The Ultimate Guide to Optifast for Sleeve Surgery

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    Last Updated on April 1, 2024

    Optifast can be a good way to get started on your weight loss journey. 

    In fact, Optifast is often prescribed as a meal plan patients take before their weight loss surgery. 

    When patients begin Optifast, they start to lose weight, and some of our patients at The Sleeve Clinic have even asked: “Can I just continue to take Optifast instead of having the sleeve?” 

    Unfortunately, Optifast alone does not address the underlying physiological causes of obesity in the way Sleeve surgery can. Unlike sleeve surgery, it is not a long-term sustainable solution to weight loss. Sleeve surgery is a more effective and long-lasting way of achieving the weight loss and lifestyle changes my patients seek, however Optifast can still play a very important role in that journey. 

    When Optifast is used to help prepare for Sleeve surgery, patients can achieve a higher level of overall success and lasting change.  

    In this article explore:


    What is Optifast

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    Optifast is a medically supervised, low-calorie meal replacement program that provides balanced nutrition while promoting weight loss. 

    It consists of carefully formulated meal replacement shakes, bars, and soups, which replace regular meals for a specific duration. It was created to help in losing weight more quickly than traditional dieting, while providing those who take Optifast with the vitamins and minerals they need for optimal health. 

    Why use Optifast before weight loss surgery

    Optifast is its own standalone weight loss system used both as either total diet replacement or as a replacement for individual meals. However, it’s also a product many bariatric surgeons require their patients to take before bariatric surgery. The primary goal of Optifast is to induce rapid weight loss and reduce the size of the liver, making the surgical procedure safer and more manageable.


    Why do people take Optifast?

    People choose to take Optifast for a variety of reasons, but often their use of Optifast is centered around their desire to achieve significant weight loss and improve their overall health. 

    Optifast can offer a convenient and effective way to begin a weight loss journey. Optifast provides a medically supervised program that ensures proper nutrition while drastically reducing calorie intake, leading to rapid weight loss. It can be a powerful tool for breaking unhealthy eating habits, promoting discipline, and fostering a sense of accomplishment. 

    The full Optifast program also offers a supportive community, where individuals can connect with others going through similar experiences, fostering motivation and accountability. 

    Whether someone wants to prepare for weight loss surgery or kick-start their own weight loss journey, Optifast provides a comprehensive solution that addresses many of the physical and psychological aspects of weight management. However, Optifast is a temporary solution – it is not designed to be a permanent diet and is not designed to integrate with the consumption of regular, solid food.

    How does Optifast work?

    The Optifast program consists of meal replacements in the form of shakes, bars, and soups that are low in calories, but rich in essential nutrients. By replacing regular meals with Optifast products, daily caloric intake is significantly reduced. This calorie deficit prompts the body to use its stored fat reserves for energy – leading to rapid weight loss. The controlled composition of Optifast products ensures that individuals receive essential vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients necessary for maintaining overall health while on the program. 


    What are the pros and cons of Optifast?

    For many people, Optifast is a fantastic way to kick-off their weight loss journey and achieve rapid weight loss. There are a lot of benefits to the program that help achieve this success, but it also has some cons when it comes to making lasting changes.

    Let’s take a look at five pros and five cons of Optifast: 

    Pros of Optifast: Preparing for Bariatric Surgery

    1. Rapid Weight Loss: Optifast is designed to induce rapid weight loss, which can be highly motivating and beneficial for individuals looking for quick results.
    2. Nutritionally Balanced: Optifast meal replacements are carefully formulated to provide essential nutrients while maintaining a low-calorie intake, ensuring individuals receive the necessary vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients.
    3. Structured Program: Optifast offers a structured program with clear guidelines, making it easier for individuals to follow and stay on track with their weight loss journey.
    4. Medical Supervision: Optifast is a medically supervised program, which means individuals receive professional support and monitoring throughout the process, ensuring safety and addressing any concerns that may arise.
    5. Breaking Unhealthy Eating Habits: By replacing regular meals with Optifast products, individuals can break free from unhealthy eating patterns and reduce dependence on high-calorie, processed foods.
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    Cons of Optifast:

    1. Restrictive Diet: Optifast requires individuals to replace most or all of their meals with meal replacements, which can feel restrictive and challenging for some individuals, particularly those who enjoy the variety and social aspects of eating regular meals.
    2. Potential Side Effects: Some individuals may experience side effects such as constipation, fatigue, or hunger during the initial stages of the program as their body adjusts to the lower calorie intake.
    3. Long-Term Sustainability: Optifast is primarily a short-term weight loss program and may not provide long-term solutions for maintaining weight loss. Individuals need to transition to a balanced, healthy eating plan after completing the Optifast program to sustain their weight loss.
    4. Cost: Optifast meal replacements can be more expensive than regular food, potentially making it a less accessible option for some individuals.
    5. Psychological Considerations: Optifast may not address the underlying emotional or psychological factors contributing to weight gain, and individuals may require additional support, such as counseling, to address these issues effectively.

    When it comes to planning your own weight loss journey, it’s important to think about the long-term. Optifast can be a safe, medically supported way to achieve rapid weight loss but many of the cons of Optifast can lead patients to regaining the weight later. 

    The good news is that sleeve surgery does address many of these cons and when used together, Optifast and sleeve surgery can be a very effective way to meet your long-term lifestyle goals.

    Why sleeve surgery is more effective than Optifast

    Sleeve surgery, also known as vertical sleeve gastrectomy, is a surgical procedure that permanently reduces the size of the stomach. While there are many pros and cons to weight loss surgery, this procedure offers significant advantages over Optifast or other non-surgical weight loss methods in terms of long-term effectiveness and sustained weight loss.

    Maintaining reduced caloric intake without a restrictive diet

    Firstly, sleeve surgery provides a more profound and lasting impact on weight loss. By permanently reducing the size of the stomach, the surgery limits the amount of food that can be consumed, leading to a decreased appetite and increased satiety

    This restriction on food intake helps individuals maintain a reduced-calorie diet, resulting in significant and sustained weight loss over time. Unlike Optifast, which is primarily a short-term program and does not allow patients to eat solid foods, sleeve surgery offers a more permanent solution for weight management and allows patients to eat normal foods. Compared to Optifast, sleeve surgery has an added benefit of bringing variety back to the patient’s diet and allowing them to enjoy some of the social aspects of food in a responsible way.

    Conquering hunger

    Sleeve surgery also addresses the underlying physiological factors contributing to obesity. It reduces the production of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, resulting in decreased feelings of hunger. This hormonal change helps individuals better control their food cravings and overeating tendencies, leading to improved long-term weight management. 

    Optifast, while effective in the short term, may not provide the same hormonal modifications and long-lasting impact on appetite control, which can lead to some patients returning to their old habits and gaining weight.

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    Positive side effects of sleeve surgery

    Additionally, sleeve surgery offers potential health benefits beyond weight loss. Many individuals with obesity suffer from associated health conditions such as: 

    • Type 2 diabetes 
    • High blood pressure
    • Sleep apnea

    Sleeve surgery has been shown to improve or even resolve these conditions, leading to better overall health and quality of life.

    It’s important to note that sleeve surgery is a significant procedure and it is essential to consider individual factors, such as overall health, lifestyle, and personal goals, when deciding between sleeve surgery and non-surgical weight loss methods like Optifast. 

    Preparation is key to achieving the best outcomes in any surgical procedure, and sleeve surgery is no exception. One important aspect of the preparation process is achieving significant weight loss before the surgery, which is where Optifast comes into play.

    Also read: Weight Loss Surgery in Toronto: Choosing the Right Clinic for Lasting Results


    Why Sleeve surgery patients take Optifast pre-sleeve surgery

    Optifast can lead to a more successful long-term solution when it is used as a preparation for sleeve surgery. When used this way, the benefits of Optifast do a lot to prepare patients for their post-surgery lifestyle and can greatly support the success of the surgery. At the same time by undergoing a sleeve surgery, many of the cons of using Optifast alone are addressed.

    Let’s look at four of the ways that patients can benefit from Optifast pre-sleeve surgery:

    1. Facilitating Liver Reduction: Excess fat in the liver can make the surgical procedure more challenging and increase the risk of complications. Optifast’s low-calorie composition aids in reducing liver size, making the surgery safer and more feasible.
    2. Promoting Weight Loss: Optifast’s carefully designed meal replacements ensure that patients receive adequate nutrition while consuming fewer calories. This leads to rapid weight loss, which is beneficial for improving overall health and reducing surgical risks.
    3. Breaking Unhealthy Eating Habits: Since no other foods are allowed during the program, Optifast helps patients take a break from unhealthy eating patterns and dependence on high-calorie, processed foods. It serves as a reset button for the body, allowing patients to adopt healthier eating habits and build a solid foundation for their post-surgery lifestyle.
    4. Psychological Preparation: Optifast serves not only as a physical preparation method but also as a psychological one. It helps patients develop discipline, self-control, and a sense of accomplishment as they successfully follow the program. This psychological preparation contributes to a smoother transition into the post-surgery phase.

    By going on the Optifast program as a way to prepare for sleeve surgery, many patients can achieve the best of both worlds and support their long-term weight-loss and lifestyle journey. However, every patient’s needs are different.

    It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian before starting any weight loss program, including Optifast, to determine its suitability for individual needs and goals and to follow the instructions of your surgeon and clinic when preparing for a sleeve surgery.


    Tips for taking Optifast pre-sleeve surgery

    If you are using the Optifast program to support your sleeve surgery, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of success. Here are five tips to get the most out of taking Optifast pre-sleeve surgery:

    1. Communicate with Your Healthcare Team: Keep your healthcare provider informed about your progress, any challenges you may be facing, or any concerns you may have. They are there to support you and can provide guidance or make adjustments to the program as needed.
    2. Connect with others: Connecting with others who are going through a similar experience can provide encouragement, motivation, and helpful tips for success. At The Sleeve Clinic our patients are provided access to a private Facebook group where they share their tips, questions and encouragement with each other. 
    3. Plan Ahead: Prepare yourself for potential challenges during the Optifast phase. Identify potential triggers or situations that may lead to deviations from the program, and develop strategies to navigate them successfully. Planning your meals and having the necessary Optifast products readily available can help you stay on track.
    4. Manage Hunger: It’s normal to experience hunger during the initial phase of the program. To manage hunger pangs, spread out your meal replacements throughout the day, and consider having smaller, more frequent meals rather than a few larger ones. Engaging in activities such as going for a walk or engaging in a hobby can help distract you from thoughts of food. Drinking water can also help. 
    5. Stay Positive: Adopt a positive mindset and focus on the benefits of the Optifast program. Remember, you are making progress toward your weight loss goals and all the positive impacts that will have on your overall health. Celebrate small milestones along the way to stay motivated.
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    It can be a challenging program to follow, but remember that the Optifast phase is only a temporary part of your journey towards sleeve surgery. By following these tips and staying committed, you are setting yourself up for a successful surgical procedure and a healthier future. 

    Optifast for Bariatric Surgery: Conclusion

    Optifast plays a crucial role in the preparation phase before sleeve surgery. Through its numerous benefits, including liver reduction, weight loss, breaking unhealthy eating habits, and psychological preparation, Optifast sets the stage for a successful surgical procedure and promotes long-term weight management. 

    While Optifast alone has cons that make permanent weight loss a challenge, its immediate effects blend well with sleeve surgery’s ability to provide lasting change.

    Remember, it is essential to consider individual factors, such as overall health, lifestyle, and personal goals, when approaching your weight loss goals. Consulting with a healthcare provider is crucial to determine the most appropriate approach to achieve long-term weight management success and if you have any questions about your own path, you can always reach out to our clinic to discuss your options.


    Please note that the information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only and should not replace medical advice. It is always recommended to consult with a qualified healthcare professional for personalized guidance regarding weight loss surgery. If you are considering sleeve surgery you can book a consultation with our clinic here: Contact us

    Key Takeaways

    • Optifast Overview: A medically supervised weight management program tailored for pre-surgery preparation.
    • Gastric Sleeve Surgery: A procedure that reduces the stomach’s size, aiding in weight loss and improving overall health.
    • Pre-Surgery Preparation: Optifast helps in reducing liver size and fat, ensuring a safer and more effective surgery.
    • Dietary Transition: Optifast provides a structured meal plan leading up to the surgery, ensuring patients receive essential nutrients.
    • Post-Surgery Benefits: Incorporating Optifast post-surgery can aid in maintaining weight loss and promoting a balanced diet.
    • Safety First: Always consult with a medical professional before starting Optifast or considering gastric sleeve surgery.
    • Success Stories: Many patients have found success in their weight loss journey by combining Optifast with gastric sleeve surgery.
    • Long-Term Health: Optifast not only prepares patients for surgery but also equips them with the tools to maintain a healthy lifestyle post-surgery.


    The BMJ – Bariatric surgery versus non-surgical treatment for obesitySurgery for Obesity and Related Diseases – What are the long term results 8 years after sleeve gastrectomy?
    Optifast – The Optifast program before bariatric surgery
    Journal of Obesity – The Effect of Preoperative Weight Loss before Gastric Bypass
    Mayo Clinic – Very low caloric diet before bariatric surgery reduces perioperative complications
    Obesity – Effectiveness of a Total Meal Replacement Program (OPTIFAST Program) on Weight Loss
    Obesity Science and Practice – Postmenopausal women’s experiences of weight maintenance following a very low energy diet
    Obesity – The Evolution of Very-Low-Calorie Diets
    The Journals of Gerontology – Very Low Calorie Diets for Weight Loss in Obese Older Adults
    The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition – Sleeve gastrectomy effects on hunger, satiation, and gastrointestinal hormone and motility responses after a liquid meal test

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    As one of the leading weight loss surgeons in Canada, Dr Gmora has gained a reputation for being a master of his surgical craft and producing outstanding weight loss results.