Promoters of meal replacement programs Optifast and Medifast say they can cause significant weight loss in overweight and obese participants. Although both programs focus on calorie restriction and well-balanced meals, they are different in several other ways.
Optifast combines a meal replacement program and medical monitoring with consistent counseling, support and education for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Medifast is simply a meal replacement program that provides portion-controlled and nutritionally balanced meals.
Both the Optifast and Medifast programs use a similar strategy to promote weight loss. By limiting food choices and calorie allotment, the programs allow the body to burn fat when it needs energy.
The Optifast plan includes at least 12 weeks of complete meal replacement, with an additional six weeks of transitioning into solid food. On the Medifast plan, you will eat five Medifast meals and one “Lean & Green Meal” each day. The “Lean & Green Meal” consists of five to seven oz. of lean meat and three servings of low carbohydrate vegetables.
The Optifast program offers medical monitoring to assess your progress throughout the program, along with personal and group counseling sessions. Medifast does not offer support services. However, Medifast does offer the Medifast Transition, Maintenance and Exercise plans that teach participants how to maintain their weight loss.
A clinical study of Optifast users found that participants lost an average of 52 pounds over a 22-week period. Clinical studies have shown that Medifast users lose an average of two to five pounds per week.