The Optavia Diet: An Option That's Not Right For Everybody

As with many other restrictive diets, the Optavia diet involves the restriction of food groups that are key to obtaining the nutrients needed by the body. Therefore, it's not a recommended option. We'll tell you why.
The Optavia Diet: An Option That's Not Right For Everybody
Saúl Sánchez Arias

Written and verified by the nutritionist Saúl Sánchez Arias.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

The Optavia diet is a type of restrictive diet that can be harmful to your health. It’s a weight loss diet, which can lead to a subsequent rebound effect. Moreover, it’s highly deficient in many nutrients and may jeopardize body functions.

Despite this, it’s become quite popular in some parts of the United States during the last few years. Now experts fear that it’s starting to spread to other parts of the world.

What is it? Why should you avoid it?

In the following article, we’ll tell you all about it.

The Optavia diet lacks nutrients

The Optavia diet uses prepared foods and protein supplements. Also, it restricts the consumption of carbohydrates and calories. Regarding vegetables, it involves mainly green leafy vegetables. Due to these characteristics, it has several contraindications.

First of all, the safety of a high-protein diet for long-term renal health isn’t completely clear as current studies show discordance. At the same time, we’re looking at a very low-calorie diet that may lead to a rebound effect, as it’s not sustainable in the medium or long term.

As if this weren’t enough, not consuming a variety of vegetable limits the micronutrients that we provide to the body. Red fruits, for example, are a great reservoir of antioxidants, as are some tropical fruits and tomatoes. Also, we can present certain deficiencies in minerals if we carry out this type of diet.

Fat intake in this diet is covered by the consumption of fish, olive oil, and avocado. However, in the framework of an excessively hypocaloric diet, the contribution of this nutrient may not be sufficient for the realization of metabolic functions.

We should bear in mind that fat is the means of transport of fat-soluble vitamins and is, therefore, an essential element. Another point against this diet is that a large number of preparations and supplements included in this diet may cause stomach problems.

Two glass bottle of green juice.
As with many other restrictive diets, the Optavia diet leads to deficiencies of important nutrients.

You may be interested in: Dangerous Diets and Their Warning Signs

A varied diet is the best option

Wanting to lose weight doesn’t have to mean taking variety out of your diet. There are alternatives, such as the occasional restriction of carbohydrates or the practice of intermittent fasting, which can maximize weight loss without causing damage to health.

Therefore, it’s important to approach weight loss from a healthy diet. In general, abandoning toxic habits, such as the cessation of alcohol consumption and the reduction of processed foods, usually leads to significant weight loss.

In other cases, a more careful adjustment of the energy balance may be necessary, especially in the case of athletes. Whatever the case, it’s always essential to ensure the presence of as many foods as possible in your diet, especially when it comes to vegetables.

Experts recommend mixing vegetables of different colors and alternating the consumption of raw and cooked vegetables. It’s also important to consume the water you cook them in to avoid wasting water-soluble vitamins.

Carbohydrates aren’t always the enemy

It’s possible to consider weight loss and not restrict carbohydrate consumption. It may simply be enough to choose their low-glycemic-index varieties. The consumption of whole grains that are rich in fiber important benefits in terms of intestinal health. Also, they contribute to the onset of satiety and decreased appetite.

In contrast, processed foods rich in simple sugars produce high pancreatic stress. Eating these foods throws the glucose curve out of control, resulting in post-pandrial hypoglycemia leading to increased appetite. Thus, they can lead to a higher food intake than initially planned.

A woman eating a bowl of cereal.
Carbohydrate sources needn’t be the enemy of a healthy diet. However, you should choose those with a low glycemic index.

Discover: The 7 Best Carbohydrates for Weight Loss

Final comments on the Optavia diet

Restrictive diets aren’t usually a healthy option for the body, and the same is true for the Optavia diet. As it’s a hyper protein and hypocaloric diet, we can’t sustain it for a long time. Moreover, its contribution to renal illness in the medium and long term isn’t clear.

At the same, we’re talking about a type of diet that limits the intake of nutrients necessary for our body. We’ll probably present vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant deficits if we follow this type of diet.

The best diet is one that focuses on fresh products instead of processed ones and that guarantees variety in food. If you have any questions about this diet, don’t hesitate to consult a nutritionist.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Cuenca Sánchez M., Navas Carrillo D., Orenes Piñero E., Controversies surrounding high protein diet intake: satiationg effect and kidney and bone health. Adv Nutr, 2015. 6 (3): 260-6.
  •  Bilancio G., Cavallo P., Ciacci C., Cirillo M., Dietary Protein, kidney function and mortality: review of the evidence from epidemiological studies. Nutrients, 2019.
  •  Xia N., Daiber A., Forstermann U., Li H., Antioxidant effects of resveratrol in the cardiovascular system. Br J Pharmacol, 2017. 174 (12): 1633-1646.
  • Hagymasi K., Egresi A., Lengyel G., Antioxidants antioxidative stress: facts and questions. Orv Hetil, 2015. 156 (47): 1884-7.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.