What Is Medi-Weightloss?

Medi weight loss review

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Medi weight loss review
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Medi-Weightloss clinics are located around the country and offer food plans, counseling, and medication to promote weight loss. The physician-monitored program is popular among customers who are comfortable with a structured program and are ready to make significant changes to their diet to lose weight. But not everyone can stick to the plan long enough for weight loss to occur.

What Experts Say

"Medi-Weightloss is a physician-supervised, low-calorie and low-carbohydrate weight loss program. While experts agree the support and medical guidance is valuable, they also question the degree of carbohydrate restriction and sustainability."
Chrissy Carroll, RD, MPH

Background

Medi-Weightloss was founded in 2005 by an entrepreneur, Edward Kaloust, with input from physicians and dietitians. It now has close to 100 franchise locations across the United States. If you are interested in using Medi-Weightloss, you should live near one of the company’s clinics. After an initial meeting, patients usually agree to weekly in-person meetings for the duration of the weight loss process. This weekly check-in is a cornerstone of the program, so proximity is essential.

How It Works

At the first meeting, patients meet with a medical professional for preliminary testing. Certain states require that this initial consult be with a board-certified MD (medical doctor) or DO (doctor of osteopathic medicine). Some, but not all, of the doctors have additional training or credentials in obesity medicine.

In other states, the meeting might be with a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant. The medical doctor who oversees the clinic will review the medical information gathered at this consultation.

During the initial meeting, the provider will administer several tests, screenings, and other measurements that may include an EKG, urinalysis, blood panel, body composition analysis, and other vitals. The provider also reviews your health history and current prescriptions.

After medical testing and consultation, the provider creates an individualized diet and exercise plan with an emphasis on accountability, education, and support. The plan may include prescriptions for weight loss medications, diet supplements, or vitamin-based injections.

At weekly check-ins, your health is monitored and supplements, prescriptions, or injections are administered. This is also a time when you can ask questions and make any necessary modifications to your plan. You may meet with a nurse, medical professional, registered dietitian, or fitness trainer.

When you meet your goal weight, you transition to monthly meetings. During this phase, your provider may make adjustments to the diet and recommend supplements or testing during each meeting.

What to Eat

Medi-Weightloss promotes a high-protein, hypocaloric (low-calorie) diet to put the body into nutritional ketosis, a state in which you burn primarily stored fat (rather than glucose) for fuel.

During the first phase, called the "acute weight loss" phase, patients eat primarily protein foods to induce ketosis. Calorie counts during this stage may be low: about 500 to 700 calories from protein sources, and then some additional calories from fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and miscellaneous items such as condiments and broths. Patients do not journal calories or carbohydrate intake. Instead, they journal the number of protein calories consumed and also servings of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and other foods.

For example, a patient may be prescribed 700 protein calories, but also at least two servings of fruits or veggies, two servings of fat, and four servings of other calories. The total number of protein calories prescribed depends on results from metabolic testing and activity level, and is usually adjusted at least once during the acute phase.

Hydration is also a vital component of the Medi-Weightloss diet. It is common for patients to become constipated and tired when they remove or reduce carbohydrate intake. Proper hydration may reduce these symptoms, so a specific hydration recommendation is provided for each patient based on their weight and activity levels.

As patients get closer to their weight loss goal, they move into the "short-term maintenance" phase during which most patients continue weekly visits. During this short stage, they slowly increase intake of carbohydrates and calories via servings of starch and dairy and an increase in servings of veggies, fruits, and fat. Protein calories may stay the same or change.

Last is the "wellness" phase which starts when patients meet their goal weight. They switch to monthly clinic visits and may undergo additional testing. During this phase, patients move to a 40/30/30 eating plan where 40 percent of calories consumed come from carbohydrates, 30 percent come from fats and 30 percent come from protein. This is similar to some other low-carb eating plans.

Resources and Tips

Pre-packaged meals are not provided, although the company sells some limited supplements and ready-to-eat menu items. Patients are given a food list to help them grocery shop and prepare food at home, and a guide to ordering at restaurants. Food journaling to promote accountability is the main focus of patient education. To stick to the eating plan, guidance and motivation are provided at weekly check-ins. An online patient portal includes recipes and tools to track progress.

Modifications

The company provides several different programs, including obesity management and metabolic syndrome services for adults and adolescents, medical nutrition therapy and counseling, behavioral counseling, fitness recommendations, and screening for type 2 diabetes and other conditions.

Since the diet is personalized, it will be adjusted to meet each patient's needs. The medical staff at a Medi-Weightloss clinic may communicate with a patient's own health-care provider.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Customized plans and one-on-one support

  • Phased approach

Cons

  • Expensive

  • Little scientific evidence

  • Challenging to comply with

Pros

Customized Plans and Support

Medi-Weightloss touts personalization as a big part of its strategy. While it's unclear how much plans really differ from person to person, a tailored weight-loss plan is certainly more likely to be effective than a one-size-fits-all approach. And the weekly check-ins allow for additional adjustments and more support than many other plans offer.

Phased Approach

Many low-carb diets use a phased approach, and Medi-Weightloss is no different. In this way, followers can begin to determine how carbohydrates affect their weight and narrow in on a proportion that works for them. It also may be easier to comply with a phased diet because the initial, very restrictive period is not too long.

If you like the idea of a structured, supervised eating plan, this might be an option for you. However, be aware of some of the potential downsides.

Cons

Expensive

According to the company, prices can vary by location. Customer reports for the weight loss program are fairly consistent. Most patients report paying $275 to $300 for the initial consultation and $75 to $80 for each weekly visit. Supplements, prescriptions, and food are extra.

Some Medi-Weightloss locations accept insurance and offer in-network providers with some major insurance carriers. You may also be able to use a flexible spending account to pay Medi-Weightloss expenses.

Little Scientific Evidence

The company reports that the program is based on scientific evidence. Currently, no independent research has been published in peer-reviewed journals to support this specific weight loss company. There are some studies that support certain aspects of the plan, but also some that contradict it.

For example, many health experts suggest that patients who receive regular face-to-face counseling are more likely to stick to a weight loss plan long enough to see results. But other studies have shown that remote counseling can provide the same benefit. 

There is also some research that supports a ketogenic diet for weight loss. Yet, there are other studies (and medical professionals) that have found ketogenic diets too restrictive and therefore not effective for losing weight and keeping it off.

According to the company, an average patient can lose seven pounds during the first week and two to three pounds per week after that. This is a faster rate of weight loss than is generally recommended. Most health organizations suggest a slower rate of one to two pounds per week for best success at both meeting a goal weight and maintaining it.

Challenging to Comply With

The amount of weight that you lose on the Medi-Weightloss plan will depend on how long and how well you stick to the plan—which could be tough when dealing with such an extreme change in diet. There are several factors that may affect compliance:

  • Weekly meeting attendance: If you can attend regular meetings, you’ll get a boost of motivation and accountability as a result. These are likely to make you more successful.
  • Your home and work environment: If you are surrounded by people who consume a typical American diet at home and work, you may have a harder time sticking to this plan. Most common foods (starchy carbohydrates like bread, pasta, rice, baked goods) are not included in a ketogenic diet. Cravings for these foods may be difficult and even intolerable at times.
  • Access to healthy food: To make food choices that keep your body in a state of ketosis, you will need access to healthy low-carbohydrate, protein-rich foods. Since packaged meals are not provided by the company, you’ll need to be comfortable shopping and preparing special meals at home.
  • Emotional support: Many former Medi-Weightloss clients say that the program is very hard to maintain. If you have a friend, a spouse, or another family member who is willing to provide that support, you’ll be more likely to succeed.

How It Compares

Medi-Weightloss's clinical approach is fairly unique, but its methods are common to other weight-loss plans. Because of its strict rules, it doesn't align with U.S. government advice on a healthy diet.

USDA Recommendations

Food Groups

The USDA's dietary guidelines suggest eating a balanced mix of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. The Medi-Weightloss plan cuts back severely on carbohydrates.

Calories

While Medi-Weightloss says it only counts protein calories, it is overall quite a low-calorie diet. While creating a calorie deficit is a good way to lose weight, your body and brain still need calories to function. For weight loss, the USDA suggests a range of about 1600 to 2400 daily calories for adult women and 2000 to 3000 calories for adult men, depending on age, weight, and activity level. To calculate your own ideal daily calorie goal, try this tool.

Similar Diets

Compare Medi-Weightloss to other diets with some similar strategies.

Medi-Weightloss

  • Cost: The cost is about $300 a month for support and supervision which doesn't include meals, supplements, or initial consultation.
  • Accessibility: You must be able to visit a Medi-Weightloss center regularly, and prepare your own meals and snacks that comply with the eating plan's restrictions.
  • Sustainability: The initial, "acute" phase is not sustainable for any length of time because of its restrictiveness. The diet has a maintenance phase to help users transition out of ketosis and into a more traditional lower-carb diet, that must be followed indefinitely.

Jenny Craig

  • Cost: The Jenny Craig diet includes all meals and snacks. These run approximately $550 to $800 per month, plus program fees.
  • Accessibility: Like Medi-Weightloss, Jenny Craig offers in-person support and counseling (although its counselors don't necessarily have medical training) which means visiting a center. Meals and snacks can be purchased at the center or ordered online and delivered.
  • Sustainability: It's not realistic to keep eating (and paying for) the Jenny Craig foods forever, so followers of this diet will eventually need to learn how to maintain their weight loss on their own.

Keto Diet

  • Cost: A ketogenic diet is not a commercial weight-loss plan, so it doesn't have the same costs associated with it that Jenny Craig or Medi-Weightloss has. The main expenses are groceries and any resources, such as cookbooks.
  • Accessibility: There is no need to visit a physical location. (Of course, the flip side of this means there is no in-person support.)
  • Sustainability: Many people who try a keto diet find it difficult to stick with for a long time. It's hard to eat a diet that is high enough in fat to put the body into ketosis and keep it there.

Very Low-Calorie Diet (low calorie, by prescription)

  • Cost: A very low-calorie diet is prescribed by a doctor. On this diet, all solid food is eliminated in favor of specially formulated meal-replacement drinks. While these are not typically covered by insurance, the medical visits and supervision often are.
  • Accessibility: This diet must be prescribed by a doctor and patients undergo regular monitoring.
  • Sustainability: Although a very low-calorie diet may last weeks or even months, it is not designed to be a long-term plan.

A Word From Verywell

There is no diet that is right for everyone as different people have different needs. The right program for you is one that fits into your lifestyle and can accommodate your long-term health goals. By most accounts, this program is very structured, which is helpful for some people seeking to lose weight. But it may be too restrictive for others.

If you are considering this plan, reach out to your local Medi-Weightloss provider and ask specific questions about cost and insurance before you invest. You might also ask to see a sample meal plan to see if it is something you can follow. In addition, speak with your healthcare provider to get recommendations and suggestions. The more questions you ask, the more likely you will be to find a program that fits your needs.

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Article Sources

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  5. Johnston CS, Tjonn SL, Swan PD, White A, Hutchins H, Sears B. Ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets have no metabolic advantage over nonketogenic low-carbohydrate diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;83(5):1055-61. doi:10.1093/ajcn/83.5.1055

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