Optavia vs Herbalife: Which one is better?

Optavia and Herbalife
Herbalife vs Optavia

I’ve explored both Optavia and Herbalife in my journey to find the right weight loss program, and I can tell you, it’s quite a task to decide between them. Optavia, formerly known as the Medifast diet, is a low-carb, low-calorie program that heavily relies on packaged foods. It offers convenient, easy-to-use meal supplements and is a fantastic kick-starter for losing weight. On the other hand, Herbalife’s approach is centered around its nutritional shakes, like the Formula 1 Nutritional Shake, which help create a calorie deficit for weight loss. Each has its merits, but choosing the right one really depends on your personal preferences and lifestyle.

Both programs have meal replacements and coaching, but they’re not the same. This article will help you decide between Optavia and Herbalife. Let’s check out what’s similar and different.

What is the Optavia Diet?

Optavia falls under Medifast, a weight loss company with an MLM structure. Their program, which I’ve tried, focuses on weight loss through Optavia Fuelings – these are essentially meal-replacement shakes. On the Optavia Diet, I followed their 5 and 1 plan, where I ate five Optavia Fuelings and one homemade meal daily. Alongside the Optavia Fuelings, I prepared my own ‘lean and green’ meals, concentrating on lean proteins, low-carb vegetables, and healthy fats.

Optavia’s diet plan is designed to keep your daily calories between 800-1,000, making it good for weight loss. In a study from 2019 funded by Medifast Inc. with 198 participants, those on the Optavia 5&1 Plan with coaching lost about 5.7% of their body weight. In terms of structure, Optavia and Herbalife are quite similar. To get started, you’ll chat with a coach who can help you pick the best plan. Optavia has three main plans, but most people go for the Optimal Weight 5 and 1 plan.

What is Herbalife?

Herbalife, known as Herbalife Nutrition Ltd., is a global company that sells dietary supplements for weight loss and healthy living through multi-level marketing. Instead of sticking to the traditional diet with three meals per day, the Herbalife diet works by replacing two of those meals with Herbalife Formula 1 shakes. For the main meal, you can either have a normal meal or snack on low-calorie snacks throughout the day.

In addition to the Herbalife shakes you’ll also need to take their vitamin complex and Formula 3 Cell Activator, which they say helps with absorbing nutrients and supports your mitochondria, according to their website. While Herbalife promotes its science-backed nutrition products, there have been concerns about potential liver issues associated with their use, as highlighted in a 2019 study by Dragan Jurčić from Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek.

Optavia vs Herbalife: What’s the difference?

In my experience with both Optavia and Herbalife, I’ve noticed key differences and similarities. While both use coaches or distributors for sales, Herbalife is also available on various websites, whereas Optavia is exclusively sold through official coaches. The most striking differences lie in their cost, product range, meal plans, supplements, and the weight loss results they offer. Also, it’s worth considering the side effects and customer reviews, which vary significantly between the two.


When it comes to pricing, Herbalife and Optavia take different approaches. Herbalife offers several packages like the Quickstart Program at $152.10 and the Advanced Program at $230.30. If you’re looking at individual products, their popular Formula 1 Select shake costs $43.30 for 30 servings, and the Protein Drink Mix is $53.10 for the same amount.

On the other hand, Optavia’s cost depends on the plan you choose. The Optimal Weight 5 and 1 plan, popular for weight loss, is $511.50 per month and includes 22 boxes of Optavia Fuelings. The Optimal Health 3 and 3 plan is $485.10 per month. Optavia doesn’t usually offer discounts, except for a 23% discount for first-time auto-subscription buyers. They also provide shipping cost discounts for Optavia Premier Members. Unlike Herbalife, most Optavia fuelings have the same price.

Meal Plan

From my experience, I’ve noticed distinct differences between Optavia and Herbalife in terms of meal plans. Optavia offers comprehensive support beyond just Optavia Fuelings, including a wide array of recipes, guides, and meal plans for weight loss, transition, and maintenance phases. They also provide tips for dining out and actively promote holistic health practices like adequate sleep, meditation, and regular exercise. In contrast, Herbalife doesn’t offer structured meal plans, although they do have a blog with various resources on their website.


When you compare Optavia and Herbalife for weight loss, there are some key differences. Optavia offers a variety of meals called “Fuelings,” including shakes, bars, desserts, puddings, and heartier options that require cooking. You’ll have five Optavia Fuelings per day, each around 100-110 calories, and one lean and green meal (250-400 calories).

Herbalife, on the other hand, focuses mainly on shakes like their Formula 1 Select meal replacement shakes, with 101 kcal per serving or 205 calories per serving when mixed with skim milk. They also have Protein Bites, Personalized Protein Powders, and High Protein Iced Coffees that you can mix for added nutrients. While Optavia doesn’t have weight loss teas or vitamins, they offer protein powder and EAA amino acids for their Optavia ACTIVE program. Both Optavia and Herbalife products are highly processed and contain a variety of natural and artificial ingredients.


Both Optavia and Herbalife use genetically modified or bioengineered ingredients, and they claim these ingredients have been tested and deemed safe by government authorities. Both brands rely on soy protein isolate as a primary protein source. While these products are promoted as healthy choices, it’s crucial to understand that regularly consuming highly processed foods like these may come with health risks. This includes possible side effects and allergic reactions to consider.


Besides the weight loss shakes, Herbalife also has other supplements like Multivitamins and things like Herbal Tea Concentrate, Cell Activator, Total Control, Cell-U-Loss. Herbalife also sells other products for specific health concerns like joint pain, inflammation, digestion, prostate health, skin health, and personal care products like shampoos and conditioners. According to the Herbalife website, these things are supposed to help you absorb nutrients better, give you more energy, and help with keeping your fluids in check. On the other hand, Optavia is all about weight loss and healthy living plans and doesn’t sell any extra supplements, vitamins, or energy drinks.

Weight loss

Both Optavia and Herbalife offer meal replacement shakes that have demonstrated positive effects on weight loss. A 2018 study conducted by Xiaohui Guo at Peking University found that consuming meal replacements at dinner can lead to improved body composition and metabolic parameters in overweight/obese individuals.

What’s more, a 2015 study funded by Medifast Inc. and published in the Nutrition Journal found that the Medifast 4 & 2 & 1 Plan helped participants lose at least 5% of their starting weight in 12 to 24 weeks. While Optavia and Herbalife products can also lead to weight loss, it’s crucial to be aware of potential risks. The case report I mentioned earlier, cited in Acta Clinica Croatica, suggests that Herbalife products may be associated with liver damage, emphasizing the need for strict regulation and monitoring of such products.

Customer reviews

From what I’ve seen and read in customer reviews, there are some mixed opinions about Optavia and Herbalife. Optavia, which has been around for 20 years but isn’t BBB accredited, has received 474 complaints in the last 3 years and has an average customer review score of 1.54 out of 5. Some people say they’ve had success with the 5 and 1 plan, while others mentioned issues like hair problems and saggy skin after losing weight.

On the other hand, Herbalife has been around for 27 years and has BBB accredited since 1990. They have fewer complaints, just 22 in the last 3 years, and an average customer review score of 1.8 out of 5. However, there have been reports of fraud and difficulties with returns. In my view, both Optavia and Herbalife have their ups and downs, as seen in the mixed feedback, so it’s essential to consider these experiences when deciding which program might work best for you.

Optavia vs Herbalife: Pros and Cons

Here’s a table comparing the pros and cons of Herbalife and the Optavia diet.

AspectHerbalifeOptavia Diet
Pros– Quick and easy to prepare– Effective for fast weight loss
– Variety of 14 flavors– Minimal cooking and meal planning
– Short-term weight loss benefits– Nutritionally balanced meals
– Can replace meals and cut calories
– Suitable for vegetarians
– Affordable weight loss program
Cons– Potential side effects like nausea, stomach upset, or headaches– Can be expensive
– May not be sustainable long term– Possible side effects (constipation, stomach upset, headaches)
– Seen by some as a fad or gimmick– Long-term sustainability challenge
– Safety concerns, especially for individuals with liver disease
– Sold through multi-level marketing
Optavia and Herbalife comparison

Which is better Optavia versus Herbalife?

Considering your options between Optavia and Herbalife for your weight loss journey, I’d recommend Optavia. Herbalife has some concerns related to liver damage, which can be worrisome. Both diets may have their challenges, like Optavia’s restrictions on certain carbs, but the key to lasting weight loss is building healthy habits you can stick with in the long term. If the Optavia 5 and 1 plan doesn’t quite fit your lifestyle, explore other programs similar to Optavia that align better with your needs while keeping your focus on those healthy habits for lasting results.

What are the alternatives to Herbalife and Optavia?

I’ve explored various weight loss programs similar to Optavia and Herbalife, like Nutrisystem, Yes You Can diet, Isagenix, Ideal Protein, and Plexus. They all focus on meal replacement with their unique twists. If you’re on the hunt for more affordable weight loss plans similar to Optavia, you might want to check out Wonderslim, Skinny Box, Huel, or even try doing the 5 and 1 plan on your own. This way, you can follow the program’s guidelines but use store-bought snacks and cook your own meals at home, which can save you some money.

What’s the difference between Optavia, Herbalife, and Isagenix?

I’ve found that Optavia, Herbalife, and Isagenix are all multi-level marketing (MLM) brands offering weight loss shakes. From my experience, Isagenix tends to be more expensive, but it provides the flexibility to try their plan without needing to contact an Independent Isagenix Associate, unlike Optavia. This option with Isagenix can be costlier, but it doesn’t require a long-term commitment, which is a significant advantage. Both Isagenix and Optavia have their unique approaches, but it’s their pricing and commitment levels that really set them apart in my eyes.

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