Optifast shake Review: Does it work?

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Expert rating: 2.7/5

Customer rating: stars-icon voted

Intro: What is it?

Optifast shake is a meal replacement that claims to be nutritious enough to fully replace a meal. It’s available in: French Vanilla, Strawberry, and Chocolate.

Also offered are ready to drink shakes, high protein varieties, and powders that can be mixed with liquids and fruit. The company only sells these shakes at select centers, though they do claim they’re are effective on their own without needing to visit a clinic. So is this true? What can you expect in terms of weight loss and what’s the overall quality of the brand? You can find out the truth about Optifast in this review.

Optifast Ingredients

Here are the ingredients to the ready to drink French Vanilla formula:

Water Sugar Sodium Caseinate Calcium Caseinate Corn Syrup Solids
High Oleic Sunflower Oil Potassium Citrate Calcium Phosphate Tribasic Magnesium Chloride Sodium Chloride
Natural Flavors Artificial Flavors Cellulose Gel Carrageenan Potassium Hydroxide
Mono and Diglycerides Soy Lecithin Absorbic Acid Cellulose Gum Choline Chloride
Ferrous Sulfate Zinc Sulfate Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate Niacinamide Calcium Pantothenate
Copper Gluconate Manganese Sulfate Pyridoxine Hydrochloride Thiamin Hydrochloride Vitamin A Palminate
Riboflavin Chromium Chloride Folic Acid Biotin Potassium Iodide
Sodium Molybdate Sodium Selenite Phytonadione Cholecalciferol Cyanocobalamin

 

A few interesting things to know about their ingredients:

Cellulose Gum: Thickener used to give the overall fomula better consistency. A study published by Nature, an international weekly journal of science, showed it caused inflammation and it increased obesity in mice.

Ferrous Sulfate: Used as an iron source for people who are malnourished.  Studies have shown the risk for constipation is high. Often this is prescribed alongside anti constipation medication.

Copper Gluconate: Copper supplement aid that can cause rash, hives, breathing problems, and chest pain in large amounts.

Sodium Selenite: A selenium supplement which can be toxic in large amounts.

Cholecalciferol: A form of vitamin D3 that is used to kill rodents.

Artificial Flavors: Lab created synthetic additive used as a cheap alternative to natural flavors.

Carrageenan: Extract of raw seaweed which his added as a thickener.  Studies show it can cause stomach lining irritations and inflammation. In the European Union it is no longer allowed in baby food due to health concerns.

Potassium Hydroxide: An ingredient used to help remove body hair as it weakens hair follicles.  It’s also used as a disinfectant.

Macronutrients and Calories

Calories 160 Calories from Fat 25 Total Fat 3g, 5% Saturated Fat 0.5g, 3% Cholesterol <5mg, 1%
Sodium 220mg, 9% Potassium 460mg, 13% Total Carbohydrate 20g, 7% Sugars 17g Protein 14g, 28%
Vitamin A 20% Vitamin C 30% Calcium 25% Iron 20% Vitamin D 30%
Vitamin E 20% Vitamin K 20% Thiamin 30% Riboflavin 30% Niacin 20%
Vitamin B6 30% Folic Acid 20% Vitamin B12 20% Biotin 20% Pantothenic Acid 20%
Phosphorus 20% Iodine 20% Magnesium 20% Zinc 20% Selenium 20%
Copper 20% Manganese 20% Chromium 20% Molybdenum 20% Chloride 10%

 Sugars

It’s incredibly high in sugar since it weighs in at 17 grams per serving. If you were to replace 2 meals a day, you’d be getting 34 grams of sugar.

Shakes often add their own low calorie sweeteners due to the effect high amounts can have on preventing weight loss.

According to Authority Nutrition.com, the recommended daily allowance for grams of sugar is:

Men: 37.5 grams

Women: 25 grams

So men can only have an additional 3.5 grams, while women are 9 grams over the daily limit in 2 shakes worth of Optifast.

Calories and Fat

There’s 160 calories and 25 of them are from fat.  To determine the percentage of fat you have to divide these numbers:

25/65=0.15 multiplied by 100=15.62% of fat.

The 160 calories is almost double the amount of calories that some meal replacements have. Extra calories mean you have to burn more in order to receive weight loss benefits.

Dietary fiber

There’s not one single gram of fiber added to this shake. Some fiber is often added to meal replacements since it helps stave off hunger. Without any fiber, one has to rely on only the protein to provide hunger suppression.

The Quality of Optifasts protein

Each serving has 14 grams of protein, or 28% of your daily value. So if you get 2 shakes, you’re taking in 28 grams worth of the following:

Sodium Caseinate: Also known as casein, it’s a protein found in milk. Studies show it can lead to stomach issues and some say it causes autism.  Out of all the dairy sources, this ingredient is most likely to cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to dairy. Studies also show it can lead to cancer. The FDA also revealed that it can cause damage to the kidneys.

Calcium Caseinate: A form of protein taken from either casein or 1% milk. It has some glutamic acid, which is a non-essential amino acid our body already produces.

There’s many studies performed on the dangers of Sodium Caseinate. Also, Calcium Caseinate is another protein source which is lacking in quality amino acids. One of its main sources of aminos is already made in the body.

The Price and Quality of Optifast

The company runs clinics that sell these shakes; they’re not available online unless you want to risk buying from sellers on EBay.

One website forum with real customers has people describing different prices that they paid. The lowest price I saw was $126 for a week’s supply at 2 shakes a day. Of course the company sells these shakes in bundle packages, which also comes with assistance.

So by using the lowest quoted price, a 7 days amount at 2 shakes daily is $126.

$126/7 days=$18 a day.

This is the highest price I’ve seen for a meal replacement. Considering that there’s a high amount of sugar and that the protein source is lacking, you’re not getting a good deal at all.

Hunger Suppression

Both fiber and protein are useful in helping prevent hunger. When looking to lose weight it’s not helpful receiving many calories if you still feel hungry.

The high amounts of sugar in Optifast are known to potentially increase weight. Also, the since there’s no fiber in this shake, you have to rely strictly on the protein.

14 grams of protein are added, but they come from 2 types of protein which have their own problems. One of which is high in unnecessary amino acids, the other which some studies say can cause health problems such as stomach irritations and cancer.

Every forum I read that reviewed these shakes also mentioned that it didn’t help people fight hunger.  Willpower plays a bit role in weight loss, to not be able to stop thinking about food is not a good sign. Many people have asked for help on staying away from excess calories when supplementing with Optifast shakes.

The Dangers of High Sugar

Optifast shakes have 17 grams, or 34 grams depending on how many servings you have a day. At 2 shakes replaced a day you’re getting lots of sugar that comes from 2 sources.

Sugar: Standard sweetener which can affect blood sugar levels negatively and it can increase the risk for cardiovascular disease. High amounts of this can promote obesity. It’s also known to increase hunger and even lead to type 2 diabetes if over consumed.

Corn Syrup Solids: Thickener and sweetener which is extracted from corn starch. It’s 100% glucose which is an easy to use energy source. Reports are mixed, but some claim that it contributes to obesity much more so than other sweeteners.

You ideally want to limit as much sugar as you can to avoid weight gain. Since a large chunk of Optifast is sugar, it increases the odds that you won’t be able to lose weight, and in fact you might gain pounds.

To find out how much sugar makes up the calorie content you can do a simple formula. Sicne there are 4 grams of sugar per 1 calorie, you multiple the amounts found in Optifast by 4.

17 grams multiplied by 4=68% of the calories in Optifast are from sugar.

This is an incredibly high amount, and it means you’re mostly paying for a sweetened beverage.

Business

Optifast is owned by Nestle.  You can find Optifast clinics which have people on staff which are meant to help you lose weight. You can reach the company via the following:

Phone Number: (800)662-2540

Address: 445 State Street

Fremont MI, 49412

In order to get the best weight loss results, the company suggests using their clinics. However, they are notoriously pricy, and even the meal replacements on their own are costly. The only online place to buy Optifast is from EBay where it’s unknown if the quality is good.

Customer Opinions

No customer testimonials or before and after photos are offered. There are mixed reports available on different forums. Here are some of the most common things people have had to say:

“I’m really struggling with not cheating”

“Bad stomach cramps”

Having problems with diarrhea”

“The drinks are pretty gross”

“I’m always hungry”

The average person mentions that it didn’t reduce their hunger, and that it didn’t have a pleasant taste. The lack of hunger suppression might be due to there being no dietary fiber. It’s unknown what’s causing the bad taste some have experienced.

Conclusion

Optifast is one of the most expensive meal repalcements you’ll ever see. There’s also some concern over the following:

  • The protein used is controversial: Calcium Caseinate is low in essential amino acids, while Sodium Caseinate has been linked to numerous potential issues. Some studies show it can lead to cancer, and many other reports have mentioned it irritates the stomach lining. The FDA also advises to avoid taking large amounts of Casein since there are fears it can potentially cause kidney damage.  They also state that most foods don’t often provide enough Casein to cause problems. Since this shake has a high amount of protein, it means you’re getting large doses of a potentially dangerous dairy source.
  • Some of the ingredients are potential allergens and they can cause symptoms: 7 of the added nutrients are known to be either potentially toxic, or some of them are advised to be taken only with a physicians recommendation. This is because it’s important to find out the level of tolerance each person has. One ingredient has even been banned in children over fears of growth developmental problems.
  • Incredibly expensive considering the ingredients: Many of the additives are cheaper forms of other wholesome ingredients. For example, there are plain cheap sugars, potentially dangerous thickeners, no fiber, high calories, and artificial flavors added. For $18 a day you get 2 servings, this is the most expensive price seen in a meal replacement, and the quality isn’t very good.
  • There’s a lot of sugar at 34 grams a day: 2 shakes a day will have you passing the recommended daily allowance for sugar if you’re a woman, as a man you’re only a few grams away from this limit. Sugar is not only unnecessary, but it can stall and prevent weight loss. It can also lead to obesity, insulin resistance, and an increase in hunger. It’s also not required in the human body, it’s simply added to flavor the shake.
  • Customers often complain about the lack of hunger suppression: Keeping your appetite at bay is important to avoid the temptation to overeat. Optifast has no fiber, so you have to rely only on protein. None of the reviews available were from customers who mentioned they were satisfied with Optifast. The average complaint was made about how people still experienced bouts of hunger.

Judging all the available information makes it easy to see why Optifast wasn’t well reviewed by customers. It’s lacking in too many key areas. There’s not enough quality protein, it’s badly reviewed by customers, there’s lot of sugar, many of the ingredients can cause potential symptoms, and the price is incredibly high. In fact it’s one of the priciest meal replacements.

There are better options available to help you lose weight.

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