Optavia’s Healthy Exchange list is a valuable resource for maintaining optimal health.
As the final step of your Optavia journey, it follows you as you maintain your healthy body weight and develop lasting habits for success.
The list is comprised of foods that emphasize nutrition over convenience, including fruits, starchy vegetables, and whole-grain bread – all options not offered in prior plans.
What makes the list so useful is that it serves as an interchangeable roadmap for your home-cooked meals like breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
With this list at your disposal, you can rest assured knowing that what you are eating on a regular basis is both healthy and beneficial to your goals.
How does Optavia healthy exchange list work?
Optavia’s healthy exchange list is a list of foods that you can have during your Optimal Health 3 & 3 Plan.
You can think of the healthy exchange list as an extension of your Optavia 5 and 1 diet food list, with many additional food items.
Each serving size has around 100 calories and 15g of carbohydrates or less.
It provides helpful serving sizes for each category of foods, which makes measuring out and controlling portions a breeze.
It takes away stressful decisions around food and makes it easy for you to know what you should be eating (and how much you should be eating).
According to Optimal Health 3 and 3 guidelines, the amount of food you’ll eat from each food group depends on your total energy expenditure, which is the number of calories you burn each day.
Optavia Healthy Exchanges
Fruits are an important part of a well-balanced diet.
So it may seem counterintuitive to find out that most varieties of fruits were excluded from the Optavia 5 and 1 plan.
However, this restriction was made in order to create a diet plan that is conducive to fast weight loss with better compliance for individuals following this plan.
As part of the Optimal Health 3 and 3 program, fruits are included in the meal plans.
The table below shows you the list of fruits and serving sizes.
|Fruit||One serving size|
|Fresh whole fruit (apple, pear, orange)||1 small (4 oz.)|
|Chopped fresh fruit||1/2 cup|
|Canned fruit (no sugar added)||1/2 cup|
|100% fruit juice||1/2 cup (4 oz.)|
|Dried fruit||2 Tbsp|
|Tangerines or plums||2 small|
|Goji berries (dried, unsweetened)||1 oz.|
|Melon (cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon)||1 cup cubed|
|Banana||1/2 large (4 oz.)|
How to apply
- Choose fruits with the whole form and skin on them for extra fiber.
- Incorporate fruit into snacks or desserts rather than sides or appetizers.
- Avoid canned fruits with syrup. Instead, choose the ones with water.
- Limit dried fruits and choose fresh and raw instead.
- To reduce extra calories, skip the fruit juices and eat whole fruits.
The Optavia 5&1 plan helps facilitate weight loss by limiting the number of calories one takes in every day, but it does not allow for any traditional dairy products.
Cottage cheese and certain cheeses are allowed to be used as snacks or condiments, but a full serving of most types of dairy is off the menu.
In Optavia 3 and 3 plan, you can include the list of diary food list (and serving sizes) provided in the table below.
|Dairy||One serving size|
|Fat-free or low-fat milk||1 cup (8 oz.)|
|Milk substitute (soy, rice, almond, cashew)||1 cup (8 oz.)|
|Evaporated milk||3/4 cup (4 oz.)|
|Nonfat or low-fat yogurt (including Greek)||3/4 cup (6 oz.)|
|Kefir||1 cup (8 oz.)|
How to apply
- To further reduce calories, forget about sweetened yogurts with sugar. Instead, choose plain or no-sugar-added options.
- Skip sugar-sweetened kefirs and milk and opt for unsweetened options.
- Choose low-fat milk instead of full-fat milk.
- It’s better to use Greek yogurt or cottage cheese instead of mayonnaise or sour cream.
Although Optavia provides a comprehensive protein list that you can choose for your Lean and Green meals, the healthy exchanges list has more options.
For the best results and a higher variety of food options, I recommend combining the list from the table below together with the Optavia-approved meat list, as well as with protein lists.
Keep in mind that this list includes food items that have more calories and fat per serving, so keep the serving size in mind.
|Protein||One serving size|
|Lean beef: select or choice grades trimmed of fat:|
ground round, roast (chuck, rib, rump), round, sirloin, steak
(cubed, flank, porterhouse, T-bone), tenderloin
|Beef jerky||1 oz.|
|Beef: corned beef, ground beef, meatloaf, Prime grades trimmed|
of fat, short ribs, tongue
|Cheese with 3 grams of fat or fewer per oz.||2 oz.|
|Cheese with 4-7 grams of fat per ounce||1 oz.|
|Low-fat cottage cheese||1/2 cup|
|Egg substitute||1/2 cup|
|Fish, fresh or frozen: catfish, cod, flounder, haddock, halibut,|
orange roughy, salmon, tilapia, trout, tuna
|Shellfish: clams, crab, imitation shellfish, lobster, scallops, shrimp||2 oz.|
|Fish, smoked: herring or salmon (lox)||1 oz.|
|Game: buffalo, ostrich, rabbit, venison||2 oz.|
|Lamb: chop, leg, or roast||2 oz.|
|Canadian Bacon*||2 oz.|
|Poultry, without skin: chicken, Cornish hen, domestic duck or|
|Low-sodium deli meats||2 oz.|
|Canned tuna, salmon, or sardines in water||2 oz.|
|Sausage with 3 grams of fat (or fewer)||2 oz.|
|Veal: loin, chop, roast||1 oz.|
|Meatless burger||1 patty|
How to apply
- If possible, choose the leanest cuts of beef, pork, and poultry. This will give you a higher serving size and more proteins per meal.
- To reduce calories, buy skinless poultry, or remove the skin before cooking.
- During your meal prep day, trim away the visible fat from meats and poultry before cooking.
- Choose low-sodium lean turkey, roast beef, or ham
- For sandwiches, choose lean cuts of meat like turkey or chicken, instead of the processed deli.
- Don’t bread or season your meats with high-calorie condiments.
- Include fatty fish like salmon or mackerel for heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, at least two meals per week.
One of the ways that the Optavia 5 and 1 plan control your nutrition is by limiting the number of starchy foods you can eat.
Fortunately, the Optimal Health 3 and 3 plan allows more freedom in terms of caloric intake as well as introduces a greater range of starchy foods like potatoes, sweet potatoes, whole grains, and beans.
|Starch||One serving size|
|Reduced-calorie bread||2 slices|
|Pita, 6 inches in diameter||1/2|
|Tortilla, 6 inches in diameter||1|
|Naan, 8 inches by 2 inches||1/4|
|Roti/chapatti||1 small, 6 inches|
|English muffin, hamburger, or hot dog bun||1/2|
|Hot cereal, cooked (oatmeal, cream of wheat)||1/2 cup|
|Oat bran||1/4 cup|
|Wheat germ||3 Tbsp|
|Ready-to-eat, unsweetened cereal||3/4 cup|
|Sweetened cereal||1/2 cup|
|Granola or muesli (low-fat or regular)||1/4 cup|
|Bulgur, wheat bran||1/2 cup|
|Cooked barley, freekeh, farro, couscous, millet, pasta,|
polenta, quinoa, white or brown rice, amaranth
|Soba noodles||1 oz.|
|Starchy vegetables (corn, peas, potatoes, parsnips,|
|Winter squash (acorn, butternut, pumpkin)||1 cup|
|Beans and lentils (mung beans, pinto beans, black beans)||1/2 cup, cooked|
|Adzuki beans||1/3 cup, cooked|
|Baked potato (all varieties)||1/2 medium (3 oz.)|
|Air-popped popcorn||3 cups|
|Baked chips (potato, tortilla, pita)||15 (3/4 oz.)|
|Hominy, canned||3/4 cup|
How to apply
- Substitute a whole-grain product like whole-wheat bread for a refined product such as white bread.
- Use whole-grain bread or cracker crumbs instead of white bread crumbs.
- Try sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes for more nutrients.
- For more protein and fiber, choose beans and lentils. I like to soak dried ones overnight to reduce cooking time.
- For cereals, choose unsweetened options to reduce calories.
- The color of a food does not necessarily mean it is a whole grain. For example, bread can be brown because molasses or other ingredients were added to it.
- The ingredient list on food labels can tell you if a product has added sugars. These are sugars that are put in by manufacturers and include sucrose, high-fructose, corn syrup, honey, malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, or raw sugar. They make the food have more calories.
Although Optavia provides a thorough healthy fats list in their 5 and 1 plan, some of the items listed below are only approved in the 3 and 3 plan.
Although you don’t have to rely on this list, you might find it helpful to start you off with a clear idea of what you can eat on the program.
|Fats||One serving size|
|Oil, any type||2 tsp|
|Nut butter||1 Tbsp|
|Salad dressing||1-2 Tbsp|
|Butter or margarine||2 tsp|
|Avocado||4 Tbsp (2 oz.)|
|Seeds (sesame, sunflower, flax)||2 Tbsp|
|Chia seeds||1 Tbsp|
|Bacon||2 slices, cooked|
|Light coconut milk||1/2 cup|
|Cream cheese||2 Tbsp|
|Pesto||1 and 1/2 Tbsp|
|Baba ghanouj||2 Tbsp|
How to apply
- Use small amounts of fats, which provide essential nutrients.
- Choose oils like olive oil over solid fats like butter. Solid fats contain more saturated fats than oils.
- Instead, choose mostly polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats.
- If you struggle to find low-calorie salad dressing, consider looking at Optavia approved salad dressing list that includes zero-calorie options.
- Include nuts, seeds, and avocados, as they provide more protein per serving.