OPTIFAST® Weight Loss Program

Low-Calorie, Full Meal Replacement with Comprehensive Medical Supervision

For More Information 800-235-3853

Duke weight management specialists offer the OPTIFAST® meal replacement plan as part of a comprehensive, medically supervised program to help people who are trying to lose weight. While results differ for everyone, people who join our three-month program may expect to lose about 10% of their body weight. In addition to weight loss, studies show OPTIFAST® is safe and can lower blood pressure, total cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. 

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What You Need to Know About OPTIFAST®

What Is OPTIFAST®?  

 OPTIFAST® is a meal replacement program offered through the Duke Lifestyle and Weight Management Center in conjunction with medical, nutritional, and lifestyle support. We provide expert-guided meal planning and shakes, soups, and bars that replace your meals and snacks. The food gives you a total of about 800 to 1000 calories per day and all the daily recommended nutrients you need to stay healthy while you lose weight. We offer 12- and 24-week programs. You’ll work with our weight management specialists to determine which plan meets your needs.

Eligible Candidates for OPTIFAST®

The OPTIFAST® program may be right for you if your body mass index (BMI) is 30 or above. We also work with people whose BMI is slightly lower and have conditions such as prediabetes, diabetes, sleep apnea, joint pain, or liver disease. To learn more and determine your eligibility, contact us or talk to your primary care provider, who can refer you to our team for an evaluation.

Who May Not Be a Candidate?

OPTIFAST® is not a diet for healthy people who want to lose a few pounds. It is also not for people under age 18 as teenage bodies and metabolisms are still changing. Duke offers weight loss and healthy lifestyle programs to adolescents.

A comprehensive medical evaluation will let our team know if you can safely participate. People who recently suffered a heart attack are not eligible for meal replacement. In addition, some people with kidney disease may not be able to participate because the program impacts how your body stores water. People who previously or are currently receiving treatment for eating disorders may also not be eligible.

Duke Lifestyle and Weight Management Center

Read about our amenities and get directions to our clinic.

Estimated Cost of the OPTIFAST® Program

What’s Involved
The total cost depends on the length of your program and how many meal replacement products you consume. A sign-up fee covers educational videos and participation in support groups. This fee is non-refundable, due upon enrollment, and not covered by insurance. You will purchase the meal replacement products on a biweekly basis at the Duke Lifestyle and Weight Management Center in Durham. Each product costs about $3 to $5. They are not covered by insurance. 

Insurance Coverage and Health Spending Accounts
Provider visits may be covered by your health insurance. You will be responsible for insurance copayments, deductibles, and coinsurance amounts. Check with your insurance plan to see if your flexible spending account balance can be used toward program costs.  

Estimated OPTIFAST® Costs at a Glance

Program Length Sign-Up Fee

Average Weekly Cost of Meal Replacement Products

Estimated Out-of-Pocket Expenses
12 weeks (partial or full) $250 Partial: $82 to $102
Full: $138 to $181
$1,400 to $2,000 plus copays, deductibles, etc.*
24 weeks (partial or full) $500 Partial: $82 to $102
Full: $138 to $181

$2,800 to $4,000 plus copays, deductibles, etc.*

*All provider visits will be billed to your insurance.

Duke employees receive $50 off the 12-week sign-up fee and $100 off the 24-week sign-up fee.

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Program Specifics

Comprehensive Initial Assessment

Your initial comprehensive evaluation will include a physical exam and blood tests. Results help us personalize your OPTIFAST® program. 

OPTIFAST® Meal Replacement Products

During the program, your daily diet will be a combination of low-calorie, high protein, pre-portioned shakes, soups, and bars. Each includes 25 different vitamins to ensure you get the daily nutrients you need. You’ll start by consuming 5 to 6 products a day and taper to 3 products a day over the course of the program as you add nutritious food choices, like baked or grilled proteins, vegetables, and other healthy options.

Weekly Check-Ins

You’ll participate in weekly one-on-one, in-person or virtual visits with a medical provider and a registered dietitian. These sessions give you the opportunity to talk about what to eat and when, what’s working, any challenges, lifestyle changes, and how we can help you reach your weight loss goals.

Support Groups

Virtual gatherings are held twice a month and led by a member of our team. During these meetings, you’ll get to talk with other OPTIFAST® participants about medical needs, nutrition, behavioral changes, and fitness. 

Access to Educational Videos

During the program you can watch on-demand learning modules that cover nutrition, medicine, adapting new lifestyle behaviors, and exercise.

Exercise During the Program

Your providers can help you plan an appropriate exercise routine. If you exercise regularly, we recommend reducing the frequency and intensity of workouts during the first few weeks of the program as your body adjusts to your new diet. Temporarily changing your exercise routine will help us better monitor changes to your body and how you’re feeling. If you aren’t exercising regularly when you start the program, we help you plan a routine once you’ve acclimated your body to meal replacement. We recommend ways to include cardio, strength, and balance training in your routine.

Transitioning to Regular Food

Toward the end of the program (week 10 for our 12-week option and week 18 for the 24-week option), you’ll receive resources and expert guidance to help you transition back to regular foods. After completion of the program, you can also continue counseling with our medical, nutrition, or behavioral health providers to help with long-term weight management.

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This page was medically reviewed on 07/08/2022 by