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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.

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.

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.

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

Smoothies (Triple Berry Smoothie, Pineapple Mango Smoothie)

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

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

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.


Anonymous said...

Wow, this is the best review I have seen out there for Medifast. You are very comprehensive. Thank you for doing all those Medifast product reviews too. I think I am going to try it.

Anonymous said...

I used Medifast to lose 45 pounds. Unfortunately I gained it back when I stopped. Has anyone lost it and kept it off?

Spelevink said...

I did Medifast in 2007-2008 and lost 65 lbs. within about 7 months. It was hard to do consistently, took a lot of willpower to be strict, but I got it done. The food was OK, and I had the feeling that it got me off "real food" much like a smoker has to totally avoid cigarettes. That was motivating to me. I did not experience severe side effects as some women have reported. However, I could not do their transition period as required; it seemed like I got down so far and then the switch turned off; I had to quit. I was able to keep the weight off for a while but it seemed like although I was now eating real food, I was still continuously dieting. Also, eating Medifast for seven months had the effect of my feeling very deprived; so when we went out to eat I would blow it, big time. I had to eat everything in sight. That was scary, and it was very hard to control. If you eat at restaurants often this may be a sticking point for you. After a while I found that I had to keep going back on Medifast to stay at my same weight; I had dieted myself into such a "low-metabolism" situation so to speak, that I'd have had to stay on a diet forever just to stay at my goal weight. I was shocked to see how much money and time I'd spent on Medifast when I looked at my order history online earlier this past year (2013). That's when I stopped; 20 lbs. regained of the 65 I originally lost, and said, "no more". I have been on another sensible program of serious weight training and interval training, with specific eating and mental habits to practice, which is a year-long program. I am seeing amazing results after the six-month mark and am finally, in my opinion, doing things the absolute right way. However, if someone can actually do the transition and maintenance period properly, they may have a better chance at keeping the weight off. It is expensive, about $325/mo. if you do it on your own. I don't know what the Take Shape for Life (coaching) program costs. I also don't know the percentage of folks who have successfully kept the weight off after using Medifast. Good luck, in whatever you can do to lose weight and keep it off!

Anonymous said...

I started Medifast on September 15th 2013. It is now nearly four months later and I have gone from 375 lbs to 298 lbs. I have been overweight my whole life and have tried numerous diets and exercise routines since jr. high without success. I just kept getting bigger.

Medifast works for me. The meals have taught me how to eat not to feel full, but instead to not feel hungry. I was addicted to that overly stuffed feeling that a Supersized value meal and two McDoubles on top of it could give me. I haven't had a bite of fast food in nearly four months, and I don't miss it. The variety and frequency at which you get to eat on Medifast is what keeps me from failure. It's not always a breeze, and sometimes I get hungry an hour before I'm supposed to eat, and the approved snacks have helped with that. A dill pickle here, 5 pistachios there.

You have to find out what you like. Order one of everything. I like the orange fizzy drink, but despise the cranberry/orange one. You find your favorites. An eating schedule has been a life saver. Knowing exactly when I need to eat again means spending the few minutes to prepare beforehand. I've increased in my cooking skills as I prepare my lean and green daily and try to mix it up. Stir fry and frozen seafood or chicken is my gold mine.

77 lbs and I have a different life. I feel more confident. I can go jogging. I'm down to one pair of slacks I had to dig out of the bottom of the closet which is a great feeling. I keep having to put new notches in my belt. I feel like there is no stopping me. I've gone from what felt like near death and utter depression to a new life.

I can't say what transition will be like, only that if failure shows it's ugly face again, I know I have the 5 and 1 to fall back on before things get out of control. If I had to be on Medifast 2 months out of every year or even more it would be worth it. I only wish I could have found Medifast earlier.


Deena said...

I've been overweight on and off for the bulk of my life (even as a teenager). I'm short, middle-aged and female with a history of obesity in my immediate family, all of which work against me in the metabolism arena. I'm also fairly active (I've been trained and certified as an aerobics instructor) and haven't found my weight to be much more than an annoyance until the past few years, when little weight related health problems began popping up. A photo of myself from last summer and the fact that I did not qualify for the "healthy lifestyle" discount through my husband's workplace insurance led me to finally look up my BMI - over 36 - severely obese. Uh... no more denial! That's when I began researching Medifast, and your blog was actually one of the places I explored. I started the program on my own, using the Medifast Advantage program to auto-ship my products monthly. The portion controlled meal replacements aren't anything to write home about in terms of true deliciousness, but many of them aren't "bad" either. I have experimented with the many different meal offerings and found a lot that I actually look forward to having. The program is very "do-able". I get up in the morning and there is just no question in my mind that I will stay on the program that day. When I started browsing around on the Medifast forums to find recipes and tips from other people similar to myself, I noticed that a lot of the people who had lost large amounts of weight and kept it off were using Medifast through the Take Shape for Life program. From past experience, I knew I could lose weight and gain weight without too much trouble. Where I fail is in "maintenance". So, I decided to get myself a TSFL Health Coach. The health coaches are free through the TSFL program. My orders cost me absolutely nothing more than they did when I was purchasing my product through Medifast directly. However, I now have a mentor and a friend who has "been there" and who offers me support at the level that I need or want it. I like the accountability, and feel this is the very best way for me to succeed in not just getting to a number on the scale, but achieving and maintaining me health goals long term. I'm really excited about what this program is giving back to me! And, as for the cost, I have honestly not noticed much of a difference in my family's overall food budget from month to month. I attribute a lot of that to not eating out on a regular basis anymore, but hey, that's a GOOD thing! I figure, whatever the cost, it is worth getting back my health. Being able to apply for my husband's company's healthy lifestyle discount will be great. Plus, I think about all of the long term medical bills that I may be able to avoid if I am leading a healthier life at a lower weight. I love this program so much that I have decided that I want to help other people do what I am doing. I love working with others and I think it will help me to be accountable to myself as well. I just think Medifast is a wonderful tool and can be very effective when it is used as part of an overall transition to better health.

Karen Hughes said...

I started Medifast August 14, 2012. I had been looking for a weight loss program for years that would help me get back to my pre pregnancy weight from a baby I had lost 17 years earlier. I had never taken the weight off and between that, anti depressants, and menopause I gained to an all time high of 310 lbs. I am 6 ft tall but weighing 310 lbs put me at morbidly obese.
I struggled with many diet programs to lose 15 lbs before I found Medifast. To say it was easy at first would be a lie. The first 4 days were brutal on me, but I now realize that I was also going through wine withdrawal. I counted a 1/2 bottle of wine a night into my points. :)
Once I found my groove with the Medifast 5&1 I was so committed to taking off the weight and optimizing the food I was buying that I never went off plan. So in 14 months I lost 113.5 lbs. I did a gradual transition starting with a 4&2 then eventually adding the foods back into my diet. I have now been off all MF food for three months and I am finding maintaining a daily balancing act. It's not hard to maintain it's a commitment.
This commitment to maintaining a healthy body is stronger than the compulsion of wanting to eat whatever I want.
I hated being obese, I hated being trapped in my body, I hated the way I looked and felt. I love feeling healthy, I love my mobility, I love the fact that I can wear clothes that make me feel pretty again.
Medifast was the program that worked for me, and I am so grateful that it was there and that I found it! :)

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love medifast! I watched as a friend, who'd always struggled with her weight, lose about 60 lbs. before my very eyes. I kept thinking "I don't want to eat this way," so I refused at first to try it. But I couldn't deny how healthy and happy she looked....she was positively glowing! So I finally decided I would try it for one month to see what happened. Well, I was hooked. I immediately began to feel better....less bloated, more energetic, and very much in control. Over the course of 7 months, I lost 60 lbs. I felt absolutely wonderful! Medifast changed the way I looked at food, and the way I felt about it. I began to view food as fuel to keep my body going, and I really liked the feeling of putting healthy food into it. I no longer craved the sweet treats I'd been eating for so long. I did the transition stage slowly, and it went very well. I even continued to lose more weight and inches. I love eating this new healthy way now. And I love my thin new body, plus the feeling of being in control. I've had no problem continuing to eat this way, but within the past month my mother passed away, and I slipped into eating sweets for comfort. I've gained back 5 lbs., but today I went back to my healthy way of eating and writing down everything I eat. I have no doubts that I won't have a problem losing the 5 lbs., and I refuse to go back to eating the way I was. I worked too hard losing that 60 lbs., and I enjoy so much my brand new wardrobe. Being thin IS everything it's cracked up to be! I will forever be indebted to Medifast for teaching me how to eat in a healthy way, and for giving me the tools to get to my dream weight. Thank you, Medifast!

Anonymous said...

I started MediFast Oct 9, 2012. I am female, 5'4" and was 212lbs. Years before I'd lost over 75lbs on Weight Watchers, a program I still like. However, MediFast I find to be much easier to do. I reached my goal weight sometime in April, 2013 and aside from about 7 "holiday" pounds, which I'm back strictly on the program to lose, I've maintained. After having my first child, I wanted to lose the weight quickly. I went to a Bariatric doctor (which was "new" back then) and did a program much like Medifast, but only 500 calories a day. I stress this was medically supervised. After the birth of my second child, I started Medifast. I knew I could do it. I find the support wonderful and the food is decent and some things I actually enjoy.

However, if you go on the plan, educated yourself. Don't try one thing, not like it and give up. I look at it like this, I had my time eating whatever I wanted and it did not make me happy. Now, I keep to a healthy diet (using MF) and I frame my day around other things, enjoying my family and friends, a hobby, etc. I don't think about food as the center of my day.

Good luck!

Stacy Phillips Certified Health Coach said...

I did saw an advertisement for Medifast in a magazine in 06 and ordered it right away. I lost 140 pounds, because the PLAN WORKS. But I didn't change my mindset, and the weight came right back on in 08. You see, nothing MAGICAL happens when you get to your "goal weight", your body is still your body and it will always be CAPABLE of gaining the weight back if you go right back to your unhealthy habits that you practiced BEFORE losing the weight. Do what you've always done and you'll get what you've always gotten. SO, when I restarted the plan (because it WORKS!!!) in 2010, I decided to ALSO add the BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION system found in the Take Shape For Life System, which is Medifast's Free Coaching Division. I got myself a Health Coach (no mark-up on the food, it costs the same as it did without a coach) and the only extra cost to me was a $29 textbook called "Dr. A's Habits of Health" which IS the behavioral component. It teaches you, with the guidance of your coach, how to replace your habits of disease with habits of health instead. I have since lost 150 pounds again and have been a healthy weight now for over 2 years. I'm on the National Weight Loss Registry and participate in their annual surveys, and yes, I'm also now a coach because for ME it had to really become part of WHO I WAS. I have succeeded in CHANGING MY IDENTITY and BECOMING THE PERSON I WANTED TO BE for most of my life, but had not been able to BECOME. TSFL gave me the tools to realize that dream. I used to walk with a cane and get stuck in the turnstiles at Disneyworld, have to be let through the stroller gate. NOW I'm a healthy BMI (my BMI is 22, down from over 47) and I'm training for a Marathon in Paris, France this coming April. I have my bib#61234, my Doctor's permission slip, my plane ticket and my lodging all taken care of in advance. I'm super excited that I was able to make this happen for myself. Thanks for listening. Stacy Phillips, Certified Take Shape For Life Health Coach

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