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OPTIFAST Diet Overview

OPTIFAST® therapy is a comprehensive approach to treating obesity, and is available at hundreds of hospitals and clinics in the U.S.A. and Canada.

More recently the program has been sold around the world (including New Zealand and Australia) via pharmacies.

Purpose of the OPTIFAST Program

The program was originally produced by Novartis Medical Nutrition Corporation, but now is owned by Nestle. It is designed for obese people – those overweight by 50 pounds or more (about 22Kg), or having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30. Overweight individuals (those with a BMI of 25 to 30) who experience medical problems caused by their weight may also benefit from the program.

Check your BMI to see if you fit the criteria.

The Optifast Program

The OPTIFAST® program utilizes the expertise of physicians, registered dietitians, and trained counselors with a high quality, calorie controlled liquid nutritional formula.

OPTIFAST uses a Weight Management Learning System curriculum to accomplish individual weight management goals. The OPTIFAST program was the first of its kind when developed in 1974, and now has long-term experience and documented success, with more than a million people treated to date. It is based on well-researched treatment approaches, and provides lifestyle education, personalized support, and portion controlled formulas to develop and maintain a healthy new weight and lifestyle.

The program comprises:

  • Initial medical and lifestyle evaluation, then ongoing medical monitoring of health while losing weight.
  • Counselling to develop the lifestyle, nutrition, and activity to manage your new weight long term.
  • A formula-based, predominantly liquid diet for active weight loss, followed by a gradual resumption of healthier, self-prepared foods.
  • Planned and maintainable regular physical activity.

The program is commonly offered as a 26-week plan, including 12 weeks or more of complete meal replacement, up to 6 weeks of transition to solid food, concluding with a regular diet to be maintained thereafter, and features up to 20 weeks of nutrition and behavioral counseling.

OPTIFAST requires close medical supervision during the first 18 weeks, so it includes weekly medical visits and group counseling.

Short Term Results Only?

Many participants in the program and its variations testify to its success, although it appears to require a great deal of tenacity to ‘stick with it’, and by some accounts can produce some uncomfortable side-effects, possibly due to the nature of the liquid diet regimen. However, even a morbidly obese person unable to exercise, can still lose weight because of the low calorie intake in the prescribed liquid ‘shakes’.

Based on published surveys of participants and on anecdotal evidence, one may conclude that a proportion of those who enter the program do not complete it, and that not all who achieve their initial weight-loss objective succeed in maintaining it subsequent to the program’s completion.

See Also

OPTIFAST website – Check out the official source and content of the program.

By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)

  • DeLegge, M., Keith, J. N. (2013). Medical Weight Management. In Bariatric Endoscopy (pp. 19-37). Springer New York. link
  • Lewis, M. C., Phillips, M. L., Slavotinek, J. P., Kow, L., Thompson, C. H., Toouli, J. (2006). Change in liver size and fat content after treatment with Optifast® very low calorie diet. Obesity Surgery, 16(6), 697-701. link
  • Agras, W. S., Berkowitz, R. I., Arnow, B. A., Telch, C. F., Marnell, M., Henderson, J., … Wilfley, D. E. (1996). Maintenance following a very-low-calorie diet. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 64(3), 610. link

Last Reviewed: January 25, 2018

Watch the video: Optifast is a very low calorie diet Developed by Nestlé Health Science (June 2022).


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