As one of Google’s top trending diets last 2018, and with Cake Boss’ Buddy Velastro unofficially endorsing it, is the Optavia diet worth a try? Can you really achieve “lifelong transformation, one healthy habit at a time” as the company claims?
Read on to learn more about the Optavia diet.
Is Optavia the same as Medifast?
Optavia is a new product line released by the same team behind Medifast. Having an identical macronutrient profile as the Medifast line of products, it does seem like Optavia is simply a rebranding of Medifast.
The products under Optavia are called “Fuelings.” As the name suggests, Fuelings serve as fuel substitutes for carbohydrates. Under the Optavia diet, you will only be eating meat, healthy fats, and vegetables to supplement your Fuelings, and you will be limiting your calorie intake to only 800-1,000 calories per day and your carbs to about 80-100 grams a day.
You can choose from more than 60 Fuelings that are formulated with high-quality protein and probiotics; options include energy bars, biscuits, puddings, shakes, and soups. The Optavia diet also includes coaching and community support. Following the diet is supposed to help you replace old habits with healthier ones so that you can easily transition off your Optavia diet plan and continue to maintain a healthy weight after you’ve achieved your weight-loss goal.
There is no calorie counting involved when following the Optavia diet; and you eat every two to three hours. However, most of your meal options are limited to Fuelings, which you’ll prepare by simply adding water and microwaving. For the supplemental meals that you have to prepare yourself, Optavia offers recipe guides to make sure that your meals meet the program’s requirements.
The Optavia diet offers the Optimal Weight 5&1 Plan, which includes 5 Fuelings per day and a 6th homemade meal of lean protein, healthy fats, and 3 servings of non-starchy vegetables; the Optimal Weight 4&2&1 Plan, which includes 4 Fuelings per day, 2 homemade lean and green meals, and 1 healthy snack; the Optimal Health 3&3 Plan for weight maintenance; and plans customized for nursing moms, teens, seniors, diabetics, and people with gout.
Does Optavia work?
Based on client results, the average weight loss when following the Optimal Weight 5&1 Plan is 12 pounds in 12 weeks. But success in achieving your weight-loss goal will still mostly depend on how well you stick to your chosen Optavia diet plan and your level of physical activity. Optavia recommends 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
Based on studies conducted using Medifast products (which Medifast has claimed to be interchangeable with Optavia products because the two have identical macronutrient profiles), following the plan can lead to short-term weight loss. This is to be expected considering the extreme calorie restrictions of the diet. However, these very same restrictions make it difficult to stick to the plan long-term, or at least long enough to achieve the desired weight loss.
In fact, numerous studies have found that low-calorie diets such as Optavia lead to gradually decreasing weight-loss benefits from about the 6th month of following the diet and zero weight loss at 12 months. And these results only apply to those who actually manage to stick to the extremely low-calorie diet plan for 6 to 12 months. It is more common for followers of said diets to quit after only a few months.
You will definitely experience some weight loss during the first few weeks and months of following the Optavia diet. If you can stick to it longer, then you will continue to lose weight.
Is Optavia safe?
Optavia coaches help you learn what they call “Habits of Health,” and give you guidance on how to choose healthy ingredients and prepare healthy meals. The severe calorie restrictions of the Optavia diet, however, is not an effective and proper behavior modification tool as such restrictions usually lead to the development of a restrict-and-binge cycle.
Given the macronutrient makeup of the Optavia diet, it falls under the category of a high-protein and extremely low-carb diet. The Fuelings which consist the majority of the daily diet are highly processed – these make the overall nutritional value of the diet less than optimal. The protein isolates and additives used in the Fuelings products can lead to bloating and other adverse GI side effects.
Additionally, extremely low-calorie diets such as Optavia have been linked to an increased risk of developing gallstones.
Final Thoughts on the Optavia Diet
The Optavia diet is an extremely low-carb diet plan that is mostly made up of packaged meals and snacks called Fuelings and supplemented with homemade lean and green meals. The diet promotes eating more protein, healthy fats, and non-starchy vegetables and aims to help followers of the plan to develop lifelong healthy eating habits through coaching.
As a high-protein diet, the Optavia diet seems nutritionally sound. However, the Optavia products that make up the bulk of the daily diet are also highly processed. Whole foods that offer real nutritional value only make up a fraction of the daily diet.
As an extremely low-calorie program, it does effectively lead to weight loss during the first few weeks and months. But the severe calorie restrictions also make the diet difficult to sustain for more than a few months. This means that sustained weight loss is also difficult to achieve.
As a short-term solution for weight loss, the Optavia diet can be a good option if you can shell out the money. But it is not a reliable diet plan for long-term weight loss, healthy weight maintenance, and developing healthy eating habits. A diet plan that contains real foods that are rich in nutrients, satisfying to both the palate and the stomach and good for health is still the best option.