Weight Loss, a dreaded and not so easy topic.
If you ask anyone, "would you like to be fit?" the answer will 90% be a resounding YES!
Many people are always excited to start their weight loss journey. But, especially those with obesity, find these changes pretty overwhelming and difficult to stick to without planning and dedication.
Why? It can seem like you only need to work out for a few days, lose a few kilos, and you are good to go, but that's not all; there's a lot to consider. Apart from workouts, you should also be keen on your calorie count and record your progress towards achieving your weight loss goals.
In 1974, Novartis Medical Nutrition Corporation saw the need to create Optifast, a weight loss program that would help anyone to lose extra weight quickly, keep track of their progress, and maintain a perfect level of fitness. Is it worth it?
This review will comprehensively discuss everything you need to know about Optifast and its range of products. You will learn about the side effects, the cost, benefits, who should use Optifast, if it's a good program, and if it's worth your time among others.
Let's get started. You may also be interested in reading about taking super greens for improving health.
Our unbiased review is based on published success stories, weight-loss contests, real customer feedback, and a trials by the curavita Australia team.
What Is Optifast?
Optifast is a liquid-based weight loss program that is medically-supervised, monitored and assessed to help achieve maximum results towards better health and emotional well-being.
The program includes the following services and perks:
- Ongoing personalized support.
- Low-calorie meal replacement diet.
- Lifestyle education.
- Certified medical supervision is made regularly.
- Psychological counseling.
What Is A VLCD (Very Low-Calorie Diet (VLCD)?
A VLCD is any diet that has low carbohydrates, usually 1000 or fewer calories per day. The diet still consists of sufficient protein, carbohydrates, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals for safe and fast weight loss. Also known as VLEDs or Very Low Energy Diets, they have proven to be very effective in assisting medically at-risk patients who are required to cut weight drastically.
Note: VLCDs are best for people with a BMI of 30+. Patients with a BMI between 27 and 30 or less are not advised to use low-calorie diets unless they have underlying medical conditions related to their weight, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
Is Optifast a good way to lose weight?
This mostly depends on your needs. If you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle or shed off a few lbs, we recommend that you try it. Get the Active 2 plan or Active 1 plan as both are not intensive to make you feel like you want to quit. Typically, you will lose more weight in the first week but don't get over-excited yet. If you want to gauge how much weight you will lose, use the second and or two consecutive weeks.
How much weight should you lose on Optifast?
OPTIFAST® VLCD™ Programs have shown to consistently achieve a rapid weight loss of between 1-2.5kgs each week. Mark, one of our team members saw a variation in the weight loss: he lost more weight during the weeks he was more active in cycling compared to when he was at home. That means using Optifast products without exercising (for one hour as recommended) might not give you the best results.
What is an OPTIFAST VLCD Program?
The OPTIFAST VLCD Program is a science-based program composed of a very low-calorie diet but nutritionally complete. It consists of four categories: Intensive Level, Active 2 Level, Active 1 Level, and Maintenance Level.
Each Optifast product and the variety of meal replacements, including soups, snacks, desserts, shakes, and bars, contain specially formulated vitamins and minerals.
The Intensive Level
The Intensive Level is a Very Low-Calorie Diet (VLCD) designed for rapid, initial, and significant weight loss. For this stage, the Program runs for no longer than 12 weeks. The patients/users undergo a total diet replacement providing 600-800 calories per day.
Patients interested in getting started in this phase are encouraged to schedule meetings with their medical providers for effective assessment, monitoring, and counseling.
Daily Program Requirements.
- Three OPTIFAST VLCD products. (For breakfast, lunch & dinner)
- Two liters of water.
- One teaspoon of vegetable oil.
- Two cups of low starch vegetables.
The intensive level induces ketosis to help the body to drastically achieve a massive initial weight loss while preserving lean body mass.
"If, after 12 weeks, you still have significant weight to lose, follow the Transition Phase for a minimum of 2 weeks before repeating the Intensive phase. Alternatively, seek advice by a Healthcare Professional on how to stay longer."
Tips: To hit your goals, avoid eating high carbohydrate vegetables. View all the allowed foods on the Program here.
OPTIFAST VLCD Program Active 2 Level
Unlike the intensive level, which works by inducing ketosis, this stage works purely by restricting calorie intake to approximately 800-1000 calories per day. It requires 4 to 6 weeks to transition to a healthier, long-term, and balanced food-based diet. However, the time spent on this level sometimes depends on your lifestyle needs and weight loss goals.
Daily Program Requirements.
- 2 Optifast VLCDs (to replace two meals).
- At least 2 cups of low starch vegetables.
- One healthy meal (approximately 350 calories).
- Two liters of water or calorie-free fluids.
- One serve of fruit (approximately 70 calories).
- One serve of dairy (approximately 100 calories).
If combined with regular exercise, you can expect to lose 1-2kgs per week gradually. If you would like to skip the intensive level or find it too restrictive, this is the perfect level to achieve significant weight loss.
OPTIFAST VLCD Program Active 1 Level
Active 1 Stage of the OPTIFAST VLCD Program restricts dieters to 1000-1200 calories per day. Like Active 2, the time spent on this level also depends on your lifestyle needs and weight loss goals.
For this level, you replace one meal with an OPTIFAST VLCD product and include two healthy meals (approximately 350 calories each).
Daily Program Requirements:
- Two or more cups of low starch vegetables.
- Two liters of water or calorie-free fluids.
- Two serves of fruit (70 calories each).
- One cup of milk (100 calories).
In this level, the OPTIFAST VLCD products are eliminated, and other moderate-calorie meals are introduced. This level also requires moderate exercise to maintain your goal weight and prevent any shed kilos from creeping back.
The daily dietary intake of around 1500 calories per day consists of:
- 3 meals (approximately 350 calories each).
- 1 serve of dairy.
- 2 liters of water.
- At least 2 cups of low-starch vegetables.
- 2 serves of fruit.
Note: It is not a must to start with the intensive level. Start at the phase that best suits your needs and weight loss goals.
Can I eat other foods when on the Optifast Program?
Yes, you can. However, you are advised only to eat vegetables or greens powders, fruits, or foods with a pre-determined number of calories. Each Optifast VLCD stage has its requirements. You can read more on allowed vegetables and additional food allowances here.
How Much Does Optifast Cost?
The OPTIFAST® program's cost varies based on the city, clinic, and the specific plan that you are assigned to. The average price for Optifast products is about $150 every week, which translates to over $2500 per month, but this is not a definitive figure. It can be lower or higher, depending on your goals.
Who Should Try Optifast?
Optifast is specially designed to help:
- People who suffer from excessive weight and related health complications (aged between 20 and 50 years old).
- Overweight people who might need urgent bariatric medical intervention;
- Patients who have to drastically lose a lot of weight for the gastric surgery to be successful.
- Healthy but overweight individuals who are interested in improving their lifestyle and eating habits.
Note: All patients are advised to go through a thorough health screening to see if the diet plan might harm their health.
Is Optifast worth the money?
Every coin - especially for medically at-risk patients who must lose excess weight to lower their risk of weight-related illnesses. There might be other options for others seeking to maintain a healthy weight, but Optifast experience and the record remain unbeaten.
Pros and Cons of Optifast
- A wide range of products, from shakes, soups, desserts, snacks, and bars.
- You are not confined to drinking the same weight-loss shake each day; Optifast serves various flavors across all their products.
- It helps overweight and obese people to reduce their weight quickly.
- It encourages people to be conscious of their lifestyle choices and eating habits.
- Besides helping you shed weight, Optifast products contain healthy ingredients that also work well for your mental health.
- It can be costly. While the products may not be expensive, the doctors and nutritionists who monitor progress and eating habits can cost about $3,000. An amount that might not be so-not-affordable for everyone.
- The Optifast diet plan is severe and challenging. Many people end up cheating and taking foods that slag their progress.
- While their products are known to be sweet, some customers have complained about the taste. (an issue that is said to be solved by adding ice or iced water when you mix the shakes).
What are the side effects of Optifast?
At a glance, the Optifast program seems to be pretty safe, but here are some of the side effects that you should expect:
- lack of concentration,
- nausea and headaches, among others.
The transition to ketosis mostly causes these side effects. Most symptoms usually pass by days 4-6 days. If the symptoms persist, consult a healthcare professional for advice on how to overcome them before coming off the program.
The Optifast shakes are ready to drink formulas that are full of protein, fiber, and 25 essential vitamins plus minerals like potassium, protein, sodium, etc. The shake is formulated to keep you feeling fuller for a more extended period. All you need to prepare these beverages is to combine them with cold water or low-fat milk, shake and you are good to go!
Shakes are available in six delicious flavors: vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, banana, caramel, and coffee.
Can't stay away from regular chocolate & sweets? Try Optifast ready to eat nutritional bars that are high in fiber and protein. The bars are wholesome to provide you the energy you need for four hours. The bars can be consumed as snacks or used as a complete meal replacement.
They come in three different flavors: chocolate, berry crunch, and cappuccino.
Optifast instant cream-soups probably have the most mixed reactions from users. Some users claim that they are quite tasty, while others have complained about how badly these soups taste. Personally, I didn't like the taste of the soup at all, but I found that adding a few herbs made the soup tastier and healthier!
To make the soup, warm about half a bowl of water, add the ingredients, and stir. If your water boils, you can add your preferred herbs and let it cool down before adding the soup ingredients.
Optifast soups are available in three distinct styles: OPTIFAST VLCD Country Style Tomato Soup, OPTIFAST VLCD Chicken Flavour Soup, and OPTIFAST VLCD Vegetable Soup.
Tip: Don't let the soup to get cold. It does not taste good at all.
Desserts are definitely the best items in the Optifast product range. They are delicious and easy to make. Everybody loves them, especially kids making it an easy way to keep your family healthy! Whisk, chill and enjoy!
Optifast desserts are available in two styles: OPTIFAST VLCD Chocolate Dessert and OPTIFAST VLCD Lemon Crème Dessert.
How long does it take to lose weight on Optifast?
Committing to your Optifast VLCD has shown to be very useful in helping people shed weight fast. For instance, when in the Intensive Level of the OPTIFAST VLCD, it’s easy to lose a lot of weight within 12 weeks.
Although there have been skeptical concerns regarding the Optifast Formula diet, most people find the Program feasible and more manageable. Hunger, which is usually the primary concern, typically goes away after the first week or so. After a few days, many patients report feeling more energetic than they have for a long time. This can be attributed to the balanced diet, decreased weight, increased activity level, and stable blood sugar levels.
Some of the other key benefits to using Optifast diet plans include:
- Helps with weight loss
- Provides adequate nutritional support.
- Saves you time as the meals are easy to prepare.
- Provides maintenance support for long-term results.
Meal replacement weight-loss products often get a bad rap. People think that they are bad for your health in the long-term.
While it might be right for some products, Optifast is medically-supervised, and it has proven to work for over four decades! If you do not want to fully commit to the program but want a quick fix after a workout session, some ready-to-drink meal replacement shakes and packaged bars are good options for immediate fuel.