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  • Writer's pictureEmily Sicinski, MS, RDN, CDN

5 Reasons Why We Would Never Recommend Optavia

In the beginning months of the new year, it is common to develop a “resolution” mindset where we create a list of all the habits we want to change for the new year. Oftentimes, diet and health find their way to the top of that list. It is important to make sure that while setting your goals for the new year that you don’t fall into the trap of fad dieting. In this article, I plan to write about one of the most popular fad diets out there, Optavia, and 5 reasons why us dietitians would never recommend following it.


Optavia is a low-calorie, low-carb fad diet marketed for weight loss. The program consists of Optavia “fuelings” which are pre-prepared items purchased from the company. The diet also consists of 1-2 home-prepared meals, which include about 3 servings of green vegetables and 5-7 ounces of protein. Although Optavia might sound appealing, easy, and effective for weight loss, there are many reasons why us dietitians feel it is not destined for success. Here's why:



1. Hello, Hunger! Optavia allows for consistent feeding times throughout the day, but the portion sizes the company actually provides are rather small. Each fueling weighs approximately 32-35 grams, which is less weight than a standard granola bar. Optavia is hypocaloric, or low-calorie, and the serving sizes provided are much smaller than what our eyes and stomach are used to. This could lead to increased feelings of hunger throughout the day and staring at the clock just waiting for your next opportunity to eat. We all know what being “hangry” feels like, and there’s a good chance you’ll be feeling it throughout your time trying to follow Optavia. No, thanks!


2. Dangerously Low Calorie. The optavia diet can be far lower in calories than what most people are used to eating. And in some cases, the drastic shift in calories can lead to some serious and unwanted side effects. Gallstones, hormone imbalances, fatigue, diminished metabolism, and depression are just a few of the side effects found to be associated with following very low calorie diets. Most Optavia plans fall within the 800-1300 calorie range, which can be less than half of some adults’ basal energy needs.


3. Easy… but expensive. Optavia makes it easy to follow their program because all you really have to do is buy their food products. The program itself relies very little on actual cooking. Although you may not be spending as much on groceries, the fuelings provided by the company do not come cheap. Optavia fuelings can cost hundreds of dollars - on average, a whopping $425 per month. When you decide it’s time to transition off the diet, Optavia recommends continuously purchasing their fuelings for success. Sounds like a sure way for a company to continue making money while bleeding your wallet dry!


4. Lacks Long Term Success. Did you know there’s actually very little research behind Optavia and its effects on long-term weight loss? Only a handful of studies have taken place which look at the effectiveness of low-calorie, low-carb diets on diet on long-term weight loss. Most studies don’t look beyond one year after diet completion, and unfortunately, most of these studies showed most participants regain their weight back.


5. Harms your Relationship with Food. One of the biggest reasons why dietitians don’t like Optavia is because its restrictive nature can harm your overall relationship with food. When so many food items become forbidden, it is a natural response to crave these items later on, which can lead to binge eating and feelings of guilt and shame. It is important to remember that all foods fit in moderation, and with a combination of good nutrition habits, exercise and lifestyle change, it is more likely for you to achieve a realistic weight goal without tarnishing your relationship with food.


If you’re thinking of shaping up your nutrition this year, remember that fad diets like Optavia are restrictive, expensive, unsustainable, and very unlikely to give you the results you’re looking to achieve long-term. It is important to take a wide-lens approach to determine what factors might be influencing your health overall - diet, genetics, physical activity, sleep, stress, and hydration are just a few. Instead of pouring hundreds of dollars into a program that has little actual success rates, consider consulting with a local dietitian to assess your current health and nutrition patterns to achieve more sustainable, long-term success.


Until Next Time,

Emily Sicinski, MS, RDN, CDN

51,667 views19 comments

19 Comments


Lisa Koppelman
Lisa Koppelman
Jul 06

I did the Medifast in 2011 and lost 50 lbs., 15 lbs the first two weeks. Seeing results kept me going. Kept it off for for 13 years. Age changes metabolism. About a year ago, my weight crept to 168, then 183. I have chronic pain, back, knee and hip. The weight does not help. I am a Travel Agent and I take groups to Costa Rica, with a trip coming up in October so I need to drop that weight. I also would like to feel confident in a swim suit. Just started the program four days ago and down 6 lbs. For me, its psycological as well as physical. I'm motivated, seeing results and eating healthier at …

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Marie Scopa
Marie Scopa
16 hours ago
Replying to

Lisa..

I'm encouraged by your commitment

And Beleiving you can make it happen..

I too just started 1 month ago and down 6 lbs..19 pounds more to go

But feel great with no real cravings I can't handle..


On a second note..ive been to Costa Rica 2 yrs ago for 14 day

And would love to go back with a group..

Do u have an extra space for me in October?

Mariescopa@gmail.com

Text 864 915 8830

Blessings


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garryellis64
May 01

So just to clarify some things regarding this post:


One I know people personally who lost 50 to 100 pounds in 3-6 months depending on where they started. Not a single person reported feeling hungry through the day because their feelings aren't just calorically designed for weight loss but also carry all of the vitamins and nutrition needed in a normal day of functioning. So you're actually not hungry throughout the day. Thats actually what set this apart from me. I don't need to rely on willpower because Im actually not fighting hunger. Second of all, there's so much medical research to back this program up and up until insurance policies changed, this was referred clinically and funded by insurance…


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Z K
Z K
Dec 28, 2023

Lots of coaches commenting feeling the need to justify I guess… Good habits, lots of exercise. It works. Looking for the easy way out is never going to work. Ironically though becoming a coach probably helps you keep the weight off as your own body becomes marketing so you have to. However, most people are not looking for a job becoming a coach in an MLM system…

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ann6410606
Dec 12, 2023

I have been on Optavia for approx 1 year and have lost 50lbs. Recently I have been feeling sick and my digestion is a mess. I needed to consult a gastroenterologist who suggested this is not a good food plan for long term weight loss and actually harmful in the long run. The so-called fuelings lack any real nutritional value and may even contain lead. The overly processed fuelings have been a gastric nightmare with chronic constipation and bloating with nausea. I am fearful of gaining the weight back but feel this is not a healthy plan. I may consult a nutritionist. I did not find my coach very helpful and felt scolded because she does not possess any rea…

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sjmrn11
Apr 20
Replying to

It’s not intended for long term

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Matthew Mark Shinn
Matthew Mark Shinn
Oct 21, 2023

Angel and i both lost weight

we were eating 4000 calories/day

we lost over 100 in 15 wks

my life style had to change

optavia help us and now we get to help others

we have a active program now with work out amino's and protein shakes awesome

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Donia Donia
Donia Donia
3 days ago
Replying to

You were eating 4000 calories a day? You would not lose weight eating that many calories - I’m sorry but I call BS.

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