Are Medifast Meals as Effective as They Claim?
Medifast is a nutrition company that offers meal plans packed with essential macronutrients and micronutrients that are formulated for weight loss. Medifast meals claim to drive the body towards a fat-burning state through enjoyable and satiating meals while still retaining muscle tissue. These characteristics, along with specialized and flexible dieting plans with a variety of food options, appeal to consumers as an easier way to follow a healthy and fueled lifestyle. However, there has been much debate over weight loss programs and their effectiveness.
Medifast research and development associates conducted an experiment to compare Medifast’s meal replacement plan to an isocaloric food-based diet. The test was conducted over a 16-week weight loss period, then followed by a 24-week weight maintenance period. Weight loss proved greater with Medifast at 12.3%, compared to the isocaloric 6.9%, of the 45 obese adults in each group during the first 16 weeks, with improvements in body composition favoring the Medifast subjects as well. Despite these findings, the participants of the Medifast group did regain more weight during the maintenance period, but these issues are standard consequences when serious lifestyle changes are not maintained. Evidently, the meal replacements showed effective weight loss results while improving other health conditions.
Another study conducted by a group of Johns Hopkins researchers analyzed the efficacy of multiple weight loss plans, including low-calorie meal programs such as Medifast, as opposed to other practices like control/education or behavioral counseling. Of 39 randomized controlled trials, other popular programs by Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and Nutrisytem reported approximately 2.6%, 4.9%, and 3.8% greater weight loss than other prescribed methods, respectively. Additionally, the lower calorie programs like Medifast reported 4.0% greater short-term weight loss, but the effects were shown to weaken beyond 6 months. The Johns Hopkins’ clinical studies have proven that not all weight loss plans are as effective as they claim to be, but some do present promising results in the short-term.
Even though the low-calorie structure of Medifast meal replacement plans may result in successful short-term weight loss, the long-term success is unclear. Also, low-calorie diet plans may also cause health complications, such as the development of gallstones, which may be viewed as counterproductive, since these programs are designed to help consumers better their health and prevent future chronic diseases from potentially occurring. Although Medifast’s claimed advantages may not be supported in the long run, the meal replacement plans do provide consumers with an easier way to structure their diets and help them achieve their weight loss goals in the first few months of disciplined use.
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Written by Jonathan Barron, Edited by Rachel Weissman & Alexander Fleiss