The recommended daily intake of carbohydrates on the Optavia diet is 80-100 grams, which aligns with the American Academy of Family Physicians’ definition of a low-carbohydrate diet.
Such a diet reduces calorie intake by limiting carbohydrate consumption to 20-60 grams per day, usually less than 20% of the daily caloric intake. This graphic displays the distribution of carbohydrates as a percentage of total daily caloric intake within the context of a low-carbohydrate dietary regimen.
This raises the question of whether Optavia is a low-carb diet. The answer is yes, as the consumption of protein and fat is increased to compensate for the calories previously derived from carbohydrates. This approach is similar to the Atkins Diet, which is known as a prototypical low-carbohydrate diet.
A study conducted by Current Nutrition Reports recommends a little more. They say a healthy adult diet should include 45% to 65% (around half of your total calories) carbohydrates per day, equaling about 200 g to 300 g per day. These findings came as a part of their study entitled Carbohydrate Nutrition and the Risk of Cancer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a different recommendation. They say the amount of carbohydrates one should consume per day varies depending on individual factors such as age, weight, and activity level. Therefore, there is no universal recommendation that applies to everyone.
According to the study published in the Advances in Nutrition, “carbohydrates help us in many ways. They give us energy, help control our blood sugar and insulin, and even help us digest some foods. They’re also involved in things like cholesterol and triglyceride metabolism.”
You may be wondering what could happen if you don’t get enough carbohydrates on the Optavia diet.
A study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition entitled “Low-carbohydrate diets: what are the potential short- and long-term health implications?” suggests if you restrict carbohydrates for a long period of time, it can lead to serious health complications such as heart arrhythmias, cardiac contractile function impairment, sudden death, osteoporosis, kidney damage, increased cancer risk, impairment of physical activity, and lipid abnormalities.
Researchers concluded that although you might see some weight loss in the short term, most of it comes from water and glycogen stores.
To answer the question about how many carbs should you eat per day on Optavia, experts generally agree between 100-150 grams.
What is the limit of carbohydrates you should eat per day on Optavia?
On the Optavia diet plan, the limit of carbohydrates you should eat per day is 100 grams if you’re following the Optimal Weight 5&1 plan and Optimal Weight 4&2&1 plan. However, around 80% of those carbs should come from Optavia Fuelings, and 20% from vegetables and condiments.
For those on the Optavia 3 and 3 maintenance plan, the daily limit of carbohydrates is between 160 to 200 grams, depending on your daily calorie allowance.
If you’re curious about the effects of consuming too many carbs on Optavia, it can hinder your weight loss goals and lead to weight gain. Optavia’s diet plan limits carbohydrate intake to a specific range, which is intended to promote weight loss and improve overall health.
Can you eat carbs in any form on the Optavia diet?
While some carbs in the form of low-carb vegetables like broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, and cabbage are allowed on the Optavia green list, high-carb vegetables like rice, potatoes, and grains are excluded.
Therefore, to achieve optimal results, it’s important to avoid high-carb foods and stick to the recommended low-carb vegetables on the Optavia green list.
Does Optavia allow you to eat carbs?
As a whole, Optavia does allow you to eat carbohydrates, unlike many other low-carb diets.
I must confess – I’ve tried most of the weight loss and meal replacement products that didn’t allow carbohydrates.
Or as little as 20 grams per day.
(Needless to say, it didn’t end up well.)
All these different weight loss programs made me believe that carbs are bad.
So, I develop this (wrong) idea that eating carbs somehow can prevent weight loss.
Optavia is carb-friendly, but…
Unlike other programs, Optavia does allow carbohydrates.
According to the Optavia 5 and 1 program guidelines:
“Carbs are an essential part of a healthy diet, and they can help you to lose weight.”
“When you’re hungry, your body craves carbs because they’re a quick source of energy,” states Optavia.
In fact, that was one of the reasons why I and my wife decided to start this plan.
Although I still cannot enjoy the foods that I love the most, like potatoes and pasta, there are plenty of diet-friendly foods to choose from.
One thing I can say is this – be mindful of where your carbohydrates are coming from.
How many carbs should I eat on Optavia 5 and 1?
If you’re following the 5 and 1 Optavia plan, you can have 80-100 grams of carbohydrates per day.
Around 65-75 grams of carbs are in the Fuelings. Each of the Optavia bars and shakes has between 12 to 15 grams of carbs.
Only 15-30 grams come from the actual lean and green meal.
These include mainly low-calorie vegetables like asparagus, green beans, broccoli, or cucumbers.
Pro tip: For optimal carb sources while on the 5 and 1 plan, I recommend you choose carbohydrates from the Optavia green list.
Do you know what is funny?
I wasn’t always sticking to these rules…
For the first few weeks of doing the Optavia diet, I ate about 50-70 grams per day which is equivalent to 2 medium size potatoes or a bowl of noodles.
Here’s how my lean and green Optavia meal looks.
My workout days are when I treat myself and eat more than usual.
That’s when you can see me eating my favorite foods, namely chocolate and ice cream.
Although I don’t usually count calories, I’m guessing that on my gym days, I can go over Optavia’s carbs limit.
Here’s the photo of my main dish.
It has chicken, potatoes, and tomatoes. (Yes, potatoes weren’t allowed, technically.)
The other plate is a salad made of beans, chickpeas, and avocado.
How many carbs can you have on Optavia transition?
Optavia transition is when you slowly reintroduce more calories and more food choices.
This is the part after you already lost weight and you’re ready for the maintenance part.
So what is the carb allowance during the 6-week Optavia transition period?
Here’s how it looks on the graph.
Each week of the transition allows for an increase of 10-20 grams of carbs compared to the previous week.
This means that during the first week, an additional 10-20 grams of carbs can be added, followed by another increase of 10-20 grams in the second week, and so on for the duration of 6 weeks.
That’s becasue each week you add more calories from a variety of food groups, such as dairy, fruits, and starches.
I recommend you check out the Optavia transition food list for more details.
How many carbs per day on Optavia 3 and 3?
On Optavia maintenance, you’re gonna be eating around 160-200 carbs, based on your Total Energy Expenditure (TEE).
You can easily calculate that using the TEE online calculator.
This will give you the actual number of calories per day. After that, you can estimate how many carbs you can have.
Optavia 3 and 3 plan includes only three Fuelings, but each Optima health fueling contains more carbs (18-22 grams) than the Optavia essential fuelings (12-15 grams).
Additionally, the plan allows for three lean and green meals with a wide variety of food options, as I’ve listed in the healthy exchange list article.
What happens when you eat carbs on Optavia?
Here are some of the benefits I’ve experienced with eating carbs on the Optavia 5 and 1 program.
- Eating what I like
- Having more energy
- Relax from stress
- Getting better sleep
- Fewer food cravings
- Higher satiety
Eating what I like
I used to be stuck on a diet where I couldn’t eat the foods that were readily available.
For me, this was an issue, especially during my social time.
When I’m out, I rarely choose the healthiest options, but rather fast food or take-out!
Here’s a photo of my weekend meal, including the XL burger and fries.
It wasn’t easy…
Having more energy
For me, carbs provide the energy I need to power through my workouts and get through my workday.
They also help me to stay focused and avoid those midday energy slumps.
I usually have a decent amount of energy during the day, but eating carbs with Optavia certainly makes it better.
I can do my boxing training in the morning, without having to worry about energy levels later on.
Here’s a photo of how I like to spend my mornings in the gym.
On my endurance days, I often snack on my favorite Optavia peanut butter chocolate chip bar, which has only 15 grams of carbs.
Helps to relax
My work days are the worst. On busy days it often gets to the point where my body feels tense and cannot physically relax. I noticed that snacking on carbohydrates helps me to calm down.
According to the Psychology Today article, some people experienced less anger depression anxiety, or irritation after consuming carbohydrate-rich beverages.
The article also explains that “carbohydrates help make serotonin which causes us to feel calmer more relaxed, and sleep better.”
The more relaxed I am, the better my sleep. Eating carbs with my dinner (usually late afternoon) and 1-2 Optavia fuelings in the evening just before going to bed.
This gives me better and deeper sleep. Plus, I feel like I don’t have problems falling asleep anymore. No more trouble falling asleep or waking up feeling tired.
Feeling less hungry
Since I stopped worrying about carbs, my food cravings for sweets diminished.
Although I don’t usually have a hard time saying no to food, when I didn’t eat carbs for a week or more, I was constantly thinking about food.
“Long-term deprivation from foods that we like (and want) can trigger unwanted, overeating behaviors,” according to the article published by the International Journal Of Eating Disorders.
This means that if some food is on your mind, it’s better to indulge and eat what you crave.
Plus, if you constantly thinking about food, consider eating more filling Optavia fuelings.
Another thing that happened to me when I started to eat carbs on Optavia was satisfaction. Before the 5 and 1 program, I tried doing many diets without carbs, but I wasn’t feeling satisfied, or full.
According to the satiety index published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, potatoes, porridge, and oranges have the highest score. This means they can keep you fuller for longer.
Benefits of eating carbs according to research
According to the study, “eating carbohydrates in moderation has been associated with a lower risk of mortality.”
In the sample of around 15,000 people, the researchers estimated the average life expectancy was 4 years longer, compared to people who did low carbohydrates.
The Atherosclerosis Journal suggests that low-carb diets may cause rapid and sensible weight loss and reduction in hemoglobin A1c, but also a substantial rise in LDL cholesterol levels. This makes physicians unsure whether to endorse them for general use.
A meta-analysis has found that “whole wheat grains produce small but significant reductions in LDL cholesterol as well as total serum triglycerides (TG) while improving postprandial glucose metabolism, compared with diets without whole grains”.
What type of carbs do I eat on Optavia?
I like to include a large variety of different carbs as neither I nor my wife enjoy eating the meals every day.
In my Optavia 5 and 1 program, I’m eating rice, pasta, bread, or potatoes.
Although most of my dinners include plenty of protein-rich foods like chicken or beef, I always make sure to add some complex carbohydrates.
I love to eat cauliflower rice because it is so versatile, energy-packed, and satisfying.
It can be incorporated into almost any dish, and it provides a great source of energy that helps me to stay focused throughout the day.
Here’s a photo of my wife enjoying her bowl of cauliflower rice with chicken, cucumber, and egg.
I also find that rice helps to control my cravings, and it is an easy food to prepare.
Keep in mind that rice is at the higher end of the carbohydrates spectrum as 1 cup is equivalent to 3 Optavia fuelings.
Cauliflower pizza crust
Cauliflower pizza crusts are a great option for Optavia 5 and 1 plan.
They contain fewer calories and carbs than traditional wheat-based crusts.
They are also high in fiber which can help keep you feeling full and satisfied after meals, so you’re less likely to snack or overeat.
Low carb bread
Although bread is only allowed on the Optavia maintenance plan, I still like to have an occasional half slice of ciabatta bread.
(It has an equal amount of carbs to the Opatvia bar.)
Keep in mind that I rarely buy bread for home as they quickly go stale.
On rare occasions, I may buy cloud bread and use it as a snack/fueling alternative with peanut butter or cheese.
In most cases, I don’t.
Instead, I choose one of the Optavia approved bread when I’m out with friends and family. So it’s more of a treat rather than a staple food choice.
Here’s a photo of my occasional snack, including a rye bread sandwich and Americano coffee.
At our home, we love pasta.
But because it’s not allowed on the 5 and 1 plan, we often choose Palmini noodles.
It tastes great and is so easy to make.
My wife is an excellent cook, and she always makes sure there’s a delicious sauce to go with it.
Here’s a photo of my low-carb Palmini noodles dish with chicken and vegetables.
The meal you see is served on a 7-inch plate (the size of a kid’s dinner plate).
Not sure how many calories this dish has, but the portion size is tiny.
A single serving of Palmini noodles equals 4 grams of carbs, which is a third of what you get in Optavia bars.
If you don’t want to use regular pasta, consider looking for low-carb options.
I’m a big fan of Quinoa.
I like the taste, and I appreciate that it’s a healthy food option.
Although Quinoa is not recommended by Optavia 5 and 1 plan, we often use it when we do homemade Optavia shakes.
It’s high in protein, which is satisfying.
Plus, it’s low in calories, which helps me to stay on track with the 5 and 1 program.
We like to eat quinoa with other foods, such as vegetables or chicken.
Plus, my wife likes to make Mediterranean Quinoa dishes that include garbanzo beans, cherry tomatoes, and kalamata olives.
I love eating oats because they can be cooked as a main dish, like oatmeal or porridge, or as a side dish or salad.
I often use oats and protein powder to make oatmeal cookies or oat bran muffins.
They’re also very filling and high in protein, so they help keep me feeling satisfied throughout the day.
What type of carbs I don’t eat on Optavia?
- Sugar-sweetened beverages
I notice a big difference in my energy if I eat (or drink) a lot of sugar. They often make me feel hungry, unsatisfied, and tired.
In my 20s, I used to love drinking beer and other alcoholic drinks, but I quickly realized that they weren’t doing me any favors.
I also try to stay away from any high-calorie drinks. I may enjoy diet occasional diet soda here and there.
To be honest, I love the taste of freshly baked pastry, but I try to limit them on the Optavia diet.
“Processed pastries are made from refined sugar, wheat flour, and hydrogenated oils which can be unhealthy when heated up in contained environments like kitchens or offices,” says nutritionist and healthy cooking expert, Keri Glassman, R.D.
Should I try doing Optavia without carbs?
The only way you could do Optavia without eating carbohydrates is when you decide to stop eating Fuelings.
(As much as I know, Optavia doesn’t have Fuelings with zero carbs).
You can also try some of these fancy shakes that are comparable with Optavia but have zero to little carbs. Or just reduce your carb intake to 1 shake per day.
For me, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.
I tried to do the Optavia diet without carbs and it didn’t work well for me.
Not only I felt less energy, but psychologically, I felt like I needed to stick to more rules, not less.
And, when something happened and I fall off the wagon, I had this feeling of guilt. It didn’t feel right.
I find it more sustainable to do Optavia with, rather than without carbs.
And, I’m guessing that happens with others, which is probably one of the reasons why people gain weight on Optavia.
Too many rules and expectations are followed by the feeling of burnout and tiredness.
My thoughts on eating carbs on Optavia
Even though Optavia recommends 80-100 grams of carbs per day, I don’t think this is too much.
Carbohydrates are an important part of a balanced diet, but not all carbs are created equal.
Refined carbs and sugars offer little nutritional value,
Is Optavia considered low-carb? Yes and no.
I don’t think Optavia has too many carbs. It’s the other way around.
If you want to start Optavia 5 and 1 program without eating any carbs, I recommend you try for a couple of days and decide how is that works for you.