What we learned from Medifast reviews: Medifast is a popular meal-delivery program that’s high in protein and low in carbs and calories. It once again made the list of the “Top 10 Commercial Diets“ and promises fast weight loss and diabetes control. But, does it really deliver?
So, Does Medifast Really Work?
Medifast’s website states that “Medifast is safe and effective to do on your own whether you want to lose 15 or 120 or more pounds,” and adds that:
“The average weight loss for Medifast customers on the “Go!” plan is 11 pounds over 8 weeks”
Their own data infers that Medifast works, but let’s consult both expert ratings and customer reviews to learn more. Then, hopefully you can better determine whether it’s a good weight loss program for you. (If it is, we have today’s best coupons here!)
U.S. News recently asked a group of experts in the health and diet field to rate Medifast on a number of important factors. Here’s how they scored:
As you can see, in expert reviews Medifast was rated exceptionally high for “short term weight loss,” but low for “long-term weight loss,” and “easy to follow.” This is probably due to the fact that Medifast requires a significant diet and lifestyle change, asking users to eat mostly their pre-packaged meals.
These dietary restrictions don’t work for everyone, and the discrepancy in “weight loss” scores implies that many people tire of the diet and its pre-packaged meals, and either cheat or quit after a few months.
Now, let’s see how users rate Medifast by looking at customer satisfaction scores from user reviews:
So, how do users rate Medifast? On Consumer Affairs, customers were asked to honestly rate their “overall satisfaction” of the diet. Here’s how they rated the program:
- Positive ratings: 57% (4-5 stars)
- Neutral ratings: 12% (3 stars)
- Negative ratings: 31% (1-2 stars)
So, in effect when these customers were asked whether Medifast works, 57% said, “yes,” and were satisfied. The other 43% weren’t thrilled, or had a negative review, often complaining that Medifast doesn’t work long term.
However, Medifast claims on their website that “more than 3 out of 4 customers said it was effective,” and that their own survey concluded that, “8 out of 10 customers surveyed said the Medifast Plan fit their lifestyle.”
So, why is Medifast rated lower on Consumer Affairs? When it comes to diets, people who had a negative experience seem to be more likely to quit and write a bad review than customers who were satisfied and stayed on the diet. That’s ok, though, criticism is productive, and there’s a lot to learn from complaints and bad reviews!
Medifast Bad Reviews:
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?
Here are the top 3 complaints from bad customer reviews:
- Doesn’t Work Long-Term: Medifast scores relatively low for “long-term weight loss,” getting a score of 2.1/5 from U.S. News
- Not enough “real” food: Most Medifast meals are shakes, bars, or just-add-water. Some users end up quitting because they don’t like the taste of the food and miss eating more conventional meals
- Too expensive: With a cost of up to $20 per day, the price is relatively high. Even though Medifast meals replace most of your current meals, you’ll still need to supplement the their meals with some groceries
Many people turn to Medifast for fast weight loss. While it usually delivers, reviews support the idea that people often tire of the structured menu and yearn for real food again. Others quit after reaching their goal weight, but may gain the weight back after returning to old eating habits.
Other things that customers complain about in reviews is that there isn’t enough variety on the menu, and that you are encouraged to not drink alcohol. 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.
Customer review: “Although I’ve lost 15 pounds, sometimes I miss the taste of ‘real’ food at certain meals.” Missy W. Durango, CO
Customer review: “If I want to just drop 30 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
However, most user reviews for Medifast are positive, so let’s look at what people like about it.
Medifast Good Reviews:
The world of commercial diets is highly-competitive, so Medifast must be doing something right to still be in the game after 30+ years. Medifast can also boast recommendations from over 20,000 doctors during that time, and a consistent ranking in the top 10 commercial diets. Let’s look at the best qualities of the diet:
- Fast initial weight loss: Medifast’s biggest strength is quick weight loss, and it is ranked #3 in “Best Fast Weight Loss Diets” by U.S News & World Report
- Nutritious: The original goal of this diet was to create the elusive quality of being low in calories but high in nutrients, which they seem to have achieved
- Structured & Simple: If you follow the Medifast Plan, the math says that you are going to lose weight. Customers like the fact that there’s counting of carbs, calories, or points making it a good potential choice for the 50% of people who say they “hate to cook”
- Other Diets Didn’t Work: Medifast is a popular diet choice for certain people, including obese and diabetics, who have already tried other diets unsuccessfully and become frustrated. This is not a fad diet or a “lose 10 pounds for a wedding” weight loss program. Medifast offers hope for people who yearn to live a healthy lifestyle, and are willing to accept menu limitations to bring order to back their lives. In fact, Rod Tidwell (Jerry Maguire) Might say that people trying Medifast, “have been to the puppet shows, and have seen the strings.”
A number of customer reviews also mentioned enjoying the support and encouragement they got from others in the Medifast Community online, and from the helpful customer support. Several reviewers mentioned that the convenience of tracking meals and exercise through their FitBit was a plus.
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
Need inspiration? Here’s one of a number of positive and seemingly honest customer testimonials that you can find online:
You can see more testimonials on their site, and find a lot of positive quotes in online reviews:
*View this featured promotion, or see all coupons here!
What Is Medifast? Here’s a Brief History
Back in 1980 when most of us were busy playing the newly released “Pac-Man” video game, Dr. William Vitale was busy creating a specially formulated meal plan to help his obese patients lose significant weight. His mission was to create a healthy diet that provided both initial weight loss and long term, sustainable results.
Dr. Vitale developed a meal plan that he called, “Medifast,” that was nutrient-dense but very low in calories.
After achieving exciting results with his patients, Dr. Vitale soon made the “Medifast diet” available to the public. In the years since, Medifast has never gained the fame that Pac-Man did, but it 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:
While on Medifast you’ll eat 6 small meals a day (every 2-3 hours) consisting of a combination of their prepared low-calorie “Medifast meals” and snacks plus 1-2 “Lean & Green” meals that you prepare yourself.
1.) Medifast Meals:
Each Medifast meal is high in lean protein and fiber which makes you feel full longer, and helps to eliminate unhealthy cravings. These meals are fortified with 24 essential vitamins and minerals, allowing for significant weight loss without sacrificing on nutrition. The low-glycemic carbs in Medifast food help to regulate your blood sugar levels, making it a popular diet with diabetics.
The meals are also low in carbs and total a mere 1000 calories per day; that’s only half the FDA’s recommended allowance. As you can imagine, this usually results in fast weight loss, as your body learns to burn fat instead of carbs for energy.
2.) Lean and Green Meals:
Every day you’ll have 1-2 “lean and green” meals, depending on which plan you choose. The “GO” plan includes only one lean & green meal per day, while the “Achieve” plans include two.
- The “lean” is a serving of any protein from their list of lean options including fish, poultry, and beef
- The “green” is three servings per day of vegetables from their list of green options which include non-starchy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and tomatoes
Here’s more about plan options:
Medifast Plan Options: Go or Achieve?
Men and women both have the option of two plans, Go!, and Achieve. Here’s the difference:
1:) The “GO” Plan:
Formerly called the, “5 & 1 Plan,” the GO plan offers faster results, and is most popular with busy people who want to lose weight quickly. A day of GO includes:
- 5 Medifast meals
- 1 “Lean & Green” meal
- Learn more about the Go! plan here
2:) The “ACHIEVE” Plan: (Select or Complete)
Formerly called, “Medifast Flex,” the Achieve plan is their most flexible plan that offers steady, gradual weight loss. Each day on Achieve includes:
- 4 Medifast meals
- 2 “lean & green” meals
- 1 healthy snack
- Learn more about the Achieve plan here
There are two levels of the Achieve plan: “Select,” and “Complete.” You’ll pay more for the “Complete” kit, as it has more food variety, lean & green meals, and includes Essential1 Heart Health® and Digestive Health® supplements ($50 value)
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?
- Faster weight loss: If you are most concerned with losing weight quickly, then consider the GO plan
- Flexibility: If the idea of eating more “real” grocery store food is appealing, then consider the ACHIEVE 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 ACHIEVE plan until you meet your weight-loss goal, after which you’ll transition to a maintenance phase called, “Thrive by Medifast™.”
The cost of Medifast is about $12-15 per day depending on which plan you choose, and which promotion you signup with. Here’s their best promotion for new customers:
So, does it really work? Scouring through hundreds of ratings and customer reviews online we were able to find some common themes. Let’s look at both the good and bad reviews, and learn whether it’s a good option for you.
Medifast Food Reviews
Medifast doesn’t score highly for their food, and you might just call it “adequate.” Most Medifast Meals are shakes, bars, and “just add water” meals that fall far short of a meal from the Olive Garden. But, then again, at 1900 calories, the Olive Garden’s Fettuccine Alfredo might be the reason you’re here in the first place!
Anyway, while their packaged food is uninspiring, the daily “lean & green” meal(s) are your only chance to eat something special.
*Metaphor alert: Think of it this way: You’re going on a journey, like someone who plans to scale a mountain. It’s not easy, so you need good gear and a map, and you know the food won’t be great. However, the view from the summit is worth the effort. That’s what Medifast is like.
Medifast meals are low in calories (1000 per day) and carbs (85g per day). These meals are high in protein and fortified with 24 vitamins and minerals so that you can lose weight without losing out on nutrition.
These Medifast meals are also similar in nutritional content which means that you can substitute meals at any time without concern for your daily 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.
Medifast food is low in carbs and each day you’ll consume about 50g fewer carbs than the FDA’s recommended amount. This will help to curb cravings and teach your body to burn fat for energy instead of carbs.
What does a typical day of meals look like when you’re on Medifast Flex? 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
For meals that you can make on your own, you’ll find lots of recipes on their blog here
Medical Studies (Kind of Boring!)
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.”
3.) The International Journal of Obesity compared Medifast to a conventional food-based diet of similar calories. They found that, “Medifast resulted in significantly greater reductions in body weight and fat after 1 year.” study
4.) Medifast Reviews from Mayo Clinic – The Mayo Clinic lists Medifast among its “meal replacement” diet options but notes that with all meal-delivery programs you have to make healthy choices for nutritional balance. (The Mayo Clinic also offers their own highly-rated diet, too)
Ok, thanks for the generic answers! 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.
The Medifast diet is not for everyone. The weight loss program scores highly in expert ratings and and user reviews for “quick weight loss” but lower for “long-term weight loss.” This may be because of the nature of the diet which relies on prepackaged “meals” that are mostly shakes, bars, or food that you add water to.
With Medifast you’ll only have 1-2 “real” meals a day, and even those “lean and green” meals have to meet specific high-protein, low-carb guidelines.
If cooking or eating “real food” with few limitations is important to you, then Medifast might not be a good fit. However, if fast weight loss and structure are most important, then it’s worth considering.
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
- Jenny Craig (review) The top-rated meal-delivery diet, but expensive!
- Weight Watchers – (review) Do it yourself or add meetings
- The South Beach Diet – (review) Low-carb meal delivery diet
*Many people also ask us whether or not Nutriststem works, which we are happy to answer as well!
Your Medifast Review?
If you have tried the Medifast diet, please rate it and leave your own review below:
Hello, I’m Missy Woodruff! I have an English degree from Tufts U. in Boston, and have worked as a teacher for 25 years. I also enjoy blogging in my free time. I especially like writing about wellness, as it’s something that I’m very interested in for the health of myself and my family more…