If you’ve spent any time searching for ways to lose weight, I can relate. There are a ton of programs and methods out there and frankly, much of what I found was a lot of conflicting advice. Today I’m here to discuss one question: does the Optavia program work?
My experience with losing weight on the Optavia program is a positive one, despite what you may read elsewhere across the internet. I actually stumbled onto the program by being inspired by an individual I stumbled across on the explore feature of Instagram. She seemed genuine and was passionate about living a healthy life now that she had personally figured it out and wanted to help others do the same.
I messaged her to inquire about her coaching services after I admitted needing help to actually create some lifestyle changes. There’s a lot of negativity regarding the Optavia program, so I understand why she didn’t tell me about the name of the program right away. She put me in touch with another coach since she was maxed out with clients at the time.
It was at this point that I realized this was a program rather than an independent coaching setup, but I decided to jump in regardless and committed to three months.
What is Optavia?
Optavia is a weight loss program made up of a network of independent coaches that work with you 1-on-1 to be successful on the program. There are various eating plans depending on your individual person, but each focuses on eliminating sugar and processed foods and replacing them with vegetables, lean proteins and water as well as “fuelings” – that are convenient/balanced small meals to stabilize blood dugar in the form of bars, shakes, and various other foods (pudding, brownie, cookie, soups, stews, etc).
- 5 & 1 (five fuelings, 1 lean and green meal)
- 3 & 3 (three fuelings, 3 lean and green meals)
- 4 2 & 1 (four fuelings, 2 lean and green meals, 1 healthy snack)
- 5 2 & 2 (5 fuelings, 2 lean and green meals, 2 healthy snacks)
These different programs are to accommodate different body types and energy levels and in some cases can be transitional.
My coach and I determined that I wanted to lose 25-30 lbs during my consultation call and the 5 &1 plan was suggested for me. Most people (myself included) are not eating a balanced diet. The beauty of the Optavia program is that most of the work that comes along with eating healthy, i.e. meal prep, is done for you by means of the fuelings.
The plan was to eat a fueling every 2-3 hours throughout the day to keep my blood sugar stable (which is key for everyone, it helps you avoid the hanger zone) and to eat one lean and green meal per day that I prepare myself. I chose Optavia primarily because I could eat something all day (the fuelings) and because of the convenience built into the program: namely that I wouldn’t be responsible for six meals per day while I was trying to transition away from what I was used to/learn the new rules.
I was a little bit concerned that the majority of the meals you eat on this plan come in the form of bars/shakes/prepackaged foods, but I reasoned that this was only going to be for a short time (three months) and that they consisted of a decent amount of protein, low fat content, and pre/probiotics, etc.
Is it expensive?
I would say yes. I am a DIY person in most things and delight in finding coupon codes and saving money. I normally would not pay for a program like this, but I personally was at my wit’s end. I realized that I was shying away from photo opportunities and making excuses to not be outside (where you must wear as little clothing as possible or melt this time of year). I paid about $400 each month that I did this program.
I learned so much on the program, though. Before the program I had NO IDEA how much of anything I should be eating. It was eye-opening for my family too when they saw how many vegetables I was “allowed” to have on my plate. I also realized that there is added sugar in most products (spaghetti sauces, salad dressings, sauces, etc). You may already know these things, and honestly I thought I did too, but I just knew of those things. I hadn’t ever struggled to find a spaghetti sauce without added sugar in the grocery store before to truly understand (I left without one that day).
Can you eat out at restaurants on program?
You can! There is actually a guide to eating out at restaurants that’s helpful. I found, though, that the items I was allowed to order were mostly salads (limited choices on dressing) and it was hard to know whether the portion sizes were matching up if I ordered things besides a salad. It’s also impossible to know all of the ingredients included, so you’re not sure if you’re self-sabotaging your progress. For these reasons, I only ate out once or twice while I was working the program because I just didn’t enjoy spending $12-15 on a salad that might not have been following guidelines, anyway.
Biggest Personal Takeaways from the Program
- You must drink 64 oz of water every day
- My body feels lighter/less bloated on the days I eat mostly vegetables
- Alot of energy comes from food rather than sleep. I can sleep “enough” and still feel heavy/sluggish if I haven’t been properly.
- Life is about moderation. I can indulge on the weekends if I stay close to the program during the week. For me that means limiting how much bread I have, no pure sugar during the week (ice cream, brownies, candy, etc.), and no alcohol during weekdays. The weekends I can have whatever I feel like because life is best lived with a balance.
What I’ve changed since I went “off” program
I strive for much more moderation than I used to. Two nights per week I will cook one of the easiest lean and green meals that I heavily relied on during the program just to balance out other days that may be less healthy (zucchini/mushrooms/low fat mozzarella cheese all cooked up in a skillet).
I drink 64 of water EVERY DAY now. I even bought a new reusable cup that is 32 oz so that it’s easier to keep track of (two bottles is all I need to hit my daily quota).
I weigh my food now, especially when I’m only eating vegetables. I tried to eyeball it a few weeks ago and underestimated how much I should get. A food scale is something you can get for less than $10 and is necessary for portion control.
I try not to mix too many “bad” things on indulgent days. By this I mean that I would not have pizza and soda and dessert. It’s just too much for my stomach to handle these days all at once and results in big time pain and regret. I have found that I can have one indulgence at a time, sometimes two – but the pain when you overdo it is never worth it.
I like to hide vegetables in dishes that I can’t taste. It’s not too hard to puree some zucchini and mix it into a sauce or add spinach to an omelet, etc. I also have a zucchini taco shell recipe that is a little involved to make but tastes FANTASTIC and is a full serving of vegetables.
I try to moderate my favorite meals. I like to make quesadillas as a quick dinner and have started filling them with zucchini and mushrooms and half fiesta cheese/half low fat mozzarella cheese and only putting a little butter on the side that touches my tongue rather than both sides. To mix my favorite dipping sauce that goes with it, I swap in greek yogurt for sour cream now. Small changes add up.
Other Common Questions
Is it safe?
You’ll see a lot of people dragging the Optavia program on the internet because of the calorie count. It IS low calorie (and by low, we’re talking under 1100 per day) but the idea is to eat mostly vegetables and lean proteins. The American diet is typically a SAD one and lacks most of the things we should be prioritizing (including mine pre-program), so it is a bit of a system shock.
You are paired with a coach who is there to answer your questions and help you work to find the right balance of programs that work best for you. There is a facebook community that is also very helpful in offering up recipe ideas, habit changes, etc. Optavia also has a nutritional support line if you’re really struggling to transition and not feeling your best on the program.
Is it a MLM?
Technically, I think yes it is. I knew this going in and have had experience working an MLM in the past. I know most people get a bad taste from MLMs, mostly because people don’t understand how to sell to strangers so they instead corner their friends/family but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from it. My coach did ask if I was interested in becoming a coach, but I was not interested and was not pressured into pursuing that (she would have earned commissions off of my sales to new incoming members of the program).
It will depend on the personality of your coach, really. There will be those that are just interested in selling and earning commissions, but mostly the people who have chosen to become health coaches have learned how/made life changing decisions and want to help others do the same. Don’t avoid starting just because you’re afraid of being sold something. We’re being sold things at every turn in life. 🙂
Can I do it on a budget?
The program itself is fairly pricey for most poeple (about $400 or so a month per person). You could replicate the concept with different foods and still be successful, but you do lose some of the convenience and properly balanced fuelings that the company supplies.
Is it a way to lose weight quickly?
Depending on your interpretation of “quick” — the answer will vary here. Since it likely took you years to gain enough weight to feel like you need to join a program to lose weight (**me**), it only takes a couple months of focused, hard work to lose the same amount of weight. I probably gained the 25 pounds that I lost over the course of about 4-5 years and lose it in three months. I would say that’s pretty quick, but it didn’t feel quick during those 13 weeks when I was saying no to dinners out and wine.
Did the weight loss stick?
I followed the Optavia program 100% for thirteen weeks. I lose 27 lbs (15.6% total weight) and slowly incorporated regular food back in after that. Now, I strive for an 80/20 balance and try to eat more by the book during the week and have less restrictions on the weekend. I also hula hoop enthusiastically during week days and am planning to incorporate some weight training as well. I have been off program for about three months (as long as I was “on” program) and am holding steady at the same weight I ended the program. Weight isn’t the only factor, of course, and I’m still wearing my old clothes that I could magically fit into again after the program. Moderation can go a long way if you focus more on the better-for-you things.
I know it’s tough to admit that you have to make changes. It’s even harder to find a way to do that, whether it be on your own and trying to wade through all of the information out there or decide which program will work best for you. I hope this review answered some questions and I’m happy to answer any additional questions in the comments.