Eat six meals a day and still lose weight? Medifast calls it its "5 & 1 Plan." If you eat five Medifast meal replacements and one meal that you provide, Medifast says you can lose 2-5 pounds during the first 2 weeks of the plan. People typically lose 1-2 pounds per week after that.
Medifast has more than 70 meal replacements. The meal you provide each day should include 5-7 ounces of lean protein, three servings of vegetables, and up to two servings of healthy fats.
You can also have condiments, sauces, dressings, and one snack per day. Snack choices include celery, Jell-O, a Popsicle, pickles, gum, or mints, and half an ounce of either walnuts, pistachios, or almonds. Alcohol is off-limits; so is everything that is not on the approved food list.
You'll need Medifast's meal replacements for most of your food, but you have some flexibility for the meal you provide.
Medifast has more than 70 meal replacement options including shakes, bars, cereals, and snacks like pretzel sticks. Fruit, dairy products, and starches aren't allowed in the 5 & 1 Plan.
In-person meetings: Optional. There are more than 100 nationwide Medifast Weight Control Centers.
Daily exercise is encouraged, but the program doesn’t offer a specific workout.
Costs: Prices vary, but a 4-week supply of meal replacements will cost at least $300 plus shipping. A seven-pack of any meal replacement (smoothies, oatmeal bars, shakes, or other foods) costs $16.95.
The Medifast 5 & 1 Plan provides only 800 to 1,000 calories a day. You will lose weight due to the severe calorie restriction, but it’s an approach that will be tough to stick with.
Getting enough nutrients would be a concern on such a low-calorie diet, but the replacements are enriched with nutrients to help offset any deficiency that may occur.
Medifast cuts out certain food groups, including dairy, so you’ll have to take steps to make sure you get plenty of calcium and vitamin D from other sources.
The lack of energy often caused by very-low-calorie diets may make exercise a challenge, but regular exercise is critical if you want to keep the weight off.
If you’re looking to make big changes in your weight and your health, Medifast can deliver results. But those extreme changes may make sticking with the program a challenge.
To keep the weight off, you’ll need to transition successfully into the maintenance phase. While limitations ease up at that point, you will need to learn to live with and accept some restrictions in your diet to make it work for the long-term.
Remember, this is an extreme diet, so don’t try it without talking to your doctor first.