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How to Duplicate the Medifast Diet? (For Cheaper & Healthier Meals)

Weight Loss & Diets | Written by Nathan | Updated on 24 January 2022

Have you heard about the Medifast diet but declared it too expensive? Or maybe you’re not losing weight on herbalife and looking for something cheaper?

This diet has its line of foods to help you stay full while you cut calories, but many find the price isn’t worth the convenience so they try to duplicate it. 

Who’s to say you can’t make comparable food at home or find cheaper alternatives? There is a way to duplicate the Medifast diet if you know what you’re doing. But before we go mimicking the Medifast diet, we must first understand how the diet works.

What is the Medifast Diet?

Medifast emphasizes eating low-calorie, low-fat, low-glycemic index foods to prompt the body to use its fat stores for fuel. It involves eating several high-protein, low-carb meals or shakes throughout the day and one homemade dinner. While you’re on the program, you’ll order almost 100% of your food through the company.

This program sells offerings like shakes, bars, scrambled eggs, oatmeal packets, pudding, and soup. The dinner you prepare yourself is also known as the “Lean & Green” meal, and it should include a lean source of protein plus three servings of program-approved vegetables. In some cases, participants will do temporary liquid-only diets, on which they drink only the shakes for around 72 hours, or consume only shakes in addition to their single Lean & Green dinner each day.

When you’re on the program, you can expect to eat every 2-3 hours, but you’ll only be consuming about 800-1,000 calories each day. Although one should be cautious when restricting their diet this low since most healthcare professionals suggest eating at least 1,200 calories to avoid nutrient deficiency. 

With that being said, you may want to consider speaking to a professional before going with a restrictive diet or choose a particular regimen.

Picking a Medifast Program

Did you know that Medifast offers a range of program options so that you can pick one that suits your needs? Some of the choices include:

  • Women
  • Men
  • Vegetarians
  • Women who are breastfeeding
  • People with diabetes
  • Teenagers
  • Seniors
  • People with gout
  • People who have undergone bariatric surgery
  • Soy-free

Once you’ve selected the right program for you, you also get to choose a support system. You can opt-in for an online support group, an online health coach, an in-person coach, or your trusted doctor. A health coach will keep you accountable and help you meet your weight loss goals.

The 3 Phases

This program includes three distinct phases:

  1. 5 & 1 Diet: While in the active phase of the program, you should consume five prepackaged foods and one home-cooked (Lean & Green) meal each day. You will stay in this phase until you meet your goal.
  2. Transition: You will slowly begin to replace foods that were missing during the 5 & 1 phase, including fruit, starches, and dairy. You will increase your calorie intake and move away from the prepackaged foods. The amount of time you spend in the transition phase will depend on how many pounds you lost – if you lost less than 50 lbs, you will spend eight weeks in this phase, but if you lost up to 100 lbs, you will spend 12 weeks in this phase.
  3. Maintenance: The final phase involves returning to real life with healthier habits. Your coach will tell you how many calories you should consume each day and will suggest healthy, balanced meals and snacks. You can still mix in some prepackaged foods to help you maintain your new figure.

Spend a Day on Medifast

While you’re in the first phase of the program (the 5 & 1 plan), a day’s worth of eating might look like this:

Breakfast: Oatmeal

Snack: Strawberry protein shake

Lunch: Chicken noodle soup

Snack: Cheese stick

Dinner: Home-cooked chicken breast with spinach, asparagus, and zucchini

Snack: Peanut butter chocolate chip chewy bar

You can never eat greasy, fried, or sugary foods while on the program, but don’t worry – there are over 70 Medifast foods to choose from, and they’re all formulated with the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function properly. Many of the foods are also gluten-free.

According to Winchester Hospital, Medifast costs about $300 each month, and people usually lose about 2-5 pounds each week. The cost alone has some people wondering how to duplicate the Medifast diet at home. 

What is the Optavia Diet?

What is Optavia, and how is it different from Medifast?

The Optavia diet is owned by Medifast, and both diets are driven by low-calorie, reduced-carb foods. Both involve packaged foods made by the Medifast company paired with healthy homemade dinners. The packaged Octavia foods have a different name (“Fuelings”), but they have a macronutrient profile identical to original products. Just like with Medifast, you’ll consume about 800-1,000 calories on the Optavia diet, and there are options for teens, seniors, adults, nursing mothers, and diabetics.

Both diets also provide support systems, but what sets Optavia apart is its emphasis on one-on-one coaching. The goal behind the coaching is to help dieters achieve a longer-lasting lifestyle change, instead of just a temporary weight loss. There are also additional tools including:

  • Text message tips and inspiration
  • Community forums
  • Weekly support calls
  • An app with food reminders and activity and food tracking capabilities

Optavia also offers a line of pre-made dinners called Flavors of Home for those individuals who are not interested in cooking their own Lean & Green dinners. Optavia includes two different weight loss programs, as well as a maintenance program:

  • Optimal Weight 5 & 1 Plan: This is the most popular program, and it is very similar to Medifast, recommending five Optavia Fuelings and one Lean & Green dinner each day.
  • Optimal Weight 4 & 2 & 1 Plan: This is the right choice for individuals who need more calories or a little more flexibility in their plan. It includes four Optavia Fuelings, two Lean & Green dinners, and one snack each day.
  • Optimal Health 3 & 3 Plan (maintenance): This program is more realistic for real-life, but will help you maintain your desired weight. It includes three Optavia Fuelings and three balanced Lean & Green meals each day.

What People Love About This Diet

If you do your research, you’ll find plenty of people raving about the Medifast and Optavia diets. There are plenty of reasons why people adore these programs…

  • They work: According to a Medifast effectiveness study including 310 overweight and obese clients, this program was effective for weight loss, the preservation of lean muscle mass, and a reduction in cardiometabolic risk factors. The program was also well-tolerated and seemingly safe for these obese and overweight adults.
  • They’re suited for all types of people: There are plans for nursing mothers, diabetics, seniors, and teenagers alike.
  • You don’t have to prepare your food: This program takes all of the guesswork out of meal planning – and all of the time-consuming meal prep, too. It couldn’t be easier to stick to the plan when you purchase the foods from the company.
  • You get plenty of support: The plan includes a coach or support group that will motivate you throughout your journey. If you haven’t had success with previous diets, support can make all the difference.
  • You stay full throughout the day: The program encourages you to eat small, frequent meals throughout the day, which will help you stay full, even though you’re only consuming 800-1,000 daily calories.

What are the Drawbacks of this Popular Weight Loss Diet?

Sure, there are some great things about Medifast, but there are some glaring disadvantages.

  • It’s very expensive: The number one problem for most people is the cost. Paying for a coach and food will run you at more than $300/month.
  • Shipping takes time: Once you order your food with the company, it can take about 7-8 business days to get to your door. This can disrupt your diet plan if you’re not on top of things.
  • You might miss “real” food: The Medifast foods are filling, but you might miss real foods while you’re on the diet. The diet also discourages its participants from eating fruit.
  • Results are disputable: While you’ll find plenty of glowing reviews online, you’ll find some 1 and 2-star reviews, too. According to a report completed by Consumers Compare, Medifast makes a lot of claims that it simply can’t back up.

Why do a Similar Weight Loss Plan at Home?

Doing this program at home will resolve some of the drawbacks of this popular diet. Making your meals at home is not only much cheaper, but it is also much healthier because you can avoid unwholesome ingredients and chemical additives.

Some people simply don’t like the foods that the program has to offer. If that’s the case, your foods with similar nutrient profiles will be a better option for you. It is possible to follow this program at home by choosing healthy snacks and preparing meals with protein and non-starchy vegetables.

That being said, there are a few reasons why you might not want to do this plan at home – like if you eat out frequently already and don’t have the time to prep your food, Medifast might still be cheaper than your current lifestyle.

If Medifast sounds like the perfect choice for you, but you’d prefer to save some money and make healthier foods at home, keep reading.

How to Design Your Own Successful Diet

If you’re still wondering how to duplicate the Medifast diet at home, here’s what you need to know.

  1. Consume 4-5 protein shakes or healthy snacks each day. You should be eating your snacks or drinking shakes every 3-4 hours on this diet.
  2. Eat one healthy home-cooked dinner at night with a serving of lean meat and three servings of fibrous vegetables.
  3. Aim to consume a total of 5-6 meals per day, or 800-1,000 calories each day.

Macronutrient Profile of Popular Foods

In one study, individuals who stuck to a Medifast nutrition profile lost more weight than individuals on a USDA-recommended daily food plan after just a few months, so that should provide motivation to replicate the diet properly.

The typical 5 & 1 plan consists of five Medifast meals per day, each of which consists of 90 and 110 calories. All foods should be low-fat, low glycemic index, and low sugar.

This chart may give you a better idea of the macronutrient profile you’re going for, along with sample foods and their given macros. The numbers below are approximate averages of the dietary values of common Medifast meals and snacks.

 Food(s) Calories Fat (g) Carbs (g) Fiber (g) Sugar (g) Protein (g)
Soups 104 1 13 4 9 14
Oatmeal 103 2 15 5 1 11
Hot Drinks 103 <1 13 4 9 14
Snacks 62 1 9 1 1 3
Puddings 107 1 15 4 9 14
Shakes: 55 90 <1 13 4 9 11
Shakes: 70 118 1 13 4 9 14
Puffs/Pretzels 110 3 15 4 3 11
Crunchy Bars 110 3 13 4 4 11

When you’re finding your own food substitutions, remember that your macronutrient profile on Medifast should look something like this:

  • 35% carbs
  • 40% protein
  • 25% fat

Daily “Lean & Green” Meals

Your Lean & Green meal should include 5-7 ounces of lean protein (poultry, seafood, eggs, or lean meat) and 1.5 cups of non-starchy vegetables. It should be eaten towards the end of the day. You should also aim to get a few servings of healthy fats each day as well. 

Approved vegetables for the program include:  

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli 
  • Cabbage 
  • Cauliflower 
  • Celery 
  • Eggplant 
  • Cucumber
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms 
  • Okra
  • Peppers
  • Radishes
  • Scallions 
  • Squash 
  • Spinach 
  • Sprouts 
  • Tomato 
  • Turnips 
  • Watercress

Oddly enough, Medifast isn’t the only diet plan that has a “green” list of foods. This technique can work wonders for people who wonder what they can eat, and the Noom diet does the same thing.

Other Tips for DIY Dieting at Home

  • Purchase a high-quality whey or casein protein powder (casein is slower-digesting and will help you feel full for longer).
  • Monitor your progress by weighing yourself at the end of each week. Aim to lose 1-2 pounds each week. If you are dropping pounds too slowly, adjust your caloric intake accordingly.
  • You can also purchase products from Wonderslim. Macronutrient profiles of Wonderslim foods are comparable to Medifast foods, but they are more affordable.
  • Be sure you’re getting enough vitamins and nutrients as you design your diet plan. If you’re concerned, incorporate some vitamins and supplements into your daily routine.

Meal Replacement Ideas

It’s not too difficult to replace a 90-100 Medifast meal or shake. Here are some great ideas for clone meals that have similar macronutrient profiles to “real” Medifast foods.

  • Homemade Shake: Mix water, one or two scoops of protein powder, a cup of berries, and a small splash of olive oil or tablespoon of natural peanut butter.
  • Carnation Breakfast Essentials (no sugar added) mixed with water or unsweetened Silk organic soy milk
  • Kashi TLC Bars
  • South Beach Diet High Protein Cereal Bars
  • Healthy Choice Chicken Noodle Soup (1/2 can)
  • SlimFast creamy chocolate shake mix high protein
  • Whole Foods soy crisps
  • ¾ cup Kellogg’s Special K Low Carb Lifestyle Protein Plus
  • EAS Advantage French Vanilla or Strawberry Cream Carb Control Shake
  • Fruit-flavored sugar-free Popsicle
  • Hard-boiled egg whites
  • Celery stalks
  • ½ cup serving sugar-free Jell-O
  • Dill pickle spears
  • ½ oz of nuts like almonds, walnuts, or pistachios
  • 1 teaspoon canola, flaxseed, walnut, or olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons low-carb salad dressing
  • 5-10 black or green olives
  • 1 teaspoon fat-free margarine

It’s Time to Start Medifasting at Home

Hopefully, you’re no longer wondering how to duplicate the Medifast diet and now have the tools to replicate it yourself. Medifast scored second place in a Consumer Reports survey ranking 13 different diets. In fact, participants said they lost more weight on Medifast than any other diet rated by Consumer Reports, with a typical weight loss of 20-45 pounds for men and 14-40 pounds for women.

You don’t have to have an extra $300 a month to get results, and you can even make Medifast cheaper by cooking at home while ensuring an appropriate nutrient and caloric intake. You could even recruit a friend or family member to hold you accountable for your weight loss. Imagine what you can accomplish with a Medifast-clone diet, especially paired with a proper workout routine

References

Consumer Reports Rates Diet Plans: MyFitnessPal, A Free App And Website, More Satisfying Than Weight Watchers. (2013). Consumerreports.Com. Retrieved December 23, 2021, from https://www.consumerreports.org/media-room/press-releases/2013/01/my-entry-2/

Consumers Compare. (2020, December 31). Medifast Diet Review. ConsumersCompare.Org. Retrieved December 23, 2021, from https://consumerscompare.org/medifast-diet-review/

Medifast. (2012). The 5 & 1 Plan Quick Start Guide. WRS Health. Retrieved December 23, 2021, from https://ehr.wrshealth.com/live/shared/practice-documents/2037725/pf_965_Medifast%20–%20Quick%20Start%20Guide.pdf

Medifast Diet | Winchester Hospital. (n.d.). Winchester Hospital Health Library. Retrieved December 23, 2021, from https://www.winchesterhospital.org/health-library/article?id=207700

NCBI – Effectiveness of a Medifast meal replacement program on weight, body composition and cardiometabolic risk factors. (2015). NCBI. Retrieved December 23, 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26245279/

Williams, R. A. (2013). INVESTIGATING SATIATING PROPERTIES OF FOODS. PSU Graduate School. Retrieved December 23, 2021, from https://etda.libraries.psu.edu/files/final_submissions/8695

About the Author

Nathan

Nathan has been a fitness enthusiast for the past 12 years and jumps between several types of training such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, cycling, gymnastics, and backcountry hiking. Due to the varying caloric needs of numerous sports, he has cycled between all types of diets and currently eats a whole food diet. In addition, Nathan lives with several injuries such as hip impingement, spondylolisthesis, and scoliosis, so he underwent self-rehabilitation and no longer lives with debilitating pain.