Optifast Weight Loss Programme
at Cape Gate Dietitians


The OPTIFAST Weight Loss Programme is based on a very low calorie diet (VLCD). It provides roughly 800 kcal (or 3400kJ) of energy per day, for the first 8 weeks(Intensive phase). Depending on an individual, conventional weight loss diets contain more than twice the amount of energy daily. The Programme has shown to significantly reduce body weight by 1-2.5 kg per week. It consists of three scientifically formulated products (shakes, bars o vegetable soups) taken daily for 8 weeks as a meal replacement, with low-carb vegetables and salad as desired. After the initial 8-week period, a 4-week period of gradual food reintroduction follows.

The OPTIFAST Programme is however, more than just shakes, it is a structured nutritional and behavioural change programme developed by leading experts and supported by medical professionals.

The Programme consists of 3 Phases to assist you in your weight loss journey:

  • The Intensive Phase - On joining the OPTIFAST Programme, you may require a visit with a medical practitioner based on your risk-assessment - laboratory tests may also be required. If you are on chronic medication, this may need adjustment, as OPTIFAST has shown to reduce the dose requirements of some medications. You will then also be referred to a OPTIFAST-trained dietitian for a baseline consultation. After the initial assessment, the dietitian will explain the dietary aspects of the Programme, and you will receive sufficient OPTIFAST Shakes for 2 weeks. Follow-up consultations for support and education will occur with the dietitian at 2 weeks, 4 weeks and 8 weeks.
  • The Food Reintroduction phase – At the 8 week dietitian consultation, you will be taught how to reintroduce food into your diet. This phase consists of 2 shakes with 1 calorie controlled meal daily for 2 weeks or more and another 2 weeks of 1 shake with 2 calorie-controlled meals daily. This process has shown to assist in weight maintenance.
  • Weight Maintenance – At the 8 Week dietitian consultation, the dietitian will also provide you with weight maintenance strategies. This can be in the form of either 1 shake a day long term or using the shake intermittently. Evidence has shown that using a meal replacement shake is a strategy for effective weight maintenance, even more so than exercise (although the positive effects of exercise for health and cardiovascular risk reduction should not be neglected). At 6 months, you will see your dietitian for support and education - your weight maintenance will also be assessed at this visit. At this time, you may see your doctor as part of your regular medical check-up, if your medication needs to be adjusted, e.g. in diabetes and hypertension.


Mrs X, a 37 year old patient, was first assessed by an Optifast-trained dietitian at the Cape Gate Dietitians’ practice for a baseline consultation in February 2018. She was a newly diagnosed Type 2 Diabetic and had a history of weight management problems. She reported knowing that she had to do something about her weight to better her health, as she had a husband and young daughter to also think about. At this point, her weight was 155kg.

At her second visit, she received a supply of Optifast shakes as well as a meal plan, indicating the food that can be enjoyed with the shakes. Because of her higher than normal lean muscle mass, additional protein servings were added to her meal plan, to prevent the loss of muscle mass. Mrs X indicated that she would prefer to following up weekly, instead of the usual two weekly follow up.

She was very eager to start the programme and this showed at her follow up consultation with the dietitian. After only 1 week on the Optifast programme, she had lost an whopping 3 kilograms. She reported feeling more energetic than before. She also reported the shakes being surprisingly satisfying and that she did not experience any cravings at all, contrary to what she expected.

Her weigh in was done, using an In Body body analysis scale, which indicated that she had lost mostly fat, but also a small portion of muscle. Mrs X indicated that she did not take protein with her shakes as prescribed. The reason for the addition of protein to the diet was stressed to Mrs X.

After the second follow up appointment and up until her most recent visit, she is continuously losing 1 – 1.3 kg of fat mass weekly. Her muscle mass declined slightly, but for the most part it is relatively stable. In April 2018, she reached her first big weight loss milestone of having lost more than 10kg. Her most recent weight is 143kg and she is still going strong. She will be starting her 4 week food reintroduction phase soon.

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