Medifast Diet

Medifast is a rapid weight loss plan using meal replacements alongside solid food. The program has been prescribed by doctors for many years where the patient is obese or morbidly obese.

The program is one of an increasing number of home-delivered diet programs. Such programs have surged in popularity in recent years. Although costly, research has shown there are benefits - mainly from having controlled portion sizes.

Medifast 5 and 1 Plan

The basis of the Medifast program is the 5 and 1 Plan. This consists of:

  • 5 meal replacements per day - generally shakes, but there are also bars, soups, oatmeal, and puddings (see below).
  • One meal per day is a "lean and green" meal - a small portion of lean meat (see below), and up to 2 cups of salad or vegetables. This is an excellent addition to the daily routine and makes the diet a whole lot more do-able.
  • You eat every 2-3 hours and must drink a minimum of 64oz of fluid (water) per day. Other drinks can be consumed in addition to this.

The 5 and 1 plan is a vast improvement on some of their previous programs.

There are other options that expand on 5 and 1:

  • 5 & 2 & 2 - 5 meal replacements, 2 lean & green meals, 2 snacks
  • 4 & 2 & 2 - 4 meal replacements, 2 lean & green meals, 1 snacks

Managed Weight Loss

The program can be undertaken in a center (overseen by counselors and medical staff), or by a peer coach. It can also be ordered directly online (however a supported approach is the most successful).

Take Shape For Life

Medifast also offers a personal health coach through their Take Shape For Life Program. Your health coach will:

  • Answer questions about the Medifast program.
  • Offer support and encouragement.
  • Offer suggestions on how to achieve the greatest results possible.

Take Shape For Life focuses on creating health instead of reacting to the illness of obesity.

"losing weight so quickly can be dangerous, however, doing so with the help of a coach as Take Shape For Life encourages provides potentially less risk, and more support." -A Medifast User who lost 109 pounds.

How Fast Is the Weight Loss?

Weight loss is rapid - from 2-5 pounds per week the first two weeks and 1-2 pounds per week thereafter.

The Medifast 5 and 1 plan is technically not a VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diet), as the caloric levels are above 800 kcal/per day. However calorie levels are still low (depending on your current weight, height, and size).

Testimony (via email)
"I have been using it for awhile. I have tried every diet on the planet and the only thing that i have done is mess up my metabolism.

When I first started - the thing that I noticed was that I was NEVER hungry, in fact, I had to set an alarm to tell me when to take the next supplement. I can never say that about any other diet.....ever! The other thing is that your skin will stay tight and not get droopy. You will have more energy and the pounds will drop off dramatically.

There is also a 24 hr. nurse on duty that you can call to ask questions of. I know this works because I had a friend with a lot of health issues and allergies. She called the nurse who told her that she should not use this product because she is allergic to soy. Try it for a month and see how much you like it."
- Linda

Medifast Advantage

Medifast offers an incentive membership program called Advantage that helps dieters order food quicker, keep track of weight loss easier, and make Medifast more affordable. The following incentives are offered to those who sign up for Medifast Advantage.

medifast 5 and 1

Sample Meal Plan and Foods

What Sort Of Foods Do They Have?
  • Food Supplements: Homestyle Chili, Oatmeal: (Apple Cinnamon, French Vanilla Berry, Maple Brown Sugar), Hot Cocoa; Chicken Noodle Soup, Minestrone Soup, Peach Pro Tea, Chocolate Pudding.
  • Creamy Soups: Cream of Broccoli, Cream of Chicken, Cream of Tomato
  • Fast Soups and Snacks: Delicate Chicken, Robust Tomato, Savory Beef, Multi-Grain Crackers, Cheese Puffs, and Cereal Crunch.
  • Supplement Bars: Chocolate Divine, Crunchy Lemon, Oatmeal Raisin, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Mint, Double Berry.
  • Shakes: 70 different protein shakes to choose from.

What about the "Lean and Green" Meal?
  • Lean Meat: Skinless chicken or turkey breast, Fish, including shellfish, tinned tuna or salmon. Lean cuts of beef, pork, or lamb. Grill, bake, or poach. Condiments allowed. For men there should be 6-7oz of lean meat, for women 4-5oz.
  • Green Salad: 1-2 cups of salad greens, up to 1/4 cup raw vegetables.
  • Cooked Vegetables: 1-1 1/2 cups of fibrous vegetables instead of salad.

Note the following:

  • Shakes must be mixed with water (not milk).
  • Medifast 5 and 1 is for both men and women.
  • The difference is that for men, the meals have a higher level of protein than for women.
  • See this large book of recipes for the program.

Maintenance Plan

Once the desired weight is reached, the maintenance plan involves a gradual transition back to 'normal' meals over a period of about 16 days (however a much longer transition period is recommended).

Beyond this, Medifast recommend 1-3 packaged meals daily and a moderately intense exercise routine (e.g. 30-45 minutes 5 days per week). This is essential to keep the weight off.

Take Care

Medifast is not about taking off a few pounds - it is intended for those who are very overweight. It is a drastic diet that will put you into state of ketosis, and you MUST ensure you are adequately hydrated.

Exercising while on the diet should be kept at a low intensity level. This is not the kind of diet where you will build muscle and be doing heavy workouts down at the gym.

However we receive many success stories from Medifast users.

Does It Work?

Medifast 5 and 1 is one of the most successful and balanced low-calorie diets. It has been used successfully at John Hopkins Weight Management Center, among other places - it is one of the few diets that are medically proven to work1.

A large trial testing Medifast along appetite suppressant medication found "significant and sustained weight losses at 52 weeks". A smaller trial of the 5 & 1 plan found greater reductions in weight and fat compared with a calorie-controlled food-based diet.

Medifast have recently introduced a community aspect to their program by providing a number of message boards.

See Medifast Now ...


  • Hannum, S. M., Carson, L. A., Evans, E. M., Petr, E. L., Wharton, C. M., Bui, L., & Erdman, J. W. (2006). Use of packaged entrees as part of a weight-loss diet in overweight men: an 8-week randomized clinical trial. Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, 8(2), 146-155. URL
  • Haddock, C. K., Poston, W. S. C., Foreyt, J. P., DiBartolomeo, J. J., & Warner, P. O. (2008). Effectiveness of Medifast supplements combined with obesity pharmacotherapy: a clinical program evaluation. Eating and Weight Disorders-Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity, 13(2), 95-101. URL
  • Shikany, J. M., Thomas, A. S., Beasley, T. M., Lewis, C. E., & Allison, D. B. (2013). Randomized controlled trial of the Medifast 5 & 1 Plan for weight loss. International Journal of Obesity. URL
  • Christopher, C., Jessica, K., Andrea, H. M., Carmine, S., Nicholas, F., & Lisa, D. (2012). Use of the Medifast Meal Replacement Program for Weight Loss in Overweight and Obese Clients: A Retrospective Chart Review of Three Medifast Weight Control Centers (MWCC). Food and Nutrition Sciences, 2012. URL
Last updated 15 Sept 2017