The Medifast Diet:
Fast Weight Loss, Fast Meals, Fast Delivery

medi-fast diet
What is the Medifast Diet?

A very low calorie diet (VLCD) plan designed to promote weight loss: 2 – 5 pounds the first two weeks, and 1-2 pounds each week thereafter. The Medifast company is a "meal" delivery service that provides you with a meal replacement diet.

The Medifast drinks, soups, and bars are consumed in place of all but one meal per day and the result is typically 2-5 pounds of weight loss per week.

I believe the fast in Medifast Diet stands for:

  • Fast weight loss
  • Fast meals: Medifast diet "meals" come in individual, portion controlled packets that you simply mix with water and then heat or refrigerate.
  • Fast delivery to your door: While a VLCD like the Medifast Diet is usually only recommended to be followed if under the supervision of a physician, you can order the food online anytime and have it delivered to your doorstep in no time flat.

I'd personally suggest you partake only under your physician's supervision. Especially if:

  • you are over the age of 70
  • you are under the age of 18
  • you have diabetes, hypertension or any other serious medical condition
  • you are taking medications, especially for diabetes

How does the Medifast Diet work?

Following what's called The 5 & 1 Plan , you eat any 5 Medifast meals of your choice per day and one "lean and green" meal that you yourself prepare.

There are over 60 Medifast Diet "meals" to choose from and all you have to do is choose which ones you wouldn't mind eating and them have them delivered:

  • shakes
  • oatmeal
  • scrambled eggs
  • soups
  • chili/stew
  • puddings
  • bars
  • fruit drinks
  • lattes/cappuccinos

Most of the meals have ~100 calories. The "bars" are a bit higher at ~150 calories, and therefore you are limited to only 1 per day.

Your "lean and green" meal should consist of:

  • 5-7 ounces lean protein
  • 1 1/2 cups green vegetables (or 3 cups salad greens)

You also can have one snack (or perhaps I should say, "snack") per day if desired:

  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1/2 cup sugar-free gelatin
  • 1 sugar-free Popsicle
  • 2 dill pickle spears
  • up to 3 pieces of sugar-free gum or mints

Keeping in mind that all of the shakes, soups, and bars have ~100-150 calories, your 5 Medifast meals provide you ~500-550 calories. The choices for your lean and green meal vary, but expect they'll provide an additional ~300-450 calories.

That means you'd be eating only 800-1000 calories per day. Now the "clinical" definition of a VLCD is one that supplies 800 calories or less per day. So you can see how Medifast might or might not meet the definition, depending on how you use it.

Maybe that's the rationale for offering the Medifast Diet online and without the guaranteed supervision of an MD.

Regardless of whether you call it very low calorie, or simply low calorie, there's no doubt this diet provides a lot fewer calories than you were previously eating and that's why you lose weight so quickly on it!

(If your head is spinning from all the talk of calories, or if the very notion of calories befuddles you, you might want to read more on why calories matter.) Quick weight loss doesn't always translate into permanent weight loss

Can you imagine eating powdered meals for the rest of your life? I'm guessing probably not! The people at Medifast don't think so either and they've therefore made the effort to provide a Transition Program and a Maintenance Program, as well as moderate exercise recommendations (e.g. 30-45 minutes 5 days per week) to help assure you never again "find" the weight you've lost.

Once you reach your goal weight, you'll gradually transition back to "normal food" over ~2 weeks. After that, Medifast recommends continuing to eat 1-3 Medifast meals per day as part of weight maintenance.

Cost

As of April, 2008:

  • There are no enrollment or membership fees.
  • Cost of food is ~ $10/day, $70/week or $275/month (saving you about $25) if you opt for the Variety Packages purchase option.

Costs may be slightly higher when purchasing on a per-product basis.

Medifast Diet Pros

  • Simple, easy to follow
  • No calorie counting required
  • Convenient pre-packaged foods
  • You get to eat every few hours
  • A fair variety of foods to choose from
  • Recommended by many doctors
  • Quick results

Medifast Diet Cons

  • Very low in calories and not likely to be able to stick with long term
  • Restrictive
  • No personalized exercise programs
  • No face to face accountability
  • Fuels the notion of "dieting" vs. lifestyle change
  • Potential constipation

Potential Long Term Consequences of Following a VLCD such as Medifast:

  • Increased risk of gallbladder disease
  • Reduced metabolism
  • Possible loss of lean body tissue
  • Potential electrolyte and mineral imbalance

My Professional Opinion

There's no doubt you can effectively lose weight quickly using the Medifast Diet. My concern is that it's not a program that's sustainable in the long run.

Research supports the use of meal replacement products as a reasonable way to lose weight, but using them to replace nearly all your meals is another story.

If you choose to use Medifast, I recommend using it as a short term "jumpstart" to healthy eating. At the same time you're losing weight, you can focus on establishing healthy eating habits.

I have clients who like to keep a stock of "meals" on hand for when they travel or have to grab something in a pinch. I think that's a fine way to use the Medifast products.

Medifast Specials .

Note: This link is supposed to lead to a Medifast "Specials" page, but as far as I can tell it defaults to their home page. PLEASE...

As with all the diet meal delivery services, Medifast is always running specials. It may involve signing up selecting "V.I.P. Membership" at checkout (I don't see a downside or a cost, just benefits), or it may involve entering some coupon code.

DON'T pay full price for your first shipment! Pay attention as you go through the purchase process and make sure some discount is applied at checkout.

More of My Professional Advice You May Find Useful

Diet Meal Delivery Overview

FREE Weight Loss Help

More Diet Reviews

Back to Personal Nutrition Guide Home Page

Did YOU Ever Try the Medifast Diet? Tell About Your Experience!

The best source of information on Medifast, is the people who have tried it. If you're one of them...

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