Medifast Diet Program is a typical meal replacement diet. It uses extremely low calories to force your body to burn up fat to make up the difference. It also restricts carbohydrates to induce ketosis, the state that is aimed for in the Atkins diet as well.
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Medifast is a meal replacement diet like Slimfast® or the Cookie Diet™. The idea is you drastically cut down your calorie intake by replacing most of your normal meals with their low calorie food, then in the evening you have a small meal of lean meat and vegetables to round off the day (actually you can have it whenever but I guess most people have it in the evening).
The diet is supposed to be about 800 – 1000 calories a day which will cut out a lot of calories for most people and force you to lose weight. I’d usually say that the calorie level was too low but this diet has been tested in clinical trials and there are both doctors working for the company and 4 doctors on the company scientific advisory board, so you have to assume it is safe (but consult your doctor before you try it!).
They claim you can lose between 2 to 5lbs a week with their diet, but from what I’ve seen people say then it will probably be more like 2 – 3lbs and you’ll only achieve the other figures in the first week which even they admit will be partly water loss as well while your body adjusts to the new diet.
The first week is where your body starts to adapt to the lower calorie intake and also where your body starts to adapt to the low carbohydrate intake too, this means you might be tired, irritable and hungry.
After about a week, your body is supposed to enter ketosis where you start to burn fat instead of carbs for fuel, and your hunger should subside and your energy levels increase.
You are supposed to have 5 of the Medifast meals a day alongside the 1 normal meal which will set you back around $75 a week if you buy a month’s worth at a time. What makes or breaks this diet though is the food.
So, you might need to try things out to see if you like them, I’d probably be fine with a different soup and different oatmeal, and you can get shakes too which I forgot to order so they’d be a good way to top up your choices.
After you reach your target weight you are supposed to go into the transition phase where you start to slowly add in things like fruit and whole grains while slowly increasing your calorie intake, and then you go into your maintenance phase which is how you eat for the rest of your life.
It does give you tips on how to eat healthily and it tells you what to introduce and how, but you are supposed to work out the amount of calories your body burns naturally each day, then tailor the amount you eat to match that, so you don’t put on or lose any weight.
Yet, it doesn’t tell you how to monitor the calorie intake of the new foods you are adding in, and it still asks you to eat 2 – 3 of the Medifast meals a day which would not be something I’d look forward to.
You can just use the Medifast diet to reach your target weight though and then turn to something like the South Beach diet which teaches you how to eat healthy food for the long term (the book is only $10ish so it is easy enough to buy when you need it).
Exercise & Physical Activity
Exercise is covered briefly in the online membership and in more detail in the book, they ask you to do around 20 – 60 minutes, 3 – 6 times a week, but most people I have seen talking about the diet do little or no exercise. I’d recommend trying to go out walking 3 times a week just to help the process and improve your cardiovascular health at the same time as you lose weight.
All in all, this is an ok program for people who lack the time or motivation to cook healthy meals and snacks every day, although you have to pay for the privilege!
I have seen lots of people online who have lost weight with this so it does seem to work, but I think the maintenance phase needs to be explained better so you don’t lose all your hard work when you get to your target weight.
Diet Maintenance Support
There is a free online community where you get access to registered dieticians to answer your questions and there are active discussion boards to talk with people on the plan and motivate each other. There is also a comprehensive tracking facility where you can track your weight, what you eat, your goals, your measurements etc.
You also get free access to the dashboard.medifast1.com community site where there are active discussion boards you can ask questions on if you have problems or need advice; you can also ask their registered dieticians for support in there or via email which is a great addition.
What Is Included In The Medifast Diet:
With your order you get a welcome pack which contains some leaflets on how to follow the diet and some other information, plus a short DVD which takes you through a lot of the background behind the diet and how to get the most out of it. You also get a little container to help you measure out the water to mix with the meals and to mix shakes in etc.
The food and drink comes in boxes of 7 servings each, you can choose from a whole range of different items including:
- Iced tea/cappuccino/hot cocoa/fruit drinks
- Scrambled eggs
- 3 different flavours of pudding
- 4 different flavours of oatmeal
- Different types and flavours of soups
- Snack bars
- Snacks like soy crisps and pretzels
- Different types and flavours of shakes
Pros of Medifast Diet
- Easy to prepare each type of food
- Easy to follow, just eat 5 of the meal replacements a day then make yourself a proper meal at anytime following their guidelines.
- Provides you with lots of important vitamins and minerals in each meal and uses soy protein to try and curb your hunger as well as maintain your lean body mass.
Cons of Medifast Diet
- Expects you to keep on buying and using the Medifast meals even in the maintenance phase (although only 2 or 3 a day)
- Some people like the taste of the foods; others hate them, if you don’t like the taste of the foods then you is not going to stick to it.
Consumer Advice Before You Buy
This is a typical meal replacement diet, although it does boast clinical trials to back it up and a lot of support from some doctors as well.
It uses extremely low calories to force your body to burn up fat to make up the difference, and it also restricts carbohydrates to induce ketosis, the state that is aimed for in the Atkins diet as well.
It is expensive and I’d prefer people to control their portions and eat normal healthy foods instead to lose weight, but if you really struggle with a traditional diet and would like a strict ‘eat this to lose weight’ kind of program then this or the Cookie Diet™ may be right for you.
However, I really recommend that you get a smaller supply of the foods first to try them out, if you don’t like the foods you don’t stand a chance of sticking to the diet, and if you order a full 4 weeks’ worth and find out you hate them then you are going to waste a lot of money!