We all remember the Oprah Show episode in 1988 when Oprah Winfrey dragged in a cart carrying 67 pounds of fat to demonstrate how much weight she had lost. Since then, we have all seen Oprah Winfrey’s weight go up and down, but never back to the weight that she was at when she lost the almost 70 pounds. So, how did she lose almost 70 pounds? One of the major components to Oprah’s weight loss was Optifast. It is a protein shake that gives you the minerals and nutrients that you need while leaving out the ones you don’t.
Optifast was created in 1974 by the Novartis Medical Nutrition Corporation. It was marketed for obese people who were at least 50 pounds overweight or had a BMI (body mass index) of 30 or more. It became increasingly popular with doctor and hospital recommendations in the late 80s. Oprah began the program in 1988. While she had no part in making or distributing Optifast, sales skyrocketed once information was released that she was using it.
Optifast is a meal replacement shake. It contains 160 calories, 12 grams of protein, 3 grams of fat, 20 grams of carbs, and 220 g of sodium. The New York times had reported that Oprah admitted to only taking in 400 calories per day. This is a very low number and is not recommended.
The plan is designed to be a 24 week program, with 12 of those weeks being nothing but shakes to eat all day. This cleanses the system of toxins. Many people stop the diet for this reason; they do not have the willpower to continue such a strict diet for three months straight. After the first 12 weeks is over, a six week period is needed to transition back to normal foods (healthy of course) and an exercise plan.
The Optifast plan should only be done under a doctor’s supervision. From 1996 to 2005 a survey showed that participants of the plan lost an average of 52 pounds, had a 10% decrease in blood pressure, and a 29% decrease in sugar levels, and 15% decrease in cholesterol levels.