Medifast is a popular diet, a common recommendation by doctors for patients struggling with weight loss. It works by creating a caloric deficit, forcing your body to burn fat. This diet consists of controlled portions of nutritionally complete foods that are low fat, low calorie and low carb. Many of the foods in the Medifast diet are packet of dry ingredients that you mix with water, although there are other options.
Since some of their meals only need to be mixed with water and heated, Medifast is popular for people who are very busy and don’t have a lot of time to cook. It is also popular for the elderly or disabled who need complete meals that they can easily prepare on their own.
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The Medifast standard plan is the Achieve Plan which consists of 5 meals and 1 snack per day. These meals include 4 Medifast meals, 1 lean & green meal and an appropriate snacks. All of the food is provided by Medifast except for the lean & green meals which you make yourself.
These two meals are each a small portion of lean protein (5-7oz), healthy fat (0-2 servings) and 3 servings of Medifast-approved green vegetables.
The Medifast diet has been popular since the ’80s with excellent success when the diet is followed exactly. Despite this there are some reasons to look into an alternative.
For example, the expense of eating a Medifast diet is on the expensive side and may not be affordable for some.Others may be put off by the reliance on heavily processed foods or feel that the diet isn’t getting them the results they want.
Whatever your reason is to avoid Medifast, there are some alternatives to consider. Here are 3 successful diet options you can try out.
First Option: Nutrisystem
Nutrisystem is another Medifast alternative that is favored for it’s lack of calorie counting, similar to Weight Watchers. Each Nutrisystem meal and snack is the perfect portion size so you don’t need to worry about how much you’re eating, the number of carbs, keeping track of points, etc.
Nutrisystem meals are designed to deliver the exact nutrients you need to stay healthy. It has enough protein to keep your muscles in shape for regular exercise and the meals are very filling. They have high fiber and the use of low glycemic carbs means blood sugar will be balanced.
This diet also has a huge array of meals and snacks to choose from, with over 100 available right now. Another bonus is that the meals are free of artificial ingredients.
Just like Medifast, the creators of Nutrisystem believe in small meals spaced throughout the day. With this diet you will eat every few hours for a total of 6 meals a day. Nutrisystem has their own food products but you will also add your own fresh produce for added health and nutrition. This is similar to Medifast “lean & green” meal but with Nutrisystem you will get more whole foods.
Nutrisystem has excellent online support with diet and exercise trackers online and through an app. This diet is overall an excellent alternative because it sets you up for lifelong health.
Once you reach your target weight you can go into the Nutrisystem maintenance mode and eat more whole foods, so you don’t need to worry about being “locked in” forever. You can check out this offer and save 40% off your first two orders.
Second Option: Weight Watchers
It’s no surprise that one of the top alternatives to Medifast is the extremely popular Weight Watchers program. Weight Watchers continues to be one of the most popular diets out there and often competes with Medifast.
A huge, huge benefit of Weight Watchers is that it focuses on eating real foods. One of the common complaints about Medifast is having to eat such heavily processed foods, which many find gives them digestive issues. Not only do the meals taste better but it also helps to develop heating eating habits in the future.
Weight Watchers has a points system on foods in the PointsPlus categories. This technique isn’t mandatory but is great for people who struggle with tracking their meals. Instead the points techniques allows them to eat in a healthy way that doesn’t require a lot of work. This is a great option for the days or weeks you are very busy or on vacation.
Another advantage of Weight Watchers as an alternative is that the program focuses heavily on community. The diet isn’t just a fad but a new lifestyle change, including group support in meetings and online communities.
Psychologists find that group support can drastically increase the chances of success as it lowers cortisol levels from reduced stress. This is one reason why Weight Watchers seems to be so much more successful than other diets.
If you love to cook and are concerned about losing that passion from a diet like Medifast, Weight Watchers is a great solution. If you are very people-oriented and need some support to keep you focused, you will also be happy with this program.
Third Option: “Medifake” Diets
Those who like Medifast but, for whatever reason, do not want to purchase their foods can instead go the route of creating a “Medifake” diet. As you would guess, this DIY diet of sorts was developed to copy the Medifast diet but you supply your own foods instead. All nutritional guidelines of the original Medifast diet, such as calories, protein and carbohydrates, are followed.
Unlike commercial diets, it is difficult to determine how successful a “Medifake” diet will be as it depends on the person. There are plenty of instances of strict dieters successfully switching from Medifast to a copycat of their own with continued weight loss. If you are the kind of person who has good self-discipline and enjoys preparing food, this option would be perfect for you.
For a basic DIY Medifake you will want to follow these guidelines for meals:
- 1,000 to 1,300 calories per day (if you are a very petite person you can go down to 800 but no lower)
- 70 and 80 grams of protein per day (slightly more if you are dieting and doing intensive workouts, especially strength training)
- 60 to 70 grams of carbs per day
These numbers aren’t set in stone but you will of course want to stay as close to the Medifast diet requirements as possible. Also, try to continue with the plan of 5 meals a day plus a snack. Don’t go the whole day without eating just to gorge on a giant meal.
Try to breakdown your daily nutritional needs equally amongst the meals. For example, keep the snack calorie limit to about 100 and each real meal between 250 and 375.
To save time on meal prep, most “Medifakers” choose pre-made diet meals and shake mixes from the store. As long as you stay within nutritional limits, most healthy diet foods will work fine.
If you do go this route it wouldn’t be a bad idea to add some vitamins and protein supplements to your diet to ensure it is well rounded. A multivitamin, vitamin D and a high quality fish oil are good choices.
I’d also recommend checking out a well rounded super protein supplement, like Vega Sport.
Final Say: Medifast or Nutrisystem?
Medifast is still a popular diet with generally positive reviews but there is no single diet that will work for everyone, every time and in every situation.
If you are struggling to lose weight and Medifast isn’t an option, don’t worry.
If you are on a tight budget, my personal preference is the “medifake” approach, but I realize that for some people it’s easier to have a set regulated system. I get it.
If you prefer a “system” approach where you don’t have to plan too much, I’d recommend Nutrisystem as the best alternative (save 40% off here).These 3 alternatives are some of the best options. Remember to always consult your doctor before drastically changing your diet.