The Optavia diet is an eating plan that comprises three eating plans that consumers can pick from, including the Optimal Health 3 and 3 Program, Optimal Weight 4&2&1, and Optimal Weight 5&1 Plan. These eating plans advise eating a specific number of fuelings, which are basically prepackaged snacks or meals from Optavia.
People have, for many years, been attracted to the expediency of meal replacement diets, which removes the guesswork from their weight loss journey. The Optavia diet is one of the best replacement plans you can have.
By choosing to combine “fuelings,” which include bars, shakes, and other prepackaged foods, with the “6 small meals every day” plan, people choose the Optavia Diet to help in weight loss. People follow this diet by eating small quantities throughout the day. The Optavia Diet adds the social support component by providing followers with access to a health expert who can provide encouragement and support.
Although the Optavia Diet may not be so popular because the name has only been around for a short time, you might have heard about “Take Shape for Life”, which is the name that was rebranded to the Optavia Diet in 2017. The Optavia Diet is ranked number 28 by the U.S News and World Report list of the best diets and gives it a score of 2.6/5.[i]
What To Eat
Based on the Optavia Diet you choose to follow, you will eat anywhere from 2 – 5 of the organization’s pre-made food replacements per day. Also, you’ll prepare and eat only 1 – 3 of your preferred low-calorie foods, which should be mainly non-starchy vegetables and lean protein.
While no food is forbidden on this diet, some sweets are discouraged. There are many types of foods that are recommended, such as healthy fats. In the same way as other popular meal replacement diets, this diet provides consumers with its series of branded products that replace several meals during the day.
Technically, the “5&1 program” is the most famous and has been developed for fast weight loss. With this plan, consumers eat 5 of Optavia Diets “fuelings” and only one low calorie homemade “lean and green” meal.
Other Optavia Diets plans, “4&2&1” and “3&3”, combine “whole” meals with these meal replacements. These eating plans are ideal for consumers looking to lose weight moderately and maintain the current weight. On all the Optavia Diet plans, both “lean and green” and “fuelings” homemade meals remain within a strict calorie range.
Optavia Diet fuelings
Most of the food you get to eat while following this diet takes the form of prepackaged fuelings. In reference to Optavia Diet online guide, users can pick from more than 60 soups, pretzels, shakes, bars, and other products as meal replacements. According to the company, each item should be almost identical in nutrition profile. This means they can be consumed interchangeably.
Besides the non-starchy vegetables and lean protein, the “lean and green” meal might be prepared with about two servings of healthy fats, including avocado, flaxseed, walnut oil, or oil.
Lean And Green
Essentially, the “lean and green” foods you will prepare should include a 5-ounce portion of the cooked lean protein. The Optavia Diet differentiates between leanest, leaner, and lean protein sources utilizing the examples below:
- Leanest – egg whites, shrimp, cod
- Leaner – chicken breast or swordfish
- Lean – pork chops, lamb, or salmon
According to the 5&1 eating plan, users should eat non-starchy veggies along with the protein present in the “lean and green” meal. The vegetables are divided into higher, moderate, and lower carbohydrate categories, with the examples below:
- Higher carb – peppers or broccoli
- Moderate carb – summer squash or cauliflower
- Lower carb – salad greens
What You Cannot Eat
The Optavia Diet discourages users from consuming sugar cravings with ice cream, cookies, or cakes. Nevertheless, after the first weight-loss stage, moderate sweet snacks such as flavored yogurt or fresh fruit could make their way back to this diet.
Users can take high-calorie additions such as sauces, dressings, and condiments. You should opt for the low-calorie methods that you can add flavor rather than ingredients such as herbs, salsa, spices, lime, vinegar, and mustard.
Does It Aid In Weight Loss?
An Optavia Diet is created to help users burn fat and lose weight by reducing carbs and calories through portion-controlled snacks and meals. Technically, the 5&1 program limits calories to between 800 and 1000 calories every day divided into 6-portioned controlled foods.
Although the study is mixed, a few studies have indicated that weight is lost with partial or full meal replacement programs compared with the traditional calorie limited diets.[ii] Also, research shows that minimizing overall calorie intake is quite effective for fat loss and weight, as it’s the case with low-carb diets.[iii]
Another 4-month study involving 198 obese and overweight people found that individuals following the 5&1 plan have considerably lower waist circumference, fat levels, and weight as compared to the control group. This might signify more benefits as the study associates between 5% and 10% weight loss with decreased risks of type II diabetes and heart disease.[iv]
The study also found that people following the 5&1 diet who participated in about 75% of the coaching sessions were able to lose more weight than those who completed few sessions.[v]
On the other hand, several studies have demonstrated substantial improvement in long and short-term weight loss and adherence to the diet in eating plans, including ongoing guidance and coaching.[vi]
What Are The Rules Of The Optavia Diet?
No matter the Optavia Diet you choose, you can start with a phone call to a coach to help find the right program to follow, familiarize yourself with that specific program, and set reasonable weight loss goals.
Following are the rules you should follow while on this diet:
If you’re looking to lose weight, begin with the 5&1 plan, an 800-calorie and 1000 calorie program, which is believed to help lose about 12 pounds in 12 weeks.
- On the 5&1 program, you can consume Fuelings and one “lean and green” meal each day. You are allowed to consume one meal for every two to three hours and include 30 minutes of exercise a few days a week.
- According to the program, you should also take one optional snack every day, which the coach must approve. The plan-approved snacks usually include three celery sticks, ½ ounce of nuts, and ½ cup of gelatin (sugar-free).
- The plan also includes a dining-out guide, which describes how you can order the “lean and green” meal from your restaurant.
- Avoid alcohol while following the 5&1 program.
Potential Health Benefits
The Optavia Diet offers many health benefits that might promote weight loss and overall wellbeing.
Can Improve Blood Pressure
The Optavia Diet plan might help boost blood pressure via limited sodium intake and weight loss. Although this diet has not been specifically researched, a 10-month study involving 90 obese and overweight people on a Medifast program showed a substantial decrease in blood pressure.[vii]
Furthermore, all Optavia Diet meals are created to offer 2,3000 milligrams of sodium every day, even though it’s up to the users to choose the lower sodium alternatives for the “lean and green” meals.[viii]
Many health agencies, including the United States department of agriculture, the American heart association, and the institute of medicine, recommend eating below 2,300 milligrams of sodium every day. This is because a high sodium intake is associated with increased risks of heart disease and high blood pressure.
Achieves Fast Weight Loss
Numerous healthy people require between 1600 and 3000 calories each day to maintain their current weight. Restricting the number to that low level of only 800 calories guarantees weight loss. Technically speaking, the Optavia Diet’s 5&1 plan is created for fast weight loss, making it a good option for people looking to lose weight.
Sample Shopping List
You will find numerous low-fat foods (naturally low fat and processed) in many grocery stores. However, to stick to the Optavia diet and lose weight in a healthy manner, you should spend more time in the outer aisles of your grocery store, especially the produce section. When it comes to the dairy section, choose the low-fat options and always remember to read the nutrition labels on the packaged foods (such as grains, condiments, and cereals).
Since the Optavia Diet is quite flexible regarding food choices, this isn’t a definitive shopping, and if you choose to follow this diet, you might find other types of foods, which work better for you. Following are foods you should include in your shopping list:
- Vegetable oils – olive oil, walnut, flaxseed, and canola
- Soy products – only tofu
- Eggs – egg beaters, egg whites, whole eggs
- Shellfish and fish – scallops, shrimp, crabs, lobster, tuna, salmon, trout, halibut
- Meat – ground meat, tenderloin or pork chop, game meats, lean beef, turkey, chicken
- Additional healthy fats – avocado, pistachios, walnuts, almonds, reduced-fat margarine. Olives, low carb salad toppings
- Sugar-free beverages – coffee, tea, unsweetened almond milk, and water
- Sugar-free snacks – mints, gum, gelatin, popsicles
- Low carb vegetables – jicama, spaghetti squash, peppers, broccoli, zucchini, eggplant, cauliflower, cabbage, mushrooms, cucumbers, celery, spinach, collard greens
- Seasonings and condiments – barbecue sauce, cocktail sauce, sugar-free syrup, salsa, soy sauce, yellow mustard, lime juice, lemon juice, salt, spices, dried herbs
Sample Meal Plan
You do not have to follow any specific meal schedule or timing on the Optavia Diet. However, if you like eating three meals per day, you can continue with your meal schedule. Snacks are allowed if you chose to follow the Optavia products. Keep in mind that the following sample meal plan isn’t exclusive, and you might find other types of foods that suit your preferences.
The most important thing is that while following this diet, you’ll consume Lean and Green or Fueling meal every two or three hours.
- Fueling – Optavia essentials (red berry crunchy O’s)
- Fueling – Optavia decadent (chocolate brownie topped with green yogurt chips)
- Fueling – Optavia essential (rustic tomato herb penne)
- Fueling – Optavia essential (tropical fruit smoothie)
- Fueling – Optavia essential (beef and garden veggie soup)
- Lean and green meal prepared in olive oil with tomatoes, summer squash, and eggplant.
Includes all fuelings of Optavia essential
- Golden chocolate pancakes
- Caramel delight crisp bars
- Homemade chicken flavored and veggie noodle soup
- Onion sticks and honey mustard
- Cheese buttermilk cheddar mac
- Lean and green meal – spinach salad, asparagus, chicken breast, and mushrooms with low carb salad dressing
Includes all fuelings of Optavia essential
- Cranberry honey with a nut granola bar
- Creamy chocolate shake
- Roasted garlic with creamy smashed potatoes
- Red bean and veggie chili
- Drizzled chocolate with crisp fudge bar
Lean and green meal – cauliflower, Swiss chard, pork tenderloin topped with green beans
Includes all fuelings of Optavia essential
- Golden chocolate chip pancakes and two tablespoons of maple syrup (no sugar)
- Drizzled berry crisp bar
- Jalapeno cheddar poppers
- Homemade chicken flavored and veggie noodle soup
- Strawberry shake
Lean and green meal – six ounces of grilled chicken breast with one teaspoon of olive oil topped with small quantities of salsa and avocado plus 1-½ cups of mixed cooked vegetables: broccoli, zucchini, and peppers.
Pros And Cons Of The Optavia Diet
The Optavia Diet is an excellent option for you if you’re looking for an eating plan that’s easy to follow and clear, that offers in-built social support, and helps lose weight quickly. Following are the advantages and disadvantages of choosing this program.
The Optavia diet is largely based on prepackaged fueling. With the 5&1 plan, users are only supposed to cook a single meal every day. Also, every plan comes with sample meal plans and meal logs that make it easier for consumers to follow.
Although users are encouraged to cook between 1 and 3 lean and green meals each day, based on the Optavia program, they are pretty simple to make – since the plan includes a specific list of food alternatives and recipes.
Moreover, people not interested in cooking any of the foods can purchase packaged meals referred to as Flavors of Home as an alternative for the Lean and Green meals.
Prepackaged Foods Offer Convenience
Optavia programs, soups, shake, and other meal replacement items are delivered to your door, which is a great convenience level, one that’s not offered by different diets.
While you might have to look around for your other ingredients for the “lean & green” meals, Optavia home delivery alternative “fuelings’ saves both energy and time. After these products arrive, they are straightforward to prepare and make delicious ready-to-eat meals.
Offers Ongoing Social Support
The Optavia Diets health coaches are always available throughout the maintenance and weight loss programs. As mentioned above, a study found a significant relationship between the coaching sessions and improved weight loss.[ix] Moreover, studies show that having a diet coach or counselor might help long-term weight loss.[x]
Social support is an important aspect of success when it comes to weight loss. Optavia group calls and coaching program provides in-built support and encouragement for users.
Some consumers might find that the most challenging aspect of dieting is the mental efforts needed to know what to eat every day or even at every meal. Optavia Diet reduces decision fatigue and meal planning by providing users with approved foods and “guidelines and “fuelings” for the “lean & green” meals.
It Might Promote Heart Health
If you significantly decrease your intake of fats and sweeteners, you might just have done all you must do to reduce your risks of heart disease. The American heart association (AHA) proposes eating less than 13 grams of saturated fat each day, which is equivalent to 5% or even 6% of daily calories because this kind of fat is associated with high risks for cardiovascular disease. By carefully watching your fat ingestion on the Optavia diet, you might become more conscious about the healthy fat options and instead choose polyunsaturated fats.
Hard To Sustain
The 5&1 program includes five prepackaged fuelings and a single low-carb meal each day. As you can see, it might be very restrictive in calorie count and food options.
As you might get tired of depending on the prepackaged foods for almost all your meals, you might start developing cravings for other types of foods.[xi]
Can Be Expensive
No matter the plan you choose, this diet can be expensive mainly because of the many processed foods you should eat.
Is The Optavia Diet A Healthy Option For You?
There are different areas that the Optavia diet deviates from the nutrition and health guidelines recommended by the US Department of Agriculture. While the Optavia Diets 5&1 program is tailor made for weight loss, taking between 800 calories and 1000 calories every day is an extreme decline from the recommendations made by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
One major area that this diet considerably deviates from the USDA recommendations is in regards to macronutrients, mainly carbohydrates. Essentially, the Optavia diet plans offer between 80 grams and 100 grams of carbohydrates each day.
Overall, around 40% of Optavia Diet calories come from carbohydrates, while the United States Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines propose a diet between 45% and 65% carbs.[xii] Also, the USDA emphasizes that a healthier and balanced diet plan includes dairy products and grains, which aren’t included in the Optavia Diets 5&1 program.
Intense calorie limitation might cause menstrual changes, headaches, brain fog, or fatigue.[xiii] For that reason, the 5&1 program shouldn’t be followed for long term. Nevertheless, the 4&2&1 and 3&3 programs supply between 1,100 and 2,500 every day and might be ideal for long-term use.
Like any other diet, the Optavia Diet isn’t without controversy. Some researchers have called this program a pyramid scheme because of the multi-level structure, and the promotions and sales element of the plan could be a big turnoff for some potential clients. Consumers who complete the Optavia Diet plan are encouraged to recruit new sales agents, sell the company’s items or become coaches.
How Much Does The Optavia Diet Cost?
After choosing the plan you wish to follow, the prices might vary based on how much you are purchasing. The easiest thing you can do is buy one of the company’s kits. The company’s Essential Optimal Kit that pairs perfectly with the 5&1 program comes with a whopping 119 food servings, including soup, pasta, sides, snacks, shakes, and bars, for about $414.60.
On the other hand, the Optimal Health package for 3&3 programs offers 130 servings of food for about $333. While this covers coaching costs, it does not include prices of groceries like “Lean & Green” meals.
What is the Main Health Benefit of the Optavia Diet?
What Foods Should You Eat on the Optavia Diet?
Is Optavia a Ketogenic Diet?
Can You Drink Coke on the Optavia Diet?
Why Do Many People Feel Tired on Optavia?
- [i] U.S. News & World Report. Best Diets 2021. Optavia Diet.
- [ii] Cheskin LJ, Mitchell AM, Jhaveri AD, Mitola AH, Davis LM, Lewis RA, Yep MA, Lycan TW. Efficacy of meal replacements versus a standard food-based diet for weight loss in type 2 diabetes: a controlled clinical trial. Diabetes Educ. 2008 Jan-Feb;34(1):118-27. doi: 10.1177/0145721707312463. PMID: 18267998.
- [iii] Sacks, F. M., Bray, G. A., Carey, V. J., Smith, S. R., Ryan, D. H., Anton, S. D., McManus, K., Champagne, C. M., Bishop, L. M., Laranjo, N., Leboff, M. S., Rood, J. C., de Jonge, L., Greenway, F. L., Loria, C. M., Obarzanek, E., & Williamson, D. A. (2009). Comparison of weight-loss diets with different compositions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. The New England journal of medicine, 360(9), 859–873. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa0804748
- [iv] Arterburn, L. M., Coleman, C. D., Kiel, J., Kelley, K., Mantilla, L., Frye, N., Sanoshy, K., & Cook, C. M. (2018). Randomized controlled trial assessing two commercial weight loss programs in adults with overweight or obesity. Obesity science & practice, 5(1), 3–14. https://doi.org/10.1002/osp4.312
- [v] Brown, J. D., Buscemi, J., Milsom, V., Malcolm, R., & O’Neil, P. M. (2016). Effects on cardiovascular risk factors of weight losses limited to 5-10. Translational behavioral medicine, 6(3), 339–346. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13142-015-0353-9
- [vi] Arterburn, L. M., Coleman, C. D., Kiel, J., Kelley, K., Mantilla, L., Frye, N., Sanoshy, K., & Cook, C. M. (2018). Randomized controlled trial assessing two commercial weight loss programs in adults with overweight or obesity. Obesity science & practice, 5(1), 3–14. https://doi.org/10.1002/osp4.312
- [vii] Davis, L. M., Coleman, C., Kiel, J., Rampolla, J., Hutchisen, T., Ford, L., Andersen, W. S., & Hanlon-Mitola, A. (2010). Efficacy of a meal replacement diet plan compared to a food-based diet plan after a period of weight loss and weight maintenance: a randomized controlled trial. Nutrition journal, 9, 11. https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-9-11
- [viii] Farquhar, W. B., Edwards, D. G., Jurkovitz, C. T., & Weintraub, W. S. (2015). Dietary sodium and health: more than just blood pressure. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 65(10), 1042–1050. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2014.12.039
- [ix] Arterburn, L. M., Coleman, C. D., Kiel, J., Kelley, K., Mantilla, L., Frye, N., Sanoshy, K., & Cook, C. M. (2018). Randomized controlled trial assessing two commercial weight loss programs in adults with overweight or obesity. Obesity science & practice, 5(1), 3–14. https://doi.org/10.1002/osp4.312
- [x] Kempf, K., Röhling, M., Stichert, M., Fischer, G., Boschem, E., Könner, J., & Martin, S. (2018). Telemedical Coaching Improves Long-Term Weight Loss in Overweight Persons: A Randomized Controlled Trial. International journal of telemedicine and applications, 2018, 7530602. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/7530602
- [xi] Marti A. Ultra-processed foods are not “real food” but really affect your health. Nutrients. 2019;11(8). doi:10.3390/nu11081902
- [xii] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Ninth Edition. December 2020.
- [xiii] Williams NI, Leidy HJ, Hill BR, Lieberman JL, Legro RS, De Souza MJ. Magnitude of daily energy deficit predicts frequency but not severity of menstrual disturbances associated with exercise and caloric restriction. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2015;308(1):E29-39. doi:10.1152/ajpendo.00386.2013