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Written by Megan Ayala. Last Updated: January 10, 2023
Losing weight sometimes feels like an impossible task for many people, which is why so many people seek out diets to show them exactly what to do to lose weight.
Unfortunately, with so many options available, it is incredibly difficult to separate what really works from the programs that you should simply avoid.
If you are looking for a program that actually works, then you should look no further than Optavia, which is a health and diet program designed to teach you how to lose weight permanently and the right way.
It promotes weight loss through a combination of low-calorie prepackaged meals, a few simple home-cooked meals, and one-on-one coaching.
What is Optavia?
Table of Contents
Optavia is first and foremost a diet company that sells snacks, shakes, bars, and easy-to-prepare recipes. It emphasizes both healthy eating and good living. The company’s message is that if you adopt healthy habits, you will inevitably lead a healthy life.
RELATED READING: Optavia Cost
Optavia is an extension of a former weight-loss plan known as Take Shape for Life, which was released in 2003 and continued on for many years until when it was rebranded into Optavia. Take Shape for Life and Optavia are both part of an organization called Medifast.
- What Is the Optavia Diet?
The Optavia diet is a popular lifestyle program focused on building healthy habits and losing weight. It encourages weight loss through a combination of homemade meals, packaged foods, and personalized coaching. It gained popularity back in 2018 when Buddy Valastro, TLC’s Cake Boss star revealed it to be responsible for his 35-pound weight loss.
The Optavia diet includes several plans to choose from, all of which involve a combination of prepackaged meals known as Fuelings and homemade entrees known as Lean and Green meals. If you aren’t interested in cooking, the company provides a line of pre-made, low-carb meals as a replacement for Lean and Green meals.
How It Works
The Optavia diet relies on meal replacements, which the company refers to as “fuelings” that are branded products that you consume and are aimed at keeping you full until your next fueling. No matter the meal plan you choose, you will be eating a meal every 2 to 3 hours, which translates to 6 meals a day.
Of the 6 meals however, 1 to 3 meals (depending on your chosen plan) will be a dish that you make yourself at home using fresh ingredients. The Optavia diet also discourages the consumption of any form of alcohol, sugary drinks and deserts, whole grains, starchy vegetables, along with high-calorie condiments.
Each of the fuelings contains about 100 to 150 calories. The Optavia diet essentially has clients consuming anywhere from 800 to 1,100 calories each day, depending on your chosen plan and the number of homemade meals.
In comparison, the daily USDA dietary guidelines for adults are that women should consume between 1,600 and 2,400 calories while men should ideally consume between 2,200 and 3,200 calories.
The calorie deficit of the Optavia diet causes rapid weight loss at the beginning. According to experts, a 500-calorie deficit is needed for healthy weight loss. Always consult your doctor before you make changes to your diet to make sure that you are consuming enough calories.
What I Loved About Optavia (Pros)
Here are other things that I loved about the Optavia diet:
Buying pre-portioned, packaged foods can be convenient and easy since there’s little or no need to count carbs or calories. A simple formula for creating your own meals at home is equally convenient. Instead of counting calories, you will be counting portions of specific foods, which makes it easier to track meals.
- Rapid Weight Loss
One of the things that I loved most about the Optavia diet is that it leads to rapid weight loss, especially for those looking to lose a significant amount of weight. Most people require between 1600 and 3000 calories daily to maintain their weight. Considering the fact that the Optavia diet restricts your calories intake to as low as 800 per day, then you are guaranteed to lose weight.
- Portion Management Assistance
The Optavia diet uses predetermined portions, which means that it can help with portion management, especially if you are a person that tends to go overboard when it comes to calorie-rich foods. Furthermore, the diet discourages the consumption of added sugar, which can be incredibly helpful if you want to lose weight the right way.
- Boosts Overall Health
If you suffer from elevated cholesterol levels or even high blood sugar, the Optavia diet can help you regulate these critical health markers. As a result, if you follow the diet, you will dramatically reduce your risk of contracting diabetes, heart complications, high blood pressure, and various other lifestyle diseases.
- Reduces Obesity Risk
Obesity is essentially an epidemic that’s sweeping across America and the World at large. The Optavia diet provides low-calorie meals designed to help overweight and obese individuals shed off weight rapidly and keep it off. The diet is highly recommended for both obese and overweight individuals that want to lose weight quickly and in a healthy way.
- Social Support
One of the major differences between the Optavia diet and other meal replacement programs out there is that it provided one-on-one coaching. Having social support while on a diet plan can go a long way towards helping you achieve your weight loss goals. The program also includes recorded videos, group calls, and more to create a sense of community that helps encourage each other.
What I Didn’t Like About It (Cons)
The Optavia diet has its highs, but it equally has its lows, which include:
- High Cost
The Optavia diet cost will depend on your chosen program, but it starts from $350 and can go as high as $450 per month. Unfortunately, this can be a big investment for many people, especially if you consider the fact that it doesn’t even include the additional purchases you will need to make to prepare the “Lean and Green” meals and other snacks.
- Can Be Hard to Maintain Your Results
The Optavia diet comes with rapid weight loss. While you might assume that it is a good thing, it actually isn’t. Rapid weight loss can easily result in regaining the weight after the plan is over. So, maintaining the weight loss after completing the program can be challenging due to the severe caloric restriction and meal option.
That said, being sure to work closely with your Coach over the longterm is one way to boost your odds of keeping the weight loss off over the long haul.
- Increased Hunger
If you are used to regular snacking and eating relatively large meals several times a day, the diet is likely to increase your hunger levels.
The diet’s meals possess just a few calories that may trigger some cravings, leading to binge-eat if you are not sufficiently motivated to lose weight. This makes it rather unsustainable when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off in the long-term.
The Optavia diet offers users different weight loss plans depending on their weight loss goals. They are:
5 & 1 Plan
The 5 & 1 Plan is the most intense and it involves eating 5 small prepackaged meals and 1 “Lean and Green” meal that you prepare yourself. It provides just 800 to 1000 calories a day and provides 119 servings that can last you about 20 days.
The 5 & 1 Plan is an excellent way to kickstart your weight loss efforts if you are having trouble getting started. It is also easier for those that don’t have time to spend in the kitchen because meals come ready to eat or can be prepared within a matter of minutes.
4 & 2 & 1 Plan
Unlike the 5 & 1 Plan, the 4 & 2 & 1 is a bit less structured. It comes with 4 daily fuelings, 2 “Lean and Green” meals that you prepare yourself, and 1 healthy snack. It provides a slightly higher number of calories, about 1550 per day. It provides 140 servings that can last you about 35 days.
The 4 & 2 & 1 Plan is a great plan if you just want to shed a few extra pounds or want to maintain a healthy lifestyle for the long-term. It is also a good option if you want to eat a wide range of foods. The idea behind this plan is eating smaller quantities more frequently so that the body is always in burn mode.
3 & 3 Plan
The 3 & 3 Plan involves the most cooking at home and is intended for maintaining weight and developing long-term health habits as opposed to losing weight. The 3 & 3 Plan involves eating 3 fuelings and 3 healthy balanced meals each day. Users typically move onto this plan after hitting their weight loss goals.
Plans for Special Diets?
Optavia also has several other resources, tools, and plans for clients across various age groups, health concerns, and lifestyle conditions. So, you can get a more customized plan to fit your lifestyle perfectly if that’s what you want, which includes:
- Plans tailored to older adults and teens
- Plans for people with obesity and excess weight
- Specialized plans for pregnant women and nursing mothers
- Plans for people with diabetes or high blood pressure
- Gout-friendly plans combining the best gout diets with moderate exercise
Besides the tools to help with weight loss, Optavia programs include community forums, tips, and inspiration text messages and weekly support calls, as well as an innovative app for tracking and recording your weight loss journey.
Optavia Food: What Do You Eat?
The majority of food that you will consume on the Optavia diet comes in the form of the pre-packaged fuelings. Depending on your selected plan, you will eat between 2 and 5 fuelings each day. You will also eat 1 to 3 of your own low-calorie meals, known as “Lean and Green” meals.
Each fueling contains the same nutritional value as portion-controlled meals. This means that they can be consumed interchangeably, providing users with the same nutrients. You can choose from about 50 different products including bars, soups, pretzels, and shakes.
What Can You Eat in a Lean and Green Meal?
Lean and Green meals are homemade meals designed to be low in carbs and high in protein. Here are some of the groceries (foods) that you will need to buy in preparation for your Optavia diet journey:
- Meat: Chicken, Turkey, Pork Chops, Game Meats, Lean Beef, Ground Meat (85% Lean)
- Eggs: Whole Eggs, Egg Whites, etc.
- Fish and Shellfish: Salmon, Trout, Scallops, Crab, Shrimp, Lobster, Halibut
- Soy: Tofu Only
- Healthy Fats: Almonds, Olives, Pistachios, Avocado, Walnuts
- Vegetable Oils: Canola Oil, Olive Oil, Walnut Oil, Flaxseed Soil
- Beverages: Unsweetened Coffee and Tea, Almond Milk
- Sugar-Free Snacks: Mints, Gums, Popsicles, Gelatins
- Low-Carbohydrate Vegetables: Spinach, Celery, Collard Greens, Mushrooms, Squash, Jicama, Zucchini, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cucumber, Eggplant.
- Condiments and Seasonings: Salt, Dried Herbs, Spices, Lime Juice, Cocktail Sauce, Barbecue Sauce, Zero-Calories Sugar-Free Sweeteners and Syrups, Ketchup (1/2 Teaspoon).
What Foods Should You Avoid with the Optavia Diet?
You should avoid the following foods if you follow the Optavia diet:
- All kinds of alcohol
- Coconut oil and butter
- Sweetened beverages such as sports drinks, soda, fruit juice, etc.
- Yogurt, milk, cheese, and other whole fat dairy product
- Any product made of refined grains such as white bread, biscuits, white rice, pancakes, etc.
- Fried foods except those included in the fuelings.
You are allowed to consume the following after following the 5 & 1 Plan:
- Fresh fruits
- Low-fat dairy products
- Soybeans, lentils, beans, and peas
- Whole grain high fiber content foods
- Corn, yams, peas, and sweet potatoes
According to the conventional meal plan, you are allowed to eat food sources that contain a high percentage of antioxidants, such as blueberries and strawberries. Berries contain a lower amount of carbohydrates.
Does the Food Taste Good?
Many of the meals and snacks in the Optavia diet have generally mixed reviews from users. Still, according to most reviews, the fuelings taste good. Users were pleasantly surprised that the bars and shakes were quite tasty. Still, while some users enjoyed the wide selection of options and unique flavors available, others didn’t.
While there’s nothing much you can do about the taste of the fuelings that the company supplies to you, the Lean and Green meals can be customized. If you want to eat healthier without having to sacrifice flavor, you need to try out the Lean and Green recipes by Optavia. You will be looking forward to each and every meal and snack throughout the day.
How Does Their Coaching Work?
Optavia tries to help people lose weight by adopting healthy habits and reinforcing healthy behaviors to make it easier to maintain weight. Specifically, the program includes one-on-one coaching that differentiates it from other meal replacement weight loss programs.
Optavia coaches are there to guide and support users on their journey to better health. It is important since numerous studies show that this type of support increases your chances of success when it comes to achieving your weight loss goals.
The coaching can be virtual, in-person, through video chats, online forums, and even via phone. In the initial steps, the health coach will determine a suitable plan to follow, set realistic weight loss goals, and guide clients through their weight loss journey.
Connecting with a coach is the first step in your weight loss journey with Optavia, so if you decide that the program is what you need, the company provides a quick and simple form to help you find a coach in your area.
Is It a Good Program for Losing Weight?
The short answer is Yes. The Optavia diet definitely works and it usually works great for many people that try it. Through the combination of a healthy eating meal delivery plan and weight loss coaching, Optavia has been helping people achieve their weight loss goals consistently.
When you sign on with Optavia, you will be working one-on-one with a health coach, who has likely been in your shoes. That means they know what it feels like to want to lose weight and improve health and also have the personal experience with what’s needed to get there.
On top of that, the meals in the Optavia diet have been specially designed to help you lose weight in a way that has been proven to be both safe and effective. If you seriously want to lose weight, the Optavia diet is highly recommended.
How Much Weight Can You Lose?
If you choose to sign on with Optavia, you need to note that the program is about much more than just a number on the scale. It is also about improving your overall health and teaching you how to maintain healthy habits for life.
Still, weight loss is still an important aspect of the program and is usually the primary goal for most people that join. If you join the 5 & 1 Plan, you can expect to lose about 12 pounds, but it is important to note that results can and will vary from person to person.
Weight loss is something that many people throughout the United States often struggle with. The issue with most diets is that they require a lot of cooking, which is something that most people don’t have time for, which is why they are often unsuccessful.
If you want a diet that doesn’t require much effort cooking then Optavia is exactly what you need. It promotes healthy weight loss through a combination of Low-carb homemade meals, low-calorie prepackaged foods, and one-on-one coaching.
The Optavia diet has several different plans. The 5 & 1 Plan is fairly restrictive while the 4 & 1 Plan and the 3 & 3 Plans allow for a greater variety of food and fewer processed snacks, which can make it easier to lose weight and keep it off.
The Optavia diet is clearly a good option for some people, but it is definitely not recommended for everyone. It is convenient, has many different options for you to choose from, and you will receive plenty of support throughout the process.
Overall, if you are keen on trying the Optavia diet, you should make sure that you become educated on healthy eating so that you can maintain your weight loss in the long run after you are off the program.
Speaking to a registered dietician can also help you learn more about creating satisfying and nutritious meals and creating a lifelong healthy relationship with food.
Find more information about Optavia at their website.
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“Within a few days, I started feeling completely different. I was shocked by how much weight came off and how fast it came off.” -Lindsay (Lost 47 Pounds)