or chicken breasts, shellfish, canned salmon or tuna, and fish. lean lamb, hog, or beef slices. Bake, grill, or poach. Toppings accepted. Lean meat portions should be 6-7 ounces for men and 4-5 ounces for women.
- Green salad: up to 1/4 cup of raw vegetables and 1-2 cups of salad greens.
- Instead of salad, substitute 1 to 1 1/2 cups of cooked fibrous vegetables.
- Shakes and water must be combined (not milk).
- Men and women can both use Medifast.
- The difference is that men’s meals contain more protein than women’s do.
On the Medifast1.com website, you can get more details about all of their foods and meals, including nutritional values (calories, carbs, protein, fat, etc.), user reviews, and ingredients.
Typical Menu (Day 1)
- A maple and brown sugar breakfast Oatmeal
- Breakfast: Pineapple Coconut Smoothie
- Ziti Marinara for lunch in the afternoon Peanut Butter Crunch Bar as a snack
- Dinner: Chicken Stir-Fry with Broccoli and Red Peppers (recipe).
Typical Menu (Day 2)
- French Vanilla Shake for breakfast
- Fruit & Nut Crunch Bar for Midday
- Vegetable chili for lunch
- Lunchtime: Cheese Pizza Bites
- Dinner: Grilled salmon and asparagus (recipe).
Do Dieters Lose Weight With a Medifast Diet?
Dieters on Medifast do typically lose weight, especially in the beginning. The diet calls for only 800 to 1,000 calories to be ingested on a daily basis. However, the level of weight loss success ultimately depends on the ability of a participant to stick to all the rules set forth by Medifast.
Even though weight loss can be expected by those following the diet program to a tee, the amount of weight loss is greatly contested. The claim of 2 to 5 pounds per week is one that can’t really be proven as some will lose more than others and there are many variables that go into the amount of weight that is achieved while on the Medifast Diet.back to menu ↑
Is It Easy To Follow?
No and yes.
Meal planning and grocery buying are easy with Medifast. People who follow the Medifast GO! regimen consumes five Medifast meal substitutes daily. Your full daily meal plan is provided by the firm if you decide to get lean and green meals from them.
The Medifast Achieve meal plans substitute an additional low-calorie meal, which may be a microwaveable meal provided by the firm, for one of the meal replacements.
Customers lose weight quickly by eating a high-protein, low-fat, low-calorie diet, especially while using the Medifast GO! plan. This outcome can motivate dieters to follow the plan as they succeed in their weight loss objectives.
However, many people may find it challenging to drastically reduce their calorie intake. Dieters typically eat every two to three hours, but the caloric intake might still make people feel hungry. Only 25% of dieters in a study with 1,351 individuals could maintain their Medifast diet for the entire year.
Eating Medifast meals and meal replacements cause weight loss in all individuals, but the most significant weight loss was only achieved by those who were able to remain with the program for the entire year.back to menu ↑
How Fast Can You Lose Weight on Medifast?
The plans are effective, particularly the Medifast Go! plan, which calls for dieters to consume five Medifast meal substitutes and one lean and green meal each day. This diet burns between 800 and 1,000 calories daily.
In one study, the first three months of the Medifast GO! diet resulted in weight loss for 77 overweight people of about 10 percent of their starting weight. Dieters dropped an average of 16.5 pounds over the course of six months in another Medifast GO! study. Over the course of a year, participants in a big trial including 1,351 Medifast dieters dropped an average of 26 pounds.
It has been demonstrated that dieters who can follow the Medifast regimen shed more pounds than those who attempt to shed pounds through their own self-imposed diets.
Like with many diets, people frequently gain some weight back after losing it. According to research, Medifast dieters, however, typically lost more weight than dieters who followed their own diets and were more likely to keep the weight off.
Dieters can also lose weight on the Medifast Achieve plan, despite the fact that most research has concentrated on Medifast GO! or its predecessor, the 5 & 1 plan.
Two lean and green meals plus four meal replacements are permitted each day under the Achieve plan (formerly known as the 4 & 2 & 1). Users of this plan consume 1,100–1,300 calories per day. Results are slower than on the Medifast GO! plan, but they may be easier for many people to maintain over time. This can promote more steady weight loss.
Pros and Cons
Meal replacement programs from Medifast have helped a lot of dieters lose a ton of weight, but they are not right for everyone.
The price is one important factor, which we shall go into more detail about next. Let’s first look at some additional Medifast benefits and drawbacks.
- Food planning is made simpler with meals and meal replacements delivered to your door.
- Studies demonstrate that Medifast’s low-calorie foods help people lose weight.
- Meals have comparable nutrients, so you can switch them out.
- Regular eating might help you feel satisfied and full.
- Meals and snack replacements are delectable.
- As long as you adhere to certain ingredient and portion restrictions, you are still permitted to prepare one lean and green meal every day for yourself (and the rest of your family).
- Medifast provides free delivery.
- Medifast offers a money-back guarantee for all of its products.
- Not everyone may find that snacks and drinks satisfy their desire for larger meals.
- The Achieve diet results in slower weight loss.
- Some snacks and beverages have a lot of added sugar.
- You need to eliminate a lot of carbohydrates, fruits, dairy products, and alcohol from your diet.
- It can be difficult to maintain a low-calorie diet over the long run.
- The majority of the food you consume will be prepared by Medifast.
- The only thing that Medifast meal plans include are healthier meals; workout routines are not part of them.
Word On The Street About Medifast Diet
What about Medifast reviews? Since Medifast is so well-known and such a powerhouse in the diet world, I went straight to Consumer Reports for Medifast reviews, all of which appear quite candid and legitimate. The most recent review was from just a couple of days ago, August 2017. “Kyleigh,” who gave Medifast 4 stars, says she was introduced to Medifast through an online video.
“…My experience going through the diet started off well and I was surprised by how good a lot of the meals tasted…I didn’t experience any more weight loss with this program than I would if I just changed my diet. I think the results are overstated in a lot of the publicity and that was the biggest drawback for me. I really like that it was convenient, but it wasn’t quite what I expected …“.
But a common theme I found was that a number of people, while giving it high marks as very effective for extreme weight loss, caution that it’s difficult at best to sustain it and many gain some or all of the weight back once they go off the diet. I went in search of very negative reviews, too—1- and 2-star reviews—and found 80 reviews; some were frightening, with users listing serious health problems occurring post-diet. It’s not clear how many of these people consulted a doctor before starting the diet. Nonetheless, let that stand as a warning: ask your doctor before you start Medifast or any other diet.back to menu ↑
The Bottom Line: Is Medifast Worth a Try?
Risky (mid-level risk). It is, simply put, a very low calorie diet. But one that requires Medifast brand meal replacements, including Medifast shakes, Medifast bars, Medifast snacks, and more. I’m not a fan of prepackaged food diet food, no matter how much nutrition is said to be packed in there. It is still processed in some manner, and processed foods – especially “diet” processed foods.
“may contain hidden additives that some nutritionists claim may sabotage weight loss. Just saying”
That said, if your doctor recommends it – or if you ask and your doctor approves – go for it. But know up front, unless you change your eating habits and incorporate regular and energetic exercise into your life for good, just like with any other diet, you won’t keep that weight off once you go off the plan. But it’s your call.back to menu ↑
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Medifast work?
It can work and it is safe, however it may be more difficult to maintain the weight loss after discontinuing the program.
Does Medifast put you in Ketosis?
To an extent the Medifast 5 &1 plan may put you in a mild state of dietary ketosis.
Does Medifast food expire?
Each package of food does have an expiration date. Please check each of your packages if you have had them for sometime.
How does Medifast work?
Each meal has essentially the same nutritional profile, and has been designed to have enough low-fat protein and healthy fiber to help you feel full and satisfied, without the between-meal hunger that can sabotage a weight loss plan.
What does Medifast cost?
The price of Medifast varies but on average it costs about $11/day or $329/30 day supply as a new customer.
You might also like to read “Four Facts About Medifast Diet That You Must Know Before Using It”
I did loose weight but the issue I had was how I was treated by a representative that claimed I could not count calories along with the program-I quit because of the humiliation I received from your customer rep. Instead of being supportive to loose the weight which I was paying for with your high food costs-this representative was negative-could not find me in their records (I had been on the program for 9 months, then proceeded to push me to buy more food which I had just bought the previous week. I was hurt by the negativity (which my husband also witnessed). My husband encouraged me to stop the diet, if they want your money they don’t treat you that harshly. THIS IS THE REAL ISSUE I AM ADDRESSING NOT THE ACTUAL DIET-LEARN TO READ!!
I don’t think anyone who hasn’t maintained for two or more years should be listened to claiming anything works. As you see above, one of the participants said she and her husband gained the weight back in two years. That is exactly what was found in a metastudy conducted by UCLA. ““Several studies indicate that dieting is actually a consistent predictor of future weight gain,” said Janet Tomiyama, a UCLA graduate student of psychology and co-author of the study. One study found that both men and women who participated in formal weight-loss programs gained significantly more weight over a two-year period than those who had not participated in a weight-loss program, she said.” I’m convinced lifestyle changes that target reducing modern super-manipulated manufactured food (commercial meals in supermarkets, fast food, and chain restaurants) and increase movement have a better prognosis, though won’t work to get most obese people to media-revered thinness. Their bodies have usually settled at the higher set point and will make their lives difficult having to eat less food than their never-overweight counterparts to stay at a lower weight. I was obese for only a relatively short time, though overweight for decades. I’ve pulled it off for six years, but it takes some intellect-over-instinct. It’s worth it to me, but I accept that it was a risk. I actually never targeted weight loss, just habits that kept me from never being hungry and weaning myself off so much “highly palatable” food. Yes, you read that right. Not being willing to get hungry a few times a day, and I mean legitimately hungry, not just jonesing for food, is doing most people a disservice not getting to feel a lovely lightness and how delicious food is when limited enough for that. Several generations ago, people protected their appetite, and so do all naturally slim cultures in the world. As Judith Beck recommends thinking, “Hunger, desire, and cravings are not emergencies.”
I did Medifast, lost 17 pounds, got extremely ill (not realizing it at the time). My liver counts, insulin, and glucose counts were so messed up. And, even tho I am an avid exerciser and not heavy – I gained every single pound back. Also, the food takes horrible. Would not recommend.
they are horrible. I used to put chicken bouillon in them. I gained most of my weight back. I had to eat it for three years just to maintain. You can never stop or it will come back. What a waste of money.
I’ve had great success on Medifast and I would definitely recommend the plan for those who have tried and failed with other plans as I have. The food is what it is. There are some really good meal replacements and some that aren’t that great. And there are many ways to prepare the lean and green meals so that is hard to get bored. With so many options though, you’re sure to find a few things you like. And if one follows the program, from weight loss to transition to maintenence, as well as taking responsibility for why you came to need this program (or any weight loss program) to begin with, you will find success during and after Medifast. It’s not for everyone but what is? This plan works for me where I had no success in weight watchers. At the end of the day, you get out of it what you put into it.
I love the program! I have lost 115 pounds and have 4 pounds to go. I’m learning how to make appropiate food choices for maintenance. While this diet might not be for everyone, it is for me. You can gain weight back on any program so Medifast cannot and should not be blamed for your regain. You HAVE to stay committed to your health goals and desire to maintain your weight, no matter what program you choose. I highly recommend Medifast!
I agree with the other comments I read above-the food is horrible(too spicy for someone with acid reflux) and the nutritional bars all contain hidden sugars to make them taste good-but could be potentially harmful to someone with diabetes 1 & 2. The minute you stray from the plan to live normal-you gain weight and the consultants do no like it when you count calories on the side-they reprimand you severely verbally. I was able to loose weight when I combined some of their products and counted calories-it was MY choice to stick with my diet-I had several check in calls from them where I was yelled at and they kept using the same prepared questions. They did not personalize it to the individual and the job they had to support the purchases of their extremely expensive foods. There are similar diet foods on the market that are half the cost and give you the same nutrition and benefits. I spent almost $250+ a month on food-in addition to normal foods which really stresses our family budget. The consults are all skinny and cannot relate to someone who is obese fighting to loose weight-they know very little about actual nutrition and current healthy updates on food only what they are told. I got tired of the cost, verbal abuse and chose to quit and loose weight on a adapted plan.
Don’t do it!!
I’ve lost 25 lbs in 3 months with 10 more lbs to go doing the 5 & 1 plan. I’ve had a few hiccups due to my own choices but overall I’m happy with my progress. I haven’t tried transitioning off the food yet so I can’t speak to what happens after you stop the diet but I do intend to continue eating small portions frequently throughout the day to try to maintain the weight loss.
My biggest frustration is with the online ordering. I can’t ever delete anything from my cart, I’ve had to call customer service for every order to help, & with my last order they tried charging me $200 extra so I hung up, called back, and the next person was much more helpful. I avoid the shipping fees by being an advantage member and if I’m not ready for the next auto-order I just postpone the date.
Then it’s a good thing I’m not a picky eater because I have yet to actually get what I order. They always substitute items and I end up with 3 boxes of the same flavor instead of a variety.
Lost the weight but little educational support from my sponsor. They are not trained in basic questions. Can I eat this? How many carbs are in a bar or soup or whatever? Is it ok to drink this or that. Never had an answer except, “I always stick to the program and Medifast meals. That is only what works for me”. That is poor advice and the reason I did not stay with them.