The Optavia MLM is a multi-level marketing company and like many others, they offer health and wellness supplements and weight loss products, namely foods that are intended to be used with one of their three primary weight loss plans. Continue reading for a full review of the Optavia program from both a customer and brand representative’s perspective.
Reviewing Optavia MLM – Is it legit?
Optavia is one of many health and wellness multilevel marketing companies and is a child of the parent company Medifast. Their mission promotes what just about everyone wants — for their health and wellness to be transformed with small changes in daily habits. While people can use Optavia to maintain a healthy weight or simply learn about better nutrition, the majority of customers use the program to lose weight. Medifast products are supported by clinical studies and physician recommendations, but this has not yet been extended to the products Optavia offers.
Optavia sells wellness supplements, shakes, and dietary products for nutrition and weightloss like many other MLMs, but goes a step further by providing coaching, snacks, and even meal options called Optavia Fuelings that can be purchased directly from the company and not through the representative. They promote a six-step plan to optimal health that involves preparing for your wellness journey, reaching a healthy weight, incorporating regular foods into a nutritious diet, practicing healthy habits, optimizing your wellness for your specific age, and potentially living a longer, healthier life.
What makes Optavia different from other weight loss and wellness MLMs is that the education customers receive from their coaches and from the plan are rooted in scientifically-based nutritional guidelines. The goal is to learn healthier habits and “graduate,” eventually understanding and putting into practice how to eat healthfully without the company’s help.
The History of Optavia MLM
Optavia was formed as a subsidiary of Medifast, a well-known nutrition and weight loss company with clinically proven results. Since the early 80s, over 20,000 physicians have recommended or endorsed Medifast. Originally, the company was called Take Shape for Life, but the name was changed to Optavia in 2016.
Take Shape for Life was initially founded by CCU physician Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen and late Bradley MacDonald, who was Chairman of the Medifast Board of Directors at the time. They made quite the pair, with Dr. Andersen heading up product development and MacDonald lending his expert business knowledge.
The early years of Medifast did see some controversy when the company was sued in 1992 for making weight loss claims of up to 5 pounds per week. The Federal Trade Commission issued a ruling against Medifast and ordered them to cease and desist making such claims. However, since then, the company doesn’t seem to have been involved in any other controversial matters.
Both Medifast and Optavia continue to do well financially. They drew in $117.3 million in revenue in 2018, over a 54% increase from the previous year. Net revenue was $14.1 million, which brought the year-over-year up by more than 86%. The earnings of Optavia coaches also increased by nearly 46%, helping it to continue gaining traction among MLM representatives.
Are Optavia Products Quality?
Optavia’s products range from traditional nutrition shakes to full meals. Customers can purchase nutritionally-balanced foods that are similar to what they might find in a grocery store, like cheddar popcorn, beef stew, and chili lime chicken. However, these foods are specially formulated to offer dense nutrition in fewer calories than traditionally-made versions of these same foods. Optavia offers a few categories of foods to shop from:
Optavia Essential Fuelings
Essential Fuelings include snack bars, shakes, smoothies, hot chocolate and cappuccinos, snack sticks and poppers, hearty meal options like macaroni and cheese, and garlic smashed potatoes, comforting soups, breakfast options like pancakes and oatmeal, and even delicious desserts.
Optavia Select Fuelings
Optavia Select Fuelings feature bolder flavors from around the world for more variety. The company sources non-GMO ingredients from various areas well-known for their quality, such as Mediterranean rosemary, Indonesian cinnamon, and Bolivian chia seeds. Enjoy flavors like coconut curry bars, parmesan spinach pesto, and wild blueberry and almond oatmeal.
Classic Fuelings are where customers will find their favorite comfort foods, like ziti marinara, classic sour cream and chive mashed potatoes, chicken noodle soup, breakfast cereal, brownies, and pudding.
Snacks & More
Optavia also offers a wide variety of snacks to satisfy cravings for something crunchy, salty, or sweet. Customers can choose from bold flavors like ranch, cheddar, and rosemary, or stick to naturally flavored olive oil and sea salt snacks.
Pros of the Optavia MLM
Some benefits of working for Optavia include:
- No ranks to climb. Coaches don’t have to compete with each other for the highest sales and most recruits gained in a month to work their way up the ladder to higher pay. Pay is based on a coach’s monthly sales.
- No shipping products. Some MLM companies have their representatives purchase products at a wholesale price and ship the products to them, and the representative will have to mark up the price, sell, and ship or otherwise distribute the product to the customer. Optavia allows customers to order directly from the website and ships to their address.
- Optavia’s parent company is legitimate. Optavia is the subsidiary of Medifast, an established health and wellness company with physician backing since the 1980s. Optavia also has an A+ Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating.
- Meal plans that don’t make you feel like you’re missing out. Optavia’s food choices are fairly robust, and many people on the program don’t feel like they’re missing out or going hungry with the options that are available.
Cons of the Optavia MLM
There are some drawbacks of working for Optavia (and almost any other MLM) too, including but not limited to:
- It is technically an MLM. Multi-level marketing companies are notoriously difficult to make much money with — if any at all — but that also depends on the amount of work that the representative puts in.
- The business startup kit is expensive. The $199 new coaches pay for their business kit includes plenty of educational materials and Optavia-branded trinkets, but absolutely none of their products.
How the Optavia MLM Works
Optavia offers multiple health and weight loss programs designed for a customer’s specific goals. Part of a coach’s responsibility is to help their customers select the right plan for them.
Optimal Weight 5&1 Program
The Optavia 5&1 program is the most restrictive of the three weight loss programs and consists of 5 Optimal Health Fuelings per day and 1 Lean & Green meal per day. An Optimal Health Fueling is any Optavia meal replacement, and a Lean & Green meal is a meal customers put together on their own using Optavia’s nutritional guidelines. The Optimal Weight 5&1 program is designed for individuals who need to lose a more substantial amount of weight.
Optimal Weight 4&2&1 Program
The 4&2&1 program is a more flexible weight loss plan for individuals who want less restriction in their diet but still want to enjoy the benefits of learning healthier eating habits. Under this program, 4 meals are Optimal Health Fuelings, 2 meals are Lean & Green, and 1 meal is a healthy snack that can either be an Optavia snack or a similar alternative that is within program guidelines.
Optavia 3&3 Program
The 3&3 program is the most flexible of all three, allowing for only 3 Optimal Health Fuelings and 3 Lean & Green meals per day. For customers who are cost-conscious, have less weight to lose, want more flexibility to choose their meals, or for those who have graduated from other Optavia programs, 3&3 may be a good fit.
Purposeful Hydration is Optavia’s sports drink-like product that offers a balance of hydration, minerals, and electrolytes in flavors like raspberry lemonade, orange, berry, and lemon-lime. The powder mixes can be used with a glass or bottle of water, and provide essential B vitamins for an additional boost of energy.
What Do Customers Get In an Optavia Kit?
Customers can purchase Optavia kits with a number of servings of select foods that provide a sampling of what they would be eating for a month under their program. However, one kit is not enough for a full 30 days and at the price, this may be a shock to consumers. A 5&1 program kit includes 119 servings of Optavia foods, divided between breakfasts, meals, and snacks for $414.60. Customers who want to follow the program must also purchase 5 additional boxes of Fuelings to have enough to last a month, at a cost of $20.95 to $22.95 per box. This adds up to approximately $530 per month, not including the cost of groceries needed for the 1 Lean & Green meal per day.
What Do Coaches Get In a Business Kit?
Individuals who want to become an Optavia Health Coach need to purchase a business kit for $199. This contains various educational materials including brochures and booklets, 10 client introduction guides to the 5&1 Program, product cards and guides for each program, a pen set, a journal, a water bottle, a phone pop socket, notecards and notepads, and branded decals. Coaches also get a year of access to their own Optavia website and the back office.
What Does Optavia Pay?
Optavia has a more straightforward payment structure that is less like other MLMs and more like a traditional company that sells products and services outright. Coaches are compensated by receiving a percentage of the retail amount paid by their customers when they place an order through the company. Optavia customers do not order through their coaches or representatives, but rather with the company who then directly ships the products to the customer, similar to the Take Shape for Life compensation plan.
Optavia coach income includes bonuses for exceptional leadership and team growth, however, coaches do not earn money by recruiting additional team members. Furthermore, coaches don’t get a wholesale discount — they pay the same amount that retail customers do when they order from the Optavia website. This may leave many people wondering how an Optavia coach can make any money at all, but this payment structure is less complicated than those of other MLMs. Coaches simply make a commission from what their customers buy and the one-on-one support they provide.
Pay is also based on monthly performance and Optavia does not offer rank advancements. This is a refreshing take on the standard MLM, which usually has a number of ranks or positions that representatives can earn within the company for both reputation and higher revenue. With Optavia, every coach starts out on the same footing every month, and compensation is earned via performance versus rank.
What Optavia Won’t Tell You
There’s no scientific evidence that Optavia’s meals, snacks, and shakes are more effective nutritious than other similar products on the market. Largely, the efficacy of Optavia relies on the old standard of consuming fewer calories than are burned to lose weight, and uses structured meal plans and specific foods to help teach customers how to do that. Eventually, customers won’t need Optavia after they’ve learned how to build and implement healthier habits. Many customers, however, continue to purchase Optavia brand products after they “graduate” their weight loss program because it can make maintenance easier and less hassle.
The Bottom Line
So, is Optavia a pyramid scheme? While it has some key differences between traditional MLMs that make it closer to a legitimate business opportunity than a scam, Optavia is still a multi-level marketing company. Optavia is a brand under the publicly-traded company Medifast, so while an MLM, it’s not a fraudulent business. Compared to many MLM companies, Optavia is one of the most straightforward, without a lot of the complicated pay structures and confusing hierarchy of other MLMs. It’s a great choice for someone looking to get involved in an MLM but doesn’t want the frustration of having to deal with inventory or shipping products to customers.