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Prepared Meals Can Provide Greater Weight Loss

Following a portion-controlled, pre-packaged meal plan may help shed extra weight and keep it off when compared to traditional diets…. 

A recent study published in the International Journal of Obesity compared, head-to-head, premade, portion controlled meals to traditional diet advice. This was a two-parallel-arm randomized controlled trial comparing the Medifast 5 & 1 Plan to a reduced-energy, food based diet over a period of 1 year. Weight-loss was followed up at 26 weeks and a weight maintenance follow-up was conducted after the remaining 26 weeks.

The Medifast 5 & 1 Plan consists of five premade portion controlled snacks each day, along with one evening meal of vegetables and protein. Individuals enrolled in the Medifast arm had up to 70 different pre-packaged meals to choose from to maintain the daily intake of 1,000 Calories.

The other study group was given advice on a reduced-energy, food-based diet according to their body weight, waist circumference and fat mass. The aim was to provide diet advice in order to maintain a daily intake of 1,000 Calories, but the meals were prepared by each individual.

A total of 120 adults with a BMI of 35 to 50 were enrolled in the study; 60 participants were randomly assigned to each treatment group. Fifty participants in the Medifast group completed the study whereas only 45 in the diet group finished. Intention to treat protocol was used for the analysis of the results by the authors.

At the 26 week follow up, the results of the study reported an average of 7.5kg lost by the Medifast group compared to 3.8kg in the diet group. 5.7 cm was the average reduction in waist circumference by the Medifast group compared to 3.7cm lost in the diet group. Also, an increased amount of fat mass lost was reported in the Medifast group compared to the diet group. After 1 year, the Medifast group maintained an average of 4.7kg lost compared to 1.9kg lost in the diet group. As seen by the results it was easy for the author to conclude the greater weight loss was seen by the Medifast 5 & 1 plan compared to traditional diet advice.

Lead author James Shikany, concluded that Medifast’s pre-packaged meals make it harder for individuals to consume a larger amount of calories: "It’s more of a regimented type of diet, and some people find that’s what they need in order to limit their portion intake."

"Randomized Controlled Trial of the Medifast 5 & 1 Plan for Weight Loss." International Journal of Obesity 2013