If you love watching baking shows, then you definitely know Buddy Valastro, the Cake Boss. And if you know the boss of all cakes, then you probably know that the guy recently lost about 35 pounds on something called the Optavia Diet.
Nice job, Buddy.
If the Optavia Diet sounds familiar, it’s not because it sounds like the name of a Ursula K. Le Guin novel (you’re probably thinking of The Lathe of Heaven). It’s because the Optavia Diet has been around for, like, 40 years.
My best guess is that Buddy was digging around his archives for his trusty ol’ red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting recipe and stumbled upon a newspaper clipping for the Optavia Diet, maybe even perhaps thinking it was a review of The Lathe of Heaven, which he had always been meaning to read, and then he read closer and had a bunch of questions.
Questions such as: What is the Optavia Diet? Can the Optavia Diet help me lose weight? Is the Optavia Diet healthy? What can I eat on the Optavia Diet? Can I eat cake on the Optavia Diet? And where is that damned red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting recipe anyway???
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc
And so Buddy, after doing his diligent research, and perhaps sick of being prodded by his publicist to get back into the news somehow, decided to go on the Optavia Diet and lose some weight.
Here, I’m assuming, are the answers Buddy found.
What is the Optavia Diet?
It’s basically a meal delivery service. Yes, it’s created with the help of a credentialed advisory board. Yes, the meals (or, ahem, “Fuelings”) are designed to restrict calories while providing nutrients. Yes, it’s convenient. But Optavia, in its structure, is very similar to Nutrisystem or the more modern Kettlebell Kitchen, in which the company ships you prepared meals and you eat those prepared meals.
Optavia offers more than 60 food options (excuse me, “Fuelings,” geez) to choose from, including oh-so-exciting delicacies as “Beef Stew,” “Chicken Cacciatore,” “Turkey Meatball Marinara,” and I’m sorry if you just fell asleep.
Michelle Arnold / EyeEm
Can the Optavia Diet help me lose weight?
Well, here’s the tricky thing. Any diet involving calorie restriction may help you lose weight. In the short term.
If you go from a diet heavy in calorie-dense foods, a diet that includes a lot of (let’s just pick a totally random example here) red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, to a diet that includes a lot of, ahem, beef stew in small portions, well then you’re going to reduce your calorie intake and lose weight. In the short term.
What about in the long term? That’s entirely on you.
A 2017 study reviewed the results of 25 weight loss programs and found that “commercial weight-loss programs frequently fail to produce modest but clinically meaningful weight loss with high rates of attrition suggesting that many consumers find dietary changes required by these programs unsustainable.”
Maybe you can sustain eating the same 60-ish Optavia Diet Fuelings over the course of a few months, but can you sustain eating them over the rest of your life?
I mean, that’s a lot of stew.
Is the Optavia Diet healthy?
Here’s where you need to be careful.
Look, if you’re the kind of uber Type A person who can stick to regimen of basically eating the same thing every day for months on end, maybe the Optavia Diet is for you.
But if you’re an actual human, you’re going to grow bored of beef stew. You’re going to start to hate beef stew. And when you start hating what you eat, you start hating the process of eating. And you start feeling guilty when you veer off your Fuelings and back to food.
Think about that for a moment: Is hating what you eat worth losing weight? Is it worth feeling guilt and shame about eating something that isn’t labeled as a Fueling?
The National Eating Disorders Association reports that 95 percent of people who diet regain their lost weight in five years.
Can I eat cake on the Optavia Diet?
Oh yeah! It’s this amazing-looking (?) Cinnamon Swirl Cream Cheese Cake with Cinnamon!
And where is that damned red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting recipe anyway???
Not sure if it counts as an Optavia Fueling, though.
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