General Diet Plans and Questions - Optifast

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06-20-2001, 12:07 AM
Hello Ladies & Gents!

Last week, I started the Optifast program. Is anyone out there currently on Optifast or has had success/failure on the program in the past? I am kind of doing this alone... and I could use some support, input, motivation, etc.

It has been a tough 7 days... mentally and physically... but I have lost 8.5 lbs. I consume 800kCal from the program, 128oz of water, and 5 pieces of sugarless bubblegum daily (I recently quit smoking --- gum keeps me on the horse!).


06-20-2001, 12:47 AM
...I am definitely in the MINORITY. If you check my website, I have my story there.

I did Optifast in 1990 - started at 265 pounds. At the end of the fast, I was down to 207.5 pounds. Kept losing even after the fast and got down to 182.5 - this was 26 weeks after beginning the fast.

BUT - a big caveat here - I was doing Optifast through a study with Stanford University involving hundreds of women - the study was an 18-month study on weight loss maintenance. I'm looking at the study results right here - I was definitely better than average. The study timeline is in kilograms rather than pounds. and has my baseline weight at approx. 117 kg. Postfast weight at just below 95 kg. 3 months after fast - 83 kg. 6 months after fast - 81 kg. 18 months after - 84 kg.

In comparision, the average baseline weight was 101 kg. Post fast - 85 kg. 3 Months after fast - 83 kg. 9 months after - 86 kg. 18 months after - back up to 95 kg.

So what am I saying here?? It worked for me, but not for most of the people in the study. If you're going to do Optifast, you need to be DEEPLY committed to it. Basically, I got rid of all solid food in my home - my then-husband ate out instead. If you want to truly succeed, you need to be commited to making permanent lifestyle changes - otherwise the weight will pile right back on (a la Oprah in 1989). Optifast costs a lot of money and there are significant health risks with limiting your calories so much, so you need to think VERY carefully about what you're doing.. just my two cents.

06-24-2001, 09:29 PM
Hey MrsJim,

Congratulations to you on your success years ago! ..and thank you for your words of wisdom!

I did my research, and I know all about the failure rate... the risks... I have to visit my physician (a board-certified cardiologist on the upper east side) once weekly for monitoring and vitals. I do not have any serious health problems... even with 3 years of smoking my pulse and blood pressure are normal. My EKG and heart sonogram were both normal. So, I'm not jumping into some crazy diet without professional advice and monitoring. Being under a physician's care while dieting is not only a great way to make sure you stay healthy while you lose... but, its almost a motivation... I was PROUD on Thursday when I visited the doctor... and my physician, the nurses and office workers praised me for my success. It felt great!

What I like about OptiFast is... basically... unless you lose your willpower and eat... you really almost can't fail, unless you have some sort of inborn hormonal problem (which, unfortunately, is true for many people). There's no portion control (which can lead you to overeat, whether or not you intend to)... and no specification of what you can and can not eat...its a very simple formula.

Its purely psychological for me... whenever I crave anything, I either coach myself in my head, or I, <forgive me for sounding vain> fantasize about myself thin again... and I weigh my desire to reach my goal versus taking a bite of food. I even keep a small photo album of myself (I was thin my entire life until 3 years ago)... its truly inspiring. I also keep a journal... and I maintain a spreadsheet where I plot my weight loss... and I set short term goals for myself. My sister has promised to take a photo of me every Sunday when she comes over...this way... if my weight loss ever slows down... or I start to lose my willpower to continue dieting... I can review how far I have already come. When you look at yourself in the mirror every day --- you sometimes lose sight of how far you have already come...

My approach to the diet is... I just have to do it... that's it. And no matter how long it takes me... I will succeed.


07-05-2001, 11:50 AM
Sorry for the late reply but I just joined :)

I did optifast in 1989. Back when it was new and you did a 6 month fast. I believe it has changed now.

Although I did loose 120 pounds and found it ot be a very esy program to do, I had HORRIBLE side effects and did not keep the weight off.

I lost my hair. It took 2 years for it to grow back as thick and nice as it was before Optifast.

I lost my gall bladder. 3 months post fast I have gall bladder surgery.

Had the program help me learn whay I overate and how to control that I think I may have had better success keeping it off. But I am not sure the hair loss and gall bladder loss was worth it.

Diet plan begun 6-30-01

07-05-2001, 12:53 PM
My opinion is that, since it was a Stanford study, they spent a lot more time with us teaching us about nutrition, proper eating habits, exercise, etc - perhaps more than you would get at, say, a clinic offering Optifast.

I still have my big ol' binder from when I was in the program with all the journals, food diaries, calorie counts, etc. we were required to maintain, as well as the educational materials.

Also, all the study participants were required to take "Actigall" to prevent gall bladder problems (so prevalant with very-low-calorie diets) during the fast.

BTW, our fast only lasted 12 weeks which I understood to be the 'standard' fast-time on Optifast. After that, we had a period of time where food was gradually re-introduced. I remember one week, we had an assignment (after the reintro phase) to have a 'special' treat and write down what we had, how hungry we were, how it tasted, how satisfying - I chose a piece of cheese pizza for my treat.

I have heard of people on Optifast whose hair fell out - that didn't happen to me and I don't recall whether it happened to anyone in my study group. I wouldn't be surprised though. Mostly I was cold much of the time so wore sweaters, etc.

07-05-2001, 03:57 PM
Dear Mrs. Jim,

I lurk around these boards alot and I enjoyed reading your website. You are to be commended for your wonderful accomplishment of making your health a top priority!

It's reassuring to hear that you had success with Optifast. I was on it briefly when I was a sophomore in high school and not surprisingly, I didn't even last a week on it.

Now that I'm grown, though, the prospect of just giving my body a "break" from food and food decision-making seems so comforting and welcoming to me. In fact, I have been seriously considering giving Optifast a second try, but I've been so discouraged by what I've read about these "semi-starvation" diets and how your body becomes so used to consuming 800 calories a day, that when you try to feed it, say, 1,200 calories, you gain all of your weight back because your metabolism has slowed down. Is this true? In your case, I imagine once you completed the liquid fast, you consumed a bit more calories and yet, you mentioned that you continued to lose. Does this state of "lowered metabolism" exist forever or do you eventually regain your pre-fast level of metabolism?

I've considered the price of Optifast and since it's so darn expensive, I thought maybe I could just substitute one of the many high-protein meal replacement shakes on the market.

Any thoughts?

Thanks a bunch,

07-05-2001, 05:40 PM
Hi Jennifer -

Like I said, I was one of the VERY FEW successes (out of hundreds of participants) in the study.

My belief is that I was extremely MOTIVATED to change my entire lifestyle. I had already started working out prior to participating in the study, although I really stepped up my intensity after going on it.

Before doing Optifast I was trying to learn to 'accept' being obese. Part of that was reading publications such as Radiance and good thing that came out of that was finding out that I COULD exercise and have fun at 265 pounds (though it's much more fun now!). I bought a low-impact aerobics video that I loved called "Idrea Says Yes You Can!" that I found very motivating at the time...I'm sorry but Richard Simmons is just not my cup of tea at all.

I also took a "Great Shape" class at Kaiser Hospital, which is a large-size women's dance/movement class that was fun as well. After losing my first 25 pounds or so, I swallowed my pride and enrolled in a low-impact aerobics class at the local Rec, escalating into Jazzercise, cycling, etc.

As far as doing a VLCD (very low calorie diet) on your own, I definitely wouldn't recommend it, nor would I recommend products such as Slim-Fast which have way too much sugar and not enough protein! Not only does going down that far in caloric intake create havoc on your metabolism, but without the medical support and testing, you could very well set yourself up for some pretty drastic side effects. While I was on Optifast I had my blood tested every week, EKG's every two weeks, and medical checkups weekly as well as the regular session with the nutritionist/counselor and my group.

Right now, I'm on week 11 of Body for Life. I do use 2 shakes a day called Myoplex Lite as two of my six daily meals. You may want to check that out - it's really a great program and doesn't cost an arm and a leg!!! Take care.

07-09-2001, 12:51 PM
Good luck to you!

I was on Optifast many, many years ago - and was also a part of a study group. I lost 130 lbs, and kept it off for 5 years. I then got pregnant, had a gorgeous girl, went back to my pre-preggers weight within a few months.

Unfortunately, I kind of "forgot" that even though breastfeeding eats into the calories, it's not a free-for-all.

My weight has spiraled upwards at about 20 lbs per year.

18 mos. ago, I signed up for Optifast again, and found that the program (and my body) had changed significantly. There were now protein bars to chew, and the cal count was significantly higher. I wasn't losing as fast as I had the first time.

Then the constipation set in... something this poor body's never dealt with. (Too much information, I know). My doc wasn't sympathetic, and offered little help. The office ekg machine didn't work for a number of weeks... I grew more and more disenchanted with the program. I had lost 30 lbs... in 8 weeks.

Then came the real kicker. I discovered that they had billed my insurance plan for a bunch of tests I never received.

Now, I know it's not the Optifast program itself, but this particular doc... but still, watch your billing statements carefully.

Again... I wish you luck. It won't work for THIS body at this time, but hey... it may work for you... and I hope it does!!