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If you're investing the most popular diet plans to lose weight, you'll find the Medifast 5 & 1 Plan on your list of programs to consider. But trying to choose the right plan can be tricky and there are many different factors to evaluate. Review the costs, benefits, and drawbacks of the Medifast program before you decide if it is right for you.
How Does the Medifast 5 & 1 Plan Work?
Dieters on the Medifast 5 & 1 Plan eat five commercially prepared meal replacements each day plus one Lean & Green meal that you prepare yourself. Meal replacements are familiar foods like mashed potatoes, brownies, pasta, muffins or soups that have been engineered to provide more protein, less carbohydrate and limited fat. If you go on the Medifast 5 & 1 Plan you can expect to consume 800-1000 calories per day. According to the company, you can lose 2-5 pounds per week for the first two weeks and 1-2 pounds per week after that.
Medifast says that the macronutrient balance of the 5 & 1 Plan puts your body into a unique metabolic state called dietary ketosis. While some diets simply restrict calories, ketosis occurs when you consume very limited carbohydrates. As a result, your body burns fat rather than sugar for fuel. Ketogenic diets have come under criticism by some diet experts because short-term side effects like nausea can be difficult for dieters and long-term effects are often questioned. But several recent studies have suggested that ketogenic diets show promise for both effective quick weight loss and long-term weight maintenance.
Does Medifast Food Taste Good?
Success on the 5 & 1 Plan requires that you eat a lot of Medifast food. There are plenty of options to choose from and I took a week to sample several popular items. The verdict? While the foods don't necessarily taste like their "real-world" counterparts, the food didn't taste bad. For example, the brownie was warm and somewhat chocolatey but didn't necessarily offer the satisfaction of a regular brownie. Mashed potatoes were bland but the consistency was good and I found them modestly satisfying.
If you don't have time to cook your own Lean & Green meal ( a combination of lean protein and non-starchy vegetables) you can rely on a Medifast Flavors of Home meal. The microwavable meals do not need to be refrigerated so they are quick and convenient. Choices include Turkey Meatball Marinara, Chicken with Rice and Vegetables and Chicken Cacciatore. So how do they taste? I only tried one (Chicken Cacciatore) and would suggest that dieters opt to cook their own meal.
Does Medifast Offer Coaching or Support?
Medifast offers plan guides & tools to help guide you through the weight loss process:
- Online tools to record data: You can record your meal plans, weight loss, exercise, and measurements online or with the MyMedifast Mobile App. Dieters can use these tools at home, at work or on-the-go to keep their diet journals up to date. As you progress or when you hit struggles you can review data to make changes as necessary.
- Community support: Through the MyMedifast online community, you can connect with other dieters to share tips, get feedback about struggles, share successes and make new friends. Many times, it is the support of fellow dieters that means the most when you are trying to lose weight.
- Physician support: Some dieters gain access to Medifast foods and programs through their physician. For clients with health considerations, this may be the safest option. Not all physicians, however, are part of the nationwide network. You may have to go outside of your network to find a physician who is.
- Health coaches: Medifast offers clients the option to buy foods through agents they call "health coaches". These are not certified health professionals but rather agents who have demonstrated knowledge of the Medifast program and who earn income from selling and promoting the foods. While some of the coaches may carry outside credentials, clients should not assume that they have expertise in the fields of health, nutrition, diet or weight loss.
How Much Does Medifast Cost?
The cost of losing weight with Medifast depends entirely on the amount of weight you have to lose. For example, if you need to lose 25 pounds you might expect to be on the plan for roughly 12-16 weeks. To reach your goal you might purchase the starter kit for $399.90. Additional 4-week packages cost $492.75. The minimum total cost could range from $1385.40 (12 weeks) to $1878.15 (16 weeks) for the initial part of the plan.
But there are other costs to consider. Of course, you need to factor in the cost of your home-cooked Lean & Green Meal. Alternatively, if you choose to eat Medifast's Flavors of Home meals, add at least $30 per week. Lastly, as you transition off the plan, you'll still eat Medifast meal replacements for at least 6 weeks. This could add several hundred dollars to your bottom line.
Will I Lose Weight on the Medifast 5 & 1 Plan?
Every dieter is different and different weight loss plans work for different people. Evaluate these pros and cons of Medifast before you make a final decision about whether this is the best diet for you.
- Simplicity: You won't have to keep detailed notes or count calories while you lose weight on Medifast. You simply need to count to five. Foods are exceptionally easy to cook and take a few minutes to prepare.
- Convenient: There is no excuse not to stick to this diet. The foods are microwavable and some need no preparation at all. You can easily throw a meal replacement packet or a bar into your purse or briefcase for diet-friendly eating on the go. This would be a good diet for people who have very hectic schedules, travel often or don't have time to cook.
- Evidence-based design: Dietary ketosis, on which this plan is based, has gained momentum in the research community. While some professionals may still have reservations about going low carb, many others are supporting its use for long-term weight loss.
- Food taste: While most of the food wasn't bad, it wasn't great either. Foodies and people who love to cook may suffer on this plan. For this reason, some dieters may struggle to stick to the plan for long enough to lose their weight.
- Potentially difficult transition: The type of foods offered on the plan may make it difficult to transition off the plan when you've reached your goal. Medifast guides clients through a reasonable transition program where they step down and add real-world foods to their diet. But if dieters grab the high-fat and high-carb real-world counterparts to the foods they've gotten used to (like brownies, mashed potatoes or cheese curls), they may gain weight.
- Expense: The Medifast 5 & 1 Plan is not cheap. But most plans that offer convenience tend to be pricey. If you choose to go on the program, make sure that you plan for the total cost of your entire weight loss journey so that you don't quit half way through because you can't afford it.
Please compare Medifast with other diet companies: Atkins, BistroMD, Keto Advanced Weight Loss, Nutrisystem, SlimFast, South Beach Diet, Splendid Spoon, Weight Watchers, DoFasting, Noom, Key Eats, Keto Zone Diet