The Optifast Program, according to their website, is:
A medically supervised weight management program that closely monitors and assesses progress towards better health and emotional well-being. The program, which usually lasts 26 weeks, utilizes a full meal replacement plan that transitions to self-prepared ‘everyday’ meals, in conjunction with comprehensive patient education and support.
The program includes medical supervision, counseling, personalized support, and of course various Optifast meal replacement shakes.
Optifast’s parent company, the infamous candy bar maker Nestle, commissioned a study that found using the Optifast Program before weight loss surgery can help patients lose enough weight to significantly reduce health risks associated with various procedures.
I could’ve saved the Nestle team several million dollars by sharing this well-known fact in nutrition science:
Any program that creates a calorie deficit and offers medical supervision and support is going to result in weight loss.
So if weight loss is your key goal (not necessarily fat loss), and you don’t care about the ingredients and sugar content in the products you buy, then Optifast may work just fine for you.
If you want to lose fat … or if you’re looking for a nutritious, all-natural protein powder / meal replacement, then Optifast is not your best bet.
In my Optifast reviews, I’ll analyze all their meal replacement shakes and protein powders by looking at two objective pieces of information:
- The Ingredients
- The Nutrition Facts Label
Let’s dig in …
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Optifast sells 5 types of protein powders and meal replacement shakes:
- Optifast 800 Ready to Drink
- Optifast 800 Shake Mix
- Optifast HP Shake Mix
- Optisource Very High Protein Drink
- BeneProtein Instant Protein Powder
Let’s look at the nutrition facts information labels and ingredients for each …
Optifast 800 Ready to Drink
Optifast 800 Shake Mix
Optifast HP Shake Mix
Optisource Very High Protein Drink
BeneProtein Instant Protein Powder
Ok, that’s a lot of information to digest. Let’s sum up the highlights and lowlights … I flagged the things that concern me in red and will further explain each below.
Summary of Optifast Shakes Nutrition Facts and Ingredients
|Product||Optifast 800 Ready to Drink||Optifast 800 Shake Mix||Optifast HP Shake Mix||Optisource Very High Protein Drink||BeneProtein Instant Protein Powder|
|Grams of Protein||16||16||26||24||6|
|Protein Source(s)||Milk protein concentrate, soy protein isolate||Milk protein concentrate, soy protein isolate||Whey protein concentrate|
Milk protein isolate
|Milk protein isolate||Whey protein isolate|
|Grams of Sugar||4||4||10||12||0|
|Free of “Natural” and Artificial Flavors||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|Free of Gums & Thickeners||No||No||No||No||No|
Lots of red flags here, you guys!
Here are the biggest ones …
- Protein sources: Most Optifast meal replacement shakes contain milk protein concentrate or soy protein. Dairy-based protein powders are associated with many negative health effects. Whey can certainly work if you can tolerate it and you’re trying to build lean body mass (there’s plenty of evidence to support it in that regard). However, if you any type of gut sensitivities, you should avoid whey because it can promote inflammation. Same goes for soy.
- Sugar: As you can see, Optifast “nutritional” shakes contain anywhere from 4 to 12 grams of sugar, depending on the product. In case you haven’t heard, there’s a mountain of evidence that shows eating sugar that doesn’t come from fruit makes you fat and is correlated with a wide range of other health issues.
- Natural flavors: Like nearly all protein powders and shakes, Optifast uses the innocuous-sounding “natural” flavors. The Environmental Working Group, in an article titled “The FDA Failed Us,” had this to say about natural flavors: The term “natural flavor” finds its way into more than a quarter of EWG’s roster of 80,000 foods in the Food Scores database, with only salt, water and sugar mentioned more frequently on food labels. “Artificial flavors” are also very common food additives, appearing on one of every seven labels. What do these terms really mean? Good question. The truth is that when you see the word “flavor” on a food label, you have almost no clue what chemicals may have been added to the food under the umbrella of this vague term. For people who have uncommon food allergies or are on restricted diets, this can be a serious concern. In addition to the flavor-adding chemicals themselves, flavor mixtures often contain natural or artificial emulsifiers, solvents and preservatives that are called “incidental additives,” which means the manufacturer does not have to disclose their presence on food labels. Flavoring mixtures added to food are complex and can contain more than 100 distinct substances. The non-flavor chemicals that have other functional properties often make up 80 to 90 percent of the mixture.
- Corn- and soy-based fillers, additives, and gums: All Optifast products contain a lot of additives and gums, many of which can be disruptive to gut health. Maltodextrin, a corn-based thickener/filler, is the second or third ingredient for most of their shakes. While research published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism shows maltodextrin to be safe for healthy young athletes who use it for post-exercise glycogen resynthesis, other studies show it causes insulin spikes, may suppress the growth of probiotics, can cause allergic reactions and side effects, and is almost always made from pesticide-ridden, GMO corn.
- Organic: There are zero organic ingredients in Optifast’s meal replacement drinks and protein powders. This means you’re getting a healthy dose of pesticides and herbicides with that protein shake.
Bottom Line: Are Optifast Shakes and Powders Good for You?
The facts are Optifast shakes a) are not organic; b) have a lot of sugar; c) contain lots on corn- and soy-based additives, fillers, and other junk ingredients.