Optavia weight loss is actually a new version of an older diet, Medifast, which was created by a doctor in 1980 and involved packaged shakes, bars, and snacks.
The plan was updated a few times, and in 2017 a new iteration for the digital age, Optavia (rhymes with Mamma Mia), was launched.
When you sign up for Optavia, you purchase foods online and get connected to a personal coach, who is in most cases a former client eager to share the gospel of Optavia (and who also gets paid a commission on all the food you order, plus bonuses and additional commissions for recruiting and supporting other coaches).
The coach helps you work through a “Habits of Health” program—commonsense health goals like using the stairs instead of the elevator and drinking lots of water—but the main sell of the program is still those packaged shakes and bars.
How does the Optavia weight loss plan diet work?
In the initial “Optimal Weight 5 & 1” phase—which can last 12 weeks, 6 months, or longer, depending on how much weight you want to lose—you eat six small meals a day.
Spread out every 2 to 3 hours so you don’t get hungry and your blood sugar levels remain steady. So far, a great idea! But there’s a catch: Five out of the 6 “meals” consist of processed, packaged meal replacements called Fuelings.
There are about 60 different kinds of Fuelings available for sale on the site (a starter pack that includes 119 servings costs $392).
Choices include savory dishes like pasta, oatmeal, mashed potatoes, and soups (all of which come in dehydrated packs; you add water and pop in the microwave), but the majority of the items are shakes, bars, cookies, and crunchy snacks (Chili Nacho Cheese Puffs, anyone?).
Each of these Fuelings has around 100 calories and contains what Optavia calls “a high-quality protein” and a probiotic for digestive health.
What do you eat on the Optavia weight loss plan?
At least half of any Optavia diet is comprised of its “fuelings,” which include bars, shakes, cookies, cereal, and some savory options, like soup and mashed potatoes. These foods often list soy protein or whey protein as the first ingredient.
Green meals fill out the last of the diet, which you buy and prepare on your own. Those include:
6–8 ounces of cooked lean protein like fish, chicken, egg whites, turkey, or soy
3 servings of non-starchy vegetables like lettuce, greens, celery, or cucumbers
Up to 2 servings of healthy fats like olive oil, olives, or avocado
The Optavia advises eating seven or eight times per day (about every two to three hours) depending on the plan. The three available plans are:
- 5 & 1 Plan: Eat five Optavia fuelings and one “lean and green” meal per day
- 4 & 2 & 1 Plan: Eat four Optavia fuelings, two “lean and green” meals, and one snack per day
- 3 & 3 Plan: Eat three Optavia fuelings and three “lean and green” meals per day
How does Optavia weight loss results help you lose weight?
Optavia relies on intensely restricting calories to promote weight loss. Most “fuelings” hover around 100–110 calories each, meaning you could take in around 1,000 calories per day on this diet.
Due to Optavia’s dramatic approach, U.S. News and World Report ranked it #2 on its list of Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets, but #32 in its list of Best Diets for Healthy Eating. London agrees that there’s a better approach to lasting weight loss.
How much does the Optavia weight loss program cost?
The essential kits, which are the cheapest plan offerings, cost more than $300 per month, and that’s not including what you’ll spend on your lean and green meals. Here’s what you can expect to pay for each type:
- 5 & 1 Plan: $392.15 for 119 servings (30 day supply)
- 4 & 2 & 1 Plan: $399 for 140 servings (30 day supply)
- 3 & 3 Plan: $309.55 for 130 servings (30 day supply)