When you’ve decided to shed unwanted pounds, finding the right weight loss plan is one of the most important steps towards achieving your goal.
Losing weight requires effort, commitment, and determination to succeed. Which is why, receiving support from and a qualified coach, as well as a group of like-minded people, is particularly valuable.
It can help you stay on track, overcome difficult emotions which may arise as a result of putting your body through an unknown experience, as well as celebrate the little victories that motivate you to keep going.
So, if you’re looking for a weight loss program which provides that level of support, this program could be an option worth considering.
So, what exactly is the OPTAVIA diet, what does it involve, does it work – and could it be the right plan for you? Read on to find out everything you need to know about it.
What Is It?
OPTAVIA diet is a weight loss program designed to create long-lasting weight loss (or – a “Lifelong Transformation” according to the creators) by helping you replace your old eating and lifestyle habits with new and healthier ones. In 2017, it was rebranded from a similar weight loss program called “Take Shape For Life,” which was created by Medifast in 2002.
When you begin, you receive the help of a personal, qualified coach who guides you through the process and helps you achieve weight loss. However, the program promises not only weight loss – but also increased levels of energy, vitality, and overall wellbeing.
The diet plan consists of four main elements, which are:
- OPTAVIA Coach
- The Habits of Health
- OPTAVIA Community
- Fuelings and Meal Plans
There are three main programs:
- Optimal Weight 5 & 1 Plan
- Optimal Weight 4 & 2 & 1 Plan
- Optimal Health 3 & 3 Plan
The Optimal Weight 5 & 1 Plan and the Optimal Weight 4 & 2 & 1 Plan have been designed to help you reach a healthy weight (the latter offers more flexibility). The Optimal Health 3 & 3 Plan has been designed to help you maintain the healthy weight you have managed to achieve.
How Does OPTAVIA Work?
To understand how the OPTAVIA Diet works, let’s take a look at each of these elements in more depth.
The role of the coach is to guide and support you through your journey to your optimal health, and weight. Coaches are the “lifeblood of the program,” according to the program.
The coach will help guide you through the Habits of Health stage of the program, helping you form new habits and make healthier new choices leading to a lifelong transformation.
One of the most important aspects of having a coach is the encouragement you will get, as well as the celebration of little victories which are important in helping you stay motivated.
The Habits of Health
The second element of the program is “The Habits of Health,” which essentially means you work to incorporate healthy habits into everything you do.
The OPTAVIA coach is there to help you learn and adopt new, healthy lifestyle and eating habits which are called “micro habits,” – this way creating a path to lifelong transformation, one step at a time.
The idea is that these new habits replace unhealthy habits which you’ve engraved in your everyday life with the ones that contribute to lifelong success.
The Support Community
The creators of the OPTAVIA diet believe that being part of a community of like-minded people can significantly contribute to your progress, and help you in your journey towards lifelong health and wellbeing.
The community consists of many forums where you can get help and discuss anything about the program with fellow members, as well as live and recorded video conferences. The company also offers nutritional support, online assistance, and client-focused groups.
The community is set up so that it becomes easier to transform your life into a healthier one. When you succeed, you become an inspiration to other people on the program – and so the community becomes a place where you can help other people achieve their goals, and transform their lives.
Fuelings and Plans
The fourth key element of the OPTAVIA diet is the Fuelings and plans – which are essentially pre-packaged meals that are delivered to your door.
The Fuelings have been scientifically designed to be nutritious, and provide high-quality protein to help retain muscle mass during your weight loss. Each Fueling is free from artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners, and contains a patented probiotic, GanedenBC30®, which supports digestive health.
Fuelings are designed to send your body into a gentle (but efficient) state of weight loss because of the low calorie intake (typically, about 800 to 1,000 calories).
On the OPTAVIA Optimal Weight 5 & 1 Plan® (which is designed to kick-start your weight loss journey), you will have to consume 5 of these Fuelings daily (i.e., every 2 to 3 hours).
In addition to the Fuelings, you will also learn how to make a lean and green meal which can be shared with the whole family (another healthy habit!).
The basic premise of the program is that, once you achieve a healthy weight through one of the weight loss plans, transitioning off the plan should become easier because you have created these new, healthier habits which will help you manage your weight weight, and stay healthy. In fact, it has a program that’s designed specifically for weight maintenance, called the “Optimal Health 3 & 3 Plan.”
What Can You Eat?
Within the Fuelings Kits, there are over 60 meals to choose from, and they include things like:
- Meal replacement bars
Here is a list of products from the Essential Optimal Kit:
- Silky Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Bar
- Creamy Double Peanut Crisp Bar
- Drizzled Chocolate Fudge Crisp Bar
- Creamy Chocolate Shake
- Caramel Delight Crisp Bar
- Chocolate Mint Cookie Crisp Bar
- Cranberry Honey Nut Granola Bar
- Wild Strawberry Shake
- Raisin Oat Cinnamon Crisp Bar
- Decadent Double Chocolate Brownie
- Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie
- Roasted Garlic Creamy Smashed Potatoes
- Golden Chocolate Chip Pancakes
- Rustic Tomato Herb Penne
- Honey Mustard & Onion Sticks
- Red Berry Crunchy O’s Cereal
- Homestyle Chicken Flavored & Vegetable Noodle Soup
- FREE Blender Bottle*
- 5 FREE Client Choices*
The 6th meal which you cook yourself in addition to the five Fuelings you consume each day should include things like lean protein (i.e., chicken breast or grilled shrimp), as well as three servings of non-starchy vegetables (such as zucchini, and peppers).
What Can’t You Eat?
There are certain products you need to eliminate during the course of the program, such as:
Some products are allowed, but should be limited:
- As you become less dependent on the OPTAVIA food, veggies are gradually reintroduced (including starchy vegetables, like potatoes, corn, and peas).
- In the second week of transition, fresh fruit and berries are reintroduced.
- You’ll also start consuming some low-fat dairy products (such as yogurt and milk).
- Whole grain products (e.g., whole-grain bread, brown rice, and high-fiber cereal) are also gradually worked back in.
Do You Have To Exercise?
Technically no, but daily exercise is encouraged. As you probably already know, exercise is one of the key elements of a healthy lifestyle, and as a general rule, you should be aiming for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day.
However, if you decide to go for one of the programs, make sure you speak to your coach about your exercise plans to make sure you don’t overdo it.
What Support Does OPTAVIA Offer It’s Followers?
One of the advantages of the program is that you receive a lot of support. Not only do you get to work with a qualified coach who guides and supports you throughout the process, but you also have access to many forums, live and recorded video conferences, client-focused groups, and other online help.
How Much Does It Cost?
The cost of the program will depend on which meal plan you decide is most suitable for your needs.
However, the Optimal Weight 5 & 1 Plan costs from about $350 to $450 for 119 food servings (which is about three weeks’ worth). Bear in mind that you’ll also be buying additional groceries (but it will mainly be vegetables and protein).
Does OPTAVIA Actually Work?
As long as you follow it correctly, it will help you lose weight. While there is research that suggests replacing meals is generally effective for losing weight, no studies that evaluate the effectiveness of this program specifically have been carried out, yet. Despite this, there have been many studies examining the effectiveness of Medifast (which is essentially the first version of this diet plan). One study showed that 77 overweight adults lost about 10 percent of their body weight in 12 weeks of following a Medifast 5 & 1 meal plan. Another study of 185 overweight individuals showed that people lost 11kg on average over 12 weeks.
The diet’s whole ethos is based on consuming frequent small meal replacements, rather than three large meals; the research does suggest that eating smaller, more frequent meals helps reduce calorie intake without making you feel overly hungry.
In addition to the research, the official website is full of “transformational stories” of people who have succeeded with it. Of course, because these stories are featured on the company’s website, it’s important to take them with a grain of salt and remember that these results may not be typical.
The Pros and Cons:
- The program is simple and easy to follow.
- Because the majority of what you eat in a day is the Fuelings, it is very convenient, and there’s very little cooking involved.
- The Fuelings have been designed to be nutritious, include a high-quality protein, and a probiotic.
- Each program offers an extensive range of food choices (over 60 options).
- The program aims to encourage life-long healthy habits which are a great way to change your relationship with food and make sure that your weight loss and a healthier lifestyle are sustainable.
- It also has specific plans for people with conditions like diabetes, people with gout, nursing moms, seniors, and teens.
- There are meal options to fit around your lifestyle, including gluten-free and non-GMO Fuelings.
- The basis of the program is eating daily Fuelings, which are pre-packaged meal replacements – and only the meal which you cook yourself contains fresh ingredients. Many experts argue that eating fresh fruit and vegetables is the key to a healthy life and weight – and eating pre-packaged meals may not be very healthy in the long run.
- Since it costs about $350 to $450 for 119 servings (3 weeks’ worth), it could be seen as quite expensive.
- People who have food allergies or intolerances may struggle to follow the program. Similarly, those who take prescribed medication should speak to their doctor beforehand.
- The plan would be tricky for vegans since a lot of the meal replacements are made with eggs and dairy.
The OPTAVIA diet program is a convenient way to lose weight and transform your lifestyle to achieve optimal health and wellbeing.
With the help of a personal, qualified coach, you will be able to create long-lasting lifestyle habits, aimed to help you achieve a healthier lifestyle, and your optimal body weight.
The program delivers pre-packaged, scientifically designed meals to your door, which send your body into a gentle state of fat-burning.
The downside of the program is that it can be quite costly, since you will be receiving help and support from a qualified coach, and receiving pre-packaged meals (Fuelings). In addition to that, some experts argue that consuming mainly pre-packaged foods isn’t a healthy lifestyle over the long-term.