Medifast – What Your Physician Should Know

Medifast has been providing a clinically proven approach to weight loss and nutrition since 1980.

Medifast nutritional products are formulated with only the highest quality ingredients. Patients should work closely with a physician prior to starting and while following the Medifast Program.

Why have so many people been successful with Medifast?

The Medifast Program is a lifestyle plan that includes three phases: weight-loss, transition, and maintenance. Medifast uses nutritionally balanced meal replacements to help your patient lose weight safely and quickly. Medifast products are formulated with the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, and minerals. Your patient will appreciate Medifast’s “no-counting” approach to weight loss, which provides structure and simplicity while meeting all of the body’s nutritional needs.

Why does Medifast work?

Medifast is designed to safely create a gap between caloric intake and caloric expenditure without sacrificing nutritional needs. Each Medifast Meal is formulated with a proven balance of carbohydrates and protein for improved satiety and program adherence. The key to success on Medifast is the nutrient-dense, low-calorie Medifast Meals that promote mild dietary ketosis, helping the body achieve fast weight loss while preserving muscle tissue. This fat-burning
state also helps eliminate physical hunger while providing sufficient levels of energy.

The Medifast 5 & 1 Plan
5 Medifast Meals (any combination) + 1 Lean & Green Meal of lean protein (or meatless options) and vegetables

The 5 & 1 Plan provides 800 to 1,000 calories and 80 to 100 grams of carbohydrates daily through pre-portioned, vitamin- and mineral-fortified meal replacements. We encourage patients to eat every 2 to 3 hours to maintain proper nutrition, energy, and blood sugar control, and to avoid hunger. Protein and vegetables from the Lean & Green Meal should be weighed and measured with a food scale or measuring cup before eating. The 5 & 1 Plan is a low-sodium, low-fat meal plan with adequate protein (less than 30% of the calories). The Lean & Green Meal is comprised of 5 to 7 ounces of lean protein (or meatless options), 0 to 2 healthy fat servings (depending on protein choice), and 3 servings of vegetables. This meal may be consumed at any time during the day.


Drink a minimum of 64 ounces of non-caloric fluids daily. Water is recommended. Medifast provides additional meal plans for your patients with special dietary needs, including:

Type 2 diabetes mellitus
Seniors – ages 70+
Teens – ages 13-18
Nursing moms

Medifast suggests that patients who already have an exercise program in place decrease the intensity of the exercise the first 2 to 3 weeks of starting the Medifast Program as their bodies adjust to the 5 & 1 Plan. Once they have adjusted to the fat burning state, activity can be gradually increased back to the normal level. Patients new to exercise can start a low- to moderate-intensity exercise program with physician approval 2 to 3 weeks after starting the 5 & 1 Plan. To improve compliance and promote long-term commitment, Medifast recommends incorporating activities patients will enjoy. No more than 45 minutes of vigorous exercise per day for patients on the 5 & 1 Plan.

Patients with diabetes

Prior to beginning the program, Medifast recommends that all patients with diabetes consult with their physician about the program and current medication dosages. For patients on insulin, sulfonylureas, thiazolidinedoines, and other medications, Medifast suggests that they check their blood a minimum of 2 to 3 times daily, especially at the beginning of the Medifast Program. As blood glucose levels improve with weight loss, continual physican monitoring is necessary to determine proper therapeutic levels of medications.

Concerns for women

Because estrogen is stored in adipose tissue, fast weight loss may cause an increase in the level of blood serum estrogen. Increased estrogen levels can affect the regularity of menstrual cycles and possibly increase PMS symptoms. Fast weight loss, along with higher estrogen levels, can also increase fertility. If a patient becomes pregnant, she should discontinue the 5 & 1 Plan immediately due to the low calorie level. Lactating women who need a higher calorie intake are advised against using the Medifast 5 & 1 Plan.

Contraindications to the 5 & 1 Plan

Significant medical conditions and certain medications may prohibit patients from using the Medifast Program. In some cases, patients may be able to use Medifast Meals as an occasional meal replacement. It’s recommended that physicians screen patients for the following conditions:

Heart attack within the past 3 months; recent or recurrent
strokes or mini-strokes; unstable angina; severe liver or kidney
disease; clotting disorders; active cancers; eating disorders;
severe psychiatric disturbances; current use of steroids over 20
mg/day; current use of lithium; or type 1 diabetes.

Patients over 70 years of age

Patients over age 70 can use the 5 & 1 Plan with close supervision. Some physicians have recommended a higher caloric intake based on individual needs. Medifast offers higher-calorie meal plans (1,000 to 1,500 calories per day) for this population.

Potential side effects

Most patients feel great on the Medifast Program. However, some patients may experience:

• Constipation
• Diarrhea
• Dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue (in first week)
• Feeling cold
• Dry skin and hair

Medifast and lactose intolerance

Medifast offers a variety of low-lactose and lactose-free products.

Medifast and prescription medications

Most prescription medications will not interfere with the Medifast Program. However, as patients lose weight, medication dosages may need to be adjusted.

• Medications for depression, thyroid or hormone
deficiency, etc., may be continued while on Medifast.
• Medications for arthritis, such as Indocin® or naproxen,
should be avoided due to potential stomach irritation.
• Medications for blood pressure usually need to be
adjusted as patients progress on the program.
We do not recommend the 5 & 1 Plan for patients using over
20 mg of steroids, such as cortisone or prednisone, per day.

Medifast Program Phases

Weight-Loss Phase:

Patients follow the 5 & 1 Plan designed to induce mild dietary ketosis for safe and effective weight loss.

Transition Phase:

Designed to reintroduce healthy foods (including fruits, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains) into the calorie- and carbohydrate-balanced meal plan. Transition phase duration is a minimum of four weeks.

Maintenance Phase:

Designed to provide nutritionally-balanced and energy-appropriate meal plans to patients for successful lifelong weight management.

For more information:

Diana Young, RD, LD/N, CDE provides complimentary coaching to assist your patient in obtaining their goals.


One response to “Medifast – What Your Physician Should Know

  1. I’m big fan of Medifast diet plans!! Thanks for the full detailed information regarding Medifast programs… It is really safe and healthy!!

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