A Dietitian’s Thoughts on the Optavia Diet

Every few months or so, a new hot diet starts showing up all over my Instagram feed. And, honestly, I usually just ignore them. But when questions about the Optavia diet started flooding my DMs too, I went to take a peek.

Disclaimer: this is 100% my unbiased opinion as a registered dietitian specializing in weight loss and metabolism. I’m never going to bash a product for clicks or because I just don’t like it – that’s not me. I actually have some direct sales products I use and love, so this is in no way hating on multi-level marketing. Let’s get into it.

protein powder scoops, protein bar, chocolate and vanilla protein shakes in glass cups, and protein shake in shaker bottle

What is Optavia?

If you’re not familiar with it, Optavia is a weight-loss diet that prescribes eating a mix of purchased, packaged food – called “fuelings” – and homemade “lean and green meals” 6+ times a day. The diet is set up to consume certain foods in certain amounts vs having to count calories or macros. Each meal contains protein, fat, and fiber, with a big emphasis on protein. So far, this doesn’t sound too bad.

However, I don’t love the idea of 6 meals/day because seriously – who has time for that? Any “rules” that require a ton of time and effort are a red flag in my book because if it’s not sustainable forever, it’s not going to work forever.

I looked more into the “fuelings” and found that they are highly processed, which is another red flag for me. I realized the reason they are so high in protein is that there is added whey or soy protein (check out more sketch protein powder ingredients to steer clear of here), along with a long list of other ingredients that I personally would not be comfortable putting into my body on a daily basis.

I’m not a processed food hater – I think there’s a time and a place and listen, WE’RE BUSY PEOPLE. But understand that certain foods are inflammatory no matter which way we swing it, and inflammation is one of the #1 culprits of weight loss resistance. Sure – you’ll probably lose weight on this plan initially – but is it worth the damage these ingredients are doing to your body in the long run?

IDK about you, but I plan to live until I’m a spry 120-year-old, and I’m not going to do that by eating soy protein isolate all day long.

Now, there are several different plans to choose from and some are definitely more doable and “safe” than others. But the top-recommended plan that you’ll see MOST of your family, friends, and IG influencers following is the 5&1 plan. This translates to 5 “fueling” meals and 1 regular meal, which will land you around 800 calories and very few carbohydrates, making this an extremely effective plan for rapid weight loss. However, just because a diet can promise you fast results does not mean it’s something you should do.

What does Optavia do?

Eating so few calories and carbs will lead to fatigue, brain fog, muscle wasting from rapid weight loss, and binge eating. Yes – that’s right – highly restrictive diets lead to binge eating because your biology is always stronger than your willpower.

Our bodies refuse to survive on so few calories/day and will eventually trigger your hunger hormones so strongly that your drive to eat will be almost impossible to ignore. And generally, when this happens, we don’t just stop at a few chips, or a simple sandwich or a cookie. Once those hunger hormones go on overdrive, they have a hard time signaling the “off button,” which is why you’ll find yourself turning into a bottomless pit once you start.

The binge and restrict cycle is so dangerous when it comes to dieting and can really damage your metabolism while leading to either no weight loss or even weight gain.

When I started to talk about Optavia, I received message after message from people talking about how they tried the diet, felt miserable, tanked their metabolism, gained the weight back (and then some), and some even ended up with more serious medical conditions.

My verdict?

Just say no. It’s not worth it. You’re not special – you won’t be the one person who sees fat loss, maintains a beautiful relationship with food, enjoys bringing Tupperware meals to dinners out, and then sustains it forever. I don’t care who you are – eating an extremely low-calorie diet WILL tank your metabolic rate, making it very difficult to not gain the weight back 3-6 months from now.

Did I mention it’s about $400/month? Get a meal delivery service like Factor 75, spend the same amount of money, and eat real food.

If you’re interested in learning more about other diet plans you’re seeing all over Instagram, check out my post here where I cover much more.

You might also like...