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FAQs | Frequently Asked Questions

Is it true that I can’t eat while I’m on the OPTIFAST® program?
The typical OPTIFAST program dietary protocol doesn’t include conventional food. A key component of the program is a specially formulated full meal replacement diet followed by a gradual transition to regular foods at the completion of the active weight loss phase.

What is the advantage of using a full formula diet for weight loss?
Full-formula diets provide a unique set of advantages over a food plan. Many people have developed eating behaviors that have contributed to their excess body weight. Cutting back on food portions, as is done in a traditional weight loss programs, just hasn’t worked for these people long term.

Advantages include:

How is the OPTIFAST formula different from other weight loss formulas?
OPTIFAST has been very carefully engineered to prevent sugar highs and lows when consumed according to its directions. This is particularly important for people who are diabetic or who have insulin resistance. We encourage you to compare the nutritional composition of OPTIFAST to any other meal replacement product.

Are OPTIFAST products nutritionally balanced?
When used as directed, OPTIFAST products provide complete, balanced nutrition, including 100% of the recommended intake for protein and all essential vitamins and minerals.

Won’t I be hungry if I’m not eating regular food?
The feeling of hunger and the impulsive desire to eat are real concerns. The causes of hunger, whether physical or emotional, are difficult to determine. To increase success in sticking with the program, controlling your hunger is a primary objective. The control involves both preventing and managing hunger sensations. Our staff will suggest various techniques to accomplish this goal. The good news is that, for most patients, hunger sensations fade within a few days to two weeks after starting.

I have allergies and would like to know the nutritional information for OPTIFAST products.
Click here to open a PDF with the OPTIFAST nutritional information. If you still have questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.

What should I do if I’m invited out to eat while I’m on the OPTIFAST program?
Dealing with social eating events is one of the topics that our staff will help you work through. There are a number of options to consider and strategies that people have successfully used to help them enjoy these social events and still stick with the program. While in the early stages of the program some choose to avoid social interaction all together until they feel secure that they won’t be tempted to ‘slip’. Others are ready almost immediately. Only you will know what’s best for you.

Will strict dieting ruin my metabolism and will my metabolism drop after I lose weight on OPTIFAST?
Research demonstrates that dieting does decrease your resting metabolic rate (RMR). This is the body’s natural response to a food shortage. The study went on to find that RMR increases as calorie intake increases; at six months after the OPTIFAST program participation, there was no difference in the RMR of people who lost weight using OPTIFAST and those who lost weight using a reduced calorie diet of conventional foods. There is no conclusive scientific evidence to prove that there is a drop in RMR after weight loss with OPTIFAST. But after any method of weight loss, a person cannot consume as many calories as before their weight loss because of your new decreased body mass. Regular exercise can also help maintain and increase a person’s RMR.

I read that as soon as you start eating regular food again all your weight comes right back on. Is this true?
As far as gaining back the weight, this could happen IF a person just did the liquid formula diet and made no other changes, just like on any other diet. Our team will provide you with very intensive education and support throughout the program and beyond. This is necessary to help you successfully discover your own issues relating to weight management and help guide you in changing these habits. Plus, our maintenance program provides the on-going support needed to help make these changes a permanent part of your lifestyle.

Do you have to be on all formula?
No, but for those who want to lose the weight quickly, it is the best option. In addition to our full-formula programs, we offer a partial-formula program. It is important to remember that the weight loss will be slower on this than on full formula. For those that are unsure if they can comply with a full-formula program, you may choose the option to start on either a shorter program then you feel is really necessary and then move up to a longer program; or you can start on a partial formula program and then move to a full-formula program. Rest assured our staff is more than willing to work with you so you will feel comfortable with your decision.

Why isn’t there a diet using regular foods that compares to the OPTIFAST diet?
With self-prepared foods, it is not possible to achieve a balanced 800-calorie a day diet that meets the necessary nutritional requirements. Studies indicate that people tend to underestimate calorie intake and overestimate energy expenditure. Research comparing the use of meal replacements versus self-prepared meals consistently shows greater weight loss with strictly measured meal replacements (like OPTIFAST) than with self-prepared foods.

How does weight loss in people following the OPTIFAST diet compare with that of people following an Atkins-like diet?
Very low carbohydrate, high protein diets are often rich in animal fats and cholesterol. Many health experts are concerned that if such a diet is consumed for a long period of time, the fat and cholesterol it contains may place people at an increased risk for cardiovascular diseases including stroke and heart attack.

Also an Atkins-like diet contains around 20 grams of carbohydrate a day. This is roughly the same amount found in a single banana. Consuming adequate carbohydrate is important because many tissues in the human body must use glucose, a simple carbohydrate for energy. When people eat less than 100 grams a day, their bodies compensate by significantly altering their metabolism. Mixing calorie sources gives you the energy you need to get through the day.

What type of diet do OPTIFAST program patients use after they’ve completed their program?
During the active and transition phases, OPTIFAST program patients are taught how to choose a healthy diet low in processed sugars and rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and fat-free dairy products. In fact, the diet looks very much like that depicted in the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid. Does all of this mean no more of your favorite foods? Absolutely not! By the time you’ve completed your program you will know how to incorporate your favorite foods into your new healthier lifestyle—just not as often!

I’m an emotional eater. Is this the right program for me?
Yes! Eating for comfort or to relieve anxiety is one of the biggest challenges facing America today. Many physicians and psychiatrists often refer to food as “America’s most popular and widely abused anti-anxiety medication.” When you think of it this way, you can understand more accurately the detrimental effects eating for the wrong reasons have on our bodies and lives. Eating for emotional reasons may be a behavior learned at a very young age, even as an infant. These patterns need to be changed before anyone can achieve the long-term success they are looking for. One of the keys to changing behaviors is not to just focus on eliminating the “bad ones” but to incorporate new ones into our daily habits.

Can I exercise while I’m on the OPTIFAST program?
Yes! Exercise is strongly encouraged after your first week of weight loss. We also strongly recommend developing and following a routine exercise program not only because it is a key component of successful weight loss and weight management, but because physical activity provides a variety of long-term health benefits such as preventing illness, injury and disease.

Can I lose weight and keep it off if I don’t exercise?
It is possible to lose weight and keep it off without exercise, but it is very rare. According to the National Weight Control Registry data, people who don’t begin an exercise program when they try to lose weight and/or stop exercising after losing weight, almost always regain whatever weight they took off.

Does my health insurance cover the cost of the OPTIFAST program?
Our program fees do not include your medical evaluation or monthly office visits. We will bill your insurance company for these medical expenses, thus saving you some of your program costs. Your only expense will be whatever your co-pay is. We will also write an order for your monthly blood work so it can be run through your insurance as well.

Can I afford the OPTIFAST program?
When reviewing the cost of the OPTIFAST program it is important to remember that the cost of all of your food is included during the active phase and partially through the transition phase. When budgeting for the cost of the program, many patients remark that they are actually spending less money than they would have they continued to eat out at restaurants, fast food places, and bought food at the grocery store!

Another added benefit is the reduction in medical costs associated with being overweight. The harmful effects of many diseases and conditions associated with obesity lessen or disappear completely after weight loss, thereby reducing the amount of money spent on doctor’s appointments and prescriptions.

Is the OPTIFAST program tax deductible?
Yes! A good portion of the OPTIFAST program is tax deductible. As of 04.02.2002, the IRS will allow people who are diagnosed by a physician as being obese to deduct the costs of the services in the OPTIFAST program. A person must be under the guidance of a physician in order to qualify. The ruling does not cover the cost for food or for food replacements. It is important to note the ruling does not apply to weight loss services that are aimed at improving a person’s appearance or general health. For further information, please contact your tax advisor.

May I use my Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to pay for the OPTIFAST program?
People who have a Medical FSA may use their current year plan to pay for eligible weight loss expenses. You will need to pay us directly, but we will provide you with th necessary documentation so that you can be reimbursed. The key to FSA claims is proper documentation from a physician stating the diagnosis of obesity and its treatment program.