July 17, 2010


     My wife is attempting to lose weight and based on my research of the literature, she elected to go with Medifast.  And after a few days of her experience with it, I have to say that from a physician's perspective, I'm impressed this company so far.  First, a bit of background on the approach.  Medifast is not the approach to lose 5 pounds.  As its name implies, it's pretty much a medical fast.  It's severe.  But the approach seems physiologically sound so far.  The premise is to get the individual to eat about 900 calories.  Like I said, it's severe. 
     The method is to eat 5 of their prepackaged, better living through chemistry, instant 'meals' every 2 to 3 hours.  They consist of shakes, oatmeal, pudding, soups, eggs, etc. so there's quite a lot of variety and the one's we've tried so far actually tasted better than I expected.  You're then to eat one real meal that consists of 7 oz of fish like tuna, or 6 oz of meat like skinless chicken breast, or 5 oz of lean cuts of beef.  Somwhere along the line (3 servings at your real meal or spread out throughout the day) you consume 3 servings of low carb veggies like green beans, asparagus, bell pepper, etc.  Add'em up and you get around 800-1,000 calories daily.
     To keep you honest and on track, you can go into one of their centers and get weekly one on one counseling.  The center we visited boasted of a 93% compliance rate.  That was phenomenal to me.  And then the sticker shock hit and I could see why their compliance was so high.  If you're going to dump that kind of money on something, it's going to weed out the nonserious types.  We had to move to plan B which was to simply purchase the meals online.  But along with that you get access to their online program which helps you track your progress.  You first log your weight and measurements.  You then daily log each of your individual meals and exercise.  The great thing about the software is that it automatically calculates the calories for you.  I expected it to do it for their products but it does it for restaurants, too.  My wife was at a workshop and so had Chick-fil-A.  Type in '8 piece nuggets' and bang, it pulls it up for you with all the nutritional information (calories, fat, protein, carbs, sodium, etc) all listed for you.  On the side is a running total for your daily calorie input, your calories burned through exercise, and your deficit.  It's quite reinforcing to see that negative number jump out at you.  It then gives you weekly status reports based on the information you provide to tell you how you're doing with your goal.  If you're not on track, it's easy to track down whether you're eating too many calories or not meeting your exercise goals.  It's impressive.
     Overall, I'm impressed with this program.  I've had to alter slightly the dinners that I make.  I can't slap tuna salad on a pita and melt pepperjack over it and expect that to work for her anymore.  All that we had to buy was a $7 food scale and their meals online which aren't considerably different than a grocery+eating out bill.  It's damned cheap when one considers future doctor's visits, medications, and just overall psychological and physiological health.  As a husband, I'm trying to be very supportive (a definite requirement for the program if you're not getting the counseling at the center) but it's been pretty easy because as a physician and scientist, I'm inherently intrigued by this program's approach so it's become (to me) an interesting real life case study of how weight loss works for one individual.  So I've convinced my wife to let me blog about the pros and cons of it which wasn't easy for her since she's a pretty private person (or should that be a private pretty person?).  It's an opportunity for me to learn and I thank her for that. 


Steve Parker, M.D. said...

Medifast works for a lot of people.

A greater challenge starts when she transitions to a "maintenance of weight loss phase." Then you have to go back to eating regular food without over-doing it.

People have told me that's one of the problems with Nutrisystem: not much, if any guidance, at that point. [But this was a couple years ago.] I bet Medifast gives some good transition advice.

Best wishes to her!


Isaac said...

You just voiced my biggest concern over how well the program will work overall. They do have a Transition Phase which I think will last about 12 weeks. We'll see how it works.