Founded in 1974, OPTIFAST touts itself as the gold-standard of liquid diets. Offered by hospitals and physicians throughout the country, the meal replacement program caters to people who are at least 50 pounds overweight or have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. It can be used by people with a BMI of 25 or higher if they suffer from obesity-related illnesses. The OPTIFAST plan is a calorie-controlled regimen made up of liquid supplements and bars.
The program has three main components: medical, behavioral and nutritional. To participate, you must first undergo a medical evaluation to see if you meet the standards of the OPTIFAST plan. Once you are a patient of the OPTIFAST program, you have a team of physicians, dietitians and counselors at your disposal.
You are monitored by a physician who looks over your progress and also works with your general practitioner. The program is also used to help people prepare for bariatric surgery. There are weekly check-ins where patients also receive individual and group counseling to build healthy habits that can be maintained for a lifetime.
Studies show that 50 percent of those who complete the program maintained their loss. Patients lose an average two to four pounds per week. The program lasts 12 weeks and then a gradual transition is made to a healthy balanced diet. The program costs $550 for the 18-week program, which doesn't include the $100 weekly charge for meal and snack replacements.