Medifast shakes Review: Does it work?

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Expert rating: 3.4/5

Customer rating: stars-icon voted

Intro: What is it?

Medifast shake is a meal replacement available in both ready to drink bottles, and in powdered form. The official website claims them to be heart healthy and free of lactose.

The powdered shakes can be when mixed with water, and each shake is made specifically for weight loss. These shakes are part of a larger weight loss plan the company offers. Are there any weight loss benefits possible with Medifast shakes? How useful is it, if at all? The answer to these questions is answered in this review.

Medifast Shake Ingredients

Here are the full ingredients to the French Vanilla:

Water Soy Protein Isolate Gum Arabic Fructose Sucrose
Maltodextrin Cellulose Gel Canola Oil Dipotasium Phosphate Natural Flavors
Artificial Flavors Potassium Chloride Salt Lecithin Lactic Acid
Modified Food Starch Acesulfame Potassium Corn Syrup Solids Carrageenan Sodium Ascorbate
Magnesium Oxide Dicalcium Phosphate Manganese Sulfate Copper Sulfate Pyridoxine Hydrochloride
Thiamin Mononitrate Riboflavin Vitamin A Palminate Folic Acid Chromium Chloride
Sodium Molybdate Biotin Potassium Iodide Sodium Selenite Phytonadione
Vitamin D3 Cyanocobalamin

 Some interesting findings about the ingredients:

Copper Sulfate: A cheap copper supplement that is described as an irritant according to a study performed by the Merck Index, a study into ingredients like these. The EPA has noted that skin and eye contact can cause irritations.  The EPA also states that eating it is toxic.  A toxicology textbook showed it can cause toxic buildup in the stomach, brain, liver, and kidneys.

Modified Food Starch: Often used as a thickener and stabilizer in foods. It’s been altered in a way to make it more easily added to foods. It can be extracted from many different sources such as corn, wheat, potato, and tapioca. It’s often GMO unless the company where to mention otherwise.

Artificial Flavors: A lab created synthetic made to mimic the taste of real foods. It’s not revealed by manufacturers exactly what they extract it from, and most of the time it’s extracted from common allergens. This can include dairy, wheat, and soy.

Potassium Chloride: High doses of this Potassium supplement have been shown to cause cardiac arrest and death. It’s why this ingredient is used as a last step solution in the lethal injection process.

Carrageenan: Extract taken from seaweed that is used as a thickener. It has been banned from being used in baby food in the European Union over safety concerns.  Several studies have been performed on the safety of this ingredient.  One study performed by the Department of Pathology in Japan showed it was:

“carcinogenic to the colorectum of the rat”

Another study published by the Toxicology and Pharmalogy guidebook also showed it could cause colitis like diseases, ulcers, and damage to the stomach lining.

Cellulose Gum: Indigestible thickener used as a dietary fiber. According to Live, it may:

decrease the nutritive value in the food you eat”

It’s a cheap additive added to processed foods.

Macronutrients and Calories

Calories 90 Calories From Fat 10 Total Fat 1.5g, 2% Sodium 200mg, 8% Potassium 370mg, 11%
Total Carbohydrate 12g, 4% Dietary Fiber 4g, 16% Sugars 6g Protein 11g Vitamin A 20%
Vitamin C 30% Calcium 45% Iron 25% Vitamin D 20% Vitamin E 25%
Vitamin K 25% Thiamin 30% Riboflavin 30% Niacin 20% Vitamin B6 30%
Folate 25% Vitamin B12 20% Biotin 20% Pantothenic Acid 20% Phosphorus 35%
Iodine 20% Magnesium 10% Zinc 25% Selenium 20% Copper 25%
Manganese 40% Chromium 25% Molybdenum 50%


Of the 90 calories provided per serving, 10 are from fat.

So the overall fat content is: 10/90=0.011 times 100= 11% fat per serving.

Anything 20% or above is considered high fat according to the FDA standards.


4 grams of fiber are offered, but it’s most important to determine exactly where it comes from since there are more useful forms of fiber.

There are 3 forms of ingredients used that make up the fiber.

Acacia Gum: Taken from the Acacia tree, this ingredient can lead to loose stools, nausea, gas, and bloating.

As mentioned before, Carrageenan has had multiple studies showing how potentially dangerous it is. A study published by the Environ Health Project said:

carrageenan in the Western diet should be reconsidered”

This was said due to rate of tumors found in mice that were fed this ingredient.

Cellulose Gel is the final ingredient which is often found in processed foods. It’s possible for it to limit the amount of nutrients your body absorbs.

The Quality of Medifast Shake’s protein

The 11 grams featured in the ready to drink shake come from the following:

Soy Protein Isolate: Soybean that has been processed up to 90% protein by weight. It has all the essential amino acids and is stripped of most if not all of its fat. It has been criticized for causing many potential side effects.

A study by Pub Med showed that it increases estrogen in the urine, and according to them this could:

initiate and promote hormone-related cancers”

Since 2007 91% of all soy is GMO, it’s likely this brand also has GMO soy since they don’t mention it’s organic.

At the Aichi Medical University in Japan, people given 30 grams of soy suffered from Hypothyroidism, a dysfunction of the thyroid gland. This can lead to damage to one’s metabolism and mood problems.

Another study published in Pub Med also showed soy:

“may increase risk of developing clinical hypothyroidism”

All the protein provided in Medifast comes from soy; therefore it’s not a quality source. Also, since protein isn’t the first ingredient listed, this means most of the shake in ready to drink form is water. The FDA requires companies to list ingredients by ranking of overall prominence in a food.

The Price and Quality of Medifast Shake

The company sells their ready to drink shakes in packages of 24, or in single serving bottles.

One bottle costs $3.35, so at 2 a day it’s $6.70.

The quality of the protein isn’t as good as other sources, and there are a lot of questionable additives found such as artificial and GMO ingredients.

Use of Sweeteners

Each serving of Medifast has 6 grams of sugar from 4 different ingredients:

Fructose: Fruit sugar that can be extracted from corn, sugar beets, and much more.  It’s been shown to cause many symptoms, and according to the American Journal of Nutrition, it may:

exacerbate components of the insulin resistance syndrome”

Studies also show it may lead to cardiovascular damage, increased risk for obesity, and increased bad cholesterol.

Sucrose: A quickly absorbed carbohydrate that is extracted from different plants.  A study performed by the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry showed sucrose increased:

“body weight, systolic blood pressure, serum insulin”

This same study showed it increased bad cholesterol and even increased the risk for tumors. Other studies have shown it to lead to dental cavities as well as a drug like addiction.

Corn Syrup Solids: Dehydrated form of corn syrup which is 100% glucose.  Since it’s extracted from corn, it’s likely to be GMO.  This sweetener has had a controversial use, since some claim it’s worse on health than regular sugar sources.

Acesulfame Potassium: Calorie free sweetener that is roughly 200 times sweeter than regular Sucrose.  Many studies have been performed which have shown it may cause side effects.  PLOS One released a study which showed it:

“Alters Neurometabolic Functions”

Another study published on the Oxford Journal showed it was found in the:

mother’s amniotic fluid or breast milk”

This lead to baby mice having a preference for sweeter foods.

All these sweeteners are potentially harmful in their own way, and at 2 shakes a day you’re getting 12 grams worth. Acesulfame Potassium doesn’t add to the overall grams of sugar provided, so there’s a possibility for a large amount of it included.

The Truth About Weight Loss

In order to lose weight it’s recommended to implement a full plan provided by the company. This includes eating the foods they make, as well as introducing exercise.

This increases the cost and effort substantially, since you can’t just drink the shakes and expect the full range of benefits.

The company offers what they call their “5 and 1 plan”. This means you eat 5 of the company’s meal replacements a day, and eat one whole meal that you make at home.

An average 4 weeks supply will cost roughly $300, considerably pricy when you consider how many of these foods aren’t well reviewed.


Medifast sells other weight loss foods and they even offer clinics for weight reduction. Their customer service representatives contact information is provided via the following:

Phone Number: (800) 209-0878

Address: 11455 Cronhill Dr Ste 200

Owings Mills, MD 21117

They have been in trouble over making false allegations in the past. According to a Federal Trade Commission investigation, the company claimed their diet plan could help people lose between 2-5 pounds a week.

The FCT said they didn’t have any proof, and the company was sued for $3.7 million.

Customer Opinions

There’s many reviews online featured on

“worst tasting drink”

“reminded me of baby aspirin”

“screwed up my digestive system”

“I would continue…if it wasn’t so expensive”

Many people have complained about the flavor. People thought it tasted artificial and that the consistency was chalk like. There are also complaints about the price and lack of weight loss benefits.

There’s also no testimonials offered from the company about what can be expected solely from drinking these shakes.


The most standout things about Medifast shakes include:

  • All the protein comes from GMO soy: All 11 grams of this protein come from Soy Protein Isolate. This GMO additive is known to cause many problems to the thyroid, hormones, and overall health of those who eat it. Studies are available which show this ingredient can limit protein absorption, increase estrogen production, and potentially damage the thyroid. It’s also known to cause estrogen production which may be harmful to both men and women.
  • Some of the additives are known to cause potential side effects: Apart from the possible effects of soy, ingredients like Carrageenan, Copper Sulfate, and Potassium Chloride have potential serious side effects. Studies have shown some of these additives can cause tumors in mice, and they may cause damage to the internal organs. There’s also the possibility for increasing weight due to the artificial sweeteners. Some of these sweeteners have been shown to cause damage to the thyroid, and they even increase the risk for cardiovascular damage.
  • Customers have largely criticized these shakes: The average negative review lists the artificial taste and terrible consistency as making these shakes hard to drink. There are also many people who complain that the high price isn’t worth what you’re getting. I couldn’t find any people who reviewed these shakes as claiming to have lost weight off of them. Though it is low in calories, there’s a possibility for weight gain due to the added sweeteners.
  • There are many artificial ingredients added: When choosing a meal replacement, important to ensure you’re getting the full range of nutrients. This brand has many cheap additives which are less expensive and not as wholesome as other natural counterparts. There are cheap sweeteners, genetically modified additives, and low quality protein. All these ingredients may actually prevent weight loss, and they can potentially cause harmful side effects. It’s also not recommended to replace a meal with a high amount of artificial additives, since your body needs optimum nutrition when losing weight.
  • The company has been caught lying about weight loss benefits: The FTC has investigate the company and fined them $3.7 million for their role in making false claims. Medifast had advertising which promised weight loss without providing any evidence. Making claims like this are serious and it reveals that the company is capable of lying about weight loss.

There’s a high amount of cheap artificial ingredients, and there’s numerous negative customer reviews. It’s also considerably pricy and not well reviewed in terms of taste and weight loss benefits.

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