Medifast refers to a meal replacement program aimed at quick weight loss through the use of shakes, bars, and other products. On the other hand, Optavia, a rebrand of Medifast, focuses on creating a lifestyle change by encouraging healthier habits and offering a variety of meal plans and customizable options.
When asked whether Optavia used to be Medifast, the answer is yes. Optavia was once a part of Medifast but is now a separate subsidiary. The two companies offer different products, meal plans, and coaching services. Medifast changed to Optavia in July 2017, along with introducing a new product line called Optavia Essentials. The subsidiary Take Shape For Life also changed its name to Optavia. The rebranding was aimed at aligning with the company’s mission to promote holistic wellness and optimal health for its clients.
Optavia and Medifast are both meal replacement programs designed to assist with weight loss and improved health outcomes, however, they are not the same and differ in some fundamental ways.
The major difference between Optavia and Medifast is their philosophy when it comes to weight loss. Optavia focuses on creating holistic change through exercise, nutrition, and supplementation, encouraging people to adopt healthier habits for long-term goals. In contrast, Medifast primarily aims for quick weight loss using meal replacement shakes, bars, and other products. Additionally, Optavia offers a variety of meal plans and customizable options for individual needs, while Medifast has more limited options.
This article examines the differences between Medifast and Optavia, delves into the exciting changes, explores what these programs have in common, and evaluates what each has to offer in comparison to other weight loss programs like Herbalife and Nutrisystem.
What is the Medifast diet?
The Medifast diet is a weight loss program developed by Medifast Inc., a public company based in Baltimore, Maryland. Founded in 1980 by William Vitale, the diet originally involved distributing products to doctors who then sold them to patients. It introduced the “Take Shape for Life” program in 1980, which uses meal replacements for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with online coaching.
A 2015 study titled “Effectiveness of a Medifast Meal Replacement Program on Weight, Body Composition and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Overweight and Obese Adults,” conducted by Christopher Coleman, a Principal Scientist at Medifast, Inc., reported that individuals who followed the Medifast 4 & 2 & 1 Plan lost weight while retaining most of their muscle mass.
Furthermore, both genders and all age groups have better blood pressure and waist-to-hip ratio. This program was deemed safe and most people were able to maintain it.
In 2010, Forbes Magazine named Medifast the best small company in America, with further recognition for being trustworthy.
What are the benefits of the Medifast diet?
The following list shows the benefits of the Medifast diet.
- Easy to follow diet plan with meal replacements and online coaching.
- Nutritious meals, snacks, and shakes with pre-prepared food for convenience.
- Balanced nutrition with all the essential vitamins and minerals.
- Saves time as meal preparations are done in advance.
- Online support from the trained coaches
What are the drawbacks of the Medifast diet?
This list shows the drawbacks of the Medifast diet.
- Limited menu as meal replacements does not offer variety.
- Expensive food products and shipping costs.
- Meal replacement shakes may not satisfy hunger completely.
- Not suitable for those with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes.
- Not enough evidence to prove its long-term safety and effectiveness.
What is the Optavia diet?
Optavia diet is a weight loss program developed by the aforementioned company Medifast that focuses on portion-controlled meal replacements, low-glycemic carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
The Optavia program provides a variety of “Fuelings” such as bars, shakes, entrees, and desserts fortified with vitamins and minerals.
A 2018 study by Linda M. Arterburn published in Obesity Science & Practice showed that people on the Optavia programs achieved greater weight loss and body transformation than those attempting to lose weight alone.
The study lasted for 16 weeks and 198 people took part. Most of the people were women and they were all over 45 years old. This means that the Optavia diet may be really helpful for adults who want to lose weight.
Optavia offers three plans that vary in duration, cost, and approach. The most popular plan is their signature Optimal Weight 5 & 1 Plan.
It involves eating five Fuelings and one lean and green meal per day. This plan is designed to be used for a minimum of 12 weeks.
What are the benefits of the Optavia diet?
This list shows the benefits of the Optavia weight loss diet.
- Easy to follow.
- Apart from weight loss shakes and bars also provide lifestyle guidelines, meal plans, and recipes.
- Provides community and online support to motivate users.
What are the drawbacks of the Optavia diet?
The following are the disadvantages of the Optavia diet.
- Pre-packaged meals can be expensive.
- The diet limits certain food groups, making it difficult to adhere to.
- It could potentially result in nutrient deficiencies if not adequately balanced and fortified.
- The rigid guidelines may not be feasible to sustain long-term, potentially resulting in weight gain or other side effects.
What are the differences between Optavia and Medifast?
The 6 primary differences between the Medifast and Optavia diets are shown below.
- Product differences between Optavia and Medifast
- Meal plan differences between Optavia and Medifast
- Calorie differences between Optavia and Medifast
- Food list differences between Optavia and Medifast
- Price differences between Optavia and Medifast
- Efficacy differences between Optavia and Medifast
1. Product differences between Optavia and Medifast
The primary differences between Optavia and Medifast products lie in their naming and ingredients; Optavia offers a designated line of “Fuelings” and uses natural sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit, whereas Medifast does not have a specific name for their products and utilizes artificial sweeteners such as 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.
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.
Apart from the bars, Optavia and Medifast meal replacements included shakes, soups, puddings, oatmeal, cereal, pancakes, and brownies. Medifast and Optavia both provide shakes and smoothies containing Soy Protein Isolate.
However, more individuals are exhibiting sensitivity to soy due to its excessive presence. And while there are some soy-free Optavia products, many of their meal replacements contain soy protein isolate which should be avoided by those with sensitivity or allergies to soy.
2. Meal plan differences between Optavia and Medifast
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.
- Optavia Teens meal plan
- Optavia Seniors meal plan
- Optavia Active meal plan
- Optavia Nursing Mothers’ meal plan
- Optavia Diabetes meal plan
- Optavia 5 and 1 meal plan
- Optavia 4 and 2 meal plan
- 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.
3. Macronutrient differences between Optavia and Medifast
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 carbohydrates and protein in their meal options.
4. Calorie differences between Optavia and Medifast
The calorie content in Optavia and Medifast products is quite similar, with Optavia Essential Fuelings ranging from 100-110 calories and Optimal Health Fuelings between 160-180 calories. Medifast also falls within similar calorie ranges for their products.
The primary difference is that Medifast historically offered a broader variety of plans with different calorie ranges, giving users more options to tailor their caloric intake.
5. Food list differences between Optavia and Medifast
Both Optavia and Medifast recommend low-calorie foods like lean proteins, low-carb vegetables, and healthy fats from sources like fish and nuts.
Foods that are generally not allowed on either plan include starchy and high-carb items such as bread, potatoes, rice, and certain legumes and vegetables like chickpeas, beans, lentils, carrots, and corn. The policies on alcohol consumption remain largely unchanged between the two programs, discouraging its use.
6. Price differences between Optavia and Medifast
When it comes to price differences between Optavia and Medifast, Optavia tends to be more expensive, potentially due to its focus on a long-term approach to weight loss.
For instance, Optavia’s Optimal Weight 5 and 1 Plan costs $511.50 per month, while Medifast’s Flex Weight Loss Meal Plan 30-Day Complete Kit is priced at $399 per month. The cost of individual items like bars also shows a difference; Medifast bars used to cost $21 for seven servings, whereas Optavia charges $23.25 for the same quantity.
These price discrepancies may be due to inflation, differences in ingredients, or a combination of both, and both plans have been criticized by some experts as being “overpriced.”
This table shows price differences between Optavia and Medifast.
|Plan / Kit||Cost|
|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.
7. Efficacy differences between Optavia and Medifast
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.
What are the overall pros and cons when comparing Optavia And Medifast?
When evaluating Optavia and Medifast, both programs have distinct advantages and drawbacks. Optavia emphasizes long-term lifestyle changes, offers diverse meal plans, and provides the convenience of pre-packaged meals. However, its higher cost and restrictions on certain food groups can be downsides. Medifast focuses on rapid weight loss through straightforward meal replacements, but it has a more limited menu, can be expensive, and might not fully satisfy hunger.
Optavia seems like an evolved form of Medifast, concentrating on holistic lifestyle changes rather than just offering weight-loss products. The introduction of the Habits of Health program was a pivotal move for Optavia, shifting the focus towards long-term sustainability for its customers. This approach appeals to today’s more informed consumers seeking comprehensive health solutions. However, both brands have been criticized for aggressive marketing tactics and high product prices, which may deter people on tighter budgets.
Ultimately, each program has its merits and shortcomings, and the best choice will vary from individual to individual.
What are the alternatives to Optavia And Medifast?
The list of 9 alternative weight loss diets to Optavia and Medifast is shown below.
- Skinny Box
- Ketogenic diet
- Mediterranean diet
- Mayo Clinic diet
- GOLO diet
- Jenny Craig
- Weight Watchers
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.
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.