A friend at work was interested in losing weight and considered the Medifast Take Shape for Life program. She decided it was too expensive and made up her own diet of Lean Cuisine meals for lunch and dinner.
Three months later, she is still overweight and can't understand why.
Here's my best guess:
Medifast is not just a convenience meal diet. It is a convenience meal diet that has been formulated by nutritionists and approved by medical doctors to provide just the right balance of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. The specific ratio is designed to fuel fat burning through a process called ketosis (see What is Ketosis?).
In contrast, Lean Cuisine and similar frozen diet dinners are low calorie meals with insufficient protein and fat to induce satiety. Like the proverbial Chinese restaurant meal, you're hungry an hour later because there is not enough protein and fat in the meals to remain full.
Out of curiosity I decided to compare* two similars: the Lean Cuisine Spaghetti with Meatballs Dinner and the new Medifast Flavors of Home Turkey Meatball Marinara. The latter is one of the company's new microwavable convenience dinners that can substitute for the once a day Lean & Green meal.
Lean Cuisine: 16g
Lean Cuisine: 39g
Lean Cuisine: 6g
What I found most interesting was the inverse relationship of carbs and protein. The Medifast meal has more than three times as much protein as carbs. The Lean Cuisine meal has more than twice as many carbs as protein. The Medifast meal also has more hunger-curbing fat than the Lean Cuisine.
I should note that most Medifasters do not use Flavors of Home Meals as their lean & green meal option, but the ratios are fairly similar.
My theory on why Medifast works better than Lean Cuisine as a means to lose weight is this: the specific ratios prescribed by Medifast are designed to maximize satiety and fat burning with the minimal number of calories. When you're on a calorie-restricted diet, every calorie counts. Spending scarce resources (i.e., calories) on empty carbs is a bad investment. It's like trying to inflate a tire that has a small tear -- no matter how much air you pump in, it never fills up. And when you're stomach isn't full, you're way more likely to snack, right?
*Nutritional information sources:
Ultimately, the Medifast 5&1 Plan works better than a self-designed Lean Cuisine diet because is it is a complete program and not just a quick fix. Coupled with Take Shape for Life, Medifast not only helps people lose weight, it also helps them gain optimal health through lifelong habit change and the services of a free health coach who provides motivation, accountability and support.
You can purchase Medifast replacement meals directly from Medifast Centers, the Medifast website or -- for no extra cost -- through the co-branded website of a Medifast TSFL health coach. Medifast does not recommend purchasing its products from third party vendors, but if you choose to do so, you can find them on both Amazon and eBay.
Medifast replacement meals on Amazon
How Medifast Helped Me Develop Better Habits
Medifast Centers Vs. DIY Medifast
My Favorite Medifast Kitchen Gadgets
Medifast Vs. Lean Cuisine Diet