Unlike many other meal replacement programs, it offers transition and maintenance phases to help make the weight lost on the program a permanent change.
This diet plan is currently only available in the US.
Meal Replacement plans
There are several different meal replacement plans available as a part of the medifast diet. Each diet uses a slightly different formula of the number of lean and green meals and meal replacements that are eaten each day, and so are targeted at people who want to lose different amounts of weight.
The 5 & 1 plan, which is the most publicised plan, aims to provide around 800-1100 calories per day, and is most suited to people who have a large amount of weight to lose. The 5 & 1 formula is the main element of the medifast diet, and involves eating five meal replacement options as well as one lean and green meal per day.
There is also a 4 & 2 & 1 Plan, 5 & 2 & 2 Plan and a 3 & 3 Plan available. These are suited to people who have less weight to lose, who frequently exercise, or who need more flexibility from their weight loss program. All work on the principle that several meal replacements are consumed per day, alongside between one and three meals that are prepared to the ‘green and lean’ specifications.
These three plans all provide more calories than the 5 & 1 diet plan, whilst still providing a calorie deficit to lead to healthy weight loss. A more detailed explanation of the four plans available can be found in the link below. Because of the variety of plans available, there will be a weight loss plan to suit everyone- this flexible approach means that people are more likely to find a medifast plan that suits them, leading to increased chances of permanent weight loss.
Source: Medifast Weight Loss plans
Meal Replacement foods
The meal replacement foods are ordered online and sent direct to the user’s home or work address, and can also be ordered in bulk for better value. There is a large variety of foods with over 70 options available so there is something for everyone. Whereas many other meal replacement plans offer only shakes or meal replacement bars as a part of their program, Medifast offers a much wider range of foods that are developed to be nutritionally similar to each other.
The aim of the range is that a person can choose any products from the range, without giving themselves a dietary disadvantage – something that is not true with usual food choices. The meal replacements that are available include shakes, sweet and savoury bars, breakfast cereals, hearty main meal style foods such as macaroni cheese and vegetable chili, puddings, soups, stews, pancakes, as well as savoury snacks such as pretzels and cheese puffs.
Each meal replacement product is sold in packs of seven servings, which represents better value for money than buying individual products whilst on the go.
The meal replacement product has a low glycemic index, which means that they provide a slow release energy. This, as well as the regular consumption of the small meal replacements means that hunger will be minimised despite the low number of calories consumed per day. Numerous meatless options are available, both sweet and savoury, which makes medifast a viable option for people looking for vegetarian meal replacement options.
Lean and Green meal
Compared to other meal replacement diet plans, medifast offers a lot of support and guidance about the meal that dieters prepare each day. A recipe book is available, which helps dieters to create healthy, calorie-restricted meals that meet the requirements of lean and green meals.
The concept of lean and green meals is simple; choose around 5 to 7 oz of lean protein from a list, and add three servings of vegetables and “up to two servings of healthy fats, depending on your lean protein choices”. The website breaks down food choices into lean, leaner and leanest lists, to make food choices easier for the dieter. This helps to re-educate dieters about food, as a part of the support program that helps to maintain their new weight following their initial dieting.
Weight loss, Transition and Maintenance
The initial period of all the medifast diets is the weight loss stage. Once the weight loss has been achieved, the transition stage is entered. This is a six-week period in which the daily calorific intake of the dieter is slowly increased, to allow the body to adjust slowly. This adjustment period means that weight regain is much less likely, and customer feedback on web-forums suggests that it is vital that this stage is adhered to properly. The final stage is the maintenance stage.
The official medifast website states that;
we’ll help you calculate your daily caloric needs and build a maintenance plan based on your height, weight, age, gender, and activity level
This information can then be used by the dieter to formulate their own long-term meal guidelines so that they can stay at the same weight, or the dieter can begin the 3 & 3 program, which is designed for people with a small amount of weight to lose, or who want to maintain their weight. The 3 & 3 program is eating three meal replacements per day as snacks, and eating three lean and green meals. The number of calories in the 3 & 3 diet is tailored to meet the nutritional needs of the individual.
Medifast Diet Cost
A box of seven servings of meal replacements is available from the official website for $16.95. A four week package is available at a cost of $339, which works out as the same unit price as buying single boxes, but offers dieters more variety, making them less likely to grow bored of the meal replacement options available to them.
For people who typically eat out regularly, or who subsist on convenience food and food purchased from cafes, takeaways and restaurants, the medifast diet is reasonably priced. However, for those people who usually cook home meals, it may be a much more expensive plan. It is worth calculating how much each dieter spends during a typical month, including both groceries and impulse purchases, to establish whether or not medifast is affordable in comparison to their normal diet cost.
Our Verdict on the Medifast Diet
Overall, the medifast meal replacement diets do come highly recommended, with doctors across the U.S recommending the diet to obese patients. Doctor supervision is recommended because of the low calorific intake, especially on the 5 & 1 meal plan, but it is not compulsory to join the meal plan.
If you are looking for a meal replacement plan that is viable in the long-term, with support after the initial weight loss, medifast is a good option to consider. The program is easy to understand and follow once the system of making lean and green meals has been learnt. The lean and green meal concept also helps to re-educate dieters about what they should be putting on their plate on a daily basis to maintain a healthy weight.