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Health Experts Review the Medifast Liquid Diet

Neil Donaghy | February 20th, 2013

Liquid dietMedifast has been a straightforward, low-calorie way to lose weight for nearly 30 years. As a mostly liquid diet, with portion-controlled products provided by Medifast, it suits people who don’t want to worry about counting calories, salt levels, grams of fat or carbs. There are more than 70 meal-replacement options available, providing high-protein, low-carb nutrition with all your daily requirements. Most Medifast reviews claim dieters can lose between 2 and 5 pounds per week on the plan. Products, advice and support are available from the Medifast website, and around 15,000 doctor’s offices around the country.

How does Medifast liquid diet work?

The standard Medifast program follows a ‘5-and-1’ plan, meaning five daily Medifast products, each containing 100 calories, and one home-made meal comprised of lean protein and green vegetables. This meal is the only one you have to think about each day. It should be built around 5 to 7 ounces of lean meat, and three servings of low-carb vegetables. The goal is to reach your target weight using the (largely) liquid diet, and then wean yourself off the Medifast products, transitioning toward a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Once you’re at this stage, you can slowly reintroduce starchy vegetables, whole grains, fruit and dairy.

What can I eat?

Unlike fad diets, Medifast doesn’t leave you with a complex, confusing network of dos and don’ts. They make their own products, served in the correct portion-sizes. Medifast recipes are included on their website. The Medifast line of meal replacement products includes puddings, eggs, oatmeal, chili, bars, soups, and the iconic shakes. The liquid diet products are based on soy or whey protein, designed to give dieters a sense of satisfactions and ‘fullness’ while consuming very few calories. The daily meal should consist of lean meat – either grilled, baked, broiled, boiled or poached, along with three servings of raw, steamed, grilled, baked or boiled vegetables. Medifast divides meat into three categories:

  • Leanest: This includes fish such as cod, flounder, grouper and shellfish like crab, shrimp and lobster. The leanest category means you can have a 7 ounce serving as part of your daily meal.
  • Leaner: A 6-ounce serving of swordfish, trout, skinless chicken breast, pork tenderloin or 99% lean minced meat.
  • Lean: Salmon, mahi-mahi, lean beef, lamb or pork chop. The higher fat content in these meats means you should limit your serving to 5 ounces.

Because Medifast’s products are designed to promote satiety, snacking is to be avoided if possible, although celery stalks, cucumber and pickles (without dips!) and sugar-free gum or popsicles are optional. Alcohol, fruit, sugar, dairy, grains and most fats are prohibited, and dieters are encouraged to drink 64 ounces of non-calorie beverages per day. Tea, water and sugar-free sodas are best, and caffeine should be avoided, as the low-calorie diet can make you more susceptible to its effects.

What is the cost?

One of the most appealing aspects of a largely-liquid diet like Medifast is the low cost. Typically, the four-week 5-and-1 package costs $315, with two-week packages available for $162.50.

What do health experts and doctors say?

The Medifast liquid diet falls in line with the government’s 2010 dietary guidelines. Enduring popularity with doctors is indicative of diets that work, and Medifast is certainly effective – if followed correctly. A study in Nutrition Journal showed around half of Medifast dieters dropped out at 40 weeks – roughly the same rate as the control group who followed other popular diets.

Though there’s no shortage of favorable Medifast reviews out there, some health professionals prefer a more closely-monitored weight loss program, especially for the clinically obese. The American Journal of Medicine suggests The Center for Medical Weight Loss as the best way to lose weight. Each program is guided by a physician, and tailor-made for the individual, taking into account personal preferences and medical history.

The 450 Centers around the U.S. have helped thousands of people reach their weight loss goals. To get started, enter your zip code into the box on the right to find your nearest center. Be sure to ask about their special introductory offers!