Are you torn between Optavia and Weight Watchers? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
I did Optavia and Weight Watchers myself, and I’m here to share my first-hand experience with you.
They BOTH have pros and cons.
In this Optavia vs Weight Watchers comparison guide, I will cover everything from cost and products to meal plans, efficacy, common side effects, and complaints.
Feel free to try every fad diet and weight loss product under the sun, but if I were you, I would rather choose a tested (and simple) solution.
What is the Optavia diet?
The Optavia Diet is a meal replacement program designed to make weight loss easier. Optavia is a subsidiary of Medifast and works similarly to the popular Take Shape For Life plan.
It relies on prepackaged meals and other calorie-controlled snacks to encourage users to create a calorie deficit.
Did you know that Forbes ranked Medifast as the top small company in America in 2010? Not only that.
They remained successful and ranked at number 18 on Forbes’ list until 2014.
Research from Current Developments in Nutrition reports that successful Optavia coaches used seven distinct strategies to sustain their weight loss, including self-monitoring, exercise, and adopting healthy habits learned from the program.
Additionally, “coaches found that fulfilling the role of a coach aided in weight maintenance by providing accountability and a sense of fulfillment from helping others,” states the journal.
How does it work?
This diet recommends lean proteins and non-starchy vegetables while heavily discouraging sweets and higher-calorie foods.
Currently, Optavia is available in three different plans:
- The Optimal Weight 5&1 Plan (the most popular)
- The 3&3 Plan
- The 4&2 Plan
The 5&1 Plan gives you five Optavia Fuelings and one lean and green meal.
The 3&3 Plan is their maintenance plan and works by having three lean and green meals and three Fuelings per day.
Despite claims of convenience and ease, experts do not recommend this plan.
Pros and cons of the Optavia diet
- Eliminates the need for large grocery shopping.
- A convenient option for people who have a busy lifestyle.
- Easy to ensure you are consuming the correct portion sizes.
- Easy to track progress and achieve weight loss
- May not be sustainable for long-term weight loss.
- Can become monotonous and boring.
- Can be expensive.
- Restricts many commonly used food groups like grains, fruits, and some dairy products.
What is the Weight Watchers?
WW diet, also known as Weight Watchers, is a program that has been around since the 1960s.
It doesn’t rely on counting calories. Instead, it focuses on teaching members how to create healthy meal plans and eating habits.
WW received the #2 position in our top Optavia alternatives ranking.
The Annals of Internal Medicine published an article on various weight loss programs. Researchers studied three programs: Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and Nutrisystem.
“Our findings show that Weight Watchers participants consistently lose more weight than control/education participants, which they sustain beyond 12 months.”Annals of Internal Medicine
They discovered that Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig can help people lose weight and keep it off.
“Nutrisystem can help people lose weight in the short term, but long-term results are unknown due to a lack of information,” states the journal.
How does it work?
You can think of WW as a membership to use their mobile app.
It’s an all-in-one platform that “unlocks” over 12,000 healthy recipes, weight and activity trackers, and a members-only digital community.
In the app, you also get coach-led workshops that you can attend in-person or virtually and in-person support from other members.
When it comes to food, Weight Watchers uses a points-based system called “SmartPoints” to simplify food selection.
Each food type is assigned a point value based on its nutrient and energy density, and a point equals 50 calories.
Unlike Optavia, with WW you can eat foods from all the food groups, including fruits, dairy, and grains.
What’s more, Weight Watchers sells ready-to-eat meal replacements that can be consumed instantly, replacing the usual diet.
Pros and cons of the Weight Watchers
- Easy-to-follow app.
- No need to count calories.
- Takes the guesswork out of meal planning.
- Makes it easy to track and stay accountable.
- More sustainable for long-term weight loss.
- Easy to cancel if not satisfied.
- Getting only an app means you still have to cook on your own.
- Delivery meals can be expensive.
- Not all postcodes are eligible for delivery.
Optavia vs Weight Watchers – Products
Optavia and WW offer completely different products.
Optavia doesn’t sell frozen meals.
The 5 and 1 plan is more about eating small “Fuelings” throughout the day like:
- Hearty snacks
They also give you the freedom to only cook one Lean & Green meal per day, although you can outsource that to them as well for an additional cost.
The Optavia Fuelings range from 100-110 calories, similar to the Skinny Box diet.
Weight Watchers, on the other hand, offer a more comprehensive approach.
They not only offer meal delivery.
A variety of kitchen products are available for purchase, including kitchenware, appliances, storage containers, food scales, body scales, and more.
My biggest issue with Optavia is that you cannot find the product in stores.
Sure, you can try to buy “second-hand” Fuelings from eBay, but be sure to check the expiration date.
You can purchase products on their website, BUT they don’t sell anything through shops like Amazon, Walmart, or GNC.
However, for Weight Watchers, you can find their meals and other products in many major grocery stores like Walmart, Aldi, Costco, Target, and Trader’s Joe.
Plus, they also partner with many food delivery companies like Blue Apron to sell WW-approved meals.
If you’re looking for the Optavia 5 and 1 plan, you will be getting around 800-1,000 calories per day, regardless of your age or gender.
If you choose the Weight Watchers diet plan, you’re looking for 1,200-1,500 calories per day.
Your daily calories depend on your daily points.
Your WW points allowance is calculated based on your body weight, age, gender, and weight loss goals.
Is that enough?
The Gastroenterology Journal published an article review stating that “meal replacements are more effective than calorie-controlled diets due to the reduced margin for error and lesser need for decision-making and cooking skills.”
The WW diet typically results in a weight loss of 0.5 to 1.0 kg per week. However, with Optavia, I was able to lose over 7 pounds in the first week.
Both WW and Optavia have different approaches to serving sizes when it comes to their products.
Diets don’t involve calorie counting. Optavia products are crafted with 100-110 calories per serving. In contrast, WW uses SmartPoints to determine serving sizes, factoring in calories, sugar, saturated fat, and protein. This provides a holistic evaluation of a product’s nutritional value. WW goes beyond just calorie content.
For example, a single Optavia bar may equal four Weight Watchers points, but the nutritional value of the bar may vary depending on its ingredients and nutritional content. Meanwhile, a WW bar may have a different serving size and point value based on its nutritional composition.
Optavia and WW meals have pretty similar nutrition facts.
They both have around 250-400 calories, 20-25 grams of protein, and 20-25 grams of carbs, and 5-10 grams of fat per meal.
But there’s one big difference.
The types of food they use.
WW meals include things like pasta, grains, and fruits. Optavia meals, on the other hand, are mostly made up of low-carb vegetables and lean proteins.
When it comes to food ingredients, WW pre-packaged meals use fresh foods, whereas Optavia use “bioengineered food ingredients”.
According to the Weight Watchers website, their meals are designed and freshly prepared by a qualified team of chefs and nutritionists.
They don’t use artificial flavors or ingredients.
Even WW snacks like crisps, chocolate bars, and desserts don’t contain any artificial ingredients.
On the other hand, Optavia Fuelings are made with GMO food ingredients such as soy proteins, and fructose syrup, but don’t include artificial sweeteners like aspartame.
Taste is a BIG factor for me.
Nutrisystem uses pre-packaged meals made with fresh ingredients, and you can REALLY taste the difference.
Plus, the meals are ready to eat and have a long shelf life, so no worries about spoilage. I’ve never had any problems with the taste of Nutrisystem meals – they’re definitely not bland.
On the other hand, Optavia fuelings can get a bit boring. You have to mix the powder with water, and after a few weeks, it can feel repetitive.
If you’re someone who values taste, Optavia might not be the best choice for you.
However, if you’re more focused on shedding those pounds, Optavia could still be a good option despite the lack of variety in taste.
Optavia vs Weight Watchers meals
Optavia lean and green meal
Optavia 5 and 1 plan requires you to prepare one lean and green meal, which should include:
- 5 – 7 oz of lean proteins.
- 3 servings of low-carbohydrate vegetables.
- 0 – 2 servings of healthy fats.
- 3 servings of selected condiments.
With WW there are no “limits” or rules for your meals. As you, as you match your daily points, you are good for the day.
For example, if your points allowance is 23, you can redistribute your points to 3, 4, or even 5 meals. It’s up to you.
That being said, don’t blow all of your points on one meal, snack, or dessert.
What’s more, most fruit and vegetables are “free”, which means they don’t count toward your points.
What foods are allowed?
Weight Watchers have a more “down-to-earth” approach. Although they suggest mostly using whole foods, there are no “bad foods”.
There are no “restrictions”. You only get foods that have more or fewer points.
Optavia is different.
They recommend you only use lean proteins, low-carb vegetables, and fats (mostly from fish and nuts). Optavia doesn’t allow any high-carbohydrate vegetables, including:
While both programs restrict or prohibit the consumption of alcohol, the Optavia 3 and 3 plan allows having an occasional glass of wine as a part of your free choice snacks.
When it comes to the price of Optavia vs Weight Watchers, it depends on which program you choose.
Keep in mind that the CORE WW price only includes membership for the app and doesn’t include the cost of meals, snacks, and other food items.
Weight Watchers cost
- The basic Core plan starts at $10 per month
- Optimal Weight 5 and 1 Plan ($511.50 per month)
- Optimal Weight 4 and 2 and 1 Plan ($515.15 per month)
- Optimal Health 3 and 3 Plan ($485.10 per month)
Although Weight Watchers seems to be more affordable than Optavia, it doesn’t cover the price of meals.
The cost of Optavia includes all your Fuelings for the entire month, BUT it doesn’t include groceries for lean and green meals, which are required in addition to Fuelings.
Consider your budget and what works best for your lifestyle and weight loss goals.
While Optavia may provide a convenient and comprehensive meal plan, it may not be the most cost-effective option for everyone.
Many customers have had different experiences with Weight Watchers.
Some have had success with the program and appreciate the support it provides, while others have had negative experiences with customer service and canceling their subscription.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) score for Weight Watchers is low (1.07 out of 5), indicating that some customers have filed complaints.
According to BBB, one customer’s nutritionist advised them not to use the program, but they were unable to cancel their subscription without being charged for the entire six-month commitment.
“Upon calling weight watchers I was told I missed the deadline by two days and I would have to pay for the six month commitment. I advised that my medical team did not want me to use the program but I was not allowed to cancel.”Better Business Bureau
The other customer signed up for WW based on their “cancel anytime” advertisement, but when they tried to cancel after 1.5 months, they were told they would still be billed until 10 months later.
Optavia has a BBB score of 1.52/5, which is higher than Weight Watchers’ score of 1.07/5.
In these customer reviews, there are clear examples of frustrating experiences with Optavia’s customer service and business practices.
One person reported not receiving a product that they had paid for and being unable to reach a representative who could help them without providing their credit card information.
“There is no reason why they need my credit card for zero transactions. There is no way to reach an American from Optavia (American-owned comp from what I was told)? Poor Optavia customer service, ripping off their customers by charging for the merchandise but refusing to send it..”Better Business Bureau
This raises serious ethical concerns and potential fraud.
The second reviewer had an issue with being charged a higher amount than they were quoted and having difficulty canceling their order.
Despite canceling the order, the customer was still charged and received no confirmation of cancellation.
While every company will have some negative reviews, the patterns that arise from multiple reviews can provide valuable insights.
Which one is better?
I can see why people choose Weight Watchers more often than Optavia.
I personally find it easy to manage my daily points budget and was able to spread it out across all three meals (plus extra zero-point snacks).
One thing that stood out to me about Weight Watchers is that they encourage an overall lifestyle change, which includes becoming more active.
Plus, they offer coaching sessions from health professionals.
I think this is really important.
Losing weight and keeping it off is about more than just following a strict diet.
The Weight Watchers app also offers a variety of exercises and workouts to help burn calories, BUT I also find it tedious to log in to everything I do.
On the other hand, Optavia takes a different approach.
You start the plan. You get boxes of Fuelings and you’re ready to go. No calculations. No planning.
I don’t have a problem with short-term weight loss. The only concern I have with Optavia is their MLM business model.
They call it “one-on-one coaching” or “personal coaching” but the reality is that you’re there to sell the products further your downline.
All in all, if one of my closest friends asked me to choose between Optavia and WW I would say this – start with Optavia (initially) and move to WW for your long-term success.