Possible Symptoms & Side Effects

*NOTE: Most of the time, our Clients report feeling energized and better than they did prior to starting a this Program. If you are ill or do not feel well, see your doctor. Unless your doctor says otherwise, you should be able to continue on plan, as most symptoms experienced are temporary.  Whenever you change your eating habits in any way, sometimes your body reacts.

If you have questions, talk to your Health Coach.

Leg Cramps
Dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue
Women’s Issues
Loose Skin
Feeling Cold
Hair Loss
Bad Breath
Hunger that doesn't go away?
Can I continue with the program if I catch a cold or get the flu?
Managing Muscle Cramps
Preventing nighttime leg cramps
Preventing cramps when you exercise

Leg Cramps

Some individuals may experience leg cramps on the program. If you are on medications you will want to have these monitored and adjusted accordingly throughout your weight loss program.

  • Try taking a bouillon or a MF Soup to help, or zero carb/calorie sports drink to replenish sodium and electrolytes.
  • Make sure to keep well hydrated
  • Do not arbitrarily add potassium to your program without first consulting with your doctor. You will want to have labs done to determine how much (if any) potassium should be added. Adding inappropriate amounts of potassium can potentially affect heart rhythms.
  • Veggies high in potassium: tomatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, green beans, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli.  Salmon is also a good source of potassium. Top of Page

Dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue

  • If you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or extra tired, try having a MF Soup or a bouillon, or zero carb/calorie sports drink to replenish sodium and electrolytes.
  • Make sure to keep well hydrated and have medications monitored while doing the program.
  • Please contact your physician if you are experiencing any of these symptoms after your first week on the program.
  • If you have struggled with being hypoglycemic, ask your coach about adding protein to your meals.  Click here for more information.

Women’s Issues

Rapid weight loss may cause an increase in the level of estrogen in the bloodstream. This in turn may possibly affect menstrual cycle regularity, change PMS symptoms, and/or increase fertility. Please contact your Ob-Gyn if you have any concerns or questions. Top of Page


Individuals may experience a headache at the onset of the program. This is a result of getting into the fat-burning state.

  • Tylenol or aspirin can help relieve pain symptoms
  • Make sure to get in at least 64-ounces of water
  • You should not experience a headache beyond Week 1 of the program
  • Sometimes because urination has increased, more salts may be needed. Drink a cup of chicken or beef bullion, or zero carb/calorie sports drink to replenish sodium and electrolytes.

Loose Skin

Some individuals may experience loose skin on the program (due to weight loss).  Your skin has natural elasticity and will adapt to your smaller size given time. Stay well hydrated, keep getting great nutrition and use moisturizers. It may take 6 months to a year to see full improvement but it will happen in most people.

Incorporating exercise into the program can help improve muscle tone. The skin however lies over the muscle and is separate from it and so may not be affected by muscle tone. Check with your physician if you don’t see improvement after several months at your weight goal.  Top of Page

Feeling Cold

Some individuals may feel cold on the program – a result of the lower caloric intake. Try a MF hot product, and make sure to carry around a sweater or jacket. Top of Page

Hair Loss

Hair loss is NOT a typical side effect of the our program; however, a small percentage of people may experience this as hair loss is possible whenever a person loses weight (this means whether following this program or another means of weight loss).

No matter what method people choose to lose weight, the more rapid the weight loss is, the more likely they are to experience some temporary hair loss. There are several circumstances during weight loss that can produce a "shock to the system" that alters the normal hair growth rhythm. As a result, as much as 30-40% of hairs can cycle into a resting phase rather than the typical 10%. Three months later, these hairs can come out in a substantial shedding.

Typically the scalp and hair will adjust, and for most people hair will stop falling out. The condition may resolve while following the weight loss program, but usually resolves when the person stops losing weight and gradually increases calorie intake during weight maintenance.

In a study observing hair loss while following a weight loss program, nine patients experienced hair loss two to five months after starting a rigorous program and hair loss of 25% to 50% was observed. Re-growth of hair did occur within several months. A strict calorie limitation that leaves inadequate energy for the hair matrix was thought to be the cause for the hair loss (1).

Stress and hormonal changes can also “shock the system” and trigger temporary hair loss.

Either of these conditions may accompany a weight reduction program. Because a small amount of estrogen is stored in fatty tissue and released when that fat is lost, some individuals may experience hormonal changes with weight loss.

While the MF meals do not lack or add anything that should innately cause hair loss, when "choosing your own foods" you may have been getting inadequate amounts of vitamins/minerals, protein, etc that potentially may have been part of the problem.

A variety of vitamin, mineral, and other supplements are available and marketed as helpful in hair growth. Although the ingredients offered in the products may be necessary for hair growth - they are beneficial only when deficient and the MF program provides adequate vitamins and minerals through its vitamin and mineral fortification – so if the 5&1 plan is followed as written the likelihood of a deficiency is very low. No studies are available that support additional vitamin and/or mineral supplementation to enhance re-growth of hair lost during weight loss. The use of an additional multivitamin while following the 5 and 1 meal plan is not recommended as it may increase the risk of meeting or exceeding the tolerable upper limit for certain vitamins and minerals which may actually increase the likelihood of hair loss (for example a very high level of Vitamin A--greater than 10000 IU--has been shown to result in hair loss).

Some individuals (especially those who do not eat fish regularly--2 or more times per week) may benefit from including essential fatty acids (as these are not fortified in the MF meals). We offer a Essential Heart Health Super Omega-3 essential fatty acid supplement to help provide an option for those looking for a great Omega-3 product. The MF Super Omega 3 also contains flaxseed oil which has been shown to promote the health of skin and hair. If you choose an outside supplement of this nature, be sure to look for one that has been 3rd party tested to ensure quality and purity (ours is, of course, third party tested to ensure what we say you're getting is actually what you're getting in these capsules). Here is the breakdown of the MF Omega 3 Supplement so something comparable is okay.

Total Fat 2.5 g 4%

Sodium 0 mg 0%

Total Carbohydrate 0 g 0%

Protein 0 g


Calories per Serving: 25

Calories from Fat: 25

Serving Size: 2 Softgel Capsules

Servings per Container: 30

Suggested Use: As a

dietary supplement, adults

take two (2) softgel capsules

daily with a meal, or as

directed by a health care


Ultra Refined Deodorized Fish Oil Concentrate 2440 mg†

EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) 720 mg........................... †

DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) 480 mg ......................... †

Organic Flax Seed Oil 100mg.............................................. †

ALA (Alpha Linolenic Acid) 50 mg .............................. †

LA (Cis-Linoleic Acid) 12 mg......................................... †

Oleic Acid 15 mg.............................................................. †

Ground or whole flaxseed can also be incorporated into your 5 and 1 meal plan. 1 teaspoon (whole or ground, though ground is needed to "release" those essential fatty acids) can be counted as 1 condiment option.

Although the MF meals are fortified with all the B-vitamins (including biotin) and individuals would be getting at least 100% of the daily value for this micronutrient with 5 MF meals, if you wanted to take an outside supplement, this is a personal decision and should not hinder your weight loss progress. There is no established upper limit for biotin so this should also not be an issue. While there is no one specific brand or product that is recommended, be sure to, again, look for a product that has been tested by an outside lab to ensure quality and pureness of the content.

Weight loss is beneficial in reducing health risks and improving the quality of life. Although hair loss is upsetting, the long-term health benefits of weight loss certainly outweigh this potential short-term adverse effect. If you, personally, feel you have reached your health goal and are ready to start the transition process, then be sure to follow the recommendations provided in the Transition and Maintenance Guide.

If this continues to be a problem or concern, it may be best to speak to your own doctor or preferably, a dermatologist. As a specialist in this area, they may be able to rule out any underlying causes and offer further guidance on this issue. Top of Page


Some individuals may experience a rash, perhaps due to one of the following:

  1. an allergy to an ingredient in the products, or
  2. the increased consumption of protein

Benadryl or Cortisone cream may help get rid of the rash. If the rash persists, it is likely due to an allergy – and use of the contributing products should be discontinued in this case.


Some individuals may experience gas on the program. Generally this will go away after incorporating an antacid such as sugar-free Rolaids or Tums.

  • Gas can sometimes result from a change in diet
  • Certain individuals may experience gas due to lactose intolerance. If an individual is lactose intolerant, Lactaid may be incorporated along with the program. Don’t forget our lactose-free products and our dairy-free Readyto-Drink shakes!
  • Drink all of your water!
  • The soy can also cause a reaction like any bean product might – use an enzyme like “beano” with each soy meal. Probiotics may also help to reduce digestive problems….
  • Try using the digestive health product you can order with your food- ask your coach.
  • If the program digestive health product is not strong enough, try VSL-3 found at any pharmacy without a prescription.  It is about 100 times stronger than the program probiotic.
  • You also may try not eating any bars for a week- sometimes these are more gas-inducing than other meals.
  • Some vegetables cause more gas such as broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, and cauliflower. Top of Page  


Some individuals may experience diarrhea on the program. Incorporating Imodium can help get rid of the diarrhea. If the diarrhea persists, we recommend discontinuing the product. Constant diarrhea can affect your electrolyte balance.

  • Sensitivity to soy can cause this, please call your coach for help if this is true for you.
  • Diarrhea may result from a change in diet, sometimes due to the higher consumption of greens. Imodium should help in this instance
  • Diarrhea may coincide with lactose intolerance. If an individual is lactose intolerant, Lactaid may be incorporated along with the program. Don’t forget our lactose-free products and our dairy-free Ready-to-Drink shakes!
  • Try using the digestive health product you can order with your food- ask your coach. Top of Page

Bad Breath

Some individuals may complain of bad breath or a funny taste in their mouth (usually referred to as a sweet or metallic taste). This is a result of being in the fat-burning state.

  • Individuals can use up to 5 pieces of either sugar-free gum or mints to help get rid of the taste
  • Sugar-free Listerine strips may help
  • Make sure to brush teeth well Top of Page


Some individuals experience constipation on the program. This can result from lower food intake amounts, which slows down your system.

  • Try adding wheat bran to the oatmeal (not wheat germ).
  • Take Omega 3 capsules up to 6 per day - ask your coach.
  • You can use sugar-free Benefiber to help relieve the constipation
  • You may try stool softeners
  • Try incorporating 1-2 tbsp of canola or olive oil into your diet
  • Try using the digestive health product you can order with your food- ask your coach.

If these tips do not work, please consult with your physician. Top of Page

Hunger that doesn't go away?

Click here for more information on hunger.  If you continue to struggle with hunger beyond the first week or two, your stomach may be excreting more acid than needed for the small volume of food intake. This can create a "gnawing" sensation in your stomach that feels exactly like hunger. If you have a history of having an ulcer or gastritis, you can be particularly prone to this type of hunger problem. To manage hunger that won't go away, consider taking an acid-blocker medication such as Zantac®, Tagamet® or Pepcid AC®. You will find these in most drug stores or grocery stores – usually in the same location as antacids. Top of Page

Can I continue with the program if I catch a cold or get the flu?

You may incorporate this sugar free cough drop and/or sugar free medicine. Check out the carbohydrate level, if available. Remember that 1 g of carbohydrate equals one Condiment Choice. You may have up to 3 Condiment Choices per day.

If a person catches a cold or gets the flu, they can continue to follow the 5 & 1 Plan provided the symptoms are not too severe. Sometimes listening to the body is the best "medicine" and this may entail including "comfort" foods such as crackers, etc. It is very common for people to lose their appetite when sick. If you are so sick that you are unable to keep food down, whether it is MF or other foods, it is best to listen to your body and feed it what it wants and can tolerate - even if it is not the 5 & 1 Plan.

If you choose to include foods that are not in the 5 & 1 Plan, this is ok. It is just important to know that adding foods "off plan" may bring your carbohydrate intake greater than 100gm for the day and temporarily stop the fat-burning state. Once feeling better, you can resume the 5 & 1 Plan and achieve a fat-burning state again. This will effect weight loss but only temporarily - which illness tends to do anyway.

I hope this helps. There is no "right" or "wrong" thing to do with your meal plan when you are sick and not feeling well. MF provides suggestions and wants you to know there is nothing in the meal replacements that is contraindicated for use while sick as they are just food. As with any other day of your life, choosing healthy foods to assist your body in fighting a virus or bacterial sickness/infection is always the best choice. MF meals are healthy and small portions which typically work well, even when a person is not feeling their best. Top of Page

Managing Muscle Cramps

If you experience muscle cramps while you’re on the Program, several strategies can help.

  • First, avoid getting dehydrated. Make sure that you’re drinking enough water, especially while exercising.
  • Second, review your medications with your physician. If you’re taking high blood pressure medicine or a “water pill,” he or she may adjust your dosage.
  • Third, consider choosing MF Meals and Lean & Green Meal selections that are higher in sodium, calcium, and potassium (minerals essential to normal muscle function). Here are some examples:
    Medifast Meals:
    Potassium (mg) Sodium (mg) Calcium (mg)
    55 & 70 Shakes >400 ≥250 250 – 300
    Chicken Noodle Soup 620 350 300
    Chicken & Wild Rice Soup 430 320 300
    Homestyle Chili 490 240 250
    Maryland Crab Soup 470 390 450
    Chocolate Pudding 480 170 350
    Vegetables: Broccoli, spinach, celery, tomatoes, turnip greens, collard greens, summer squash, or kohlrabi
    Healthy fat: Green olives
    Optional snack: Bouillon or dill pickle spears
    Beverage: Sugar-free tonic water that contains quinine (quinine helps ease muscle cramps)
    NOTE: We does NOT recommend use of over-the-counter potassium supplements without physician supervision. Top of Page

Preventing nighttime leg cramps:

  • Stretch your calf muscles before going to bed. Press your toes against a wall, hold for 30 seconds, relax, and repeat.
  • Keep blankets and sheets loose at the foot of the bed to keep your toes from pointing downward while you sleep.
  • Consider taking a calcium supplement before bed.
  • If you get a cramp in your calf, flex your foot up (toes toward your head) and hold until the cramp stops. Apply heat to the affected area, or massage.

Preventing cramps when you exercise:

  • Stretch and warm up for 10 to 15 minutes before exercising.
  • Don’t overdo your exercise: 30 to 45 minutes is adequate when you’re in the weight-loss phase of the Medifast Program.
  • Drink plenty of water. Excessive perspiration can cause you to lose sodium and potassium, resulting in a cramp.
  • Don’t exercise on a full stomach. Top of Page