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Home arrow Nutrition arrow Weight Management arrow Optavia Reviews: An Opinion From A Doctor

Optavia Reviews: An Opinion From A Doctor

Dr. Donika Vata
Written by Donika Vata, MD
Fact checked by Edna Skopljak, MD
Last update: August 30, 2023
13 min read 996 Views 0 Reviews
clock 13 eye 996 comments 0

From doubt to belief: how Optavia won me over.

Optavia Review- The Complete Guide and Verdict on This Weight Loss Program

How do we vet brands and products? Learn more.

Are you looking to achieve quick weight loss? If so, you’re not alone. As a doctor, I speak with patients every day looking to achieve a healthy weight for both their physical and mental health.

While searching for the best approaches for losing weight, you may have come across Optavia. This is a paid diet program focusing on weight loss, weight management, and healthy lifestyle habits. However, due to its restrictive nature, it receives mixed reviews from customers and healthcare professionals alike.

Want to know more? I looked at the plan from an expert point of view, including the pros, cons, and features it offers for weight loss. Keep reading to discover my thoughts in this complete Optavia review.

What is the Optavia Diet?

optavia logo
Our rating:
  • Provides low-calorie, healthy meal ideas
  • Helps you stay in a calorie deficit
  • Support from expert coaches encourages
  • Offers motivation for your weight loss journey
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Encourages you to build healthy habits
Learn More
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    Different diet programs to suit different needs
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    Guidance and one-on-one coaching
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    Encourages portion control
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    Minimal food prep
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    Premade low-carb meals
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    Several communication methods
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    Community forums
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    Contains highly processed foods
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    Not a suitable diet for everyone
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    Calorie control may trigger obsessive eating habits
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    May cause rebound weight gain
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    Coaches are not trained professionals
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    Plans are pricey

Optavia is a weight loss and maintenance program that supports people in reclaiming their wellness through a healthy lifestyle. It encourages users to create long-term healthy habits that help them to eat a balanced diet, stay hydrated, and more. 

The portion-controlled, very low-calorie diet helps users reduce their caloric intake. It provides Optavia-branded, prepackaged foods called Optavia Fuelings. It also teaches users to make healthy homemade meals with minimal preparation, which they call Lean and Green meals.

One element of the Optavia program that I liked is that it provides support in key areas, including clinically proven plans, own-brand food products, independent coaching, and a community of like-minded people.

The plan offers two unique weight loss programs and a third program for weight maintenance. All options focus on reduced-carb, low-calorie diets to help users lose weight quickly. You can also customize your Optavia diet plan to achieve your unique weight loss goals.

⭐ Rating


✅ Main focus

Quick weight loss

❌ Is it FDA approved?


🍎 Available plans

5 & 1; 4 & 2 & 1; 3 & 3

🥦 Vegan?


💰 Price

From $395.25 per month

Why I Decided to Try Out Optavia Diet?

As a doctor, I often see patients who are at high risk of developing chronic, weight-related conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and high blood pressure. Some patients also suffer from depression and anxiety due to their struggles with weight.

Although, in many cases, weight loss is the key to treatment or prevention, approaching this can be difficult, especially when patients are struggling with motivation. I’m therefore always hoping to find new strategies that encourage consistency, and that’s when I came across Optavia.

Making small lifestyle changes each day is essential for staying fit and well in the long term, which Optavia promises to help users with through its healthy habit-building. I wanted to see if this program really does live up to these claims, so I purchased the Optavia Weight 5 & 1 Plan and put it to the test.

How Does Optavia Work?

The Optavia program works by giving users the tools and guidance to lose weight. There are different versions of the diet, with some consisting of 3 balanced meals per day, and others like the 4 & 2 & 1 Plan offering a more flexible approach to meal times.

My preferred choice was the Optimal Weight 5 & 1 Plan, which helps users enter a fat-burning state by eating 6 small meals per day, every 2 to 3 hours. This includes one Lean & Green meal that you’ll be required to cook yourself with Optavia’s help, along with 5 “Fuelings”.

While purchasing the 5 & 1 Plan, I was also encouraged to purchase something from their Fuelings collection, and so I selected the Essential Wild Strawberry Shake Mix. This is a creamy, bright, and frothy shake that should be mixed with water and ice, and contains no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners.

The collection comprises ready-to-go weight-loss foods and snacks such as cereals, cookies, shakes, soups, and pasta dishes that are low in carbs and high in protein. These low-calorie foods push you to reduce your daily calorie intake to create a calorie deficit.

I liked the fact that the Fuelings also contain probiotics, which are friendly, live bacteria that boost digestive health. This is because they can reduce bloating, prevent constipation and diarrhea, and promote regular bowel movements. Probiotics can also contribute to weight loss by altering gut microbiota composition.

Throughout your weight loss journey with Optavia, you can enlist the support of your coach. I was given the opportunity to schedule one-on-one meetings and choose my preferred mode of communication, be it a phone call, text, or email. 

However, I thought it was important to highlight the fact that Optavia coaches are not certified health coaches, meaning they can’t offer the same expert advice and guidance that a qualified nutritionist, dietician, or other healthcare professional could.

Optavia Weight Loss Programs

I found it useful that Optavia provides different programs, which I can recommend to my patients with different lifestyle and health goals. Just make sure to read the information carefully and gain an understanding of the programs before making a purchase.

The 3 Optavia diet plans are as follows:

#1 Optimal weight 5 & 1 program

As the most popular program, I chose the Optimal Weight 5 & 1 plan so that I could see what all the fuss was about. This is an 800–1,000 calorie diet where you’ll be required to eat 6 small meals daily, 5 of which are Optavia Fuelings. The remaining meal is a Lean and Green meal that you prepare based on the requirements, which includes lean protein, vegetables, and fats.

#2 Optimal weight 4 & 2 & 1 program

The 4 & 2 & 1 program is there for those who want to achieve weight loss but require more calories and flexibility when following a diet. When following this program, you can enjoy several meals, including 4 Fuelings, 2 Lean and Green meals, and 1 snack daily.

#3 Optimal health 3 & 3 program

After reaching your desired weight, you can maintain it with the 3 & 3 plan. This involves eating nutritionally balanced small meals every 2–3 hours and expands your food choices. During this regimen, you are encouraged to eat 3 Fuelings and 3 balanced meals daily.

#4 Special medical and dietary needs

I was pleased to see that Optavia’s specialized programs will accommodate my patients with special dietary needs or medical conditions, such as people with diabetes or nursing mothers. However, I’d recommend discussing your meal plan with your healthcare provider before attempting any new diet.

Benefits of Optavia

I noted several benefits when testing out the Optavia diet, which is crucial to consider if you want to see noticeable results with any weight loss routine. I’ve identified 3 advantages that might encourage you to choose Optavia over other diets:

#1 Fast weight loss

One of the biggest selling points that encouraged me to test Optavia is speedy weight loss. Studies show that portion-controlled meals can generate significant decreases in weight. I’d always encourage those looking to lose weight to eat snacks and food items that are low in calories and carbohydrate content, as you’ll find it easier to stick to a caloric deficit.

#2 Great support network

Many of my patients who usually struggle to stick to a weight loss diet on their own will benefit from the support network Optavia offers. You can communicate with your coach for guidance and motivation throughout the program. I also liked the Optavia social community, which allows you to discuss your journey with others in the same position.

#3 Convenient

As a doctor, I try to avoid programs that offer complicated meal plans. Making time for complex recipes is not feasible for myself and others who lead busy work and home lives.

However, I found that the Optavia meal plan is highly convenient and hassle-free. You can simply reach for your premade snacks and meal replacements at meal times, rather than grabbing unhealthy fast foods and takeouts.

Cons of Optavia

Of course, there were a handful of drawbacks that let this program down. The cons I’ve highlighted below are significant, so make sure you consider them before you commit to a subscription.

#1 Overpriced

The Optavia cost will be a definite concern for many of my patients. As a branded diet, this program and the Fuelings collection come with a hefty price tag, and that’s before you purchase groceries for your Lean and Green meals.

Losing weight requires commitment, but it shouldn’t cost the earth. Not everyone can afford hundreds of dollars to rework their diet for a healthy body weight. I’d recommend calculating the total cost before signing up, including the cost of ingredients for your Lean and Green meals.

#2 Low-calorie diet

One thing that I didn’t like about the Optavia 5 & 1 program is that it is very low in calories. A 1,000-calorie diet cuts your recommended daily calories in half, which can lead to rapid weight loss. While you might be keen to shed pounds as quickly as possible, I’m hesitant to recommend fast weight loss diets as they can be dangerous.

For instance, side effects can include nutritional deficiencies, loss of muscle mass, slower metabolism, binge eating, and digestive problems. Furthermore, restrictive diets that prioritize calorie counting can trigger disordered eating in some people if they become obsessive about their calorie intake.

#3 Not sustainable

The biggest downside of Optavia I noted is that unfortunately, it is not sustainable. While it does promote weight loss, many of my patients would be unable to sustain such a restrictive diet in the long term. Moreover, you might tire of the Optavia food options and find yourself craving other foods that the diet does not permit.

#4 Based on processed foods

The diet heavily relies on processed and packaged food items. Although convenient and appealing to those on a busy schedule, highly processed foods can be detrimental to human health. Consumption is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and depression.

If you’re looking for a healthy meal plan, you should limit your intake of processed items. The best diet I can recommend consists of nutritious whole foods, like fresh fruit and vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. These foods fuel your body with important vitamins and minerals, while supporting healthy weight loss.

How to Be Successful on Optavia

As with any diet program I’d recommend, the key to success with Optavia is to stick to the recommendations. The calorie counts and dietary choices are there for a reason: to help you reach your healthy lifestyle goals. So, if you follow it accordingly, you are likely to lose or maintain your weight.

However, as a highly restrictive diet, I don’t feel that the 5 & 1 plan is the healthiest route to weight loss. I’d therefore recommend further assessing the rules of each program, to ensure that the one you’ve selected is feasible for your lifestyle.

Foods to Eat and Avoid on Optavia

Optavia provided me with a complete guide to what I could and couldn’t eat on my chosen program. The Fuelings are ready-to-eat, so you don’t need to worry about those, but the Lean and Green meal plan features homemade recipes based on Optavia’s dietary rules.

Here is what you can and can’t eat when preparing your Lean and Green meals:

What you can eat

  • 5–7oz of cooked lean protein, such as cod, haddock, crab, shrimp, chicken breast, ground turkey, eggs, and plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 servings of non-starchy vegetables, such as collard greens, lettuce, spinach, celery, cucumbers, radishes, asparagus, cauliflower, and eggplant
  • Up to 2 servings of healthy fats, with options including oil, salad dressing, black or green olives, avocado, butter, almonds, peanuts, chia, flax, and pumpkin seeds

What you can’t eat

  • Fried foods
  • Refined grains (unless included in Optavia Fuelings)
  • High-carbohydrate vegetables, including carrots, corn, peas, potatoes, onions, edamame, and Brussels sprouts
  • Sugary drinks and high-calorie desserts

Optavia Cost

Depending on your chosen weight loss program, Optavia’s pricing differs. I liked the fact that you can purchase ready-to-go kits that provide all of the Fuelings you need to get through each 30-day program. According to the official website, the current prices for each kit are:

Essential Optimal Kit (5 & 1 plan): $395.25 (119 servings per container)

Essential On-the-Go Kit (5 & 1 plan): $395.25 (119 servings per container)

Essential Optimal Kit (4 & 2 & 1 plan): $442.00 (140 servings per container)

Remember that if you want to make a Lean and Green meal, you do need to purchase those groceries separately. I was pleased to see that Optavia now offers some ready-to-go Lean and Green meals in the Flavors of Home range. However, at $31.50 for 6 portions, you could make your own healthy meals at home without breaking the brand.

If you’d prefer to select specific Fuelings and snacks, you can also buy them individually for various prices. For instance, Puffed Ranch Snacks costs $11.75 for 7 servings, and a box of their Essential Shake Mix is $23.35 for 7 mix-ins.


Is the Optavia diet worth it?

This diet can help people lose weight or maintain a healthy weight through healthy habit creation and a reduced-calorie diet. It might work best as a short-term diet for those who want to lose weight quickly. It is not a solution for sustainable, long-term weight loss.

Is this diet safe?

The Optavia diet is not the safest of diets. The program prioritizes lean protein, healthy fats, and low-carb foods. While these features can help you reduce your weight, the low-calorie count can result in potential health issues. Check with your doctor before attempting this diet.

Can Optavia cause health problems?

Optavia has the potential to cause health problems in some people. The calorie budget is highly restrictive, slashing most people’s regular caloric intake in half. This may result in complications, such as nutrient deficiencies, digestive problems, and loss of muscle mass.

Is Optavia going out of business?

No, Optavia has simply discontinued their Select Fueling product line, which has now been replaced with Essential Fuelings.

Optavia vs. Alternatives

Comparison Winner: KetoCycle

Meal planning

Shopping lists

Calorie tracking

Progress tracking

Quick and easy keto recipes

Complete workout schedule

Completely customizable

Suitable for multiple diets, including vegan diets

Meal suggestions and over 5,000 healthy recipes

Workout routines

Progress tracking

Calorie tracking

Suitable for all levels of intermittent fasting

Guidance from nutrition experts

Promotes quick weight loss

Different diet options

Support from coaches

Supports portion management

Convenient premade meals

Community forums

Encourages healthy eating and better food choices

Educational content

No food bans

No harsh restrictions

Step counter

Encourages daily physical activity


Designed for those following the ketogenic diet only

Intermittent fasting is not a safe option for everyone

No free trials before purchase

Processed foods

May encourage eating disorders

May cause rebound weight gain

Coaches are not health professionals


Requires a big commitment


How I Tested Optavia

I rated the quality, effectiveness, price, and brand reputation when reviewing Opativa. Here are my final scores:

Quality 7/10

I felt that the program’s processed food items did not offer the same quality as a diet rich in whole foods. However, I was pleased to see the inclusion of the Lean and Green meal plans, which comprise foods with important vitamins and minerals. 

This includes cooked lean protein, non-starchy vegetables, and limited amounts of good fats, which I’d always recommend as part of a balanced diet.

Effectiveness 8/10

Overall, I’d say that the diet is effective because it focuses on calorie reduction for weight loss. Decreasing your daily calories is an optimal way to lose excess weight, although some of my patients may find this too restrictive. Pair it with regular physical activity to increase the number of calories you burn, and you can speed up results.

Price 5/10

The price is the biggest letdown in my opinion. Most of my patients can not afford to pay almost $400 per month for a weight loss regimen, regardless of how successful it may be. I couldn’t see any financial support or split payments to benefit those unable to make a lump-sum payment.

Brand reputation 6/10

Optavia is a health and wellness company from Medifast Inc. It sells recipes and low-calorie bars, shakes, and snacks to help people achieve their body goals. Many people have found success with the plan, but as a healthcare professional, I’d generally advise against following restrictive dieting programs.

A Word From a Nutritionist

Diets that slash your daily calories can have both positive and negative effects.

Research shows that low-calorie diets are effective for weight loss. However, very low-calorie diets are unsustainable. You might feel hungry, develop cravings, and deprive your body of vital nutrients. Your lost weight might quickly return when you quit or finish the diet.

You might feel like you can’t lose weight no matter what you try, but sometimes going back to basics helps. Many simple strategies help you burn calories, such as walking daily, jogging, running, and going for a swim. Meanwhile, eating a balanced diet ensures optimal results, while weight loss supplements may make your journey a lot easier.


Overall, despite its emphasis on positive lifestyle changes and healthy eating with fresh Lean and Green meals, I wouldn’t recommend Optavia as the best diet plan for my patients looking to lose weight. 

The Optavia diet relies mainly on calorie and carb reduction, packaged meals, and ongoing guidance. It costs a lot of money, and there is no guarantee that you will sustain the calorie expectations. Moreover, dieting restrictions can result in health complications down the line.

You might succeed with Optavia as a short-term diet, but I’d recommend looking at some better alternatives, including weight loss apps, for a safe and sustainable way to lose weight. Talk to your doctor about the best practices for lowering your weight, taking into account your current health status and dietary needs.

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Dr. Donika Vata
Written by Donika Vata, MD
Fact checked by Edna Skopljak, MD
Last update: August 30, 2023
13 min read 996 Views 0 Reviews
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