How to Create Your Own Diet Similar to Medifast

The Medifast diet promotes rapid and sustained weight loss. This very-low-calorie, low-glycemic eating plan features Medifast specially formulated, packaged, vitamin-packed meals. The key to weight loss on the diet is its very low calorie content as dieters on the program eat between 1,000 and 1,300 calories daily. If you prefer to create your own custom diet similar to Medifast, instead of purchasing Medifast meals, you'd follow a very-low-calorie, low-glycemic diet using foods from the grocery store.

For main meals, try low-calorie, protein-rich options such as salmon and vegetables. (Image: gbh007/iStock/Getty Images)

Because this plan is so low in calories, you should only follow it under medical supervision, or you risk nutritional deficiencies and rapid weight loss followed by weight regain. You may also need a vitamin supplement to make sure your nutritional needs are met. Seek guidance from your health care provider.

Custom Medifast Guidelines

To follow a DIY Medifast plan, you'll need to count calories, carbohydrates and protein initially. Once you get a feel for the amount of macronutrients in food, you won't need to count. A good place for most dieters to start is to aim for 1,300 calories, 70 to 80 grams of protein and 60 to 70 grams of carbohydrates Note that this is below the typical minimum calorie intake for men, which is 1,800 calories.

Getting enough protein helps retain the lean mass you already have, and cutting back on carbohydrates is shown to boost fat loss and improve the way your body handles sugar. Spread your calories out throughout the day. For example, aim to have a 250-calorie breakfast, two 375-calorie main meals and three 100-calorie snacks between meals. This allows you to eat six times a day, which helps minimize hunger.

Have Protein With Each Meal

The Medifast plan consists of packaged meals formulated to have adequate protein. To imitate this, make sure to have some protein with each of your meals and snacks. Protein-rich, low-calorie foods you can have for breakfast include eggs, 100-calorie yogurt, low-fat string cheese, tofu and nonfat cottage cheese. For main meals, try low-calorie, protein-rich options such as tuna, tilapia, salmon, halibut, chicken and turkey breast, lentils, soy foods, shrimp, sirloin and 98-percent-lean ground beef.

Choose Nonstarchy Vegetables and Fruit

In addition to lean protein, have nonstarchy veggies with your main meals and fit them in with your snacks and breakfast as much as possible. Nonstarchy vegetables are naturally low in carbohydrates and have a low glycemic index, which refers to how quickly a carbohydrate food raises your blood sugar. Dark leafy greens are some of the best choices. They're very low in calories and packed with micronutrients. Other good choices include asparagus, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cucumber, cauliflower, squash, eggplant and artichoke.

When you crave something sweet, snack on low-glycemic fruit. Foods with a low GI have a glycemic index of 55 or less. Fruits with a GI of 55 or lower include cherries, grapefruit, oranges, apples, peaches, pears, plums, strawberries, grapes, mango and bananas.

Tips for Creating Your Own Very-Low-Calorie Diet

It's typical to follow a very-low-calorie meal plan for 12 to 16 weeks, or until you reach your goal weight. Remember, unless you make permanent diet and lifestyle changes, it's likely you'll regain the weight you lost.

Purchase a food scale from your local retail store. You'll need to weigh your food in order to count calories and macronutrients. On a very-low-calorie diet, you can't afford to guess the calorie content when preparing meals.

In addition to the regular recommendation of eight glasses of water, drink other no-calorie fluids, such as tea without sugar and zero-calorie flavored watered. This helps to keep you from feeling deprived.

While on this plan, try to eat mostly lean meats, nonstarchy vegetables and low-glycemic fruits. If you must deviate from this and have a treat, choose options like sugar-free gelatin and pudding, as well as packaged 100-calorie snacks. Save these as an occasional treat so that you don't compromise your weight loss.

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