Optavia Diet for Weight Loss: Pros, Cons, Foods to Eat & Avoid

Does Optavia Diet Work For Weight Loss?

Those trying to lose weight try out many approaches that quite often involve variables out of their control. Meal replacement diets that give precise control over calories and nutrients are hence attractive to the consumers.  The Medifast Optavia diet plan is one such meal replacement plan that gained popularity over the last few years to quickly lose weight quickly. If you are considering taking up this diet plan, continue reading, for one must be well aware of what goes into the Optavia diet and whether it really works.

What Is Optavia Diet and What Are Its Different Versions?

Owned by Medifast, a meal replacement company, Optavia is a diet that involves cutting down calories by regular food sources and instead replace meals with low-calorie packaged foods and homemade meals. It is similar to Medifast except that Octavia involves one-on-one coaching to encourage weight loss and keep those on a diet, motivated.

The packaged foods are called “fuelings”, which are proprietary to the diet plan and comprise 60 items that are high in protein, low in carbohydrates, and also contains probiotic cultures needed by the intestines. You can choose from any of the 60 items that include foods, such as soups, pasta, cereals, puddings, bars, shakes, and cookies. While they seem like food items high in carbohydrates, they contain sugar substitutes, and they come in small servings that need to be had multiple times a day. The meal plans also include Lean and Green entrées that are part of the diet versions. The fuelings have an identical nutritional profile; hence they can be had interchangeably as per your preference.

The diet consists of versions involving two weight loss programs and one plan to maintain weight:

  • Optimal Weight 5&1 Plan: The Optavia 5&1 plan is most popularly chosen by people and includes five servings of fuelings and one balanced Lean and Green meal per day.
  • Optimal Weight 4&2&1 Plan: This plan is suitable for those who need more flexibility in food options and more calories during the day. The plan allows for four Optavia fuelings, two Lean and Green meals and one snack every day.
  • Optimal Health 3&3 Plan: This plan is for those who wish to maintain their weight. It consists of three Optavia fuelings per day and three Lean and Green meals.

What Is the Need for Optavia Diet?

Weight loss is a tricky business for a lot of people as it is hard to count calories in regular meals and snacks on a daily basis and keep track of the food consumed. It also takes a lot of understanding of the nutritional needs of the body and how it all works. The Optavia diet plan, on the other hand, makes it effortless for people to follow a weight loss regimen that is simple to follow and has a good structure built into it. Everything is clearly laid out, and there is no work on the part of the person except to purchase what is needed. The diet plan is ideal for people who don’t like to cook or are too busy to calculate exactly what they need every day. Also, since portion control is a major part of the diet, the fuelings keep a check on the meals. The strongest component of the Optavia diet is the coaches who are available for advice and motivation throughout the process.

Pros and Cons of Optavia Dieting

Similar to all weight loss programs, Optavia dieting comes with its own set of pros and cons.


  • Easy to Follow: The primary reason why the diet became so popular is that it is easy to follow by everyone without having to know a lot of finer details. The diet relies mostly on prepackaged foods that are standardised in their nutritional profile. Hence, everybody knows exactly what they are consuming, making it easier to keep it close to the calorie goals. The cooked meals are easy to make, and the diet plan comes with logs and meal plans that are easy to follow. It also appeals to those who are not interested in cooking as they can buy the packaged meals instead.
  • Could Improve Blood Pressure: Since the meals involve limited intake of sodium and reduction in weight, it may be able to help improve blood pressure. Although the Optavia diet hasn’t been studied specifically for it, there’s evidence for a reduction in blood pressure by the meal replacement diets. Additionally, the meal plans keep the sodium intake below 2300mg per day, which is the recommended sodium intake by the USDA.
  • Continuous Support: Optavia meal plan’s highlight is the coaching system that guides people and keeps them motivated. The coaches offer continuous support throughout the program to ensure a healthy weight is maintained even after the program.


  • Very Low Calories: Since the program involves sticking to a very low-calorie intake ranging from 800-1200 calories a day, it can be very demanding for those eating between 2000-3000 calories per day. The drastic reduction in calorie intake can also lead to muscle loss and lowered metabolism that can continue even after the program is stopped. There is also a risk of lowered intake of essential nutrients along with calories in many people.
  • Can be Difficult to Stick to: Since the diet is quite restrictive, it is possible that people will soon develop cravings for high-carb foods. This is especially the case with those who need a lot of energy throughout the day to sustain their work. Lack of carbs can make them feel lethargic or moody throughout the day.
  • The Fuelings are Highly Processed Foods: The diet plans are based on prepackaged food items that would need a lot of processing to maintain their nutritional value. Since a person will be eating over 150 of these a month, there is cause for concern.
  • The Coaches Are Not Health Professionals: Most Optavia coaches are not health professionals with credentials. Hence they are not qualified to provide medical guidance or dietary advice. People with other health conditions must consult their healthcare providers or doctors before going on a diet.

Does It Work for Weight Loss?

The Optavia diet works by cutting down the calorie intake on a daily basis using portion-controlled meals and snacks such that it prompts the body to burn fat for the rest of the energy needs. The 5&1 plan, for example, restricts calorie intake every day to 800-1000 calories that are divided amongst the six controlled portions throughout the day. A study concluded that 198 people who were on the Optavia diet for obesity lost significant weight. It was visible in the form of lowered waist circumference and fat levels when compared to the control group. The diet has been shown to reduce weight and fat in a short time; however, its long-term effectiveness is not known.

Foods to Eat and Avoid on Optavia Diet

When choosing a basic plan such as the 5&1, you are only allowed to have five fuelings and one Green meal per day. The carbohydrates mainly come from the feelings, and the meals are a source of healthy fats, protein, and fibre. Here is a list of what is allowed and what is not:

Foods to Eat

  • Meat: The meats consumed must be at least 85% lean. It can include chicken, lean beef, turkey, lamb, pork, game meat, etc.
  • Fish and Shellfish: Salmon, trout, tuna, halibut, crabs, lobsters, shrimps, and scallops.
  • Eggs: Egg whites, whole eggs, Egg Beaters.
  • Soy-Based Products: Tofu only.
  • Vegetable Oils: Olive oil, canola, walnut, flaxseed.
  • Healthy Fats: Olives, low card salad dressings, almonds, walnuts, low-fat margarine, pistachios, avocado.
  • Sugar-Free Snacks: Gum, mints, gelatins, popsicles.
  • Sugar-Free Beverages: Water, sugarless tea, coffee, and almond milk.
  • Condiments and Seasonings: Salt, spices, dried herbs, lime juice, soy sauce, yellow mustard, sugar-free syrup, salsa, artificial sweeteners, small amounts of barbecue sauce and ketchup, and cocktail sauce.

Foods to Avoid

  • Fried Foods: Meats, fish, shellfish, sweets, such as pastries, and fried vegetables.
  • Refined Grains: Pasta, white bread, pancakes, biscuits, crackers, flour tortillas, cookies, cakes, pastries, and white rice.
  • Fats: Coconut oil, butter, and solid shortening.
  • Whole Fat Dairy: Milk, yoghurt, and cheese.
  • Alcohol: All types
  • Sweetened-Sugary Beverages: Fruit juice, soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, sweet tea, etc.
  • Fruits: All fresh fruits, especially the ones high in sugar.
  • Legumes: Lentils, peas, beans, and soybeans.
  • Starchy Vegetables: White potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, peas, etc.

One-Day Sample Meal Plan

Here is an example of the Optavia diet food list for the 3&3 plan (1,200 calories):

1. Breakfast

Ready to eat unsweetened cereal (3/4 cup) with low-fat or skimmed milk (1 cup).

2. Mid-Morning Fueling

Optimal Health Strawberry Yogurt Bar.

3. Lunch

Cooked cauliflower (1/2 cup), Grilled Chicken (3 oz), and low-fat yoghurt (3/4 cup).

4. Mid-Afternoon Fueling

Optimal health Strawberry Banana Smoothie.

5. Dinner

Raw spinach (2 cups), diced tomatoes, mushrooms, cucumbers (1 cup), baked yellowfin tuna (3 oz), low-fat salad dressing (2 tablespoons), and 1 small apple/

How to Follow Optavia Diet

The Optavia diet is broken up into multiple phases. Before beginning, it is important to consult a coach to design a plan based on what is best for your situation, considering your weight goal and health conditions. Depending on the diet plan you choose, you will have five to six meals a day along with a snack. The Optimal Weight 5&1, for example, has five fuelings and one meal day. The Lean & Green meal will have servings of lean protein in the form of meat, two servings of healthy fats, and three servings of non-starchy vegetables. If you choose an Optavia vegetarian option, the meal plan will change to include other protein sources. Since the meals are designed to control carbohydrate intake, they won’t go any higher than 100 calories per meal. And since they are spaced out throughout the day, you will frequently be eating two to three hours apart.

If you wish to choose a flexible meal plan that doesn’t involve cutting calories too low because you have type 2 diabetes, or lesser weight to lose, or other conditions that won’t tolerate drastic weight loss, then the 4&2&1 program should work well. Once the weight goal has been reached, you will be advised to move on to the maintenance phase, where the Optimal 3&3 plan will ensure your weight remains steady. It involves three meals a day prepared by you and three meals that are purchased.

The six-week transition period of the maintenance phase will involve gradually increasing the daily calorie intake. Once fully transitioned, you will go on three Lean & Green meals and three fuelings per day.

How Much Should You Exercise On Optavia Diet?

The Optavia diet recommends aerobic exercises, strength training, and lifestyle exercises for the maximum benefit from the plan. However, it is essential to understand that the intensity must be kept low as the daily consumption of calories is not sufficient to give the energy boost needed for intense workouts. It is recommended that you perform 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day. The exercise can be done in one session of having it split into three 10-minute sessions spaced apart during the day. Exercises can include walking, moderate aerobic workouts, yoga, taichi, gardening, dancing, and others.

Weight training can be done with lower weights 2-3 times a week to keep the muscles active and continually challenged. Lifestyle exercises are just as important for the plan as it involves doing more physical work on a day-to-day basis in the form of cleaning, maintaining the yard, shopping, etc.

How Often Can You Consume Optavia Diet Meals?

One of the benefits of the Optavia diet is that once you have reached your goal weight, you can slowly transition to regular foods by starting on more Lean & Green meals a day and adding dairy, fruits, whole grains, and more while still supplementing with the fuelings. Once you’re through the fat-burning phase, you can return to the routine that will help maintain the goal weight. However, many people find it useful to continue with the fuelings as it is simpler and very precise. If you find that you have gained more weight over the months, it’s always possible to return back to the diet to lose some.

How Much Does the Optavia Diet Cost?

The Optavia program can be quite expensive for many people as the kits start from $350 to $400. The additional food needed to make healthy meals at home has to be bought separately.

If you are going for one of the meal plans, you can expect the prices to be around these:

  • 5&1 Plan: 119 servings at $414.60
  • 4&2&1 Plan: 140 servings at $457.95
  • 3&3 Plan: 7 servings at $19.95

The Optavia diet may seem like a good option to lose weight quickly. However, it is always better to check with your medical practitioner before implementing any diet plan. The key is to understand your health requirements and follow expert guidance to provide your body with the nourishment it needs and continue maintaining ideal body weight.

Also Read:

Sirtfood Diet for Weight Loss
How to Use Keto Diet for Weight Loss
Tips to Figuring Out Perfect Diet Plan for Weight Loss

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Ruchelle has a vast experience working with clients in hospitality, health and wellness, entertainment, real estate, and retail. She aims to utilise her learnings to deliver quality content which will in turn help drive sales and customer engagement.