Medifast Diet Review: Pros/Cons, Indepth Reviews

By Jim F


The Weight-Loss brand recommended by over 20,000 docotors since 1980.  Find out why!

Medifast claim an initial weight loss of up to 10 pounds in the first two weeks.

Is this possible? Is it safe?

Medifast can work but you need to know the facts, research, and any issues you might face.

Medifast Has a Long Track Record

Medifast has been around for a number of decades, and at one time was only available via physicians. However for some years the products have been available to anyone online.

How Medifast Works

Medifast offer meal replacement products – typically formulated to be low-calorie and low-fat, and containing optimum levels of vitamins. The formula will generally take users into a mild state of ketosis.

The most popular plan is called 5 and 1. This plan (800-1000 calories daily) comprises 5 meal replacements and one “real” meal containing a lean protein, vegetables or salad. Medifast claims a weight loss of 2-5 pounds per week during the first two weeks and 1-2 pounds a week thereafter on this plan.

Medifast Has Undergone Clinical Trials

  1. One Johns Hopkins University study showed that Medifast results in significant weight loss (67 lb average loss in males and 57 lb average loss in females). Note that this study looked at patients who attended Medifast clinics.
  2. Another compared Medifast with diabetes medication. The study found Medifast more effective at controlling type 2 diabetes than an ADA-recommended program (more).
  3. A third study (source) showed that Medifast meal replacement programs were better than “those typically reported for obesity pharmacotherapy [i.e. drug treatment], and that retention of customers was “better than most commercial programs reported”.

Success Stories

Medifast have a number of “success stories” – including Nnedi Uzowihe-Igwe of Maryland, USA. Nnedi appeared in People magazine describing a massive transformation that resulted in a 160lb weight loss..

We were contacted by Nnedi and confirmed that she has maintained her weight loss.

Issues to Be Aware Of

Protein fasts and low-calorie meal replacements are a drastic solution, and appropriate for drastic situations.

Given the choice between gastric bypass surgery or Medifast, then Medifast is be a better answer.

One issue with Medifast is the long-term consequences – especially coming off the program. The transition phase is 4-6 weeks, and starts off by introducing oatmeal at breakfast, and fruit for snacks.

Exercise must become a part of life (5 days a week). It begins fairly low-key during the restrictive part of Medifast – but once transitioning – it is more important.

Due to low energy intake and exercise levels – it is likely that some muscle loss will occur during the weight loss phase. To rectify this, gradually include strength training during the transition phase to build up muscle tone.

Medifast Advantage

The standard 4-week package plan costs $315. However – that’s the cost of the 5 replacements- you will still need to buy your daily “lean and green” meal (lean protein plus salad/vegetables). Dieters have the option to enroll in their Advantage program for significant savings.

Advantage Membership offers the best value;

  • Free standard shipping on qualifying orders
  • Free 56 Medifast Meals – 28 with this order, and 28 with your second order ($132.00 value!)
  • Free BlenderBottle® – a must-have for mixing your Medifast Meals
  • Free Online meal planner and support community

Programs for Men & Women

Different formulations are used for men and women.

The men’s shakes have a higher soy protein content.

A diabetic program is available – with very good success rates: “after 34 weeks, 24 percent of the Medifast users decreased or eliminated their diabetes medication, compared to 0 (zero) percent on the standard food diet”.

Final Thoughts: Does Medifast Work?

Behavioral changes are critical to the long-term success of Medifast. Unless these lifestyle changes are applied, then the weight could swing back on like a yo-yo. It’s worth taking a look at the post 10 Questions To Ask Before Changing Your Diet.

I don’t believe Medifast is for the person who wants to lose a few pounds.

This is a serious program for serious situations, and it may be advisable to follow the program while receiving regular support from a clinic or health professional

Ample proof exists that the program does work and can lead to significant weight loss provided the transition phase is followed correctly.

188 Comments

  1. Ian

    I’m sorry Laura but you have no idea what you are talking about in any respect.

  2. Sherry Washington

    I agree with you…going back to the eating habits before getting this weight off…is a BIG No No. People just walk around in the mall and look around…. it’s really sad what we do to ourselves with food. Thank you Medifast for showing me how good it feels to be thin…and believing in myself to keep it off. Yes ..I’ll stay this way because it’s a life change!

  3. duke

    I am on the program at this time and I really like it. I like all of the products with the exception of the strawberry creme shakes. My fav is the orange creme, tastes like an orange julius. I blend mine with ice and add splenda to sweeten it a bit and volumnize it, really good.

  4. caloriesrking

    you are burning too many calories vs. what you are taking in so don’t exercise so much. go to webmd and do diet calculator to see what minimum caloric needs are.
    Congrats on losing the 20.

  5. wizofozfan

    I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 21 (now 32) and have been heavy my whole life. I have the worst case scenerio when it comes to the PCOS. I have done every fad diet from here to tinbucktoo and nothing worked including just watching what I ate and excercising regularly. I finally decided that weight loss surgery was my only option. I have done the Medifast diet (not the 5 and 1 but 5 shakes throughout the day) in order to drop the 10% of body weight that is required in order to be eligible for the surgery. I managed to do that plus more and keep it off. I still had the surgery and am doing wonderful. I still do a Medifast shake for a meal once in awhile. 3 of my friends are now doing the shakes and are seeing the tremendous weight loss too. My diabetes and high cholestrol are also resolved. Don’t down the diet!! For me personally it’s the best thing that could have came into my life.

  6. Very Happy!

    Good luck, Brandon! It is working well for me – and I know it will for you, too! Hang in there!!!

  7. Very Happy

    I only had to pay for my food. No $1500 or any other amount for registration. Sounds like someone is taking advantage of you!!!

  8. Very happy!

    I started Medifast about 11 weeks ago. In eleven weeks, I have lost almost 40 lbs. I still have another 50+ to lose – but I have to say that it is the first diet that makes me feel energetic, gives the positive encouragement of being able to watch the scale go down week after week . . . and the food tastes great to me! There is so much variety! The cinnamon pretzels are great. The S’More bars are a fun treat. The shakes are delicious when made with ice and water! I am concerned about when I ‘reach’ my goal weight – and being able to maintain – but I have been reading the literature on Medifast and it sounds like, if you follow the plan, you can maintain the weight loss.

    I now have energy to go for walks and do things that I didn’t have energy to do before. I love how this diet works for me.

    I hope all of you reading this and considering trying it have good luck with it as well! I am very happy that I found a diet that works with my very busy schedule – and with my life with my husband. Having diners with him mean a lot to me!

    Very Happy!

  9. Not member yet

    I’ve recently had a meeting with Medifast center, and they want to charge me $1500 for enrollment fee (meals not included) to lose 60 lbs. Is $1500 the going rate for enrollment fee?

  10. SCVJ

    Ya know, BCM, I think you meant to be disparaging about Medifast, but in fact your post is right to the point. All of those things you claim to be the key to weight loss are incorporated in the Medifast diet. You eat breakfast (you eat every 2-3 hours); you eat less calories than you expend; and after three weeks of adjustment, if you want to, you exercise. You also eat whole foods for your lean & green meal. It really is a sensible, well-balanced diet that re-sets your metabolism and teaches you healthy eating habits.

    For me, it totally worked. I have never really dieted before (which is embarrassing considering I was 5′ 4 1/2″ and 232 pounds when I started). I’m now 154 pounds, and fighting for that last 8 pounds. I have learnt a great deal about nutrition, and my own destructive eating and drinking habits. It was hard, but it wasn’t horrible, and I wouldn’t trade the results I’ve had for anything.

    This diet WORKS. I don’t know any other way to say it. And if gives you the foundation to keep the weight off. And whether you do that or not is really up to the dieter, not the diet.

  11. BCM

    Of course it works..initially. Anyone who eats nothing and still is moving will lose weight. Increasing metabolism should be the goal to sustain weight loss, and there just is too much information omitted from diet plans like HMR because they want you to buy their products. Eating breakfast is a key, eating less calories than it takes to maintain your current weight is another, and exercise should be emphasized. Losing no more than 2 pounds a week or 10 pounds a month should be advised, but that doesn’t sell. Eating whole foods and counting calories is what works, and once you do it for awhile, it changes your lifestyle forever.

  12. Alice

    My husband and I started medifast 2 weeks ago and together do not find it hard. I am an excellent cook but do not miss reg food too much. I have lost 6 lbs and my husband has lost 7. We are older (79=82) and would like our last years to be easier with weight loss. Where can I find recipes for this diet?

  13. Brandon

    Just got done reading ALL 200+ comments for this and after weeding out the paid shills (wish there was a stupid filter for this site), I am very optimistic to try this diet. I am eagerly awaiting my delivery. Generally, it seems that people ARE losing weight on medifast (at a pretty fast rate) but many reported gaining it back afterwards. Well of course that has nothing to do with the diet but with the dieter. This is actually my biggest concern. The VA offers free dieticians so I may take up with one of them after the program. Have about 65 lbs to lose. Wish me luck!

  14. Kelsey

    I LOVE Medifast and can honestly say it has saved me. I’ve been on this program since 4/19/2010 and only a few months later (today’s date is 7/26/2010), I’ve lost a total of 38.2 lbs so far!! My blood pressure has gone down, my knees don’t hurt anymore and more importantly, I’m loving myself again. And yes, I’m sure that if you return to your old eating habits, the weight will pile back on, but I’m determined not to do this. 🙂

  15. Kris

    I did Medifast through a MD back from August 1999 to March 2000 and lost 130 pounds. Back then it was a 100% liquid diet, with no nutritional counseling afterward. On my own I managed to keep that weight off for a year and a half, then I went to college where I was confronted with nothing but all you can eat buffet cafeterias of unhealthy food, the only ‘healthy’ options being wilting salad bars and fish that has poached for 12 hours in the warming tray. Not appetizing. I gained back all the weight plus some.

    I recently went back to Medifast, but through one of their weight loss clinics. This is a MUCH better thing to do than the website ordering. Yes, it is more expensive, but included in the cost of your visits to the clinic, you get a FULL YEAR of after diet counseling. Even after I lose the 155 pounds I have to lose and am eating 100% real food again, I will still go in once a week to be weighed, have my body fat % checked, and make sure I’m on track. Their clinic program is designed to keep people from yoyoing and make them relearn how to eat. So far I’ve been back on the program one week an have lost 8 pounds.

    The Medifast food is also MUCH better now than it was in 99. Scrambled Eggs, Hearty chili, Creamy Soups, Tasty granola like bars, and HONEY MUSTARD PRETZEL STICKS! Best ever!

    If you have more than 50 pounds to lose and you are ready to make a change, try Medifast. If you have less than 50, do something like South Beach, or just cut processed food from your diet and up your exercise.

    Also, to the person who said their mother relapsed after her father made her a shake, then sat and ate a cake in front of her, did you ever think that maybe the reason why she relapsed so bad was because she clearly did not have support from her loved ones? Obese and Morbidly Obese people like me are addicted to food. If you knew your loved one was trying to quit smoking, you wouldn’t light up in front of them, would you? What a cruel thing your father did to your mother.

  16. marathon question

    I have about 50 lbs to loose. I have been seeing a nutritionist and personal trainer for 6 months now and have not lost any weight (although I am smaller and stronger). I am currently training for my first marathon (that I will do in 6 months). I have done 2 half marathons and lots of triathlons–I love them!

    I lost weight on optifast when i was a teenager and had a lot of success. I’m looking for faster results, trying to do it the “right” way is just taking way too long. I am aware that marathon training is not something Medifast would recommend. Any thoughts on this? I am going to do the marathon, but I can walk/jog instead of run.

  17. Jessica B

    Gallbladder damage is not something that happens overnight or after 10 weeks on a low-fat diet. Long-term consumption of high-fat and high-cholesterol foods is what causes the problems with a gall bladder. Regardless of the diet, once you lower your fat intake the gall bladder may start showing the damage from the fat previously consumed and built-up in there. Also genetics and your specific body chemistry can play a part. As with any diet, you should be supervised while dieting to watch how your body and blood are reacting. MediFast is not a great diet for everyone and not everyone has gall bladder issues from being on it. 🙂

  18. Jessica B

    I have lost 90 pounds in less than 6 months on the MediFast 5&1 plan. I have been fortunate that my body responded as well as it did to this diet. Although not at my “ideal” weight yet, I am starting Transition & Maintenance so that I can focus on building lean-muscle and not focus on the scale. Many people can do both, personally, I cannot 🙂 But I know the 5&1 Plan works amazingly and will come back to it when I have better muscle-mass and have maintained for a few months. I wish I had known about MediFast YEARS ago… it would have saved me much heartache, pain, and wasted years! My husband has been on the program with me the whole time and is down 80 pounds.

    The soy never bothered me and my weight-loss, and each product contains between 9 and 15g of carbohydrates. Calling it a “candy bar diet” is ridiculous. We are humans and can make the conscious choice to eat one thing or another… Even if someone were to eat 5 of the “Crunch Bars” they would have base inputs of: 550 calories, 15g Fat, 60g carbs, and 55g protein… Add a good lean & green meal to this and you are eating between 800-1000 calories, 20-30g fat, 80-100g Carbohydrates, and >100g Protein. If the people in question were eating the Maintenance Bars the numbers change upwards dramatically. Visit the original MediFast website for complete nutritional values.

    MediFast is not the perfect diet for everyone but can be successful for many people if they commit to it and don’t “cheat”. Best wishes to all those wanting to improve their health, research is a great start!

  19. meetoo

    I was on optifast for two years. I did a liquid-only diet that was 500 calories a day for the first three months, and introduced one meal for the next nine. I then went on a two shakes, and two small meals a day for the next year. I lost 240 pounds. They have several plans on Optifast. You have to get them from a weight loss clinic. I moved away and there isn’t one in my area – so I’m considering Medifast for the last 50 pounds. Yes – I was a big girl – and VERY unhealthy.

  20. Ivy

    doing only the shakes and no meal is NOT complete compliance

  21. Kim

    No alcohol! Empty calories, people ask these exact questions on the Q & A on the Medifast website.

  22. Kim

    I also have PCOS and run 3 miles a day and eat a low carb diet with a healthy balance of greens and protein, and guess what? Six months later I lost 3 pounds. I don’t plan on waiting two yrs. to loose 12 pounds. I have two friends that just completed this diet, one of them being diabetic, and they did great. This diet is packed with vitamins and minerals w/ no added stimulants. This diet promotes drinking water and teaches a healthy eating schedule AND you do eat protein in the form of chicken! I say go for it, but don’t cheat on it, you’ll just be throwing your money away and prolonging the diet.

  23. eastcoastlisa

    Wwo! That was awfully harsh! Personality flaw? Look in the mirror!

  24. Carolyn

    I have been a member of Weight Watchers on and off for years. Over the past few months, I have not been very successful and thought that a head start would help. I decided to start this program and purchased the one month (with the extra week) of food. I will see and if it goes well I will go another month.

  25. Nels

    Talk to your parents first Lailana. It’s important that they support you and know what’s going on. Good luck!

  26. Nels

    I am currently on Medifast and it really does work. The food, in my opinion, is not very tasty, but I tough it out because I am seeing results. Every diet is about sacrifice I guess. I’m four weeks in and have lost 15 pounds. I probably could have lost more, but I had my days where I wanted a slice of pizza or I wanted a piece of bread and so I had it. Just a little bit, but it does throw things off. You have to be very strict on this plan for optimal results. I have friends that have had a lot of success with Medifast as well and they have NOT put weight back on. I would definitely recommend this plan. Good luck!

  27. Jenny

    Watch out for Medifast – while you do lose weight on the diet, it does wreak havoc on your gallbladder. i was on Medifast for 20 weeks and lost 30 lbs. Not only did I lose the weight but it also took out my gallbladder and caused it to stop functioning. Needless to say, I had to have my gallbladder removed. I was in great health and had everything checked out by a doctor before starting the plan. My health took a big drop after I lost the weight on Medifast. Medifast says they are medically safe however that is just marketing strategy. It’s not any safer than any other diet out there. If you start having stomach pain and can’t eat without pain, then go get a HIDA scan done. Have them check the gallbladder function.

  28. tluvbug

    I agree…to send a body into ketosis isn’t wise. And soy has been shown to elevate estrogen levels which in turn has a detrimental impact on your health. So, great, you’re losing weight with liquids (oh, and 1 meal…really…is that normal?), but you are harming doing serious harm to your body.
    I had tried all sorts of weight loss gimmicks – slim fast, pills, etc. and would always gain back the weight. Finally, with the healp of a nutritionist – who had me eating regualr meals! -and exercise, I dropped 125 pounds. The money for the medifast “meals” can be better spent on buying whole foods. Additionally, I think it’s wise to seek couseling to figure out why one might have such a difficult time with excessive eating. I had always ate, poorly, when stressed. Resolving those underlying issues are key to long-term healthy weight loss!

Comments are closed.

References

  • Haddock CK, Poston WS, et al (2008). Effectiveness of Medifast supplements combined with obesity pharmacotherapy: a clinical program evaluation. Eating and weight disorders , 13 (2), 95-101.