Optavia vs Medifast: Differences, Pros, and Cons

Optavia and Medifast
Optavia vs Medifast

Medifast and Optavia are closely related, but they’re not the same. Medifast is a parent company that owns several subsidiaries, including Optavia. While Medifast historically offered weight loss meal replacements, since 2017, they’ve shifted to primarily distributing their products through Optavia. Optavia specializes in weight loss and wellness programs, providing personalized coaching and a range of products, whereas Medifast’s older meal replacement shakes and bars are no longer sold.

The major difference between Optavia and Medifast is their philosophy when it comes to weight loss. Optavia takes a holistic path, blending nutrition, exercise, and behavioral changes for sustained health benefits. Conversely, Medifast historically aimed for “quick-fix” results through meal replacements like shakes and bars. Optavia provides varied, customizable meal options, whereas Medifast had a more fixed, straightforward product range.

In this article, I explore how Medifast and Optavia differ and what they share, focusing on their unique approaches to weight loss. I compare them to other programs like Herbalife and Nutrisystem, highlighting what sets Medifast and Optavia apart now that Medifast no longer sells products directly.

An Overview: Medifast vs Optavia

ConvenienceEasy to follow with meal replacements and online coaching.Offers convenience with pre-prepared food.
Weight LossEffective for weight loss due to calorie control.Also effective for weight loss through portion control.
Cooking RequirementLimited cooking is needed, focusing on portion control.Limited cooking needed, focusing on portion control.
SustainabilitySustainability may be challenging due to the reliance on meal replacements.Sustainability may be challenging due to portion control.
Food QualityNutritious meals, snacks, and shakes with balanced nutrition.Provides pre-prepared food but may vary in quality.
CostCan be expensive with the cost of meal replacement products.Cost may vary based on the chosen plan and supplements.
Health ApproachPromotes balanced nutrition with essential vitamins and minerals.Promotes portion control and balanced nutrition.

What is the Medifast?

The Medifast diet, initiated by Medifast Inc. in 1980, was a low-fat, low-calorie weight loss program. It centered around meal replacements and emphasized the consumption of specific foods and beverages. The plan typically involved five small meal replacements and one full meal daily. Forbes Magazine recognized Medifast as the best small company in America in 2010 for its trustworthiness. A 2015 study by Medifast’s Christopher Coleman demonstrated the effectiveness of their 4 & 2 & 1 Plan in weight loss and muscle mass maintenance.

When asking if Optavia is the same as Medifast, it’s key to know that while Medifast was the original brand, Optavia is its rebranded version launched in 2017. Medifast no longer sells products directly, focusing instead on the Optavia brand and its comprehensive weight-loss plans. Here’s a table summarizing the Medifast programs

Medifast Go$45130-day program with 154 meals including soup, shakes, bars, guides, and a blender bottle.
Medifast Achieve$478.30Includes 126 meals, 21 snack bags, health supplements, and exclusive items in the first plan.
Medifast Thrive$325.90Maintenance plan with lean meal options, smoothie packets, bars for sustained health post-weight loss.

What is the Optavia?

Optavia, a program by Medifast, focuses on meal replacements, low-glycemic carbs, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Their main plan, the Optimal Weight 5 & 1, includes five daily Fuelings and one lean and green meal for at least 12 weeks. Optavia Fuelings features a variety of options like bars and shakes. While Medifast no longer sells products, Optavia has expanded to include muscle-building kits and supplements, including protein powders and EAA amino acids in their Optavia Active plan.

Linda M. Arterburn’s 2018 study in Obesity Science & Practice found that Optavia program participants had greater weight loss success compared to those trying to lose weight independently. Involving 198 individuals, primarily women over 45, during 16 weeks, this research suggests Optavia’s effectiveness for adults seeking weight loss.

Optavia vs Medifast: What’s the difference?

Optavia and Medifast differ mainly in product naming and ingredients. Optavia’s “Fuelings” feature natural sweeteners like stevia, while Medifast used artificial sweeteners like sucralose. Despite many changes between these two brands, their business model remains unchanged. Neither Optavia nor Medifast products are sold at Walmart. Optavia Fuelings have simply rebranded versions of Medifast products. Here’s the photo of Optavia and Medifast bars together.

photo of optavia bars and medifast bars

On the left, you see the Medifast Chocolate Crunch bar and the S’more Crunch bar. On your right, you have a Chocolate Cherry bar and a Chocolate Mint Cookie Crisp bar. In my experience with Optavia and Medifast meal replacements, they both offered shakes and smoothies with Soy Protein Isolate.

However, I noticed a growing sensitivity to soy among many people, probably because it’s so common in foods. While Optavia does have some soy-free options, many of their meal replacements, including bars, shakes, soups, and other items, contain soy protein isolate. This is something to be mindful of, especially for those with soy allergies or sensitivities. Other differences between Medifast versus Optavia include pricing, meal plans, food variety, calorie intake, and weight loss effectiveness.


Optavia is generally pricier than Medifast. For example, Optavia’s Optimal Weight 5 and 1 Plan costs $511.50/month, while Medifast’s Flex Weight Loss Meal Plan 30-Day Kit is $399/month. Medifast bars used to be $21 for seven servings, but Optavia charges $23.25 for the same amount. Experts have criticized both as “overpriced,” possibly due to inflation or ingredient variations. This table shows price differences between Optavia and Medifast.

Plan / KitCost
Optimal Weight 5 and 1 Plan$511.50 per month
Optimal Weight 4 and 2 Plan$515.15 per month
Optimal Health 3 and 3 Plan$485.10 per month
Medifast Flex Weight Loss Meal Plan 30-Day Complete Kit$399 per month
Medifast Flex Weight Loss Meal Plan 30-Day Select Kit$299 per month
Medifast Flex Weight Loss Meal Plan 14-Day Trial$149
Medifast Go! Express Weight Loss Meal Plan 30-Day Kit$329 per month
Medifast Go! Express Weight Loss Meal Plan 14-Day Kit$149
Essential Optimal Kit 5&1 Plan$356 per month
Essential On-The-Go Kit with the Habits of Health System 5&1 Plan$392 per month

However, this could be because of slight variations in meal plans and different prices for fuelings.

Meal plan

The meal plans offered by Optavia and Medifast differ significantly in their approach and target demographics. Medifast primarily focuses on rapid weight loss and offers plans like Medifast Go! and Medifast Flex, which are designed for either 14 or 30 days and provide pre-packaged snacks to eliminate the need for calorie counting.

  • Medifast Go!: This plan provides you with 147 Medifast snacks every day. It’s convenient because you don’t have to worry about measuring or calculating calories.
  • Medifast Flex – This is the second plan if you’re looking for a bit more flexibility. It included 126 meals, so allowed for a little more flexibility.

Optavia, however, caters to a wider audience by offering specialized meal plans for teens, seniors, physically active individuals, and pregnant women, in addition to those seeking rapid weight loss or more flexibility. The following list shows 8 different types of Optavia diet meal plans.

  1. Optavia Teens meal plan
  2. Optavia Seniors meal plan
  3. Optavia Active meal plan
  4. Optavia Nursing Mothers’ meal plan
  5. Optavia Diabetes meal plan
  6. Optavia 5 and 1 meal plan
  7. Optavia 4 and 2 meal plan
  8. Optavia 3 and 3 meal plan

Optavia’s plans are geared towards long-term lifestyle changes, encouraging healthier habits and sustainable weight loss. In contrast, Medifast’s plans are more rigid and focused on quick results, making them less flexible but potentially faster for weight loss.


Both Optavia and Medifast meal replacements are designed to be low-calorie and low-carbohydrate while being high in protein. Optavia’s Fuelings typically contain 10-15g of carbohydrates, 10-15g of protein, and 3-5g of fat. In contrast, Medifast offers similar macronutrients but tends to have slightly higher amounts of calories, carbohydrates, and protein in their meal options.

Calorie intake

Optavia’s Essential Fuelings clock in at 100-110 calories, while Optimal Health Fuelings range from 160-180 calories. Medifast used to have a wider range of plans, but they were in the same calorie ballpark. The key difference? Medifast offered more plan options for those looking to customize their calorie intake.

What to eat

I’ve tried both Optavia and Medifast, and they share similar dietary guidelines. Both suggest eating low-calorie foods like lean proteins, veggies, and healthy fats (e.g., fish and nuts). However, they both steer clear of starchy and high-carb items like bread, potatoes, rice, and certain legumes and veggies (chickpeas, beans, lentils, carrots, and corn). And when it comes to alcohol, both programs are on the same page, recommending limited or no consumption.

Weight Loss

When it comes to efficacy, both Optavia and Medifast offer meal plans in the range of 800-1,000 calories per day, aligning them with very low-calorie diets known to facilitate weight loss. They have been recognized in reputable scientific journals like The New England Journal of Medicine and Obesity Journal. However, a 2012 study from the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin raises concerns about the sustainability and safety of such very low-calorie diets, noting high drop-out rates among participants. Thus, while both plans may be effective for short-term weight loss, their long-term sustainability and safety are subjects for further investigation.

Who takes the crown in the Medifast vs Optavia showdown?

In my experience, Optavia feels like an upgrade from Medifast, especially with its Habits of Health program, making it a better choice for holistic lifestyle changes. When comparing Optavia and Medifast, here’s the deal: Optavia is all about lasting lifestyle changes with diverse meal plans and pre-packaged meals, but it is expensive and comes with food restrictions. On the flip side, Medifast offered rapid weight loss through simple meal replacements, but it had a smaller menu, could get costly, and might not fully satisfy your hunger, compared to other weight loss programs.

What are the alternatives to Optavia And Medifast?

The list of 9 weight loss programs like Optavia and Medifast is shown below.

  1. Herbalife
  2. Nutrisystem
  3. Skinny Box
  4. Ketogenic diet
  5. Mediterranean diet
  6. Mayo Clinic diet
  7. GOLO diet
  8. Jenny Craig
  9. Weight Watchers

1. Herbalife

Unlike Optavia’s focus on lifestyle changes and Medifast’s quick weight loss approach, Herbalife offers a range of protein shakes, loaded teas, and supplements designed for various weight management goals. Herbalife prices can vary, but a Quickstart Program costs around $157.40, making it a potentially less expensive option.

2. Skinny Box

Skinny Box offers a similar weight loss plan to Optavia, 5 snacks, and 1 lean and green meal. That includes meal replacement shakes and dietary supplements, priced at about $231 per month. This makes it a more budget-friendly alternative to both Optavia and Medifast.

3. Nutrisystem

Nutrisystem provides pre-packaged low-calorie meals, with plans starting at around $11.61 per day, or about $325 per month. Nutrisystem is somewhat comparable to Medifast’s pricing but offers less focus on lifestyle change compared to Optavia.

4. Ketogenic diet

This is a self-guided high-fat, low-carb diet, with food costs varying based on individual choices. It differs fundamentally from Optavia and Medifast, which are low-calorie and relatively low-fat.

5. Mediterranean diet

Like the Ketogenic diet, this is also self-guided and emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. Costs can vary, and it offers more dietary freedom compared to the structured meal plans of Optavia and Medifast.

6. Mayo Clinic diet

This diet offers a structured two-phase program focusing on healthy eating habits, with a book costing around $5 per week. It is less prescriptive than Optavia and Medifast and doesn’t offer pre-packaged meals.

7. GOLO diet

In contrast to Medifast and Optavia, the GOLO diet emphasizes managing insulin levels for weight loss. The monthly cost for the program’s supplement, GOLO Release, is approximately $59.95, offering a more budget-friendly alternative.

8. Jenny Craig

This program provides pre-packaged low-calorie meals like Nutrisystem and Medifast but includes one-on-one consultations. Prices can start at around $22.50 per day, making it comparable or even pricier than Optavia and Medifast.

9. Weight Watchers

Known for its point-based system, Weight Watchers offers more dietary freedom than Optavia and Medifast. Membership fees can start at around $20 per month, plus the cost of food, making it a potentially less expensive but less structured option.

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