The Medifast program, founded in 1980, set out to break the popular myths about dieting by helping the prospective dieter understand the true pitfalls and how to avoid them, and providing the tools and prepared meals to achieve weight loss. Rather than promoting a crash diet, weight loss is targeted at up to 20 pounds per month. With almost thirty years in existence, the Medifast program has been recommended by over 20,000 doctors and helped more than 1 million people.
Medifast Weight Loss Plans are customized for men, women, and diabetics. There are also specific guidelines for teens, seniors, nursing mothers, patients with gout, and those who have undergone bariatric surgery. The plans include portion controlled, nutritionally balanced, low-fat meals, snacks and drinks.
Medifast is marketed not only as a weight-loss program, but also as a lifestyle change. Initially, dieters begin with the Medifast 5 & 1 Plan. On this plan you eat 5 Medifast prepared meals and 1 self-prepared “lean and green” meal per day. Depending upon your health and your lifestyle, Medifast offers 6 different 5 & 1 Plans: Standard, Men, Women, Diabetes, Meatless, and Exerciser.
These plans are designed to put your body into mild ketosis, a fat-burning state which helps you achieve your goals quicker. Typical results on this plan are a loss of 2-5 pounds per week, which seems attainable given the severe calorie limit of the Medifast plan. Typical daily 5 & 1 plans provide only 800 to 1,000 calories per day. This is probably one-half to one-third of what a typical American consumes in an ordinary day.
The Medifast website offers free help in many tangible forms, as well as program enrollment and package deals for purchasing their meals and drinks. Most notable of the free support is the ability to sign up to receive a free session with a Health Coach; not a physician, but a mentor that can stay with you throughout the program if you enroll in their “Take Shape for Life” program.
Exercise is also encouraged as a “necessary component of weight management and overall health.” While Medifast provides a 26-page Exercise Guide, available for pdf download from their site to help you get started, or maintain, an appropriate exercise program, there is not proper fitness component included in this program.
The Medifast diet is comprised of Medifast meals that are individually portioned and calorie-controlled. The bonus here is that you get to eat 6 meals per day, so you are, theoretically, never hungry. Called the 5 & 1 Plan, you eat 5 Medifast prepared meals (with over 70 choices) and 1 self-prepared “lean and green” meal per day. Depending upon your health and your lifestyle, Medifast offers 6 different 5 & 1 Plans: Standard, Men, Women, Diabetes, Meatless, and Exerciser.
The meals, most of which are freeze dried, are designed to provide you with all the nutrition you will need in a day, including the proper ratio of protein and carbohydrates. Each meal is easy to prepare and easily transported, which is of benefit to those who work and have busy lifestyles. In addition, Medifast bars, shakes, and snacks are available, also portion and calorie controlled. The downside here is that these are not freshly prepared meals, not even frozen. It's more like those meals you take camping, so these may not appeal to everyone.
Meal cost runs about $11/day per person, or $299.50 when you buy Medifast Variety Packages. In addition, you will need to foot the bill for (and prepare) your daily "lean and green" meal. This translates to about $14/day, and for a family of 4, that would total a whopping $1600+ per month, 60% more than an average American family spends.*
Once you have achieved your goal, Medifast has a Transition Plan, which spans 8 weeks and takes you from the 5 & 1 Program, down to a more normal 3 & 1. It also adds additional fruits and veggies to round out meals. After the 8-week Transition, there is also a Maintenance Guide to help you keep that weight off.
The Medifast website has detailed lists of food suggestions, a meal planner, and recipes which will help you adhere to the low-fat, low-carb, low-calorie system. You may also use their free weight loss tracker.
*Based on 2007 U.S. Census median annual income of $50,233 with a national average of 14% of income spent on food.
There is not a whole lot of thought required on this diet. The majority of meals are easily ordered and come pre-prepared. You just add water and heat or refrigerate. You will have to shop for, and prepare, the "lean and green" meal. There are also Medifast Weight Control Centers in 6 states, where you can get a health profile review with personal counseling and purchase Medifast meals.
As with any diet program, do your research first. Go to the library, search the internet, and above all, consult your doctor about any diet regimen that you are contemplating.