The reviews are in for Medifast: When a diet plan has “medi” and “fast” in the name you expect weight loss to be both quick and doctor-approved.
Take a look at the reviews and ratings of Medifast to determine for yourself whether or not the program is worth a try before you make the commitment.
So, How Does Medifast Work? (“Flex,” and “Go!” Plan Options)
Medifast Diet Summary: How Does It Work?
Medifast dieters eat 6 small meals a day, 5 of which are Medifast products like shakes, bars, and soup. The 6th meal can be eaten anytime, and consists of a “lean and green” entree consisting of a protein (healthy fish, chicken, or other meat or vegetable protein).
As you can imagine, this often results in fast weight loss, as you are drastically reducing the number of calories that you consume. Medifast costs about $300 per month (similar to Nutrisystem) in their packaged meals, plus the cost of your one other meal each day.
Once you reach your ideal weight, you transition into a maintenance phase which establishes your ideal caloric intake, and weans you off of their meals.
- Positives: Medifast ranks highly as a fast weight-loss diet, (2-5 pounds a week) and it’s relatively easy, as there are no points to calculate or counting calories or carbs. Positive reviews mention seeing fast results
- Negatives: The downside of the fast weight loss is that it is low-calorie with limited menu options from their product line, and small portions. About half of dieters drop out before the first year is over. Eating out can be challenging, and drinking alcohol is not encouraged, as it is high in calories and can make you hungry.
Medifast Plan Options: Flex, or Go!
With the Medifast diet, you initially follow either the “Flex,” or “Go!” plan:
- “Flex” plan offers “steady, gradual weight loss” and consists of 4 Medifast meals, 2 “lean & green meals, and 1 healthy snack (details)
- “Go!” plan offers “faster results,” and is often chosen by busy people who prefer an easier program of 5 Medifast meals + 1 “lean green” meal (details)
The result, according to the company is weight loss at a rate of about 2-5 pounds a week for the first two weeks. After that, you can expect to lose weight at a rate of about 1-2 pounds a week.
After you reach your goal weight, you then add in calories as you begin to transition to a “maintenance” plan to help you maintain your goal weight. Typically, the program recommends going for a 3 & 3 plan, which means that you continue to eat three meal replacements a day plus 3 meals that you provide yourself.
Medifast offers a variety of meal replacements, including vegetarian, diabetic, and gluten-free options, to avoid boredom as well as list of acceptable foods so that the meals you provide yourself fall within the parameters of the plan. This variety is best for people that aren’t “picky eaters” and don’t have allergy restrictions.
The cost is about $10-12 per day, and meals are delivered monthly. The “Go!” plan offers faster weight loss, and is more expensive than the “Flex” plan.
Medifast plans popular with diabetics and those who are obese, as their is great emphasis on blood sugar levels and fast, significant weight loss.
So, Does Medifast Really Work?
Everyone that has tried Medifast and followed the program’s instructions say that it works, at least initially. People that don’t follow the program strictly complain that weight loss was slow and others don’t like that the results aren’t long lasting once you go off the system.
A 2015 study by Johns Hopkins Medicine found that, “Participants in low-calorie meal programs, such as Medifast, lost more weight than nonparticipants in trials lasting 4-6 months.” (short-term)
However, there was little reliable evidence that any commercial diet, including Medifast, consistently works long-term. Johns Hopkins professor and doctor, Jeanne Clark, added, “Those benefits are long-term goals; losing weight for three months, then regaining it, has limited health benefits”.
Another positive review came from nih.gov, which concluded that “In obese adults, a meal replacement diet resulted in significantly greater reductions in body weight and fat compared with a food-based diet for 1 year after randomization.”
Having said that, the best way to answer the question of whether Medifast works is to consult the wisdom of the masses by looking over the customer reviews.
Reviews & Ratings: Does Medifast work?
Here’s what we found from 250+ customer ratings of “overall satisfaction“ on ConsumerAffairs.com:
- Positive ratings: 81% (4-5 stars)
- Neutral ratings: 12% (3 stars)
- Negative ratings: 7% (1-2 stars)
So, in effect when these customers were asked whether Medifast works, 81% said, “yes,” and were satisfied. The other 19% had a tepid or negative experience, often complaining that Medifast doesn’t work long term.
These unsolicited reviews seem to support the claims on the Medifast website that “more than 3 out of 4 customers said it was effective,” and that “8 out of 10 customers surveyed said the Medifast Plan fit their lifestyle.”
Reviews & Opinions: Medifast’s (High?) Price
*Customer review: “It’s a bit expensive but not really if you think about it as meal replacement.” Jennifer, Poway, CA
Like other weight loss plans, Medifast isn’t cheap. Medifast can cost upwards of four hundred dollars a month, depending on the plan that you choose. Plans can be chosen according to budget, but your promised weight loss results may be a little slower.
You can often find a Medifast program that will fit into your budget, giving you a little more spending room for groceries that aren’t included with the meal replacements. Click here for a more complete breakdown on the cost of Medifast if you want find out the best way to include Medifast in your budget plan.
Thanks to special offers, discounts, free shipping and other enticements, Medifast is often available at a better price than might originally appear.
New customers get a lower, promotional rate, and existing customers can use coupons for up to $35 off each monthly order of meals.
Reviews: Strengths & benefits
Medifast’s strength is fast initial weight loss, and was ranked #7 in “Best Fast Weight Loss Diets” by U.S News & World Report.
If you’re looking for quick weight loss, the Medifast plan works well (especially the “Go!” plan) because it’s based on severe calorie restriction. At first, calories are restricted to around 800 to 1,000 calories a day and calorie restriction is proven to cause weight loss.
However, because of the extreme restriction, Medifast can be difficult to stay with. A number of reviews mention food restrictions (such as restaurant food) as a complaint. The lack of food restrictions with diets like Weight Watchers Online is a cornerstone of it’s popularity.
The other component of Medifast is using meal replacements like shakes and bars. This has been found to be a safe and effective weight loss method according to doctors and experts, but does require the discipline of giving up most conventional meals.
By combining calorie restiction and meal replacements, Medifast is a program that has been proven to work quickly.
*Customer review: “I did exactly what they said to do and in the course of about three and a half months, I lost 53 pounds.” – Jeff, Clive IA
*Customer Review: “I lost 50 pounds and my husband lost 90. So, it was very good. But lately, I was out of control. In order for Medifast to work, it’s helpful to make losing weight the most important thing, and it should take priority over everything.” – Milena, Rampa, Fl
In addition, although calorie restriction can also lead to missing out on vital nutrients, Medifast uses fortified ingredients in the meal replacements to help ensure that your dietary needs are met. For example, the diet plan prohibits dairy, so replacing dairy with calcium-rich greens or supplements is a good idea.
Another bonus of the program is that ingredients and allergens in the meal replacements are easy to find on the site. This means you don’t have to search too hard to find out whether or not the ingredients are safe for you.
Medifast is not only approved by thousands (20,000+) of doctors and published studies, but it also gets predominately positive reviews from users, even with Consumer Affairs. (see above)
While many diet plans may have vague directions that leave you with questions, many users of the program have been pleased with the availability of a customer service number that gives you access to any answers that you might have. Even calling to cancel or stop orders are said to be positive experiences.
Reviews: Weaknesses & Common Complaints
Although Medifast boasts some major advantages, there are also many drawbacks to the plan as well as common complaints.
Probably the biggest consideration is whether Medifast works long term. It seems to require discipline, and people who quit after they meet their weight loss goal are likely to regain the weight.
*Customer review: “I lost 30 pounds, but if you try Medifast hoping that just eating the meals will make you lose weight, it probably won’t work. You need dedication for it to work.” – Nicki, Miami, FL
“More frequent, smaller meals“ – People that work a traditional job and are used to eating three square meals a day may also find it difficult to rearrange their mental framework to allow for more meals – and also difficult to remember to eat six times a day.
For people that travel or find themselves on the road, it can be difficult to remember to bring bars along with you. Following the plan while going out and socializing is also hard, as “happy hour” just doesn’t work well with this diet.
Also, a number of people find that Medifast is effective, but it can be an expensive diet to maintain and weight comes back once you go off it. For this reason, many people tend to go on and off the plan and use it when the weight comes back.
*Customer Review: “The program works well but the products are overpriced. There have been some months when I wanted to order from them but I didn’t have the budget to do so, and this threw me off my weight-loss goals” – Dan, Scottsdale, AZ
*Customer review: “If I want to just drop 15 lbs on a diet, then it’s good to do Medifast. But as far as being on it long term and maintenance, I do not think it’s very good.” – Edna, Memphis, TN
A number of reviews mention that the ease of customer service comes in handy because some find the website and login process difficult to navigate. A similar issue occurs when some customers find that their orders have auto-shipped at rates that aren’t conducive to their needs or budget, but have said that customer service reps are very understanding and helpful about these issues.
Because Medifast consists largely of meal replacements, like shakes and bars, some customers gave negative reviews of the taste.
*Customer review: “Although I’ve lost 15 pounds, sometimes I miss the taste of ‘real’ food at certain meals.” Missy W. Durango, CO
Calorie restriction plans, like Medifast, can result in lower energy levels, making prolonged exercise difficult during the initial “fast weight loss” phase.
As you know, exercise is an essential part of any weight loss program, so if you do start Medifast, make sure you have a good balance of sleep and exercise.
Medifast Diet Review from WebMD
WebMD employs an actual doctor to give a good, unbiased review of Medifast on their site. Here are some of the questions that they address:
- Does Medifast work, and how much effort is needed for success?
- What can you eat, and what are the limitations and restrictions?
- Is Medifast recommended for people with diabetes?
- Is there a Medifast plan for vegetarians?
- Do they accommodate gluten-free diets?
- How many calories do you eat a day? (800-1000 during first phase)
- How much does Medifast cost, and does it work?
Consumer Affairs: Customer Reviews & Complaints
If you are looking for honest, often negative reviews of a diet or weight loss program, check out Consumer Affairs. You’ll here a lot of positive reviews here, but It’s often a place for dissatisfied customers to vent about their negative experience. Like Yelp, they also do a pretty good job of verifying reviews so that they are real.
If you’re thinking about starting a diet, it’s worth scrolling through their 100+ verified customer reviews for Medifast.
Medifast Rating & Review from U.S. News & World Report
U.S. News & World report rated 38 of the most popular weight loss programs and ranked them in 4 major categories on a scale of 1-5:
- Short-term weight loss: 3.5
- Long-term weight loss: 2.0
- Easy to follow: 2.4
- Healthiness: 3.0
As you can see, their ratings reinforce the customer reviews that Medifast scores high for fast weight loss, but gets mediocre results in other rating categories. They also do a good job of answering common questions related to cost, expected weight loss, ease of diet, role of exercise, and whether it really works.
Read the Bad, Ugly, & Negative Reviews, Too!
Sometimes the negative reviews for a diet or weight loss program are the most interesting and helpful. Why did it fail? Why do half the people on the diet quit?
One option might seem like the perfect weight loss program on paper, but everyone is different. Also, be sure to compare Medifast against other popular diets like Weight Watchers & the Nutrisystem diet. If you specifically want to find negative reviews, check out sites like pissedconsumer.com.
If You’re Considering the Medifast Diet…
Thinking of trying Medifast? Like we said, the diet has it’s strengths and weaknesses, but works for the majority of people.
*Many people also ask us whether Nutriststem works, which we are happy to answer as well.
More about medifast
*Quotes taken from customer reviews on ConsumerAffairs.com