10 Optavia Side Effects: Physical, Physiological, and Psychological

photo of negative side effects on optavia diet

Optavia side effects refer to the physical, physiological, and psychological effects that may occur in individuals who follow the Optavia 5 and 1 diet program. Commonly reported Optavia side effects include short-term and long-term effects, ranging from mild and tolerable to severe.

In a 2019 study published in the Obesity Science & Practice Journal, conducted by Linda M. Arterburn, titled “Randomized controlled trial assessing two commercial weight loss programs in adults with overweight or obesity,” the study found that the most frequently reported physical side effect of Optavia was related to the gastrointestinal system.

Decreases in thyroid function were identified as the predominant physiological side effect associated with Optavia. In terms of psychological effects, individuals commonly experienced alterations in mood and feelings of depression.

These side effects of the Optavia diet can arise due to factors such as calorie restriction, sensitivity to ingredients, rapid weight loss, fiber content, feelings of deprivation, and psychological distress associated with the program.

Several questions come to mind regarding safety, such as whether is Optavia unhealthy, what are the specific short-term and long-term side effects associated with the Optavia diet, any dangers or potential connections between Optavia and cancer, as well as who should not do the Optavia program. In this article, we will evaluate the 10 side effects of doing the Optavia diet shown in this diagram.

side effects of optavia

1. Changes in Bowel Movements

Changes in bowel movements basically mean that there can be differences in how often you go to the bathroom, the texture of your poop, or how easy or difficult it is to pass stool.

So, in the case of the Optavia diet, a study by Dr. Arterburn found that people who followed this diet experienced some changes in their bowel habits. Some participants reported having fewer bowel movements than usual, while others reported having more.

The study didn’t specifically mention why these changes occurred. It’s possible that the different types of foods or the specific nutritional composition of the diet could be responsible for these variations, but we don’t have those details here. According to the study, the severity of this side effect was generally mild.

2. Increased Instances of Constipation

Constipation is when you have difficulty or infrequent bowel movements, and the stool that you pass is hard and dry. It can also mean that you feel like you haven’t fully emptied your bowels.

The Optavia diet involves calorie restriction and limits certain food groups, including those that are high in fiber. Fiber is essential for maintaining healthy bowel movements because it adds bulk to your stool and helps it pass through more easily.

A 2022 study by Maurane Rollet at the Luxembourg Institute of Health revealed that insufficient fiber intake and specific food groups and nutrients were linked to higher or lower constipation scores.

Although Dr. Rollet’s study didn’t specifically examine the Optavia diet, it shed light on how certain dietary factors, like not getting enough fiber, can contribute to constipation.

So, when you’re on the Optavia diet, with its limited fiber intake, it can lead to reduced frequency and the bulk of your bowel movements, resulting in constipation.

How long constipation lasts can vary depending on the individual and how strictly they follow the Optavia diet. It could last anywhere from a few days to several weeks or even longer.

The severity of constipation on Optavia as a side effect can range from mild discomfort to significant distress, impacting your daily life. It’s essential to keep an eye on this side effect and take steps to address it so that it doesn’t become a bigger issue.

3. Increased Frequency Of Diarrhea

Increased frequency of diarrhea basically means that you’re having more bowel movements than usual and they’re loose or watery. It’s like when you have that urgent feeling to go to the bathroom.

The Optavia diet is known to cause diarrhea because when you start introducing new foods or ingredients into your diet, your digestive system might have trouble processing them, which can lead to an upset stomach and diarrhea.

In a 2019 study conducted by Dr. Arterburn, it was mentioned that some participants reported gastrointestinal adverse events, including diarrhea.

Diarrhea usually doesn’t last long. It’s typically a short-term thing that goes away after a few days. As your body gets used to the new nutrition plan, your digestive system adapts, and diarrhea tends to resolve on its own.

The severity of the diarrhea on Optavia can vary from person to person. Some people might have mild symptoms that they can tolerate, while others might experience more intense diarrhea along with stomach cramps or even a fever.

Although I personally haven’t experienced any issues with diarrhea while on Optavia, I can’t say the same for my wife. Unfortunately, her digestive system became incredibly sensitive, leading to daily episodes of watery bowel movements. In my wife’s case, lactose intolerance turned out to be the primary culprit.

4. Changes In Energy Levels

When you follow the Optavia diet you might experience a decrease in your energy levels and physical fatigue. This means that you may feel less energetic both physically and mentally. It’s like feeling really tired, and weak, and finding it harder to do physical activities.

The amount of time you might experience these low energy levels and fatigue can vary from person to person. It could last throughout the duration of the diet or maybe a few weeks.

A 2020 study conducted by Domenico Azzolino from Fondazione IRCCS Ca’ Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico found that changes in food intake and alterations in body composition can influence fatigue perception, possibly through the involvement of inflammation and mitochondrial dysfunction.

How severe it is also depends on the individual. Some people might just feel a slight decrease in energy and manage to push through, while others might feel more pronounced fatigue that affects their daily functioning.

5. Higher Muscle Loss

When people follow the Optavia diet program, they may experience higher muscle loss, which means their muscle tissue decreases at a faster rate than normal. It’s like their muscles are shrinking rapidly.

Muscle atrophy refers to the degeneration or wasting away of muscles, resulting in a decrease in muscle size, strength, and overall functionality.

Optavia’s diet can contribute to muscle loss through a combination of factors such as calorie restriction, not eating enough proteins, and lack of physical exercise guidelines.

According to a study conducted in 2021 by David McCarthy from London Metropolitan University, titled “Weight Loss Strategies and the Risk of Skeletal Muscle Mass Loss,” it was found that increasing protein intake can be beneficial in preventing the loss of skeletal muscle. This effect can be seen when protein intake is increased either on its own or in combination with exercise. Interestingly, this approach appears to be particularly advantageous for the elderly population.

Based on the evidence, it’s recommended that protein intake should be higher than the current USDA guidelines of 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day for healthy elderly individuals.

How long this muscle loss lasts can vary from person to person. It depends on factors like your metabolism, how much you exercise, and how well you stick to the diet program. If you follow the Optavia diet for a long time without taking proper steps to preserve your muscle mass, you could experience muscle loss in the long run.

The severity of muscle loss as a side effect of the Optavia diet can range from mild to moderate. How much muscle you lose can depend on how long you’ve been on the diet, your body composition, and whether you do additional exercise or resistance training.

6. More Frequent Gas And Bloating

More frequent gas and bloating refers to an increase in the occurrence of gas and abdominal discomfort. It’s like experiencing more gas and feeling bloated in your stomach.

Gas and bloating are common issues that many people face when it comes to digestion. It happens when gas builds up in your gastrointestinal tract, leading to your abdomen feeling swollen and causing discomfort.

When it comes to the Optavia diet, this side effect can occur due to the soy protein and sugar alcohols included in the 5 and 1 plan. These foods may contribute to increased horrible gas and bloating.

While there isn’t a lot of scientific evidence specifically addressing the severity of bad smelling gas on Optavia, a 2016 study by Kauko K. Mäkinen from the University of Turku published in the International Journal of Dentistry suggests that some individuals may have difficulty digesting sugar alcohols, which are present in Optavia Fuelings and can contribute to digestive disturbances.

Additionally, the low-calorie intake on the diet means you’re consuming less food overall, which can disrupt the balance of beneficial gut bacteria in your digestive system.

How long you experience gas and bloating as a side effect can vary from person to person. It depends on factors like how well your intestinal flora adapts to the diet and your personal tolerance. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s a good idea to monitor them and consult with a healthcare professional if they persist or worsen.

The severity of this side effect can range from mild to moderate discomfort.

To reduce bad smelling gas on Optavia, I started to prepare homemade Opatvia fuelings and avoided any foods with sugar alcohols like xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol, etc. I also wasn’t eating any starches and sucrose-based foods, as these made my tummy feel worse.

7. Increased Instances Of Headaches

Increased instances of headaches on Optavia refer to experiencing head pain more frequently. It’s like having headaches more often than usual, and this can be linked to certain factors or conditions.

Headaches and migraines”are types of head pain that can vary in intensity. They come with additional symptoms such as throbbing or pulsating sensations, sensitivity to light and sound, and in the case of migraines, they’re often accompanied by nausea and visual disturbances.

The Optavia diet may contribute to headaches through various mechanisms such as dehydration, which can happen if you’re not drinking enough fluids, as well as caffeine withdrawal, especially if you reduce your caffeine intake suddenly.

Low blood sugar levels can also play a role in your meals and Fuelings are not properly balanced or spaced out, and lack of sleep due to insufficient rest can trigger headaches too. Optavia 5 and 1 plan is a very low-calorie diet, which may affect glucose levels and potentially contribute to headaches in some individuals.

Usually, headaches experienced while on the Optavia diet are temporary and tend to go away with time. They typically last for a short duration, often less than a week, as your body adjusts to the dietary changes.

In terms of severity, headaches can vary from person to person. Most of the time, they’re mild to moderate in intensity and can be managed with proper hydration, balanced nutrition, sufficient rest, and, if needed, reduced caffeine consumption.

8. Increased Rate Of Hair Loss

An increased rate of hair loss on Optavia refers to a higher occurrence of hair loss in individuals. It means that people may experience more hair loss than usual, and this can be caused by various factors such as nutrient deficiencies or sudden weight loss.

Hair loss is a condition where the hair on the scalp or other parts of the body starts to shed or become thinner. The Optavia diet may contribute to hair loss through different mechanisms such as triggering a condition called telogen effluvium, which is a temporary increase in hair shedding, as well as iron deficiency anemia, which can result from rapid weight loss or extreme calorie restriction.

A 2017 study conducted by Emily L. Guo from Baylor College of Medicine titled “Diet and Hair Loss: Effects of Nutrient Deficiency and Supplement Use,” provides insights into the role of different nutrients in hair loss, such as iron, zinc, niacin, fatty acids, selenium, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin E, folic acid, biotin, amino acids, and antioxidants.

According to the study conducted by Dr. Emily L. Guo, there are personalized approaches available to tackle nutrient deficiencies that may contribute to hair loss. Dr. Guo emphasizes the importance of screening individuals experiencing hair loss for nutrient deficiencies.

The duration of hair loss caused by the Optavia diet can vary depending on individual factors and the extent of nutritional deficiencies. It’s always advisable to consult with a healthcare provider for a more accurate assessment of your specific situation.

The severity of hair loss as a side effect of Optavia can range from mild to severe, depending on factors like genetics and overall health.

9. Decrease In Thyroid Function

A decrease in thyroid function on Optavia means a situation where the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones. This can cause a bunch of health problems because those hormones are super important for regulating our metabolism, growth, and development.

The Optavia diet might be linked to a decrease in thyroid function due to very low-calorie intake and soy-based proteins. A 1990 study titled “Effects of a very low calorie diet on weight, thyroid hormones, and mood” by Thomas A. Wadden from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine examined the effects of a very low-calorie diet (VLCD) on weight, thyroid hormones, and mood.

During the 400 kcal/day VLCD, the group experienced up to a 66% decrease in serum T3 (thyroid hormone) and a 27% increase in rT3 (reverse T3). When transitioning to a 1000 kcal/day balanced diet, T3 levels increased but remained 22% below the initial baseline.

Although this study didn’t focus on Optavia and thyroid specifically, it gave us some insight into how low-calorie diets might affect thyroid hormones.

When asking is the soy in Optavia bad for you, we can point to a 2006 study conducted by Mark Messina from Loma Linda University, which states that soy foods or isoflavones are generally not expected to have negative effects on thyroid function in individuals with normal thyroid function and sufficient iodine intake.

However, the study suggests that in hypothyroid patients, soy foods may interfere with the absorption of thyroid hormone, potentially requiring an increased dosage.

The Optavia diet’s main source of protein is soy-based, and some studies have suggested that soy can mess with the absorption of a medication called levothyroxine, which is used to treat hypothyroidism.

When asked how long this decrease in thyroid function might last, it really depends on the person. It’s a good idea to consult a doctor to get a personalized assessment. But generally, if you keep consuming soy-based products as part of the Optavia diet, the decrease in thyroid function could stick around.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the severity of this side effect can vary from person to person. While some studies suggest that soy may hinder thyroid function in people with hypothyroidism, we’re not sure about the impact on folks with normal thyroid function and enough iodine intake. It’s always a good idea to talk to a healthcare professional to get an accurate evaluation of how severe this side effect might be for you.

10. Increased Instances Of Depression

Increased instances of depression mean that more people are experiencing symptoms of depression. Depression is a mental health condition characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest, changes in appetite or weight, disrupted sleep patterns, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and even thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

Dr. Arterburn’s study on the Optavia diet mentioned that certain participants may have experienced depression, although the exact reasons behind this are not fully understood and necessitate additional research.

A study conducted by Aaron Stubbs from the University of Michigan and published in ACR Open Rheumatology in 2022 revealed that people who didn’t show much improvement in their weight loss had a higher body mass index and were more likely to report being diagnosed with depression.

What Are The Potential Side Effects of Optavia On Cancer Patients?

The potential side effects of Optavia on cancer patients are not well-documented, as there is no direct evidence linking Optavia and cancer. However, it is essential for cancer patients to exercise caution and consult with their doctors regarding their dietary choices during treatment.

For individuals with serious, acute, or chronic illnesses, including cancer, it is advisable to seek medical advice before engaging in any Optavia programs or making significant changes to their diet.

Ultimately, it is crucial to prioritize medical guidance and ensure that one has fully recovered or stabilized before embarking on any specific diet or program.

Is Optavia Safe For Cancer Patients?

No, the Optavia diet is not recommended for cancer patients. Cancer treatment often requires adequate nutrition to support the body’s healing and recovery processes, and meal replacement diets may not provide the necessary nutrients in the right balance.

Additionally, individualized dietary recommendations based on the specific needs and treatment plan of each cancer patient are essential, and a standardized meal replacement program may not cater to these unique requirements.

Is the Optavia Diet Safe For Healthy People?

Yes, the Optavia diet is generally considered harmless for healthy individuals, as supported by the 2019 study published in Obesity Science & Practice Journal. The study found no serious adverse events related to the Optavia program among the participants.

Additionally, participants experienced weight loss and improvements in body composition. When asking the question is Optavia safe, it is important to consider that there are potential risks and drawbacks for certain individuals.

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