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Medifast Review: Do the Medifast weight loss programs work?

Can Medifast help you lose weight for an affordable price? And how tasty are those meals? Our expert testers will tell you everything we discovered!

Last Updated: Feb 11, 2020

Medifast Review

Some people are convinced that you can’t lose weight without experiencing hunger. But contrary to what we might expect, hunger can be counterproductive, causing the body to work against our weight loss efforts.

Medifast aims to take the hunger as well as the difficult planning and choices out of dieting. The company claims to offer programs that allow you to feel full while still losing weight. In other words, you eat frequently and avoid that awful feeling of hunger while still achieving your weight loss goals, and experts have done all of the nutritional calculations for you to make sure you’re getting all that you need from food.

So we wondered, do their plans work, and what’s it like to use Medifast? Our experts thoroughly tested Medifast for you. We’ll give you the pros, cons and all information about the Medifast process and products so that you can determine if it’s right for you.

Review Summary

Pros

  • Clinically proven to work, with studies to back it up.
  • Medifast’s science board carefully curates the programs.
  • Meals are convenient for people with little or no spare time.
  • Nutritional similarity among meals means they’re interchangeable.
  • Available plans for those with special dietary needs.
  • Money-back satisfaction guarantee.
  • Currently $100 off the Medifast GO! plan

Cons

  • Foods taste good and are filling, but they aren’t exactly like “normal” food.
  • Medifast is somewhat more expensive than alternatives.
  • Results are predictable but also gradual.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a safe, steady and clinically proven weight loss plan and have planned the budget to guarantee you can afford the program from start to finish (don’t abandon it!), then you’ll be happy with Medifast and the positive results you achieve. In particular, we recommend the Medifast GO! plan, because it sets a good pace for weight loss and is in our opinion the best value.

Our Top Picks

Medifast

Medifast offers safe and gradual weight loss programs that clinical studies have proven effective.

Most people with weight loss goals aren't sure how to structure a diet or plan meals for proper nutrition while dieting. Medifast is not free, but it is guided by scientific principles and proven to work. The small, frequent Medifast meals prevent hunger and promote weight loss.

Why You Should Trust Us

Innerbody recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary online. Over the past two decades, we have helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions involving staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles.

We extensively test, experience and order from each service we review. Our review of Medifast is no different. We try our best to give you, our readers, an unbiased exploration of at-home health services, free of marketing jargon or gimmicks. We evaluate the service based on our adherence to quality, the latest medical evidence and health standards, and a simple question: would we buy the product or service ourselves if it weren’t part of our job, and would we recommend it to family and friends?

Additionally this review of Medifast, like all health-related content on this website, was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.

How Medifast works

Medifast’s medical board carefully plans meal programs to deliver all of the necessary nutritional content while limiting daily caloric intake. The principle behind the success of Medifast’s meal planning is something called dietary ketosis . If you remove a lot of the carbohydrates from your diet, then your body will begin to burn more fat calories rather than sugar calories, thereby promoting fat loss in the body while retaining muscle mass. Medifast’s foods are rich in protein and fiber - which, by the way, is also part of why they allow you to feel more full than you might expect to feel from drinking a shake or eating an energy bar.

Medifast offers three plan options - two designed to lose weight and one designed to guide you in beginning to sustain that weight loss on your own.

  • Medifast GO!
  • Medifast Achieve
  • Thrive

The Medifast GO! option is the most accelerated program Medifast offers, and what that means is a rate of about 2-3 pounds lost per week. This isn’t a ‘burn fat fast’ kind of gimmicky program, but rather one carefully designed by scientists to promote sustainable, and safe, weight loss. The gradual nature of it is why we advise you to consider your weight loss goals and budget before beginning with Medifast; as long as it seems like a good fit for your goals, then you will be happy with the success (the program has been clinically proven effective).

Medifast’s board of science experts has also created plans for the following groups with special dietary needs:

  • Diabetic
  • Nursing moms
  • Gluten allergy
  • Vegetarian
  • Seniors

Shipping and refunds

When you subscribe to a plan, you’ll pay several hundred dollars and will receive a kit with supplies for an entire month of whichever plan you have purchased:

Medifast offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you aren’t satisfied by the product, you can return it within 30 days for a full refund. You just will need to pay shipping and handling in that case.

Now let’s explore the plans in greater detail.

Medifast GO!

This used to be called Medifast’s “5 & 1” plan. Now rebranded as Medifast GO!, the structure remains similar. It’s built around a 5:1 daily rhythm:

  • 5 Medifast premade meal replacements.
  • Then the 1 “Lean & Green” meal.

Keeping caloric intake between 800-1000 calories per day, Medifast’s GO! plan is its fastest weight loss program, though it’s still designed for gradual weight loss. Each day, you space your six meals out every 2-3 hours. Rates of weight loss vary quite a bit from person to person, but on average you should expect to lose 1-2 pounds of fat per week on this plan.

The five meals

Five meals sounds like a lot, but we believe many of you will think of them more as filling snacks. The principle here is one you might have heard elsewhere: you can lose weight by eating smaller, healthy meals more frequently throughout the day, as opposed to fewer but larger and less healthy meals. These five meals are high-protein and high fiber and we found that they do effectively curb hunger.

Meals vary from shakes to brownies to soups to potatoes. Just a few examples, to give you a better idea:

  • Chocolate Mint Crunch Bars.
  • Brownie Soft Bakes.
  • Wild Rice & Chicken Flavored Soup.
  • Ziti Marinara.
  • Original Pancakes.

Lean & Green

For the Lean & Green meal, there are two options:

  • You cook a meal based on simple Medifast recipes.
  • You buy a microwaveable “Flavors of Home” microwaveable meal from Medifast.

These Lean & Green meals are based on healthy recipes and will contain 5-7 ounces of protein and three servings of vegetables. The fat content depends on your protein choice but these will be healthy fats. In terms of protein, on this diet you might enjoy a 5-ounce lean steak or salmon filet, for example, or you might choose 7 ounces of catfish or lean ground turkey.

Cooking it yourself or opting for the pre-made microwaveable option is totally up to you and you’ll succeed either way. It all depends on your available time and schedule. But if you think there’s even a possibility you may discover you lack the time to do the right shopping or make even a quick meal on any given day - and might therefore feel the need to cheat on your diet by grabbing something else on the go - then we strongly recommend the microwaveable approach.

Pricing and shipment

  • Regular price: $451
  • With Medifast Advantage: $341 (saving you over $100)
  • Shipping: Free

You will receive a shipment containing all the Medifast Meals for 30 days, as well as a few bonus gifts. More on the Medifast Advantage program below. And for the same price, Medifast also offers a gluten-free option.

Medifast may introduce brand new deals at any time as well, so check current price here.

NOTE: If you go the route of ordering Medifast’s microwaveable Lean & Green meals, doing it in bulk (12 meals at a time) is the only way that we found this to be an economically viable path. Otherwise each meal costs about $30. Buying a 12-pack reduces the per-meal cost to just $5. That’s the right way to go!

Medifast Achieve

Restricting caloric intake to 1100-1300 calories per day, Medifast’s Achieve program is a more gradual path than GO! and contains all of the same essential nutritional content that you need each day.

Structurally, you still will eat six times each day, but the specifics of those meals is different and includes:

  • 4 Medifast meals, such as the shakes, soups, bars etc.
  • 2 of the Lean & Green meals, which you can either prepare from a recipe or procure from Medifast as quick, pre-made microwaveable meals.
  • 1 approved snack.

The approved snack can be enjoyed with one of your meals; as long as you follow Medifast’s instructions on serving size, you’ll have choices among starches, fruits, dairy, or Medifast’s own line of snacks.

Weight loss with the Achieve program is by design slower and steadier than GO! so, in our opinion, it’s something to consider if you have fewer pounds to lose or a desire to lose the weight over a longer period of time with a little less disruption of your regular lifestyle. For quick weight loss, however, you would do better with GO!

Pricing and shipment

  • Regular price: $413.55
  • With Medifast Advantage: $323 (saving you over $100)
  • Shipping: Free

For this price, you will receive a shipment containing:

  • All the Meals for 30 days.
  • 9 “Flavors of Home” samples (the microwaveable Lean & Green meals).
  • A few bonus gifts.

We appreciated that the kit included samples of the microwaveable options. This will help customers decide whether to buy more of them, or opt to cook from recipes, since the Achieve plan amounts to double the Lean & Green meals compared to the GO! plan.

Check current pricing to see if Medifast has introduced new deals. More details on the Medifast Advantage program can be found below.

Thrive

Ketogenic diets have been popular for years now and not everyone experiences success with them. Often they lose weight, only to find that they gain the weight back over time. And this is hardly just a ketogenic dieting experience, but common more broadly with dieting. It’s one of the biggest challenges and is precisely why Medifast offers their Thrive program.

Thrive is designed for transitioning back into normal meal planning. Its 3-2-1 meal cadence allows you to take back a little bit more control over your diet, but not all control. It’s part of the transition, maintaining healthy habits, and resuming normal dining in a controlled way - with careful consideration of your personal caloric burn throughout the day. How much energy you expend dictates what kind of “Lean & Green” or “Balanced” meal you will have.

During a typical Thrive day, you’ll eat three small Thrive meals, two Lean & Green meals, and one meal of your own devising. The Lean & Green meals will be familiar by now, but the Balanced meal concept is based around letting you start to prepare meals guides by what Medifast calls “Options”. At this point, our testers have grown a little tired of all of the Medifast terminology, but don’t worry: you can think of Options as types of food (like whole grain, fat, protein, etc) and your allowed options are based on the amount of calories you burn in the day. It’s a personalized and guided journey back into healthy food preparation, designed to equip you for long-term weight management on your own.

Pricing

But it isn’t cheap. This is, in our opinion, the least effective plan simply because its price gets, frankly, a little crazy. Your Thrive kit would include:

  • 2 Flavors of Home microwaveable meals.
  • 6 shakes (3 tasty flavors).
  • 1 pina colada smoothie.
  • 6 tasty bars.

That’s 13 Medifast meals and 2 Lean & Green microwaveable meals. It won’t last you long in this program and yet the price is over $300 before discounts. Even with the Medifast Advantage program discounts (see below), you’d be paying a hefty amount. That, in our minds, is not a great value.

Medifast Advantage program

Price breakdowns by program are described above, but you’ll notice discounted prices for the GO and Achieve plans, based on joining the Medifast Advantage program. Let’s explore what this means. Joining is free but the discount amounts and structure require explaining.

Joining the Medifast Advantage program allows you to enjoy ongoing discounts that depend on the value of your orders and automatic renewal. And it’s also why planning out the likely duration of your Medifast investment will help you in the long run (in this case, helping you save money).

For instance, let’s say your goal is to lose 15 pounds and you intend to do so with the GO! plan. In this case, the average rates of weight loss on Medifast GO! tell us you should plan on at least 8 weeks of the GO! plan (possibly a couple weeks longer). This means it makes sense to apply for Medifast Advantage and auto-renew the plan for a second month, and make your purchases for the entire month each time. Why? Because Advantage lets you get 10% back on your first order of more than $250, once your second shipment is fulfilled. That will save you more than $100 on your first order. Not only that, but you’ll get free shipping on both orders, since they exceed $250, and if you need more than 8 weeks, you’ll get the same discount applied retroactively to your second month’s order as well.

That’s an example of how Medifast Advantage can help you save money, if you plan ahead and understand your plan commitment at the outset.

Final thoughts

It took a fair bit of time to test Medifast, because the results by design are healthy and gradual, in order to successfully reprogram a person’s body to lose weight and maintain that weight loss. But we found Medifast’s programs to work as advertised. The Medifast GO! program feels like the winner to us, but again, be sure to work out your budget for the likely full duration of a plan at the outset, to make sure you can commit to the ongoing cost and can make your purchases in the most cost-effective manner. If you can’t commit to the length of the program, then this likely isn’t the right path for you, because success comes from commitment for the duration. No shortcuts!

What criteria do we use to judge health service companies?

At Innerbody, we customize our evaluation criteria depending on the type and nature of the health-related service. For Medifast and other meal programs, we have five areas that we use for our evaluations, including:

Variety of meal options: How well does the meal service accommodate people with different dietary goals and tastes? It’s important that we can eat what we like to eat.

Nutritional value: Does the meal service operate with a firm grasp of nutritional needs of its customers?

Flavor: Do the meals taste good? Simple question, but if the answer is no, then nothing else matters!

Value: Are you getting your money’s worth? Are there any hidden costs or charges? Does the company offer discounts?

Customer support: How well does the company help you make the service ideal for you, with your unique dietary needs and lifestyle/routine considerations? How easy is it to plan and receive the meals delivered to your home?

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