A couple of years ago, most of us had never heard of Optavia. Now it’s one of the most Googled diets in the world! Why? Word has spread like wildfire as folks rave about the plan built around protein-rich snacks.
“You have to find what works for you. This worked for me,” insists TLC’s Cake Boss star Buddy Valastro, down 35 pounds even though he still samples sweets daily. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania teacher Brittany May, 26, shot to Instagram fame as she snacked off an astonishing 336 pounds in 22 months. “Every part of my life has changed,” she recently revealed. Other dieters including Oregon mom Katie Patterson, 43, report shedding 18 pounds a week, even 100 pounds in 12 weeks. The bottom line: If you like snacking and crave dramatic weight loss, it’s a pretty amazing way to go.
The gist of the approach — used by Optavia and other brands like Medifast and Wonderslim — is simple: Dieters get five pre-packaged protein-rich mini meals to spread through the day (choosing from protein-spiked soy-based cookies, snack crisps, pasta, and dozens more offerings). They also prepare a sensible low-carb dinner. Think of it as a riff on an old-fashioned shake diet but with more sittings and more substance. And it works for the same reasons shakes do — plus so many more.
When we tried Optavia’s snacks at the Woman’s World offices, we enjoyed their honey mustard pretzels and mac ’n’ cheese. But our favorite part: Every time we wanted something to munch on, it was time to eat again, so we needed zero willpower.
Johns Hopkins’ Lawrence Cheskin, MD, part of Medifast’s advisory board, confirms the advantage: Since you eat every two to three hours, “you don’t get excessively hungry and you’re less likely to feel deprived.” There’s more: Yale scientists found that keeping calories down is key to the biggest results on any diet. And separate studies show nothing keeps calories down better than pre-portioned food; without it, we inadvertently eat an extra 800 calories per day. Of course, ready-made foods are also extremely convenient and easy to load with ideal nutrients for maximum fat loss.
Most of the foods from Optavia and similar brands are supplemented with soy or whey, which are top sources of amino acids we can only get from high-quality protein. Turns out, these amino acids are crucial to metabolism, and those of us with weight problems often don’t get enough.
Yet when we do increase intake, it can make magic happen: A University of California study found that, compared to meals made with other protein, soy-based meal replacements doubled weight loss, even for weight loss–resistant diabetics. What’s more, an international study found simply adding a whey supplement at breakfast helped dieters over age 50 drop twice as many pounds! No wonder folks report losing weight faster than on keto, even though the Optavia approach “feels far gentler,” says Cheryl Childs, DO, an Iowa-based physician who personally lost 48 pounds.
The Optavia Diet Meal Plan: A Sample Day
Trying the official Optavia plan is easy. Just go to Optavia.com, where you can pick up a discounted starter pack (mini meals cost about $2 to $3 apiece) and even get a coach to help you through the process. Prefer to get a feel for the plan before you commit? It’s easy! Enjoy five preportioned protein-rich snacks a day (use the options below, or create your own with about 110 calories and 10 grams of protein each). Then make a “lean and green” dinner with 5 to 7 oz. of lean protein, 3 cups of non-starchy veggies, and 2 servings of healthy fat. As always, get a doctor’s okay to try any new plan.
Super Snack 1: 1 single-serve container low-fat cottage cheese or a single-serve container of vanilla Greek yogurt.
Super Snack 2: 1 lower-cal protein bar, such as Luna Protein or SimplyProtein. A savory option: Krave jerky bar.
Super Snack 3: 1 packet Wonderslim.com’s Spicy Cheese & Pasta or 2 sticks fat-free mozzarella string cheese.
Super Snack 4: 1 pack Bumble Bee Sensations seasoned tuna with crackers or 1 bag Quest Protein Chips, any variety.
Super Snack 5: If you prefer to test Optavia before buying a big supply, you can order 7 meals — like Ziti Marinara — for about $20.
Optavia Bonus Recipe: Healthy & Hearty Pot Roast Supper
This comfort food classic is delish — and the perfect low-carb sensible dinner!
- 2½ lbs. boneless beef chuck roast
- 2 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 Tbs. soy sauce
- 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp. dry mustard
- 6 cups whole mushrooms, trimmed
- 3 cups celery, roughly diced
- 3 cups green beans, trimmed
- 2 cups scallions, chopped
- Trim roast and rub with garlic and black pepper to taste.
- Make a series of small shallow slits in top of roast and place in slow cooker.
- In small bowl, whisk soy sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire, and mustard; add salt to taste. Pour over meat. Cover; cook on low 8 to 10 hours or on high 4 to 5 hours.
- Add veggies during last 30 to 60 minutes of roasting.