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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Medifast Diet: A Real Life Review

Back in 2010, Medifast approached me to try their diet as an aid in my weight loss. Back then, I thought it was just another diet, another "magic pill" type of approach, another weight loss program that was all hype and no results. Looking it over, though, I saw that there were no harmful additives or chemicals or anything risky in the foods. It seemed reasonable: just eat 5 Medifast meals and one Lean & Green meal every day and lose weight. So I figured I'd try it for a month just so I could do a real life review. I like writing about new products and figured it might help people who are researching the Medifast Diet. Here is my description of Medifast and why I decided to try it: What is Medifast?

What I didn't expect is how successful it would be, and how much I would learn from going on this plan. I could write pages and pages about my experience; in fact I already have and will link to those real-time blog posts below. But to summarize, I will say this: Medifast works, if you work it.

The Plan

On the Medifast 5 & 1 Plan, you choose *any* 5 Medifast meals to eat during the day. They can be anything from pancakes to chili, from brownies to shakes, from chicken soup to soft serve. All the meals are nutritionally similar, containing 90-110 calories, 11-15 grams of protein, 8-15 grams of carbs, 4-5 grams of fiber, under 4 grams of fat, and plenty of vitamins and minerals. You space your meals 2 to 3 hours apart to keep your blood sugar steady. You also get to eat one Lean & Green meal daily, which is something you make for yourself. It's composed of weighed or measured amounts of lean protein (chicken, beef, fish, eggs, low fat cheese, etc) and low carb vegetables (salads, cooked or raw veggies excluding starchy veggies like corn and potatoes) plus up to 2 servings of healthy fat like olive oil. You choose your protein, veggies, fats, and condiments from a list. You can be as simple or as creative as you like!

The packaged Medifast foods overall are pretty decent. They are not gourmet, but that is the point. If they were so yummy that they made you want to keep eating them, that would make it hard to stop eating at just one serving. But they are generally 'just good enough' to enjoy and satisfy without making you want to binge on them. Some of them do take some getting used to; they are not as salty, fatty, and sweet as you may be accustomed to, but the nice thing is that over time this retrains your taste buds to prefer and enjoy more plain foods... like meats, eggs, and vegetables.

My usual daily eating schedule was to eat at 8am, 10am, noon, 3pm, 6pm, and 8:30pm daily, with my Lean & Green meal eaten with my family at 6:00. You can also have one optional snack from a list each day if you are hungry. But the nice thing about this plan is that after the first few adjustment days, I was not hungry at all. This plan keeps carbohydrates under 100 grams per day, which induces a *very* mild state of ketosis for fat burning and less hunger. The plan also includes more than 72 grams of protein daily to prevent your body from using your muscles as fuel. It is a plan developed by doctors, and my own physician approved it for my use.

The Pros and Cons

I feel the pros far outweigh the cons, but here is the good and bad from my own experience.

Pros:
I lost weight as long as I stayed on the plan.
My stomach got used to small portions and after awhile I became physically unable to eat huge servings of anything. One normal serving of any food became quite filling to me, even weeks and months after stopping Medifast.
I learned how to prepare meals from healthy lean proteins and vegetables, how to order these in restaurants, and how to make lower carb substitutes for unhealthy things I used to crave, like pizza.
I became more adventurous with my vegetables, spending time at farmer's markets and trying lots of new things.
I was not hungry when I stayed on plan.
I felt great, slept better, and had more energy most of the time.
The food is simple, convenient, easy to prep; therefore my brain stopped thinking about food all the time and it seemed like I had lots more time for other things.
I was able to get off of the sugar-addiction roller coaster.

Cons:
Aside from my homemade dinners, I got tired of eating the same things. However, since then, Medifast has come out with a lot more meals in a wide variety of flavors and textures. It would be hard to get bored with it now.
It can be difficult to explain to people why you are not having a slice of their birthday cake, or eating the Christmas cookies, or having pasta, or whatever. But if weight loss and your health is important to you, this is pretty minor.
Some of the foods tasted awful at first (like the oatmeal) and were hard to get down. However, you do not HAVE to eat foods you don't like. Pick something else. And then in a few weeks try that food again. Odds are, your tastes will have changed and it will taste better to you. I like the oatmeal now!

Be realistic, here. This plan works if you follow it. That means eating all your meals, not skipping any, weighing and measuring your Lean & Green meal, drinking plenty of water, and NOT cheating. If you think you can eat some toast with your Medifast eggs, or have a few Oreos after dinner, forget it. That will not work. You have to stick to this plan fairly strictly to get solid results, in my experience, but it is not that hard and the results are great! Medifast states you can expect to lose 2 to 5 pounds per week for the first two weeks and 1-2 pounds per week after that. I've seen a lot of people lose more... usually women who are heavier when they start, or men. I lost 15 pounds the first month and about 7 per month after that.

Medifast has a structured Transition program to get you back to eating regular, healthy, 'normal' foods once you reach your weight loss goal. I have seen plenty of folks to follow it and then continue to eat healthy foods and maintain their weight loss for years! However, like any weight loss program, if you get to goal and go back to eating the way you used to... the way that got you fat... you will get fat again. You WILL regain weight if you go back to eating too much, eating sugary junk, being sedentary, etc. In fact I did that myself. I started eating too much again after Medifast and I regained some of the weight back. Not all, but some, and I am on Medifast again right now getting that weight back off.

You can read about my 2010 experience on Medifast starting here: Medifast Begins
You can click "Newer Post" at the bottom left of that page to keep reading how each day went for me.
You can see my results here: 100 Pounds Gone. Note that I lost the first 44 pounds prior to starting Medifast, and then lost another 59 pounds on Medifast.

Here are reviews of each Medifast product or meal, specifically.

Bars:
Chewy Bars (Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Chewy Bar, Cookie Dough Chewy Bar)
Crunch Bars (Caramel Crunch Bar, Cinnamon Roll Crunch Bar)
Fruit & Nut Crunch Bar
Strawberry Crunch Bar
Smores Crunch Bar
Chocolate Mint Crunch Bar
Oatmeal Raisin Crunch Bar
Peanut Butter Crunch Bar
Chocolate Crunch Bar

Brownies and Soft Bakes:
Chocolate Chip Soft Bake
Brownie

Smoothies (Triple Berry Smoothie, Pineapple Mango Smoothie)

Puddings and Soft Serves:
Chocolate Pudding
Vanilla Pudding
Peanut Butter Soft Serve

Shakes:
Ready-to-Drink Shakes (Dutch Chocolate and French Vanilla)
Dark Chocolate Antioxidant Shake

Soups and Hot Savory Meals:
Tomato Basil Bisque
Cream of Broccoli Soup
Cream of Chicken Soup
Hearty Vegetarian Sloppy Joe
Macaroni and Cheese
Homestyle Chili
Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
Beef Vegetable Stew

Cold Drinks:
Orange Blend
Cranberry Mango Fruit Drink

Hot Drinks:
Chai Latte
Hot Cocoa
Cappuccino

Breakfast-type foods:

Maple and Brown Sugar Oatmeal
Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
Blueberry Oatmeal
Pancakes (Original and Chocolate Chip Pancakes)
Spiced Pancakes
Sugar Free Syrup
Scrambled Eggs (*Note: these have been reformulated since my review)

Bites, Puffs and Pretzels:
Bites (BBQ Bites, Cheese Pizza Bites)
Chili Nacho Cheese Puffs (*Note: these have been reformulated since my review)

Optional Snacks:
Garden Vegetable Crackers
Ranch Soy Crisps

Books and Gadgets:
Medifast Lean and Green Meal Cookbook
Medifast Meal Mug

If you have any questions or want to share your experiences on the Medifast Plan, please leave a comment below. I hope this review is helpful.

Disclosure: I received free product in order to evaluate and comment on my experiences on the Medifast Program. Medifast products and the Medifast Program are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or illness. Any medical improvements noted while on the program are related to weight loss in general, and not to Medifast products or programs. This review is my personal experience and opinion only; I am not a health professional. See your doctor before starting any weight loss plan.

*There is a new Medifast program called "Achieve." I have not tried this plan, but you can look into it and other Medifast plans via the link below. This is an affiliate link, meaning that if you purchase through this link, I get a small commission.


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