Medifast Vs. Ideal Protein: Overview, Similarities, and Differences


You might be wondering, what are the similarities and differences between Medifast and Ideal Protein? Should you try them? Which is best?

Losing weight has always been a confusing topic for many. Do you limit your carb intake or increase your protein intake? What about the high-fat, low-sugar approach? Should you focus more on exercise instead of dieting? Both?

All of these questions can have multiple answers with conflicting points of view. However, there is a constant fact – A caloric deficit leads to weight loss. Eating fewer calories than your body needs will inevitably lead to weight loss.

Can you achieve a calorie deficit by choosing prepackaged meals? Of course.

Enter – The Medifast and Ideal Protein protocols.

In this article, we will briefly define Medifast vs. Ideal Protein, then turn out focus to highlighting the similarities and differences between the two approaches.

What is the Medifast Approach?

The Medifast diet or protocol is a low fat weight loss plan that guides people to consume specific foods and beverages. Some foods included in this protocol are:

·       Shakes

·       Puddings

·       Bars

·       Soups

·       Oatmeal

·       Cappuccino

·       Hot cocoa

Medifast was first founded in 1981 by William Vitale, a medical doctor and has since been rebranded to Optavia.

Every product sold by the Medifast company contained an appetite suppressor referred to as Super Citrimax. It is derived from an Asian plant known as Garcinia Cambogia. 

All Medifast meals were calorie counted, individually portioned, and carbohydrate controlled which were thought to essentially cause ketosis for some individuals.

Focusing on eating these foods, along with a Lean and Green meal (i.e., low-fat meats plus veggies), every day could cause significant weight loss.

According to Medifast, their diet could lead to a weight loss of 1–2.5 kilograms per week which was actually disputed..

This diet had a 5 plus 1 rule, which states that you could eat 5 prepackaged meals from Medifast plus 1 regular meal that you prepared yourself.

The meal must have low fats and low calories.

The company did insist that people consult with their primary care physicians before adopting the protocol.

You see, some people with certain medical conditions may not be fit to follow this diet. For this reason, a tailored opinion from a healthcare professional was always recommended.

Medifast has since been rebranded and in its new form, is called Optavia.

Is Optavia The Same as Medifast?

Optavia is a weight loss program that’s based on the Medifast protocol. The company that owns Medifast (Medifast, Inc.) also owns Optavia.

Optavia is the replacement product for Medifast.

Although, these two brands are quite similar, they do have a few key differences.

For starters, while Medifast offered a wide range of food items, Optavia has many different new selections available in different forms such as milkshakes, brownies, and bars.

The makers also claim that both Medifast meals and Optavia meals are interchangeable.

Secondly, the foods offered by Optavia are said to be of higher quality than those offered by Medifast with a focus on preserving muscle with an emphasis on fiber and protein.


And finally, while you could purchase Medifast products without signing up for their weight loss program, this isn’t the case with Optavia.

If you want to buy Optavia products, you first have to sign up for one of their weight loss plans.

Optavia is more expensive than it’s older counterpart, and some claim the taste is not as pleasant.

If you were thinking of trying Medifast, you will now have to sign up for Optavia as Medifast has been rebranded as Optavia.

The Optavia plans will require you to eat six or seven times per day depending on the plan you choose. The three available plans are:

  • Optimal Weight 5 & 1 Plan: You will eat five Optavia “fuelings” and just one “lean and green” meal per day. This plan is the most popular plan.
  • Optimal Weight 4 & 2 & 1 Plan: You will eat four of the brand’s “fuelings” and two “lean and green” meals, and one snack item per day.
  • Optimal Health 3 & 3 Plan: You will eat three “fuelings” as well as three “lean and green” meals.

All Optavia products contain multiple vitamins and minerals, protein and a patented probiotic.

They also claim to contain no colors, flavors, or artificial sweeteners.

The Optavia plan also offers a community and coaches through their website, which was not available when Medifast was created.

What is the Ideal Protein Protocol?

Ideal protein is a weight loss protocol that first emerged more than 20 years ago. It was pioneered by a French doctor named Tran Tien Chanh.

Doctor Chanh had a Ph.D. in sports medicine, nutrition, and biology. His vast knowledge in the field allowed him to develop the Ideal Protein method.

Initially, this protocol had one purpose in mind – Helping athletes lose body fat while maintaining their muscle mass. However, this diet has gained massive popularity among the general public, especially when some doctors started vouching for it.

After thousands of people managed to lose weight, this protocol kept gaining more traction. With all the money involved in the field of weight loss, it has become quite difficult to tell apart what protocol actually works.

Today, celebrities do brand endorsements all the time, leading thousands of people to follow questionable approaches with zero evidence of efficiency. Many believe this is the reason behind Ideal Protein’s success.

The Mechanisms of Action of Ideal Protein

Our food is ultimately broken down into three elements:

·       Carbohydrates

·       Protein

·       Fats

The cells can use all three elements to produce energy. Clearly, the most accessible form of energy is sugar.

More specifically, simple sugars are the preferred form of energy. If unavailable, the body turns to complex carbs. Once the stores of carbs get depleted, the body starts using fat and protein for energy.

The Ideal Protein protocol takes advantage of cellular biology to cause weight loss, which is what many ketogenic diets “claim” to do.

Ideal Protein Phases

There are three phases of the Ideal Protein plan that you will follow:

  • Weight Loss Phase

You will limit carbohydrate intake to enter ketosis.

  • Stabilization Phase

You will gradually reintroduce carbs into your diet to maintain weight.

  • Maintenance Phase

You will use your new “macro code” and coaching support to maintain weight.

Ideal Protein Products

Ideal Protein offers many products like any prepackaged meals would, such as:

  • Cereal, pancakes, oatmeal, and omelets for breakfast
  • Entrees such as mac and cheese
  • Snacks
  • Soups
  • Cappuccino drinks and other flavors
  • Desserts.

By limiting your intake of carbs, the cells must use protein and fat for energy. While this would usually lead to muscle mass loss, the high intake of protein prevents this from happening.

Therefore, the cells have no other form of energy except for fats.


When organs use fats for energy, we refer to this type of metabolism as a ketogenic state. By burning your stores of fats for energy, you will notice rapid weight loss. Your cravings will also fall in order, stopping you from binge eating and regulating your blood sugar levels.

But is a diet that is low carb sustainable? Heck no. This is why I preach about the fact that there is no need to partake in low carb diets. This is actually why Ideal Protein reintroduces carbohydrates in later phases.

You CAN lose weight eating carbs. You do not have to restrict carbs to lose weight or keep weight off.

Medifast Vs. Ideal Protein – Similarities

The number one similarity between the Medifast (now Optavia) diet and Ideal Protein protocol is caloric restriction.

Both diets limit your caloric intake by putting you in a deficit of around 400–800 calories per day.

Typically, an average male that weighs 200 pounds would need around 2,200–2,500 calories per day to maintain his weight. Limiting his intake to 500 calories will allow him to lose around 1-2 pounds per week.

Another similarity between the two diets is eating low-fat foods.

The Medifast (Optavia) diet plans and Ideal Protein plans require people to purchase prepackaged foods to consume every day, multiple times per day.

Both diets are a bit costly as you need to buy premium products to ensure your caloric intake.

Both Ideal Protein and Optavia plans also offer a website with a community and coaches.

Medifast Vs. Ideal Protein – Differences

Perhaps the main difference between the Medifast (Optavia) diet and the Ideal Protein approach is the composition of macros you’re allowed to eat.

In the Medifast (Optavia) diet, you’re only allowed to eat one meal per day that has veggies. Conversely, the Ideal Protein protocol encourages you to eat plenty of veggies during the day.

This may be an advantage of the Ideal Protein protocol. You see, the most common complaint about these diets is gaining back the weight once you stop following them.

For this reason, the Ideal Protein protocol may be a good option to adapt yourself to eating large amounts of veggies.

Remember to think of these diets as a jump start toward living a healthier lifestyle. If you only consider them to be a temporary solution and get back to your old eating habits, gaining back the weight is only a matter of time.

Takeaway Message

The Medifast (Optavia) and Ideal Protein approaches are effective ways to lose weight. Both protocols have thousands of people to vouch for.

However, these meal plans are not required to lose weight. The only real benefit of these plans is that the meals are prepackaged to make things easier.

Both of these plans have one common similarity, they put you in a calorie deficit. When you are in a caloric deficit, this is when weight loss occurs.

The plans can also cause quite a dent in your budget, so if you are looking to save money, these plans may not be the greatest choice.

If you do choose to try out Ideal Protein or Medifast (Optavia) then you sure can, but it is possible to lose weight with the old tried and true calorie deficit by eating the foods you want to eat.

You do not have to restrict any macro group to lose weight, especially not carbohydrates.

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