Medifast Liquid Diet: Is It a Safe Treatment for Obesity?


Lately there’s been renewed interest in the use of very low calorie, liquid diets to treat obesity when other more conservative diet plans have failed to work. The Medifast Liquid diet is one of the most popular liquid protein diets available to the public. This very low calorie diet typically provides the patient with 400 to 800 calories a day in the form of high protein liquid shakes. The very low calorie portion of the program is maintained for a period of three months at which time sensible, well balanced meals are gradually added back into the patient’s diet to give them a reduced calorie diet of around 1000-1200 calories per day. During this period, the patient learns how to eat a well balanced diet in preparation for maintaining their initial weight loss.

But, is the Medifast Liquid Diet safe? Interestingly enough, very low calorie liquid protein diets earned a bad reputation in the 1970’s when sixty deaths were attributed to the use of these diets to treat obesity. A subsequent investigation showed the liquid protein diets on the market at the time were composed of a substandard protein which likely played a role in the patient’s deaths. The modern very low calorie liquid protein diets, such as Medifast, derive their protein sources from milk and egg whites, both of which supply high quality protein components.

It’s important to note diets such as the Medifast Liquid Diet are not suitable for patients who have only a few pounds to lose, due to their very low calorie composition. The ideal candidate would be someone who is morbidly obese and who has failed more conservative diet plans. Other good candidates would be patients who are moderately obese with underlying medical conditions that necessitate rapid weight loss to avoid worsening of their underlying health problems.

The Medifast Liquid Diet plan should never be initiated without a complete medical consultation to rule out medical conditions that might preclude participation including a history of stroke or heart attack, depression, or pregnancy. The diet should only be followed while under the close supervision of a medical doctor.

What are the potential side effects of the Medifast Liquid Diet plan? Participants may experience occasional dizziness and lightheadedness, increased sensitivity to cold, constipation, and hair loss. There’s also an increased risk of gall bladder disease due to the rapid weight loss.

How about maintenance of weight loss after completion of the Medifast Liquid Diet plan? One disadvantage to the program is it does cause the metabolism to slow, meaning the patient will quickly regain the lost weight if she returns to her previous eating habits. Thus, it will be important to promote healthier eating habits and stress the importance of exercise for long term weight control.

If used under close supervision by a medical professional, patients who are morbidly obese may benefit from using the Medifast Liquid Diet to achieve weight loss they might not otherwise be able to achieve which can have long term positive effects on their health and well being.