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Best Weight Loss Programs

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Weight Watchers vs. Optavia: Comparison (2024)

Explore the comparison between Weight Watchers and Optavia to determine the right weight loss program for you. Delve into the features, costs, and dietary approaches of both programs to make an informed decision toward a healthier lifestyle.

Article Summary

Explore the comparison between Weight Watchers and Optavia to determine the right weight loss program for you. Delve into the features, costs, and dietary approaches of both programs to make an informed decision toward a healthier lifestyle.

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Rob's extensive expertise in evidence-based weight loss interventions, backed by rigorous peer-reviewed research, has established him as a credible authority in the field. As a clinical research associate (CRA), Rob has tested new applications for their effectiveness, risks and benefits to ensure that they are safe for consumers.

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Article updated on:

February 20, 2024

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Quick Comparison
& Insights

Weight Watchers provides a more comprehensive weight loss program with group support, coaching, and a proven points system to help you lose weight sustainably, while MyFitnessPal simply offers food and exercise tracking tools.

Weight Watchers
Flexible meal plans with 3-6 fuelings per day plus 1-3 lean and green meals that allow customization
No foods off limits
One-on-one coaching, an online community, and educational resources
Group meetings & Coaches
Promotes rapid weight loss through calorie restriction, but experts caution it may be difficult to sustain
Backed by clinical research 5% weight loss over 12/m
Portion-controlled, prepackaged fuelings to reduce calories and carbs
Lifestyle changes & modern APP to track WW points
Get Started →


Get Started →

Weight Watchers

Learn more about our favourite weight loss program for 2024.
Start Weight Watchers today for only $10 per month.
Quick Comparison
& Insights

Weight Watchers provides a more comprehensive weight loss program with group support, coaching, and a proven points system to help you lose weight sustainably, while MyFitnessPal simply offers food and exercise tracking tools.

Weight Watchers
No foods off limits
Weight Watchers
No foods off limits
One-on-one coaching, an online community, and educational resources
Weight Watchers
Group meetings & Coaches
Promotes rapid weight loss through calorie restriction, but experts caution it may be difficult to sustain
Weight Watchers
Backed by clinical research 5% weight loss over 12/m
Portion-controlled, prepackaged fuelings to reduce calories and carbs
Weight Watchers
Lifestyle changes & modern APP to track WW points
Get Started →

Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers and Optavia, offer distinct approaches towards achieving a healthier and more balanced lifestyle.

This article delves into the core philosophies, features, cost, and offerings of these programs, providing you with a nuanced understanding to make an informed choice.

Key Takeaways
  • Personalized Approach: Weight Watchers empowers individuals through a personalized points system, while Optavia provides structured meal plans and coaching.
  • Digital Engagement: Weight Watchers leverages digital tools for tracking and community engagement, contrasting with Optavia's more traditional coaching model.
  • Meal Delivery: Optavia offers comprehensive meal delivery, unlike Weight Watchers which encourages individual meal planning and tracking.
Weight Watchers vs Optavia

Weight Watchers

Historical Background

Founded in 1963, Weight Watchers has been a vanguard in the weight management industry. It has continually evolved to integrate contemporary nutritional science and digital engagement, making it a revered choice for many.

Core Philosophy

The linchpin of Weight Watchers is its Personal Points system which encourages a balanced diet and promotes food awareness. It's predicated on the principle of sustainable weight loss through community support, education, and personalization.

Personal Points System

This novel system allocates points to food items based on their nutritional values, guiding individuals to make healthier food choices while enjoying a diverse diet. Here's a glimpse into how it operates:

Food Item Points Value Nutritional Breakdown
Apple 0 Points Low in calories, high in fiber
Grilled Chicken Breast 2 Points Low in fat, high in protein
Chocolate Cake 12 Points High in sugar and fat

Digital Tools

The digital facet of Weight Watchers is instrumental in fostering a sense of community and providing resources for a successful weight management journey. Their robust app facilitates:

  • Tracking of food intake and activities.
  • Access to a plethora of healthy recipes.
  • Community forums for sharing experiences and motivation.

Pricing Options

Weight Watchers has crafted various pricing tiers to cater to different needs and preferences:

Subscription Plan Weekly Cost Features
Digital $3.98 App access, tracking tools
Digital Plus $5.48 Additional personal coaching
Unlimited Workshops + Digital $8.68 Community workshops, app access


OPTAVIA is a weight loss and lifestyle improvement program managed by Medifast, aimed at fostering a healthier approach to living. The program combines meal plans, community support, coaching, and a structured system called "Habits of Health" to help participants lose weight and sustain a healthier lifestyle.

Key Features

  1. Clinically Proven Plans: OPTAVIA offers a variety of meal plans that are clinically tested and developed by a team of dietitians, scientists, and physicians.
  2. Fuelings: These are scientifically-developed products designed to be nutrient-rich and low-calorie, aiding in weight loss.
  3. Independent Coaches: Trained individuals guide you through your journey, providing personalized advice and motivational support.
  4. Community: An active social circle of like-minded people offers real-time encouragement and shared experiences.
  5. Habits of Health Transformational System: This is a step-by-step guide designed to instill long-term, sustainable habits for a healthy lifestyle.

Pros and Cons


  • Scientifically backed meal plans and products
  • Access to a community for emotional and moral support
  • Personalized guidance from trained coaches
  • A comprehensive system to adopt sustainable health habits


  • May be cost-prohibitive for some
  • Not tailored to specific medical conditions, so consultation with healthcare providers is essential
  • Some may find the structured nature limiting

Core Philosophy

Central to Optavia is the concept of frequent fuelings to keep the metabolism active and curb hunger pangs. This is achieved through a combination of portion-controlled meals and snacks, collectively termed as "Fuelings."

Optavia Fuelings and Coaching Program

The Fuelings are low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods provided at regular intervals to maintain a steady metabolic rate. Coupled with this is the comprehensive coaching program which ensures individuals are well-guided throughout their weight loss journey. The coaching encompasses:

  • On-Going Assistance: Continuous support to navigate through challenges.
  • Accredited Professionals: Access to coaches with a wealth of experience and accreditation.

Meal Delivery Options and Full Kits

Optavia stands out with its all-encompassing meal kits delivered right to your doorstep. These kits are meticulously crafted to meet the nutritional requirements while alleviating the hassle of meal planning.

Meal Kit Cost Servings
5 & 1 Plan $414.60 119 servings
4 & 2 & 1 Plan $457.95 140 servings
3 & 3 Plan $19.95 7 servings

Weight Watchers vs Optavia Comparison

Optavia and Community Support

  • Community Engagement: A crucial aspect of both Optavia and Weight Watchers is the community support they offer. Engaging with a community can provide motivation, shared experiences, and a sense of belonging which is often pivotal for long-term weight loss success.
  • Optavia provides access to a community of like-minded individuals through various online platforms, ensuring members can connect, share their journeys, and support each other.
  • Weight Watchers, now rebranded as WW, also offers community support through its app, online forums, and local meetings. The sense of community here is strong and has been a defining feature of WW for many years.

The Scientific Backbone

  • Evidence-Based Approach: Weight Watchers has been shown to be more effective at reducing weight compared to control/education groups based on available evidence​ Conversely, there's a need for more robust scientific backing when it comes to Optavia's claims, suggesting that while many find success with the program, the scientific community might not fully endorse it without more evidence.

Cost Consideration

  • Affordability: Weight loss programs can be a financial investment. It's essential to consider the cost relative to the benefits each program offers.
The average cost of food delivery diets can range from $10 to $20 per day, and while Optavia's costs fall within this range, it can be on the higher end due to the inclusion of coaching​​.

Meal Planning and Dietary Approaches

  • Dietary Variety: Optavia relies on fuelings and leans and green meals, which may limit dietary variety to some extent. On the other hand, Weight Watchers provides a more flexible approach, encouraging a balanced diet and allowing a broader range of food choices.
  • Dietary Plans:For those interested in exploring other dietary approaches, the GOLO Diet Meal Plan offers a balanced menu with tips for 2023, which can be a good reference​​.

Ease of Adherence

  • Simplicity and Flexibility: Adhering to a diet plan is often easier when the guidelines are simple and flexible. WW offers a point system that is easy to follow and allows for flexibility in food choices. Optavia, with its more structured meal plans, might be more suitable for individuals who prefer a more guided approach.

Long-term Sustainability

  • Lifestyle Changes: Sustainable weight loss is often achieved through lifestyle changes rather than short-term diets. Both Optavia and WW aim to instill lifestyle changes, but their approaches differ significantly, with WW offering more flexibility, which may be more conducive to long-term adherence for some individuals.

Health and Wellness

  • Holistic Health Approach: Besides weight loss, it's crucial to consider the overall health benefits offered by these programs.

Our Recommendation

Weight Watchers may be a better weight loss option than Optavia as it promotes a more sustainable and balanced approach to weight loss. Unlike Optavia, which relies heavily on pre-packaged meals and significantly restricts calorie intake, Weight Watchers employs a points system that encourages mindful eating and better food choices.

Additionally, Weight Watchers provides a supportive community and resources like coaching, which can be beneficial for individuals on their weight loss journey. The flexibility and educational aspect of Weight Watchers make it a more practical and long-term solution for individuals looking to adopt healthier eating habits and achieve weight loss in a manner that can be maintained over time.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the downfall of Optavia?

Some key downsides and criticisms of the Optavia diet include:

  • Very low calorie intake: Optavia plans provide just 800-1,300 calories per day, which is below what most adults require and can be dangerous. Severely restricting calories slows metabolism, causes muscle loss, and leads to nutritional deficiencies (source).
  • Expensive: Optavia's pre-packaged meals, called "fuelings", cost over $300 per month. The high cost makes the diet hard to sustain long-term for many people (source).
  • Not effective for long-term weight loss: The rapid weight loss from Optavia is often not sustainable. Many regain the weight after transitioning off the restrictive plan (source).
  • Promotes unhealthy relationship with food: The restrictive nature, food rules, and reliance on pre-packaged meals can harm your overall relationship with food.
  • Side effects like fatigue, dizziness, and gallstones: The very low calorie intake can cause side effects like fatigue, dizziness, gallstones, and more.
  • Criticized as unhealthy and unsafe by dietitians: Many registered dietitians do not recommend Optavia due to the extreme calorie restriction, potential for disordered eating, and side effects.

What plan is comparable to Optavia?

Some alternatives that are more balanced and flexible include:

  • Weight Watchers: Uses a points system and meetings/coaching for accountability. No pre-packaged meals required.
  • Noom: Focuses on psychology of weight loss and building healthy habits. Provides coaching.
  • Volumetrics: Emphasizes eating high volume, low calorie foods to promote satiety. Flexible and customizable.
  • Mayo Clinic Diet: Teaches healthy eating habits for weight loss and maintenance. No pre-packaged foods (source).

What do dieticians think of Optavia?

Most registered dietitians do not recommend Optavia:

  • Concerns about very low calorie intake being unsafe
  • Worry the restrictive nature harms overall relationship with food
  • Criticize the reliance on expensive pre-packaged meals
  • Note that rapid weight loss is often not sustainable long-term
  • Point out potential for nutritional deficiencies
  • Caution that it can promote disordered eating behaviors

Instead, many recommend more balanced, flexible, and sustainable plans focused on whole foods.

Which is the best weight loss program?

There is no definitive "best" weight loss program. The most effective program depends on individual factors like:

  • Food preferences and lifestyle
  • Ability to stick to the plan long-term
  • Health conditions or dietary needs
  • Whether structured meals or flexibility is preferred

For sustainable weight loss, programs that teach healthy eating habits and lifestyle changes are generally recommended over restrictive diets or meal replacements.

Some evidence-based programs that are ranked highly include:

  • The Mediterranean Diet
  • WW (Weight Watchers)
  • Volumetrics Diet
  • Jenny Craig
  • Mayo Clinic Diet
  • TLC Diet

Talking to a healthcare professional can help determine the most appropriate weight loss program for your individual needs.

Are there lawsuits against Optavia?

Yes, Optavia has faced some lawsuits, including:

  • A 2022 class action lawsuit alleging unauthorized auto-ship charges and deceptive marketing practices as a multi-level marketing company.
  • A 2017 false advertising lawsuit alleging misleading health claims about Optavia products.
  • Lawsuits in the early 2010s against the parent company Medifast for misleading marketing, auto-shipping, and adverse health effects from the very low calorie diet.

What are the complaints about Optavia?

Common complaints about Optavia include:

  • Extremely expensive cost of pre-packaged meals
  • Hunger and food obsession due to very low calorie intake
  • Side effects like fatigue, dizziness, diarrhea
  • Weight regain after transitioning off the diet
  • Developing a poor relationship with food due to restrictive rules
  • Misleading marketing claims about effectiveness and health impacts
  • Pressure to become a coach to receive discounts on expensive products

Is Optavia really worth it?

For most people, Optavia is likely not worth the high cost and potential downsides. The extremely low calorie intake, reliance on expensive pre-packaged meals, and unsustainable approach make it difficult to recommend Optavia for most individuals looking to lose weight. More balanced, flexible diets focused on whole foods and lifestyle changes tend to be safer and more effective for long-term health.

Is Optavia worth the cost?

At over $300 per month just for the pre-packaged meals, Optavia is a very expensive diet program. Given the potential downsides like unsustainable weight loss, nutritional deficiencies, and weight regain, most experts agree Optavia is not worth the high monthly cost for most people. The money is likely better spent on whole foods, a gym membership, or meeting with a registered dietitian (source).

What is the monthly cost of Optavia?

Optavia plans cost over $300 per month on average just for the pre-packaged "fuelings":

  • 5 & 1 Plan: About $400 per month
  • 4 & 2 & 1 Plan: Around $350 per month
  • 3 & 3 Plan: Approximately $300 per month

This does not include the additional costs for purchasing groceries for the "lean and green" meals you prepare yourself.


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Weight Loss For Real Life

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63% of the weight lost in a 52-week WeightWatchers program was maintained at two years.
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Simple, flexible approach with a Points® system and easy tracking in the WW app
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No boring meals with 12,000+ recipes and a restaurant database
Weight Watchers App Phone
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On Weight Watchers Website.

Get the #1 doctor-recommended weight loss app

Weight Watchers $5 FLASH SALE. Join millions of Americans who have experienced success.

On WeightWatchers website.

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Weight Watchers $5 FLASH SALE. Join millions of Americans who have experienced success.

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