As our quality of life increases, so does our craving for health and wellness. However, if we are not healthy enough to enjoy the amenities that 21st-century existence offers, then such amenities are meaningless.
To address this growing despair, a number of programs have been developed to guide people to a better state of health, focusing most prominently on body weight.
Medifast is one of these programs and was founded by a physician over 30 years ago. In this article, we offer a brief overview of the Medifast diet before discussing some common arguments against this approach.
A Brief Overview of the Medifast Plan
Like other weight-loss programs in the industry, Medifast offers a set of dietary guidelines that it recommends following for a set period of time, usually 2-3 months.
These guidelines include a combination of meal replacements designed specifically by Medifast as well as one Lean-and-Green meal per day.
These meal replacements are extremely convenient and some of them entail simply adding water to a powdered substance. Other meal replacements include bars, snacks, cereals, soups, and pasta. Medifast recommends eating these 5-6 times per day, which amounts to one meal every couple of hours.
Each meal replacement emphasizes low-fat options, low calories, and large amounts of fiber and protein to keep you feeling full for longer. Each meal replacement features foods with a low-glycemic index, which is a measure of how much the carbohydrates in food will influence your blood glucose levels.
These low-glycemic foods help stabilize energy levels and prevent clients from binging or getting too tired throughout the day. This makes the program perfect for a diabetic who struggles with maintaining their blood glucose levels.
In addition to these meal replacements, Medifast advice that its clients eat one Lean-and-Green meal per day, which consists of a lean source of protein, usually meat, paired with copious amounts of vegetables. This option allows clients to modify their diets slightly according to their preferences instead of fully surrendering to the food kits that Medifast offers.
This is ideal for people who are hesitant to follow the program because they still have an attachment to eating certain foods. The Lean-and-Green meal can be eaten at any point during the day, so it would be a good option if the client is suddenly experiencing a craving.
Even though Medifast manufactures its own line of food products, it does not advise using these Medifast meals long-term. Instead, after the desired weight loss has been achieved, they advise gradually returning to eating a low-fat, whole foods diet.
Calories and Weight-Loss
The main emphasis on this diet program is caloric intake, as each individual will typically consume about 1000 calories a day on the program. This is about half as much as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends per day.
Yet, Medifast assures that its clients will remain satisfied throughout the day, mainly because they will be eating every couple of hours.
The idea behind this low-calorie approach is that it will allow clients to maintain their current level of physical activity and still lose weight. This would be perfect for people who do not want to modify their current lifestyle, but still, want but to be slimmer and healthier.
Additionally, the program claims that when a low-calorie approach is followed, the body will begin to burn fats for fuel, thus allowing for maximum weight loss without the need for high-intensity activity.
Our Final Thoughts on Medifast
While Medifast’s approach to diet and weight-loss is simple and convenient, we think it’s only ideal for clients who want results immediately. As a longer-term approach, we think emphasizing a 2000-calorie-a-day diet would be much more effective.
While Medifast does not technically endorse their replacements long-term, we think it would be more effective to adopt a whole foods diet and focus on long-term weight loss instead of short-term results.
Also, when compared with other companies in the industry, Medifast lacks the ability to consult with a health coach, who can provide much-needed support and guidance at the beginning of your health journey.
While Medifast does offer access to nutritionists and online tools, we think a health coach is more effective since many of them have experienced similar struggles with body image. These health coaches can relate on a deeper, more human level instead of on such an abstract, informational level.
We also think that awareness and knowledge is the key to healing. We think eating Medifast meals will end up depriving you, even if you are able to repress the symptoms of these deprivations. Ultimately, we think Medifast is geared towards tricking the body into losing weight instead of focusing on more overt ways of losing weight like exercise.