The reviews are in for Medifast: Before starting any diet, it’s crucial to do your homework. What works for one person may not be a good fit for another, and such is the case with Medifast.
Let’s take a look at how Medifast works as well as the many reviews and ratings of the diet to determine whether or not it sounds like a good option for you!
Medifast: A Brief History
Medifast started in 1980 when Dr. William Vitale created a specially formulated meal plan for his patients who often needed to lose a lot of weight. His mission was to create a healthy diet that provided both initial weight loss and long term, sustainable results.
After achieving successful and exciting results with his patients, Dr. Vitale soon made the “Medifast diet” available to the public. In the years since, Medifast has helped tens of thousands of people meet their weight loss goals, and has been recommended by thousands of doctors.
So, how does the Medifast diet work?
How Medifast Works:
*Got 2 minutes? Watch our video about how Medifast works and what we learned from reviews!
Medifast is meal-delivery diet that’s high in protein and low in carbs (80-85g per day). It boasts fast weight loss results through calorie restriction and the regulation of your blood sugar levels and metabolism.
Medifast dieters eat 6 small meals a day (every 2-3 hours) consisting of a combination of prepared Medifast meals and snacks plus “Lean & Green” meals that you prepare yourself.
- Medifast meals: Prepared 100 calorie meals and snacks like shakes, bars, and soup
- “Lean & Green” meals: These lunch or dinners consists of a protein (“lean”) and non-starchy vegetables (“green”) that you make yourself. Choices for these meals are listed in their shopping list guidelines and dining out guide
As you can imagine, this usually results in fast weight loss, as you are limited to about half the daily recommended amount of calories. After a few days on Medifast, your body will start to burn fat instead of carbs, resulting in weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week.
The Medifast plan can also adapt to those with special nutrition needs, including diabetes, vegetarian, and gluten free diets.
Here’s more about the two Medifast plan options:
1:) The “GO” Plan:
The GO plan offers faster results, and is most popular with busy people who want to lose weight quickly. GO includes:
- 5 Medifast meals
- 1 “Lean & Green” meal
*The GO Plan used to be called the, “5 & 1 Plan”
2:) The “FLEX” Plan:
The FLEX plan is their most flexible plan that offers steady, gradual weight loss. FLEX includes:
- 4 Medifast meals
- 2 “lean & green” meals
- 1 healthy snack
There are two levels of the FLEX plan: “30-Day Select Kit,” and the “30-Day Complete Kit.” You’ll pay more for the “Complete” kit, as it has more food variety and includes Essential1 Heart Health® and Digestive Health® supplements ($50 value)
*The FLEX plan was formerly called, “Medifast Achieve”
Which Plan Is Best for You?
To answer that question, consider both your weight loss goals, and your own unique personality. Are you willing to sacrifice food variety for faster results?
- If you are most concerned with losing weight quickly, then consider the GO plan
- If the idea of more “real” grocery store food is appealing, then consider the FLEX plan
Both of these plans include their monthly auto-delivery service called, “Medifast Advantage®.” With Advantage you get a lower, promotional price at signup, plus future discounts, rewards and free shipping.
You’ll remain on either the GO or FLEX plan until you meet your weight-loss goal, after which you’ll transition to a maintenance phase called, “Thrive by Medifast™.”
What does a typical day of meals look like when you’re on Medifast? Here are sample menus:
Sample Menu: (Day 1)
- Breakfast: Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal*
- Mid-Morning: Pineapple Mango Smoothie*
- Lunch: Ziti Marinara*‡
- Mid-Afternoon Snack: Peanut Butter Crunch Bar*
- Dinner: (recipe) Chicken Stir-Fry w/ Broccoli & Red Peppers ‡
Sample Menu: (Day 2)
- Breakfast: French Vanilla Shake*
- Mid-Morning: Fruit & Nut Crunch Bar*
- Lunch: Vegetable Chili*‡
- Mid-Afternoon: Cheese Pizza Bites*
- Dinner: (recipe) Grilled Salmon w/ Asparagus ‡
‡ Lean & Green meals
Medifast Food: Nutrition
Every Medifast meal and snack lists Nutritional info and ingredients:
This is especially helpful if you have any allergies or want to know the exact amount of carbs, protein, fiber, sodium, or fat:
Lastly, the Medifast “Thrive” Plan for Maintenance
Congratulations slimmer-you! You’ve reached your goal weight! So, now what?
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 weight.
During this phase, you’ll have more flexibility for menu options, and get to eat more of the home-cooked foods that you missed during the first phase.
The Thrive plan includes:
- 3 Thrive Medifast meals
- 2 “lean & green” meals
- 1 balanced meal of your choice
The idea is that you’ve made it through the more restrictive GO or FLEX plan, and can now maintain your weight with a combination of Medifast meals and healthy eating habits.
So, Does Medifast Really Work?
In order to answer the question of whether Medifast works, let’s consult both studies and customer reviews.
Medifast’s website states that:
“The average weight loss for Medifast customers on the “Go” plan is 11 pounds over 8 weeks”
Now let’s look at independent studies to determine whether Medifast works. Studies and clinical trials notoriously stop short of publishing success rates or actually concluding that any diet truly “does work,” but here’s what they said:
1.) 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.”
2.) 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.”
Ok, thanks for the generic answer! It seems the best way to answer the question of whether Medifast works is to consult the wisdom of the masses by looking over the scores of customer reviews online.
Now, Let’s Look at Ratings:
Here’s what we found from 150+ customer ratings of “overall satisfaction“ on ConsumerAffairs.com:
- Positive ratings: 82% (4-5 stars)
- Neutral ratings: 11% (3 stars)
- Negative ratings: 7% (1-2 stars)
So, in effect when these customers were asked whether Medifast works, 82% 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.”
- Positives: Medifast ranks highly as a “fast weight-loss diet,” (lose up to 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. With this diet you have to be willing to give up menu freedom for fast weight loss, or it won’t be effective or enjoyable.
What About the Price?
*Customer review: “It’s a bit expensive but not really if you think about it as meal replacement.” Jennifer, Poway, CA
Well said, Jennifer. Like other weight loss plans, Medifast isn’t cheap and some plans cost $400 a month, (Flex “Complete” Plan). However, it does replace most of your current meals, which offsets the actual monthly cost.
If you compare Medifast to Nutrisystem and other meal-delivery diets, you’ll find the cost is pretty similar, and they all offer new customer promotions to save you money at signup:
*Read more about the cost of Medifast here.
Reviews: Strengths & Testimonials
Medifast is not only approved by thousands (20,000+) of doctors and published studies, but it also gets predominately positive reviews from users, and with Consumer Affairs.
Medifast’s strength is fast initial weight loss, and it was ranked #7 in “Best Fast Weight Loss Diets” by U.S News & World Report.
So, what good things do customers have to say about the diet?
Here’s a Medifast testimonial:
You can see more testimonials on their site, and find a lot of positive quotes in online reviews:
*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
*Customer review: “I chose Medifast because, when comparing programs, Medifast showed the fastest results and was designed my doctors.” Jeanne, Newtown, Pa
Customers seemed to enjoy the support and encouragement they got from others in the Medifast Community online. A number of reviews also mention the friendly and helpful on-site customer service number for questions, and several reviewers liked the convenience of tracking meals and exercise through their FitBit.
Negative Reviews & Common Complaints:
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 eventually quit?
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, or to eat at restaurants. Following the plan while going out and socializing is hard, as “happy hour” just doesn’t work well with Medifast.
Also, a number of people complain that Medifast can be an expensive diet to maintain and weight may return long-term if you don’t stick to the regimen.
*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
Because Medifast consists largely of meal replacements, like shakes and bars, some customers gave negative reviews of the “bad” 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. If you plan on doing an hour of CrossFit a day, this diet might not work for you. In fact, Medifast recommends no more than 45 minutes of strenuous exercise per day at first.
If you specifically want to find negative reviews, check out complaints on sites like pissedconsumer.com.
Here are some other Medifast reviews from credible sources:
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: 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.
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.
There is no single diet that works for everyone, so be sure to compare Medifast against other popular diets like:
- Nutrisystem – (review) Popular meal-delivery alternative to Medifast
- Weight Watchers – (review) Do it yourself or add meetings
- The South Beach Diet – (review) Low-carb meal delivery diet
- Bistro MD – Voted “best tasting” meal-delivery diet
*Many people also ask us whether Nutriststem works, which we are happy to answer as well!
*Quotes taken from customer reviews on ConsumerAffairs.com