Losing weight is a big challenge, and figuring out healthier ways to eat is a bit part of the process. There’s a reason that a lot of people look to dietary supplements and pre-portioned meals to make losing weight a little easier.
The best programs not only provide easy-to-manage meal plans and better nutrition, but they also help teach you healthier eating habits to make it easier to maintain your results, even when you aren’t dieting.
Optavia is one of the most popular options for people who are looking to lose weight, take control of their health, and restore a good balance of gut bacteria and enzymes.
But, if you’re looking to get Optavia-like results without having to join the program, or forgot to order more and need some ideas for how to get through the gap between deliveries, there are good options out there.
Let’s start with what Optavia fuelings are, and then we’ll talk about the best substitutes you can use to get the same results.
What Are Optavia Fuelings?
Optavia Fuelings are small portion snacks and even meal replacements that are designed to offer low carbs and high proteins to keep you fueled throughout the day.
Real Optavia Fuelings are Optavia-branded foods like bars, cookies, cereals, soups, pastas, and puddings. You can choose from 60 different options to build some variety into your meals and are designed to be satisfying and filling while having lower caloric content than most equivalent meals or snacks.
There are different Optavia plans that determine how many fuelings you get, and how many you should eat throughout the day.
Fuelings use sugar substitutes, whey and soy proteins, and other dietary tricks to let you still eat your favorite foods, but with higher protein and lower carb content. So, fuelings can include foods like chocolate shakes and mac and cheese, but with a better balance of nutrition in each serving.
What Is The Optavia Diet?
The Optavia Diets are comprehensive weight loss or weight maintenance plans, which include a strict regimen of fuelings, Lean and Green meals, and sometimes a snack that isn’t a fueling. Depending on which program you choose, you may get different amounts of fuelings.
The program also includes additional tools to make it easier to be successful in your diet. You can get access to weight loss tips, inspiration, and support, via text messages, community forums, support calls, and an app that makes it easier to schedule eating and track your eating habits.
The program is also customizable for people in different life stages, including customized options for seniors, teens, nursing parents, and people dealing with chronic diseases like diabetes and gout.
That said, there are some downsides. Some dieticians worry that Optavia diets encourage an aggressive caloric deficit that makes it harder to get adequate nutrition. It’s also not entirely clear how well Optavia diets actually accommodate people with specialized nutrition needs.
For instance, too much of a caloric deficit in teen years can slow normal development and growth. Even when weight loss is a goal, teens still have specific caloric and nutritional needs. Optavia claims to meet those needs, but studied on the diet aren’t as clear.
Foods are also highly processed and provided in pre-packaged containers. That makes portion control easier and means that you don't need to spend as much time cooking, but also means that you aren't learning how to create nutrition-dense foods for yourself.
All in all, Optavia diets might be a good option for some people, but learning to make your own fuelings, or how to eat well on non-Optavia products might make this diet more sustainable.
Looking for more diet-friendly meals? Try some of our 500 Calorie Meals!
The Best Substitutes For Optavia Fuelings
In the Optavia diet, fuelings are designed to be quick, nutrition-dense, pick-me-up snacks you can eat throughout the day to give yourself a quick pick-me-up.
These aren’t designed to be full meals, but instead small bites that help keep your blood sugar and energy levels steady.
A good replacement for fuelings needs to have a few qualities. It needs to be small, high in protein, and low carb enough to keep your blood sugar steady. Ideally it should also have a good balance of nutrients and be satisfying even though it’s small.
Here are some options you can try:
Coffee is actually a surprisingly good replacement for Optavia fuelings, but only if you make it the right way. Avoid adding a lot of sugar. Stick to sugar replacements or low-glycemic alternatives like maple syrup.
Next, don’t skip the cream. Cream adds protein and fat, making the coffee more satisfying and filling. It also helps moderate the blood sugar impact of your coffee, helping the caffeine boost last longer.
Beef jerky is a great option. You only need a couple of pieces to effectively replace a Fueling through the day, so one package can last a long time.
That said, it’s important to choose your brand carefully. A lot of modern beef jerky (or turkey jerky) uses sugar both as a preservative and for flavor. Too much sugar and the jerky will spike your blood sugar and leave you craving more.
So, look for sugar-free or low-sugar brands and flavors instead.
Greek yogurt is higher in protein than other yogurts, and a lot of companies use low-carb flavorings so you can get a nice burst of flavor without adding too many carbs or calories.
Just be careful, some brands, like Noosa, come in large-serving packages that need to be portioned smaller to be a good Optavia Fueling substitute. Otherwise, you’ll get too many calories from that one snack.
Seapoint Farms Snack Packs
Seapoint Farms sells snack packs of flavored edamame, which is a great way to refuel in the day. At just 100 calories per pack, these are a filling and protein-rich option.
Snack packs come in a lot of different flavors, and cost just over a dollar per serving. That means that they are a budget-friendly Optavia Fuelings substitute.
Parm crisps are made by baking slices of parmesan cheese. They’re almost all protein and fat, which makes them a great fuel booster.
Just make sure to either make your own or read the packaging to make sure there's no added sugar in the seasoning.
It’s easy to make chia pudding, and it’s a naturally high fiber and high protein food. One of the most popular recipes is combining chia seeds and coconut milk, letting them sit overnight, and then enjoying your pudding.
However, you can use almost any plant-based milk, and you can even add a little flavored protein powder for an extra nutritional boost.
Want more protein in your diet? Here are our High Protein meal prep ideas.
Plain oatmeal really is a nutritional powerhouse, so it’s a good option if you’re replacing Fuelings. However, the problem is that plain oatmeal is really bland, so you’re going to want to add some toppings. Try to avoid sugar and sweetened options like syrup or jam.
Instead, fresh berries, chia seeds, nuts or nut butters, and even savory options, like sauteed vegetables, are a better mix-in for your oatmeal.
Quinoa might have gotten a little too much hype as a superfood, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a useful grain to add to your diet. High in protein and lower in carbs than most grains, quinoa is a satisfying and healthy option as an Optavia fueling substitute.
For a little more flavor, use a little bit of healthy fat, and 1 or 2 low-starch vegetables when you’re cooking your quinoa. Then portion it out into several small fuelings to use through the week. If you want something a little more filling, consider adding nuts, chia seeds, or even chopped squash to help add bulk and nutrition without adding too many calories.
A Small Handful of Nuts
Nuts are a fantastic option since they have a lot of protein and fat, but tend to be very low in carbs. If you get salted nuts, the salt can also help restore electrolytes and give you an energy boost.
However, you need a small portion size, usually a ¼ cup or less, to make this option a good one.
You can choose your favorite nuts though, or even get a few different kinds to give yourself some variety in your foods.
Crudites, or chopped carrots and celery, is another good option. Both vegetables provide good nutrition and are a healthy addition to your diet. Celery is very low calorie, and hydrating, which can help give you more of an energy boost, while the carrots give your body the bulk it needs to feel full.
The only trick is that you do need to portion control to replace a fueling. One of the goals of the Optavia diet is to help your stomach shrink so that you don't need as much volume to feel full. Carrots and celery won't add too many calories, but if you eat a ton of them you can accidentally stretch your stomach and make it harder to stick to your smaller portions moving forward.
Popcorn might seem like an odd choice, but it has a lot of advantages. This isn't a low-carb option, since corn is a grain, but most popcorn has enough added fat to help balance the carbs out. Feel free to add a little extra butter if you choose this option.
The nice thing though, is that popcorn is low calorie for its volume, which can help you feel fuller with fewer calories.
You can also get portable popcorn snack packs that are a perfect substitute for Optavia fuelings since they are pre-portioned and you can take them with you. All you need is a working microwave to pop the corn and you’re good to go!
It’s important to look for veggies that are going to give you a boost, but that aren’t high calorie or high carb. So, potatoes are out, but options include things like carrots, onions, zucchini, cabbage, kale, and cauliflower. Most leafy greens are also a good option.
The nice thing about this choice is that you can enjoy your veggies raw or cooked. A small amount of added fat from butter, olive oil, or a dipping sauce can actually help your body get more nutrition from the veggies, while also making them more satisfying.
The other nice thing is that you can generally have a larger serving while still meeting your caloric goals, so this option can help keep you full longer.
Looking for even more low-calorie dinners? We’ve got you covered!
Another solid option are roasted chickpeas. You can get them from a can, but roasting these beans gives them a satisfying crunch, and is also a good opportunity to add healthy seasonings for more flavor.
Plus, since chickpeas are high in protein and low in carbs, with a good balance of healthy fats, they're a well-balanced snack. You can also use roasted chickpeas to supplement fuelings if you find yourself struggling with hunger between meals on your Optavia diet.