Sometimes I get emails from people looking for alternatives to medifast or wondering what’s so special about the company’s products. I get it because I used to wonder these things too. At the time, I didn’t understand that the cost of food on this plan is usually cheaper than groceries and that the nutritional, carbohydrate, and protein content of medifast foods is usually a bit better than the alternatives. I will use the very popular oats as an example in the next article.
The real differences between Medifast oats and regular oats: I make no secret of the fact that I love the plan’s oatmeal. All the flavors are good (blueberry, peach, apple, cinnamon, and brown sugar and cinnamon), but I really love the peach. And, I often use brown sugar as a dry ingredient for very low-fat, low-calorie, but tasty oatmeal cookies. One of my co-workers asked me how this diet product was different from, say, Quaker oats. Well, let’s see the numbers.
The oatmeal in this diet (peach flavored) has 110 calories (15 of those calories come from fat). It contains 1.5 grams of fat, only 16 grams of carbohydrates, and 2 grams of sugars. It has a sky-high 11 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. In addition, it contains at least 25-30% of the requirements of vitamins and nutrients such as iron, folic acid and vitamins A, C, D, E and K, as well as biotin, niacin and riboflavin.
Now, let’s look at the Quaker equivalent (also peach flavored). It is 130 calories and has 20 calories from fat (2.0 g total). This isn’t too bad, but things get worse when you look at the carb and sugar content. Regular oats have a whopping 27 grams of carbs and 12 grams of sugar. It only has 3 grams of protein 2 fiber and this is the big difference. (Taste-wise, believe it or not, there isn’t a huge difference between the two, at least in my opinion.)
The importance of the low carb / low sugar / high protein combination: The reason the medifast diet works so well is because of ketosis. This means that the low amount of carbohydrates and sugar and the high amount of protein convince your body to activate your fat and burn it effectively. The oatmeal in this diet is an example of how many of the snack-type foods change nutrition to ensure that you not only consume a low number of calories, but also limit carbohydrates and sugar.
Sure, regular oats are pretty low in calories and fat. But, that’s not the whole story. It is very high in carbohydrates and sugar and does not have enough protein to counter this. There is no way this product will allow you to get into ketosis, which is really the key.
And you can make similar comparisons with many different types of food. Go for your typical protein bar or pudding and you’ll find tons of sugar and very little protein. This is not the case with the medifast equivalents.