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How Do I Know if Medifast Diet May be a Good Fit for Me?

medifast diet review

What Is Medifast Diet?

Medifast is a diet plan supposedly started by doctors in order to help people lose weight. It’s based on a meal-replacement, low-fat diet that was all the rage in the 80s and 90s.

In the diet plan, you are required to have 2 lean meals. These lean meals are comprised of lean meats and vegetables. Some of these meals can have fats. Then you have 4 meal replacements to fill in at other times.

The rest of the foods are made of snacks that are produced by the Medifast company.

Their website is set up to make a purchase of the meal replacements and snacks easy. The Medifast Advantage program is a rewards program that saves you money on the packaged foods.

They also have a special website for their clients called MyMedifast. In this program, you can track your meals, purchases, water intake, weight, and nutrients. This is a helpful meal planning activity and tracking tool. Studies show that meal planning and journaling/tracking what you eat are the most powerful weight loss techniques.

The foods have a hit or miss relationship in the reviews. Some people say the meal replacements and snacks are dull and tasteless while others enjoy them.

Is the Medifast Diet FDA Approved?

is the medifast diet fda approved

The FDA and Medifast have a tender relationship. The FDA is not in the business of approving weight loss diet, and it does not endorse or ban Medifast. It could be said the opposite. In 2012, Jason Pharmaceuticals, the parent company of Medifast, Inc., settled a civil penalty case for violating weight loss claim laws. The FDA required fines and required the company to provide actual studies to show Medifast and the low calorie diets it supports actually do support weight loss. Review of whether the studies listed for Medifast meet these requirements is still pending.

How Does Medifast Work Long Term?

does medifast work long term

Medifast is a program that you do to lose weight now. You then need to develop the habits and lifestyle that will sustain you long term. It’s in the long term that weight loss is proven.

On Medifast, you are required to purchase many meal replacements and be strict with the remaining meal choices. In the long term, sustaining the purchase of meal replacements is not a healthy or financially wise decision.

What to Expect on Medifast?

How Do I Start Medifast?

Medifast is started by visiting or talking to a ‘health coach’. These are people trained by the company to sell the product and help you keep up morale during the plan.

Then, you order your food and eat what they send when they tell you to eat it.

Starting up can be as fast as an overnight delivery.

What if I Miss a Meal?

If you miss a meal, they recommend you space the rest of your meals so that you consume all of the foods per day you are supposed to. They even go so far as to recommend doubling up on your meals to consume all of the foods.

When I Travel, Can I Take Medifast With Me (or how to take Medifast on a plane)? 

The packaged foods may be able to travel with. Check with your flight before trying to take these foods on a plane.

travelling on medifast

During a car trip, you can take anything with you. You just need to remember to eat when you are supposed to and what you are supposed to. This is where the processed foods and meal replacements come in handy.

Medifast and the Weight Loss Program

Exercise On Medifast

how much exercise on medifast

Yes, exercise is recommended. This is where it gets complicated.

Medifast recommends that people who are not currently exercising NOT exercise for the first couple of weeks after they start the program. They also recommend people who are exercising to reduce the intensity of their exercises while on the program.

This is contrary to all medical recommendations for exercising.

Transition from Medifast to a Regular Diet

The transition period from Medifast to a regular diet is not well covered outside of the program. We do not have sufficient enough information to make a conclusion.

The information from reviewers and other sources show that there is information for how to transition, but the information is not comprehensive enough. Many people feel ill-equip to eat regular food full time without purchasing snacks or meal replacements.

How to Do Medifast on Your Own?

You can follow the Medifast eating pattern on your own. It’s just 2 meals and several snacks. You can also limit your calories and fats on your own.

What you can’t do is create the meal replacements on your own. In order to Medifast or a home diet similar, you are required to purchase the products they sell.

Medifast and Metabolism

Your food choices affect your metabolism. Fresh foods stimulate your metabolism, processed foods suppress your metabolism.

The pattern of eating many small meals during the day does not simulate the metabolism. In fact, it can depress the natural cycles of fast and slow throughout the day. By eating often, you keep your body in a constant state near hunger that causes your hormones to overproduce to the stress.

In the long-term, you could depress your metabolism on this plan.

does medifast slow your metabolism

The Biggest Key to Being Successful on Medifast

Many reviews have said, in order to be successful on this plan, you are required to be faithful to the meal replacements and foods. This can mean skipping certain events in your life in order to eat the foods.

Still, if you have the time and money to be completely dedicated, you can have success.

Does Medifast Work?

Yes, we believe you will lose weight on this plan. That’s because all restricted diets do work in the short-term.

In the long-term, we feel this plan will not allow you to keep the weight you lost. The highest chances of success for people to lose weight comes from lifestyle changes that do not include replacing a choice with a product.

Medifast vs. Optifast

Optifast is a medically supervised meal replacement diet. It’s specifically designed for people who have more specific requirements for weight loss. In order to get on the Optifast diet, you are required to go through your doctor and their associated dietitians.

Medifast you can do on your own, without a doctor. We recommend you work with your doctor for weight loss. Although Medifast was started as a physician controlled diet, it has been made easier for general sales.

Medifast vs. Optifast Comparison Table



What is Included?

  • Meal replacements
  • Lifestyle education
  • Meal replacements
  • Medical monitoring that includes: physicians, dietitians, behaviorists and life style guides.

Target Audience

For anyone who wants to lose weight

Only for people with at least 50 pounds of extra weight

How to Join?

It is advised to consult your physician before starting the program. Then it is just a matter of ordering Medifast products online.

Through weight loss clinics only

What to Expect?

2 to 5 pounds each week for the first two weeks of the weight loss plan. Then about 1 to 2 pounds each week as long as one stays on the weight loss achieve plan.

 ~50 pounds in the first 24 weeks


  • Achieve weight loss plan 
  • Weight maintenance
  • Active weight loss plan
  • Transition phase
  • Long term weight managment


~ 1000 - 1300 calories / day

  • Active phase: less than 800 calories / day
  • Transition phase: 800 -1000 calories /day
  • Long term weight managment: 1000 - 1500 calories /day

Real Food vs. Program Food:

  • Achieve weight loss plan: 4 Medifast meals, 2 your own low fat meals and 1 healthy snack.
  • Weight maintenance plan: 3 Medifast meals, 2 your own low fat meals, 1 your own balanced meal.
  • Active weight loss plan: only Optifast products.
  • Transition phase: 2 Optifast meals and 1 your own low calorie meal +  2 cups of vegetables + 2 liters of low calorie fluids. 1 fruit and 1 dairy product is also allowed.
  • Long term weight managment: 2 your own low calorie meals, 1 Optifast meal  + 2 cups of vegetables + 2 liters of low calorie fluids. 2 fruits and 1 dairy products are also allowed.

Medifast & Diabetics

is medifast safe for diabetics

If you are following the dietitian diet for diabetics, you won’t find much change going onto this diet. It is filled with the high carb grains and low fat that dietitians recommend.

You may also find that as a diabetic, your diabetes is getting worse following this diet.

Current research shows that diabetics do well with less than 100g of carbs per day. In the Medifast diet, you will exceed this amount just with the meal replacements and recommended snacks.

As a diabetic, you can safely follow this plan. We do not think you will gain control of your diabetes or lose the weight you wish if you do follow this plan.

Medifast Side Effects

So, the Big Question, is Medifast Safe?

In the short term, Medifast can help you safely lose weight. In the long-term, there are questions over whether the restricted-calorie, low-fat model this diet is based on is healthy.

During the program, you are required to restrict your fats to a high degree. This is known to lead to hormonal disruptions, diabetes risk, mental decline and fogginess, and digestive upset.

Because this is a severely restricted diet, there is a high chance you will lose muscle mass on this plan. The balance of nutrients causes an immediate protein deficiency that the body makes up for by cannibalizing its own muscle tissues.

Can Medifast Make You Sick?

can medifast make you sick

This is a subjective question. In the long term, the low-fat restrictions can cause severe health problems (see above). In the short term, however, it is not an issue.

People with medical issues need to be cautious on this diet because of the restricted diet. It can be too high in carbohydrates for diabetics (see above) and too low fat for people with hormonal problems.

The food itself may cause gastric distress as you change from your normal diet to this restricted one. Many people will also react to the high levels of preservatives and chemicals in the foods.

Does Medifast Food Cause Gas?

does medifast food cause gas

Yes, as you transition from your normal diet to this one, you most likely will experience gas. For many people, the high amounts of processed grains in the foods will also cause gas.

If you are unused to the vegetables as required for the lean meals, you may experience gas because of the vegetables, especially when you choose the foods, such as broccoli, cabbage, and potatoes.

Can Medifast Cause Hair Loss?

can medifast cause hair loss

Medifast does not directly cause hair loss, except for a very rare group of people. Chances are you are not in that group.

Nevertheless, the restricted fat diet this plan is based on is known for causing hormonal disruptions associated with hair loss.

If you choose this diet, we recommend only staying on it short term to avoid damaging your hormonal systems.

Can Medifast Cause Gout?

can medifast cause gout

Although this plan calls for helping people with gout issues, we do not feel any part of this diet can be used to treat gout. We also do not feel this diet will cause gout.

Some people have experienced a worsening of gout symptoms when starting this diet, and it was not shown that this diet caused the issue.

Can Medifast Cause Kidney Stones?

There is no direct connection between Medifast and kidney stones. Some people have experienced stones on this diet.

can medifast cause kidney stones

There are many chemicals and a high amount of nutrients that have the tendency to cause kidney stones in people. We recommend that you not use this program long-term to avoid this problem.

Can Medifast Cause Diarrhea?

can medifast cause diarrhea

When you suddenly switch diets, you most likely will experience diarrhea. However, there are no foods in the Medifast plan that will directly cause diarrhea.

Some people will find that the high amounts of grains and carbohydrates in the meal replacements cause diarrhea and/or constipation. Many people will find IBS and diverticulitis to become worse on this highly processed food.

Can Medifast Cause High Blood Pressure?

can medifast cause high blood pressure

Increasing vegetables will help bring blood pressure down. The high amounts of salt and chemicals within the meal replacements can cause your blood pressure to go up.

Will this diet cause long-term high blood pressure? Most likely not.

Can Medifast Cause Cancer?

Any food can cause cancer. The more fresh, local, and natural a diet, the lower the chances of it causing cancer. The Medifast diet is filled with processed foods that contain preservatives and chemicals that are known to cause cancers. The more of these you eat, the higher your chances of cancer.

Connecting your cancer to the Medifast diet is difficult because there are millions of other factors that could cause cancer. We recommend a diet that avoids processed foods to keep your cancer chances low.

Medifast Success Stories & Medifast Reviews

There are many successful reviews online and many unsuccessful reviews. There are also 114 individual complaints to Consumer Affairs.

Here are some of the reviews:

Most diets don’t teach you anything. You don’t learn which foods are good for long-term health. Medifast and Dr. A’s book showed me that it was more than just controlling what I ate. Medifast HAS a plan for transition and maintenance and that facilitated change for me.

Diana Alvaraz
UI/UX Designer

The cost was $1400 for just the sign up for help with counseling for dieting. The food was $100 a week and was only bars, soups, snacks and some main dishes. There were one or two that actually tasted good, the rest were horrible. I was put on 800 to 1000 calories a day. The food itself made me very sick and I felt bloated and horrible all day… My doctor advised me to stop the program because of the high soy content, the low-calorie intake and the products themselves were not healthy.

St. Paul Park, MN

Eating On Medifast

What Is Medifast Food Made Of?

The foods as part of this program are based around the added vitamins and minerals. Many of the products are based on grains. The meal replacements are mixes of chemical vitamins and protein isolates.

The Medifast Foods that Taste the Best are:

You can make any Medifast food taste better. All it takes is a little creativity. Using herbs is recommended, although many of mixes are restricted. This diet plan is not meant to be mixed with regular foods.

Is Medifast Kosher & Halal?

Many of the foods are listed as kosher, however they do not meet the Kosher for Passover requirements. You can do the plan if you are careful with picking out your foods, but other Jewish reviews have listed the foods as dull and the selection limited.

There is no information on the halal for Medifast.

Does Medifast Foods Contain GMOs?

does medifast contain gmo

Medifast does not label their foods as organic or not. Many of the products contain soy based proteins and isolates. Despite the hundreds of studies showing soy is unhealthy, most of the products still contain these ingredients. Soy is 96% GMO, unless otherwise stated. The chances of having GMOs in your Medifast food is nearly certain.

Is Medifast Gluten Free?

is medifast gluten free

Some of the products are gluten free. However, due to many GMO crossings for gluten gene, the chances of being completely gluten free is low.

This should mean that the foods were prepared in a kitchen or factory where the chances of contamination were minimal. Other labeling indicates all of the foods were prepared in the same facility. We believe the chances of contamination with gluten remains even in listed gluten-free foods.

Can I Drink Coffee on Medifast?

can you drink coffee on medifast

During certain phases of Medifast, they recommend you not drink a beverage as strong as coffee. During other phases, they allow any type of coffee that does not contain fillers, sugars, creamers, or other condiments (basically anything that comes out of Starbucks). There are also coffee packets you can purchase directly from Medifast to use during your program.

Can I Drink Alcohol on Medifast?

can you drink alcohol on medifast

Yes and no. Alcohol is strongly discouraged during all phases of Medifast. This includes beer, wine, and liquor. It is banned during the first phase.

During the lifestyle section, it is acknowledged that people do enjoy alcohol recreationally and will consume it. They steer their clients to acceptable forms of alcohol and recommend limited consumption.

Can I Have Cheese On Medifast?

cheese on medifast

In the initial stages of Medifast, cheese and all dairy are restricted. During later phases, cheese is allowed. They restrict the types and quantities of cheeses and you will need to purchase the plan to get the specific details of which cheeses and amounts.

Since Medifast is a calorie-restricted and low-fat diet, we assume that cheese remains a highly restricted food item.

Does Medifast Food Expire?

does medifast food expire

All food will expire eventually, even Twinkies. Medifast foods are highly processed and contain preservatives. Their foods will last in their packaging for many months to years.

In a diet that more natural and focused on health, this isn’t a good thing. The high amounts of preservatives required to maintain the foods may place sensitive individuals at risk for hormonal and mental disruptions.

Can I Drink Diet Soda On Medifast?

can you drink diet soda on medifast

Yes. Medifast allows all zero-calorie drinks, including diet sodas and other substitutes. However, we recommend avoiding these drinks because current research shows brain disruptions and liver and kidney diseases associated with the use of diet sodas and artificial sweeteners.

Can I Eat Popcorn On Medifast?

can i eat popcorn on medifast

During certain phases of Medifast you can have popcorn. As the restrictions lift, you can go from plain, unflavored popcorn to full movie popcorn at the end.

Is the Medifast Diet Low Carb?

is the medifast diet low carb

No, Medifast is not low-carb. It is a calorie-restricted, low-fat diet. Many people will find that these types of diets are fading as they are difficult to maintain.

Can I Eat Avocado On Medifast?

can you eat avocado on medifast

Yes, you can have avocado on Medifast. During certain phases of the program, they recommend certain foods and fats. Since avocados are high in fats (healthy ones too), they restrict their use. As the plan shifts to a lifestyle diet, the restrictions are relaxed.

Can I Have Peanut Butter On Medifast?

can you have peanut butter on medifast

Yes, peanut butter is allowed during certain phases of Medifast. You will need to choose your peanut butter more carefully. Many brands are more sugar than peanuts and this is unhealthy. Medifast has their brand of peanut butter you can choose that meets their requirements.

Medifast Coupons, Promo Codes and Where to Buy

We’re here to help you do Medifast right and help keep the cost of Medifast down. When we talk about the cost of Medifast, you need to keep in mind the cost of being healthy.

Medicare and some insurances will cover Medifast if recommended by a doctor. Contact your insurance provider and doctor to see if you qualify.

If you have questions about this diet or would like to order Medifast, you can talk to any of the representatives in any Medifast location. Some locations have payment plans, so you need to talk to them directly. Use this website to help find one near you.

For those of you who are interested in becoming a Medifast Weight Loss Coach, check out this website to get started.

Our Conclusion

Medifast will work to help you lose weight, but don’t do this because you think it’s based on science. Any restricted diet will help you to lose weight, but nearly all long-term studies of weight loss show restricted calorie and meal replacement diets do not maintain weight loss 2 years out.

We do not recommend Medifast as a sustainable, long-term weight loss solution and feel people with medical issues would do better with a diet that is nutritionally based on their needs.

About the Author: Christina Major is a Holistic Nutritionist, Traditional Naturopath, and Herbalist. She has a Master’s degree in Holistic Nutrition and an advanced degree in Traditional Naturopathy. Further certifications in herbalism and metabolic typing. She owns and operates Crystal Holistic Health Consulting based in PA, the USA since 2010.

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Leave a Comment:

  • Erin says:

    No way is shape for life (Medifast) 1000 calories a day—-much less 1200. You need to get more info on this diet. Five meal replacements a day with each containing about 100 calories. Lean chicken at night of about 210 calories. A cup of broccoli or iceberg lettuce about 30 calories. More like 750 or 800 calories a day.

    • Christina Major says:

      Hey Erin!

      We’re not quite sure what you are asking for.

      We did an extensive study on Medifast and have a good basis in nutrition.

      All of your meals will vary based on how you make it and what food you’re using.

      If you can be a little bit more specific with what you are asking us, we can help answer your question.

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