Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different stages of the program?

There are four phases to our weight loss program. There is an initial assessment ,an active weight loss phase, a transition phase reintroducing foods, and then the real challenging part... long-term weight management

Can I eat foods other than OPTIFAST products on this program?

The typical OPTIFAST Program dietary protocol doesn't include conventional food. A key component of the program is a specially formulated full meal replacement diet (generally 800–1280 calories/day), followed by a gradual transition to regular foods at the completion of the active weight loss phase. The OPTIFAST products used in the diet provide high quality protein and 100% of the Daily Value for 24 vitamins and minerals in the recommended number of servings

Why do I have to go to classes?

The medical monitoring helps ensure safety during the active weight loss phase of the program. The classes help give you the skills to maintain the weight loss. Once you learn the skills they must be practiced until they become part of your lifestyle. We strongly recommend continuing to come to classes designed to help you maintain your weight loss after your transition phase.

Who teaches the classes?

Classes are taught by registered dietitians.

How long are classes?

Classes are one hour.

Can I be enrolled in a program if I am on medicines for blood pressure, diabetes, or other chronic conditions?

Many patients are taking medicines while on the program. This program is medically supervised and patients are seen weekly by a physician or a nurse practitioner. Medicines are adjusted or discontinued as needed.

What is the cost?

We have several program options. Your cost depends on how much weight you need to lose and which program you choose. Many people find they save money during the weight loss program since you are no longer purchasing groceries, lunches or dinners out, coffee, and other weekly expenditures. You can come in for a free, no-obligation information session to find out what the costs will be with your individual circumstances.

What should I expect during the transition where I reintroduce foods?

During the transition phase patients progressively reintroduce self-prepared foods while reducing the use of meal replacements. Transition phase typically lasts between 4-8 weeks.

How much should I expect to lose?

The average weight loss for women is 2-4 pounds per week and for men 3-5 pounds per week. The rate of loss depends on your present weight and metabolism.

How long is your program?

Each person has a program developed based on their individual needs. We recognize there are many factors which can cause a change in plans.

What if I have lactose intolerance?

There is very little lactose per serving(less than 1 gram) in the following OPTIFAST® products: OPTIFAST 800 Ready to Drink (vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry), Soup Mixes, Bars, OPTITRIM®, and OPTIFAST HP®. There is more lactose in the OPTIFAST 800 Shake Mixes (vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. These contain 8-12 grams of lactose per serving which is the equivalent to the amount of lactose found in 1 cup of milk. Over-the-counter lactase additives may be used with the OPTIFAST 800 Shake Mixes to enhance lactose digestion which may reduce or eliminate symptoms of lactose intolerance.

What is your maintenance program?

Most people who have lost and regained weight several times in their life would agree that maintaining weight loss for life is more difficult than losing weight. After transition, participants follow a self-selected meal plan that may include OPTIFAST products. Participants are strongly encouraged to continue to work with a program dietitian by continuing to attend classes to develop a personalized long-term weight management plan. When participants do not lose weight at the expected rate or suspect a slow metabolism we have the ability to accurately measure your resting metabolic rate which can be very helpful in determining your goal weight and recommended calorie level to maintain your goal weight.

I read that as soon as you start eating regular foods all your weight comes back. Is this true?

While patients transition from their OPTIFAST Program diet to conventional foods, they generally continue to lose weight but at a slower rate. Some people may experience a slight transient weight regain during this time. In those people who do gain some weight, the amount is typically 2 pounds and tends to occur near the end of the transition phase when carbohydrates are added back into the diet.1 This small weight regain is due to two factors: 1) The weight of the solid food that is now present in the intestine, as well as 2) the weight of water retained as a natural response to the increased carbohydrate and sodium intake.2

Will strict dieting ruin my metabolism?

Research by Wadden et. al.3 demonstrates that dieting does decrease resting metabolic rate (RMR). The stricter the diet, the more it depressed RMR. This is the body's natural response to the relative food shortage associated with dieting.

The study went on to find that RMR increases as calorie intake increases; at six months after OPTIFAST Program participation, there was no difference in the RMR of people who lost weight using the 420 calorie/day OPTIFAST diet* and those who lost weight using a 1200 calorie/day reduced-calorie diet of conventional foods. People who lose a significant amount of weight will have a slightly lower RMR than they did before dieting because they will lose some lean body tissue. It is important to recognize that as people gain weight they gain lean body tissue to help carry the extra pounds. When they lose fat they lose some of the associated lean tissue. To help ease the transition to regular foods, the OPTIFAST Program includes a gradual return to higher calorie levels, which helps give the dieter's metabolism time to increase. Regular exercise can also help maintain and increase a person's RMR.

Do you accept insurance?

Unfortunately it is uncommon for insurance companies to cover these types of weight loss services. It is common, however, that these services are covered by pre-tax flexible spending accounts. Please contact your insurance company or flexible spending plan administrator to determine if this is a covered service. We are fee-for-service and do not accept any type of insurance plans other than Medicare. Patients who are enrolled in Medicare will have their charges submitted to Medicare on their behalf but it should be expected that the vast majority of fees will not be covered by Medicare. Medicare patients will be asked to pay at the time of service. Any payments from Medicare will be refunded to the patient. Upon request we can provide you with paperwork that you can submit to your insurance company.

Can I lose weight and keep it off if I don't exercise?

It is possible to lose weight and keep it off without exercise, but it is very rare. According to the National Weight Control Registry data, people who don't begin an exercise program when they try to lose weight and/or stop exercising after losing weight, almost always regain whatever weight they took off.4 The NWCR has identified that successful long-term weight loss maintainers report high levels of regular physical activity.5


  1. OPTIFAST Program Medical Guide. Minneapolis, MN: Nestlé HealthCare Nutrition; 2008.
  2. National Research Council. Recommended Dietary Allowances. 10th ed. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1989.
  3. Wadden TA, Foster GD, Letizia KA, Mullen JL. Long-term effects of dieting on resting metabolic rate in obese outpatients. JAMA. 1990:264:707-711.
  4. Wing RR, Hill JO. Successful weight loss maintenance. Annu Rev Nutr. 2001;21:323-341.
  5. Wing RR, Phelan S. Long-term weight loss maintenance. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;82(1):222S-225S.