No joke – over 50% of diet products simply don’t work. So what about the Medifast diet? Here at DietSpotlight, we decided to conduct an in-depth review, closely examining the product’s side effects, ingredients, customer service quality and scientific studies. Plus we scrutinized hundreds of user comments, which are posted all over the internet. Lastly, we summarized all the facts and details to give you the bottom line. Grab a pen and start taking notes!
What is Medifast?
Medifast is one of the most popular diet systems of all time. Not many other diets can make the claims that this weight loss program can – it’s been recommended by over 20,000 doctors and has been helping people lose weight for nearly four decades!
That’s something that made me sit up and take notice, and you should give it some serious consideration too. The Medifast program and meal-replacement products have been clinically proven to promote significant weight loss and to help with weight maintenance. 
Dr. William Vitale created the Medifast diet. You are expected to eat specific food portions. Meals are delivered to your home on a regular basis. The menu consists of soups, entrees, bars, sides, shakes and high-protein foods.
According to the official website, there are three primary plans available: the Achieve Weight Loss Plan, Thrive Healthy Living Plan and Medifast for Special Diets. Each day you can have four meals, one healthy snack and two lean and green meals. There are more than 70 different choices from which to select.
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Medifast Quick Facts Chart
- Worth/Revenue (year): 285.3 million USD (2014)
- Founder & CEO: Daniel R. Chard
- Headquarters: Owings Mills
- Business style: Multi-Level Marketing (“MLM”)
- Number of employees (year): 808 (2014)
- Type: Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD)
– Founded in 1980
– Owns five subsidiaries: Jason Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Jason), Take Shape for Life, Inc. (TSFL), Jason Enterprises, Inc., Jason Properties, LLC and Seven Crondall, LLC 
- Sales model: call centers, online advertising, MLM distributors, collaborations with doctors
- Dropout/success rates: lack of public data.
What Can You Eat on the Medifast Diet?
You won’t be starving or anything like that on the Medifast diet; in fact, the diet plans require you to have a snack or two every day to curb food cravings. Along with your daily meal-replacing bars and shakes, you’ll be eating plenty of real foods like these:
- Sirloin steak
- Chicken breast
- Pork tenderloin
- Salad greens
- Green beans
Does Medifast Work, and How?
Medifast does work – that’s why it’s been around for almost 40 years and is still going strong. Like all effective weight loss plans, this one is going to require some effort and self-discipline. You’ll need to phase out your junk foods and change your eating habits.
Medifast “works by encouraging the body to enter a fat-burning mode, which is accomplished by consuming specially-prepared meal replacements, and other approved foods.”
You’ll need to prepare some healthy foods or pay someone else to do it at a restaurant. But if you just follow the plan, research shows that you’ll lose weight.
Medifast follows basic, proven principles of weight loss. You eat a reduced-calorie diet that is nutritionally balanced and includes plenty of low-glycemic carbs, lean proteins and modest amounts of healthy fats.
The meal-replacement bars and shakes offer similar caloric and nutritional profiles, so they are interchangeable. That’s a big selling point for me right there because sometimes you feel like a shake, and sometimes you don’t!
According to WebMD, “Daily exercise is encouraged, but the program doesn’t offer a specific workout. Make your workouts half as long and half as intense while your body adjusts to getting fewer calories.”
But, the problem with any weight loss plan is that people tend to regain those lost pounds once they stop the diet because they simply return to their old eating habits which made them gain weight in the first place.
If you want to achieve permanent weight loss, you need to change your lifestyle – especially your eating behaviors.
What are the Benefits of the Medifast Diet?
Since the Medifast diet has you eating wholesome, nutritious foods at every meal, that’s going to have a positive impact on your health in some ways. In fact, research showed Medifast benefits include not only weight loss, but a reduction in inflammation and oxidative stress as well, as these are two of the primary causes of chronic illness.
But, of all the Medifast benefits, the main one you’re interested in is weight loss. Research and customer reviews both say that this diet delivers. 
Another good thing about Medifast is that it’s a proven system with actual research to support its claims, unlike some new miracle diet pills out there that lack actual testing and scientific support.
It’s a solid, nutrient-dense plan packed with vitamins based on durable principles of nutrition and weight loss – and it’s backed by studies to show that it can help you lose weight.
But let’s talk about the food again.
Remember: Medifast diet food isn’t just all about diet shakes and low-calorie candy bars. Yes, those meal-replacement supplements are in there as a foundation of the program, but you’re filling in all the gaps with real food – lean meats and fresh vegetables.
You do not have to feel hungry on this diet – ever! You’ll be given lists of low-glycemic carbs and lean proteins to round out your diet. Stock up on them and you’ll do just fine.
The plan also allows food substitutions for those of you who are transitioning away from meat, eggs and dairy. There is a variety of seafood options like tuna, cod, salmon and shrimp.
Eggs are also on the menu. For vegans, there’s tofu instead of meat and eggs. So there is quite a bit of flexibility with this diet plan.
Below we’ve listed all the different types of products and plans you have access to through the Medifast diet:
Thrive by Medifast (Medifast Shakes and Bars)
Medifast shakes and Medifast Bars are available through the official website.
- Dutch chocolate
- French vanilla
- Orange cream
- Cookie dough
- Peanut butter chocolate chip
- Caramel crunch
Medifast Weight-Loss Plans
Medifast GO!™ 30-Day Kit
This kit contains a whole month of meals – 154 Medifast Meals to be exact – as well as a wide variety of quick options, and just-add-water low-fuss microwave meals. The kit also contains a Welcome Kit, which includes a starting-up guide, a plan guide and a monthly food journal.
Some of the meals that the Medifast GO!™ 30-Day Kit contains are:
- Brownie Soft Bakes
- Chicken Flavored Noodle Soup
- Wild Rice & Chicken Flavored Soup
- Chili Nacho Cheese Puffs
- Chocolate Chip Soft Bakes
- Chocolate Pudding
- Oatmeal Raisin Crunch Bars
- Original Pancakes
- Peanut Butter Crunch Bars
- S’mores Crunch Bars
- Sour Cream & Chive Mashed Potatoes
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Medifast Flex™ 30-Day Select Kit
From the Medifast website: “The Medifast Flex™ 30-Day Select Kit is the perfect blend of Medifast on-the-go favorites.”
The 30-Day Select Kit contains a total of 126 meals or 18 Medifast boxes. It also comes with the Welcome Kit (Start-Up Guide, Plan Guide and 30-Day Food Journal) as well as 9 Flavors of Home™ lean and green meals and 3 additional Flavors of Home™ meals.
Bonus Item Details:
- 9 Flavors of Home™ (2 Chicken Cacciatore, 2 Beef Stew, 3 Chicken with Rice and Vegetables and 2 Turkey Meatball Marinara)
- 3 Additional Flavors of Home™* (1 Turkey Meatball Marinara*, 1 Beef Stew* and 1 Chicken Cacciatore*)
- Medifast Flex™ Welcome Kit, including Start-Up Guide*, 30-Day Food Journal and Plan Guide*
- Medifast Dining Out Guide*
- Healthy Living Workbook*
- Medifast Blender Bottle*
*Only included with the first Medifast Advantage® order.
Medifast Flex™ 30-Day Complete Kit
The largest and most expensive monthly kit includes 18 boxes of customer favorites – a total of 126 meals, or 138 servings. The Complete Kit also comes packed with several extras like 13 Flavors of Home™ lean and green meals and a Welcome Kit.
Bonus Item Details:
- 13 Flavors of Home™ (3 Chicken Cacciatore, 2 Beef Stew, 2 Chicken with Rice and Vegetables, 2 Turkey Meatball Marinara, 2 Chili Lime Chicken, and 2 Ginger Lemongrass Chicken)
- Essential 1 Heart Health supplements
- Probiotic Dietary supplements
- Digestive Enzyme supplements
- Medifast Flex™ Welcome Kit, including Start-Up Guide*, 30-Day Food Journal and Plan Guide*
- Healthy Living Workbook*
- Medifast Blender*
- A Medifast Blender Bottle*
- Medifast Dining Out Guide*
- Cheddar & Sour Cream Popcorn*
- Rosemary Sea Salt Crackers*
- Parmesan & Olive Oil Crisps*
*Only included with the first Medifast Advantage® order.
Lean & Green Medifast Meals
The Medifast website says you can have your lean and green meals whenever:breakfast, lunch, dinner, or in between—whatever suits you best: “Every lean and green meal includes 5 to 7 oz. of lean protein, plus three servings of vegetables and up to two servings of healthy fats, depending on your lean protein choices.
You put it all together to create an “official lean and green meal” or you can break it up throughout the day to reach your daily nutritional requirement.”
Choose a 5-oz portion (cooked weight) – no Healthy Fat serving added.
- Fish: salmon, tuna (bluefin steak), farmed catfish, mackerel, herring
- Lean beef: steak, roast, ground
- Pork chop or pork tenderloin
- Ground turkey or other meat: 85–94%lean
- Chicken or turkey: dark meat
- Meatless options: tofu or beans
Choose a 6-oz portion (cooked weight) plus 1 Healthy Fat serving.
- Fish: swordfish, trout, halibut
- Chicken: breast or white meat, without skin
- Ground turkey or other meat: 95 – 97% lean
- Turkey: light meat
- Meatless options: tofu or beans
Choose a 7-oz portion (cooked weight) plus 2 Healthy Fat servings.
- Fish: cod, flounder, haddock, orange roughy, grouper, tilapia, mahi-mahi, tuna (yellowfin steak or canned in water), wild catfish
- Shellfish: crab, scallop, shrimp, lobster
- Game meat: deer, buffalo, elk
- Ground turkey or other meat: ≥ 98% lean
- Meatless options: EggBeaters, Boca Burger Morningstar Farms or Garden Burger.
- 1 cup: collards (fresh/raw), endive, lettuce (green leaf, butterhead, iceberg, romaine), mustard greens, spinach (fresh/raw), spring mix, watercress.
- 1 ⁄2 cup: celery, cucumbers, white mushrooms, radishes, sprouts (alfalfa, mung bean), turnip greens, arugula, nopales, escarole, jalapeño (raw), Swiss chard (raw).
- 1 ⁄2 cup: Asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, fennel bulb, kale, portabella mushrooms, cooked spinach, summer squash (scallop or zucchini).
- 1 ⁄2 cup: Broccoli, red cabbage, collard or mustard greens (cooked), green or wax beans, kohlrabi, okra, peppers (any color), scallions (raw), summer squash (crookneck or straightneck), tomatoes (red, ripe), turnips, spaghetti squash, hearts of palm, jicama (cooked), Swiss chard (cooked)
The Medifast website provides some healthy alternatives to alcohol as well as healthier drink ideas.
Use low- or no-calorie mixers such as club soda or diet soda
- The fewer ingredients – the better!
- Avoid using flavored vodkas or spiced rums because they tend to contain extra sugar
- Choose drinks with no added sugar or salt (even on the rim!)
- Avoid juice mixers
- The beer with the lowest calorie count is Michelob Ultra with 64 calories
Tips for Medifast Recipes
Dozens of Medifast recipes are also available in a cookbook sold by the company. You don’t have to follow their recipes though, as long as the macronutrient proportions and serving sizes remain consistent with the program requirements.
You can combine your choice of one item from your lean protein list with three items from the veggie list and add whatever calorie-free seasonings your palette desires.
Buffalo Chicken Macaroni & Cheese
- 1 packet Medifast Macaroni & Cheese
- 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 1 3 oz can chicken breast, packed in water, drained
- 2 queso fresco chipotle spreadable cheese wedges
- 1/2 tsp hot sauce
- 1 tbsp chopped scallions (optional)
- Empty Medifast Macaroni & Cheese contents into a microwave-safe bowl.
- Add chicken broth; stir well.
- Microwave on high for 11/2 minutes; stir, and then let stand one minute.
- Microwave 45 to 60 seconds on high (watch carefully to prevent overflowing).
- Stir in cheese wedges until melted, and then the chicken (shred with a fork as needed).
- Wait for 3 to 4 minutes for sauce to thicken and pasta to finish cooking. Drizzle with hot sauce, and
garnish with scallions if desired.
“Baked Ziti” Zucchini Zoodles
- 2 Medium Zucchinis
- 1 cup Canned Tomatoes
- 3 Tablespoons Low Fat Ricotta Cheese
- 3 Tablespoons Low Fat Mozzarella Cheese
- 1 Pound Ground Turkey
- A Teaspoon Minced Garlic
- 1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
- Hot Chile Pepper (optional but awesome!)
- Use spiralizer to make zucchini noodles, drain and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- With a large ovenproof frying pan or medium dutch oven, cook the turkey and olive oil on medium heat for about 15 – 20 minutes.
- Push turkey to the edges to create a well in the middle, add garlic and canned tomatoes.
- Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook on lowest setting covered for 30 minutes.
- Uncover and reduce sauce to just slightly thicker than a normal tomato sauce, the zucchini will give off liquid to thin to the right consistency.
- Place zucchini in, and stir to combine everything together.
- Top first with ricotta in teaspoon allotments and distribute mozzarella over top evenly.
- Cook in the oven at 400 uncovered for 15-20 minutes until zoodles are tender.
- Before serving, let rest for 10 minutes.
Spinach, Tomato & Turkey Pizza
Is There a Medifast Alternative That Works?
Medifast is a meal-replacement diet centered around nutritionally-fortified shakes and snack bars, and there are a number of similar products on the market that make use of these types of food products for weight reduction.
- Nutrisystem is a weight loss plan that provides controlled ready foods as well as food suggestions. It says it is supported by four decades of happy, slimmer customers
- Isagenix is a meal-replacing shake said to support muscle growth and help with weight loss. It contains 23 vitamins and minerals, and 24 grams of protein.
- Slimfast is a popular Medifast alternative. Slimfast offers weight loss shakes and snack bars that are also fortified with vitamins and minerals to support your nutritional needs while following a reduced-calorie diet.
The shakes and bars are available in the health and diet-food sections of most supermarkets. You can also purchase these online and, like Medifast, Slimfast products are available without a doctor’s prescription.
- Slimgenix Pro is a dietary supplement whose ingredients include raspberry ketone and green coffee bean extract. It meant to amp up metabolism, lower cholesterol levels, reduce appetite, boost energy and help with digestion.
Where are Medifast Locations?
If you’re looking to connect with weight loss coaches and fellow dieters for some moral support, in-person accountability and a sense of community, you’ll be happy to know that there are Medifast locations – dubbed Medifast Weight Loss Centers – in six states:
Their trained staff are available for one-on-one consultations and can help you track your weight, waistline and body part measurements along with changes in your body composition.
They can help you identify unhealthy eating habits that contribute to weight gain and give you strategies to overcome those challenges.
You can search the official website for specific locations in your state or call Medifast toll-free at 1-888-523-8746.
The Medifast nutrition plan helps you lose weight effectively by controlling your macronutrient combinations and lowering calories while keeping hunger and food cravings in check through frequent meal-replacement shakes and snack bars along with real food.
Total calories are around 800-1,000 per day, creating a caloric deficit that pushes your bodyweight down. It’s not as low-carb as the ketogenic diet or the paleo diet since some starchy carbs are allowed.
But, carbs are reduced enough so that your body will shift toward burning body fat for energy within the first few days on a diet. The meals are also very low in fat and moderately high in protein.  
The Medifast website contains extensive information about its nutrient-dense plans and meals.
LiveStrong has a breakdown of the different ingredients that are used in Medifast meals :
Fats, Proteins and Carbohydrates: They note that some shakes are sources of unhealthy trans fats, but that most Medifast meals are protein-heavy, from “soy protein isolate, milk protein isolate and egg whites.” They also note that some products get their carbs from “wheat flour, although other products are gluten-free for people who are sensitive to gluten, a protein in wheat. Sugars in Medifast include corn syrup and fructose. Inulin and gum arabic are ingredients that add dietary fiber.”
Vitamins, Minerals and Flavorings: “Each serving provides about 20 percent of the daily value for most vitamins and minerals, so if you eat the five Medifast meals that the Five and One Plan recommends, you will probably meet your needs.” However, they also note that many Medifast meals contain salt and sugar substitutes (“erythritol, a sugar alcohol, and sucralose and acesulfame potassium, two artificial sugar substitutes that do not have calories or carbohydrates”) as flavor enhancers.
How Do Medifast Meals Taste?
Medifast diet meals are tasty, according to some dieters. The shakes and dessert bars are popular favorites, and the packaged snacks taste good too. They even have microwavable entrees that you can use in place of your lean and green, homemade meals.
Medifast has a board responsible for taste-testing and developing new food products, so they are constantly checking feedback from customers and dropping foods that aren’t well received.
As for the home-made meals, those can be as tasty or as bland as you choose to make them. Certain condiments are limited for caloric purposes, but most herbs and seasonings are allowed to improve flavor and satiety without adding calories.
Can You Do Medifast With Diet Restrictions?
Medifast “also markets specific plans for diabetics, seniors, teens, vegetarians, nursing mothers, those with gout, those who will or have had gastric banding surgery, those who have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, and those taking anticoagulants.” 
Has Anyone Spoken About Medifast Diet Side Effects?
There aren’t a whole lot of negative Medifast side effects to speak of, though researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine have cautioned that very low-calorie diets like Medifast can increase the risk of gallstones. 
Consult your physician to see if a low-calorie diet presents any specific health concerns for you.
How Much Does Medifast Cost?
Medifast cost was difficult to track down since the company does not prominently post prices on its website. US News & World Report reviewed Medifast and found program prices in the $300-$400 range for 30 days of Medifast meals. 
WebMD also reports that a “seven-pack of any meal replacement (smoothies, oatmeal bars, shakes, or other foods) costs $16.95.”
Consumers Compare also says that “a 14-day Medifast diet meal replacement kit is $149 and includes an assortment of Medifast ‘meals’ (70 total) that include shakes, snacks, and soups so I’m not sure if a shake constitutes a meal, but I am assuming it does. So you’ll get stuff like a pasta dish, brownies, chicken noodle soup, peanut butter crunch bars, vanilla shakes, and mashed potatoes. And you receive a welcome kit, food journal, dining-out guide and a plastic blender bottle.”
You can find some Medifast meal products like the shakes and bars for sale on Amazon, with shakes and bars selling for about $31 for seven servings each.
Medifast has a 30-day full refund guarantee in case a customer is not 100% happy with their purchase.
A loyalty program is on offer that allows customers to earn rewards and shipping discounts with each order. From the Medifast Advantage page: “You’ll earn a reward of between 5-10%* toward your next order that your program order processes. Plus, you’ll get immediate savings on your current order with $5 Flat Rate or Free Shipping!
“How to Enroll:
- Place an order of $149 or more—if you want to earn reward and shipping discounts. (Orders under $149 don’t qualify for savings, but will still ship automatically.)
- Select “Automatic Meal Delivery” as your Purchase Option at checkout.
- Complete and submit your first order.
Congratulations—you’re a Medifast Advantage® Member!”
Medifast Pros and Cons
- Easy to use
- Effective weight-loss
- Nutritionally solid
- No need for carb-, point- or calorie-counting
- Reduced/non-existent hunger & increased fullness
- Clinically proven
- Powdered food
- Hair loss
Expert Clinical Studies on Medifast
According to the Kushi Institute, a number of studies have shown Medifast to be a capable and safe dieting program:
- A clinical study at the Johns Hopkins University showed that the Medifast diet results in substantial weight loss. When on the diet, adult men could shed, on average, 67 pounds; women can lose up to an average of 56.
- Another clinical trial compared Medifast with diabetes medicine and discovered that the diet scheme is better at regulating type-2 diabetes than many ADA-recommended programs.
- A clinical study from 2015 that was published in Internal Medicine looked at 45 weight-loss programs, including Medifast. Using low-calorie diet programs like Medifast led to significantly larger weight loss compared to counseling.
- Another clinical trial said that the meal replacement programs that Medifast was offering were better than many recommended for obesity drug treatment. The study also stated that Medifast had a better retention rate of customers than most other programs.
- Another 2015 clinical study in the Nutrition Journal looked at the charts of more than 300 Medifast clients. All of them were either obese or overweight and followed the program’s Achieve Plan. It found that those who stuck with the plan shed, on average, 24 pounds in 3 months, and an average of 35 in 6 months. Each participant, regardless of their age and gender, lost higher percentages of fat than muscle.
Medifast’s MLM Opportunity
Medifast is a weight loss and health-related company that was founded in 1980 by a medical doctor named William Vitale. The company headquartered in Owings Mills, MD. Medifast offers its customers an opportunity to lose weight and earn money at the same time through their MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) opportunity.
A Little About Medifast
The company has enjoyed much success throughout the years and had a market capitalization of over 400 million. Medifast products have sold through their website, distribution channels, weight loss clinics and directly from medical doctors to patients. With the great sales success of their products, the company began selling their products through MLM, sometimes called network marketing, and the company has significantly prospered.
What About Making Money With Medifast?
By selling their products through MLM marketing, customers of Medifast products not only can enjoy a healthier lifestyle, but they are also able to earn a steady income. What is MLM? Through MLM, an individual earns a residual income by recruiting new members. When those new members recruit others, the individual will also earn money off of those recruits. This is what is called a downline, and the goal is to grow your downline for higher earnings.
An individual that joins the Medifast MLM plan will become what is called a health coach. The compensation plan will reward a health coach for being a user of their products. They will also be rewarded for recruiting and retaining other clients. To succeed, they will even need to mentor and build teams of other health coaches.
What Users Are Saying
“My husband is on the Medifast diet. Although the food is not gourmet, it’s not too bad (for diet food). He says these are tasty. He has already lost 22 pounds in 2 months so it’s working!”
“This is a quick snack that does not require cooking unlike the oatmeal that i overdid the water since i don’t have a microwave. I had to eat this snack at home cause the chocolate was melted all inside the wrapper. I’m glad i was naked and just stepped out of the bath when i ate this. I may put these in my freezer. It could not stand up to Texas heat. The bar was smaller than i expected. The flavor was ok.”
Also: read our Burn HD Weight-Loss Kit review »
“Bar was dry and not as tasty as I had expected. I do not plan to buy this item again.”
The Bottom Line on Medifast
The bottom line is that Medifast has been shown to be effective for weight loss. Several studies cited above showed that people who stuck to their Medifast plan lost more weight than people who followed food-based plans. However, the key to any diet plan is to not only lose the weight but to keep it off. That part is completely up to you.
What will happen when you reach your weight loss goal and stop dieting? You must figure out how to build healthy eating habits into your life to maintain your weight loss after completing Medifast or any other weight loss program. We also believe supplements can play an important part in getting (and keeping) your metabolism moving.
Among the best ones we’ve seen this year is one called Burn HD. The blend contains four ingredients – Meratrim, ChromeMate, Green Tea and Caffeine. Research shows a connection between the ingredients and increased energy levels, metabolism and a curbed appetite.
Also, the team behind Burn HD offers customers a 2-Week Sample, which is a positive sign.Learn More About Burn HD »