Why I Quit Optavia After 6 Months (It wasn’t the price)


After doing the Optavia diet for over 6 months, I’ve decided to quit.

Despite seeing dozens of jaw-dropping before and after pictures, social media posts, and success stories, I believe this weight loss program has some disadvantages that I want to discuss.

This article is not intended to bash Optavia. It’s just my personal experience and it may be different for others who did this program.

As a whole, I quit the Optavia diet for a number of reasons. Firstly, after losing over 20 lb of weight, I gained it all back. Secondly, eating not enough calories led to significant muscle loss, poor performance, and lower libido. On top of that, I was sick and tired of being pressured by the coaches to start selling their products to my friends and family members.

These are just a handful of motives why I stopped their weight loss program. Today I want to share with you my personal experience of why I quit the Optavia diet, and most importantly, what I’m doing now instead.

Optavia ruined my life

It’s fair to say that Optavia ruined my life becasue, after 6 months of doing their weight loss program, I stopped doing things that I love, and started to hate how I feel.

  • Optavia made me sick. I started to feel lethargic and constipated. Most of the time I had stomach problems, cramps, constipation, and irregular bowel movements.
  • In the gym, everything felt heavy and difficult. I wasn’t able to lift the weights that used to be easy during my training.
  • I started to crave foods that were prohibited in their program. I craved sweets, pasta, rice, and bread.
  • My endurance was crap. I wasn’t able to run or walk for longer distances because I felt tired and lethargic.
  • I started to have occasional sleeping problems. According to the internet, it was because of the extreme calorie deficit (as far as I know, I haven’t studied this a ton).
  • I also wasn’t able to perform at work during high-pressure tasks like sales presentations and important meetings.
  • Plus, I love to socialize with friends around food, and with Optavia, I felt like I’m not myself anymore.

Of course, initially, I was extremely pleased with my results.

With Optavia 5&1 plan, I’ve managed to lose 20 lb within the first 10 weeks. However, the longer I stayed on the program, the less and less weight I was losing.

I gain the weight back after the Optavia diet

It all started when one of my coworkers lost over 40 lb in just under 5 months. She said that she did a 5 and 1 Optavia plan and explained everything about calories in meals and the gentle fat-burning state.

She also lost quite a significant amount of weight. After doing online research and seeing heaps of success stories, I decided to give it a try.

My goal was not only to lose 20 lb but also to maintain my results. In the beginning, I was very pleased.

  • I lost over 20 lbs within the first 10 weeks (I went from 210 lb down to 190 lb).
  • According to my skinfold calipers, my skinfold measurements went from 40 mm to 35 mm.

So, yes, it worked (but only temporarily).

However, I started to feel weak. According to my wearable fitness tracker that measures body fat percentage and lean muscle mass, I lost more muscle than fat.

As you can imagine, after my initial weight loss, I gained all the weight back (plus more).

I lost 11 lb of muscle mass on Optavia

One of the biggest problems I have with Optavia is that it’s not suitable for people who want to build muscle and lose fat at the same time.

Out of the 20 lbs I lost, 8 lbs was from fat mass and over 11 lbs of muscle, according to my InBody BAND 2.

After scrolling through the Pubmed publications I find out that one of the downsides of rapid weight loss and low-calorie diets is the loss of lean body mass.

This happens because of metabolic adaptations.

Let me explain.

If you’re in a calorie deficit (without sufficient protein intake), natural compensatory physiological responses include increased muscle protein breakdown and lower muscle protein synthesis.

For example, one study by Stefan Pasiakos, Ph.D., has shown that during the energy deficit (10 days), on average, muscle protein synthesis was reduced by 19%.

However, with higher protein intake, the protein synthesis was elevated (higher than breakdown) despite eating fewer calories.

Needless to say, it took me months of hard work, consistent resistance training, and sufficient protein intake to balance the muscle loss and reverse the weight gain after stopping Optavia.

Optavia does not have enough proteins

Picture of Optavia fuelings from my cupboard
Most of the Optaia fuelings have only 11 grams of protein

One of the reasons why I quit Optavia is because it has too many carbs and not enough proteins.

Multiple studies have shown that one of the most important things during the hypocaloric diet is high protein intake.

  • More protein means you can maintain muscle protein synthesis.
  • With more protein, you can preserve lean body mass.
  • More protein increases daily energy expenditure.
  • And most importantly, more protein prevents weight regain after weight loss. 

How much protein you should eat on the Optavia diet depends on your body weight and physical activity. Most studies recommend that a high-protein diet equals to eating between 1.2 – 1.6 g of protein per kg.

Here are some of the key takeaways from studies I managed to find on Pubmed.

  • A study done by Dr. Margriet S. Westerterp-Plantenga from Maastricht University in the Netherlands showed that people who consumed 18% of their daily total energy as protein experienced 50% less weight regain compared with controls.
  • In another study, Dr. Manuela P G M Lejeune (also from Maastricht University) documented that people who consumed 18% of their daily total energy as protein showed significantly lower weight regain, even after 6 months follow-up.

Unfortunately, Optavia does not work like that. On average, the Optavia 5&1 plan delivers 70-75 grams of protein and over 100 grams of carbohydrates.

(For me, 75 grams of protein equals to 0.7 grams per kg).

  • One Optavia snack aka “fueling” has 11 grams of protein.
  • A person who weighs 190 lb needs between 140 – 160 grams of protein to meet daily protein requirements.

That means I needed to consume over 100 grams of protein with my one “lean and green” meal. A better solution was to eat 3 protein-rich meals and drink 1-2 protein shakes per day.

NOTE: I’ve already written an article where I go into detail about eating proteins during calorie deficit, which I recommend you read.

Optavia is not a safe way to lose weight

One of the reasons why Optavia is not a safe way to lose weight is because they promote eating mainly highly-processed food, also called “fuelings”. Fuelings are pre-packaged snacks that provide 100-120 kcal per serving.

Of course, I don’t think there is anything wrong with an occasional meal replacement, especially when you’re busy.

Drinking low-calorie shakes and eating meal replacement bars, cereals, and preprepared entrees is definitively an easy and convenient way to lower your food intake.

According to Lawrence J. Cheskin, M.D., an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, portion-controlled meal replacements have shown greater initial weight loss compared to a standard, food-based diet. 

However, that is not an ideal approach for long-term results.

NOTE: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey report that only 1 in 6 overweight and obese adults reported maintaining weight loss for the first year.

Optavia does not promote healthy eating habits

Optavia dies does not create long-term habits that build a healthy relationship with food (which is what helps to maintain the results for longer).

David B. Sarwer, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist from Chicago, said that “approximately 30%–35% of lost weight is regained one year following treatment and 50% of patients will return to their baseline weight by the fifth year out from weight loss”.

According to Dr. Sarwer, one of the main reasons why people regain weight after the initial weight loss is the lack of behavior and lifestyle changes.

  • Optavia diet does not educate how to build resilience and mental strength.
  • They also don’t teach how to be able to confront daily environments that encourage over-eating and discourage physical activity.

Instead, they encourage you to eat 1,000 calories per day where your body enters a gentle but efficient fat-burning state.

Optavia have not enough calories

The picture of Optavia brochure
I quit Optavia because it was not sustainable in the long-term

I stopped doing Optavia because I was eating around 1000 kcal per day (I will explain why this is not enough in a moment). The Optimal Weight 5&1 Plan that I was on worked by eating 5 Optavia fuelings and 1 “Lean and Green” meal each day.

(Lean and Green is one regular meal of your own choice, ideally packed with protein and veggies).

Eating 6 “meals” per day, every 2-3 hours (total 1000 kcal) can be an effective way to torch excess fat in the short-term, or when done intermittently.

For example, you can eat 1000 kcal per day for 3 days per week, and for the rest of the days, you eat normally.

However, Optavia recommends sticking to their program every day for weeks and months. This not only made me feel hungry but also led to performance drops.

It felt boring to eat the same foods

One thing I hate during weight loss is the monotony in my diet. I can eat less for a long period of time, but eating the same foods over and over is not sustainable.

The first few weeks were fine becasue I was keen to try all their fuelings and wanted to find my favorites.

However, as the program continued, I started to hate stuffing my face with the same brownies and meal replacement shakes.

It got so tedious and boring that I started to reach out to the normal foods that I was craving. It almost felt like I’m obsessed with food and all I can think of was something tasty.

Optavia is not a real diet but an MLM scheme

I think the biggest factor that put me off from doing Optavia for longer was the fact that my “coach” didn’t know much about nutrition. She had no nutrition or counseling background.

This was her “side gig” which means she was doing this purely for the money. This is a problem becasue I don’t want to listen to unqualified people “coaching” me on how to eat or what to eat.

According to Optavia’s motto, Optavia coaches deliver guidance and inspiration. However, the reality is different. This company relies on people selling their product for a cut of the profit.

Not only that.

At some point, my “coach” tried to persuade me to become a coach myself (surprise, surprise) and to start promoting the products to my circle of friends and family.

She talked about profit margin, client support commissions, bonuses, team growth bonuses, and other perks (so yeah, it was time to go).

Optavia has many complaints and was hit by the lawsuit

In the past, the multilevel marketing company settled a lawsuit over claims regardless of their weight loss products.

In April 2022, Optavia and its parent company, Medifast, were hit with a consumer class action alleging that the company enroll customers in an automatic renewal plan, without their consent, according to the law firm Dovel & Luner.

The Complaint

“Optavia systematically enrolls consumers in its Optavia Premier [subscription] program” using misleading methods designed to “cause reasonable consumers to miss the fact that they are being auto-enrolled.”

Dovel & Luner

In the lawsuit, we can read that “Company dodges and delays requests to cancel subscriptions“.

Personally, I hate companies like that. In the past, I’ve been charged many times for subscriptions that were supposed to be canceled and I feel disgusted when I hear stories like that.

So I quit. I don’t want to contribute to their business and definitively I don’t want to become of the “coaches”.

What do I do after I quit Optavia?

The reason why I quit Optavia is that I wanted to develop a normal relationship with food.

Normal eating means:

  • Staying connected to my physical cues and being able to differentiate when I feel hungry, bored, or sad.
  • Listening to the body’s needs and not feeling guilty when eating more than I should.
  • Tracking my food intake in a way that increases my body and self-awareness.

My goal was to focus on eating less food in total, not to eliminate foods that I like. I still enjoy eating pasta, bread, and sweets, but now I just eat less.

When it comes to workouts, I love to train in the gym and with Optavia I was feeling progressively worse, not better. Since then, I noticed my stress levels went down, my muscle mass went up, and my wife tells me I have a higher libido.

Conclusion

  • I quit Optavia because I was feeling sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. This program works, but only for the short term.
  • I needed a long-term solution and something that is more sustainable. I didn’t like the idea of having to choose foods from the “allowed” list and saying no to foods that were “not allowed”.
  • I felt weaker and less able to do things that I enjoy like going to the gym, hiking, and surfing.
  • I didn’t like the sales pressure and the idea of profiting from selling something to others that is questionable.

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is an exercise physiologist (MSc) and a veteran endurance athlete. He loves to experiment and share his successes and failures to help busy men and women who want to lose weight.

11 thoughts on “Why I Quit Optavia After 6 Months (It wasn’t the price)

  1. Hi! Great info here. I weigh 138 and want to get back to around 105. I’m on Optavia for a week now & feel weak & tired and hungry. Please advise. Thank you!

    1. Hi, Stacy!
      As much as I cannot give you any dietary or medical advice, I can tell you that from my experience doing a diet that feels hard and not sustainable won’t deliver positive results (in the long term). For me, the results from Optavia were only temporary, and today I much rather eat normal food (but just eat less). Hope that helps!

  2. Thank you, Michael. I am not drawn to Optavia, but I have had someone try to sell it to my wife. I did care for the approach, and I will leave it that. I have been doing core strengthing and yoga poses for my own develpment of muscle while trying shed the fat. I use a pre-work out formula, and I have incorperated eating some protein bars. Shedding the fat without losing muscle mass is quite difficult in a calorie reduction program. What are your thoughts on those protien shakes that say they build muscle?

    1. Good day, Richard. Protein shakes and bars are all good, as long as you use them as supplements (when protein-rich foods are not accessible). You’re right, being in a calorie deficit while maintaining muscle mass is difficult. Strength training does help, not only to stimulate muscle growth but also to reduce hunger (this is a big one for me). Hope that helps!

  3. I was using OPTAVIA products for a year before I finally quit. I initially lost 30 lbs in 5 months! Then I just became sick of the same foods and wanted to take a break and try eating healthy. What I found was I had cravings for all my favorite foods and so I started a series of yo-yo dieting with OPTAVIA. I’d eat something I wanted and then feel guilty and go back to OPTAVIA for 3-5 days. I was looking for support from my coach but all she did was pressure me to sell the product to obtain accountability however she and her team wanted me to bomb my social media with all kinds of OptVia “commercials” and when I said I didn’t want to do it that way I got the cold shoulder. I listened to you tube videos for support and found that Howe we I still could not stay interested in the fuelings any longer I was so hungry all the time and began eating multiple fuelings just to feel full enough to sleep and realized I was throwing my money away. Plus I felt irritable and guilty all the time. I also felt I was having such a hard time being social without ever eating desserts or alcohol and felt I was not living a normal life. I have decided to get on with eating limited portions of Whole Foods. Don’t exactly know what yet, but I want to eat real food va fuelings. I don’t mind protein shakes when I’m at work and busy for the ease of it and that was always one of the biggest draws for me to
    OPTAVIA since I’m single and I work hard long hours. But I still have her to find a way to lose the weight I gained back after OPTAVIA. I feel OPTAVIA has ruined my
    Relationship with food.

    1. I have been on plan since June of 2022. I initially lost fifteen pounds. In six months I have lost forty pounds and the struggle is real. The guilt is always there. Whether it be because I have fallen off the plan, or because my coach is my friend, or because, I too have a client and what can I offer her when I am tanking??? The guilt of throwing away nearly $400 a month while giving up my gym and tanning membership. I was going to cancel at the end of the year, however, I think I am ready to cancel now.

  4. I want from 175 to 125 on Optavia in about 3.5 months. It was so hard and I felt irritable and tired. I lost so much muscle mass. My normal weight is 130, and I never had a flat butt at that weight. When I was anywhere under 140 on Optavia, my butt was totally flat!! Getting back on my regular diet was even worse. I was scared to eat fruit and felt like I’d gain weight if I ate any fruit or fat. I ended up getting into a cycle of binge eating since I’d been so deprived for 3.5 months. I also ended up so deficient in iron, I had to get infusions! I had lost 50% of my hair and felt awful! In the end I shot back up to 160. Not worth it.

  5. I have been involved with Optavia for a few years now as a client and a coach… I have experienced the same negative impact to my physical and mental health… I recently decided to stop Coaching because it was causing more harm than i realized, thanks for writing this! It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

  6. OPTAVIA is extreme but it has its place. I was 200 lbs overweight and dangerously unhealthy. OPTAVIA helped me shed weight and stay motivated. As a result all my health metrics are improved and I’ve likely added years to my life. If you have less than 50 lbs to lose probably best to use a different plan, but if you are seriously overweight and working with a Dr. OPTAVIA could potentially help you initiate moving in a better direction on your weight.

  7. I have done Optavia on and off then ended up coaching. The coaching was the worst decision ever. I had no personal life. I was told my husband would get over it when I got paid. 12 hr days 7 days a week yea no thanks. Required zoom
    Meetings weekly even when you say you can’t you get guilted. My friends were and I quote “time robbers” and I wanted to further my education and I was criticized for it was asked why because I don’t need to for Optavia. The one client I had ended up with gluten sensitivity, needless to say after the life control even though I was supposed to be running my own business and the company not allowing my non existent business to change to a different coach I quit then- I packed on a few cause I just wanted to be normal for a month and eat bread and today picked those shake snack up and today I have an upset stomach all day long. Idk I am reading all kinds of horror stories. I loved it when I was on it except the extreme hair and muscle loss but I’m beginning to believe other health professionals that say this is not healthy at all.

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