BistroMD is a weight loss meal delivery program. The brand claims that their meals are “doctor designed” and that they allow for weight loss while still tasting good, describing their service as “weight loss without the sacrifice."
But is BistroMD proven in clinical studies to cause weight loss or are these just marketing claims? Do we think the program is likely to cause weight loss? Do BistroMD meals have any unhealthy ingredients? And how do real users rate the taste?
In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we review the calorie content of BistroMD meals based on medical studies to give our take on whether or not the program is likely to cause sustainable weight loss.
We'll also review the ingredients in BistroMD meals and BistroMD snacks to give our take on whether the program is healthy overall, and share a real, unsponsored user review of BistroMD that includes taste tests.
Will BistroMD Cause Weight Loss?
The ability of a diet plan to cause weight loss depends on the weight of the dieter. A diet plan and recommended caloric intake for a 350 pound person will differ from the diet plan for a 190 pound person.
Based on our review of BistroMD meals, we do believe that this program is likely to cause weight loss short-term, but we’re unsure how sustainable it is, given that many of the meals contain calorie counts that would be significantly under baseline caloric maintenance for most overweight people.
Most of the meals we reviewed ranged between 250 and 400 calories. Even at a generous estimate of 350 calories per BistroMD meal, that’s only 1,050 calories per day for three daily meals, which is quite low.
According to medical research, the average caloric maintenance level for women is around 2,000 calories per day, and for men is around 2,500 calories per day. These are very rough estimates and will of course vary significantly between individuals, but it's notable how much higher these calorie counts are than what three BistroMD meals provide.
Most users of diet programs are overweight and have higher baseline caloric needs, which makes us questionable how sustainable this program is long-term.
As an example, a 300 pound person trying to lose weight may be recommended by their doctor to consume 2,300 calories per day, which would likely be below caloric maintenance level for a person of that weight even without exercise.
Based on the average calories provided by BistroMD meals, this person may need to intake around 1,300 calories just in BistroMD snacks daily to meet their caloric needs, even on a weight loss program.
We believe that BistroMD may be effective for weight loss short-term, but any diet that provides significantly fewer calories than baseline can be effective for short-term weight loss. We're unsure if this is the best model for long-term, sustainable weight loss, and it's notable that BistroMD does not appear to have funded any clinical research proving that their diet plan is effective for weight loss.
Real, Unsponsored BistroMD User Review
A popular health and lifestyle YouTube channel called "Your Favorite Family" reviewed BistroMD and showed what a day's worth of BistroMD meals looks like. The creator reviews the taste and nutrition, and shares her thoughts about whether or not BistroMD is a good weight loss option:
Is BistroMD Healthy?
The ingredient list from a sample BistroMD meal, their Bagel Sandwich, is shown above.
We consider BistroMD to be healthier than the average American diet, but some of their meals contain questionable additive ingredients that we recommend avoiding. There are meal delivery services like Daily Harvest that we would consider much healthier than BistroMD.
First, let’s discuss the good things. Many BistroMD meals contain at least one serving of fruits or vegetables, which is already an improvement to the standard American diet. At the time of writing this article, around 75% of the meals on BistroMD’s site contain a serving of fruits and vegetables, although many of the servings appear small at least based on the images.
High intake of fruits and vegetables benefitting human health is one of the few things that nutrition researchers almost unanimously agree on. A medical review published in the Circulation journal found that increased fruit and vegetable intake was associated with lower mortality rates after analyzing data from nearly 2 million patients.
There are several aspects of BistroMD’s meals that we consider unhealthy.
The first is that the brand appears to use meat from conventionally-raised animals rather than pasture-raised animals. As we discussed in our Hungryroot reviews article, medical research shows that pastured meat is more nutrient-dense, and the fatty acid ratios are more optimal.
BistroMD’s meals also contain a number of additive ingredients we recommend avoiding for health reasons.
Natural flavor is a generic term that fails to describe the specific flavoring agents used, and this ingredient is included in some BistroMD meals. A meta-study published in the Toxicology Research journal highlighted some potential toxicity concerns with food flavoring agents, and we recommend avoiding this ingredient entirely.
Citric acid is a preservative and flavor enhancer that’s been associated with whole-body inflammation in a series of medical case reports. Most consumers will likely have no issue with this ingredient, but we recommend avoiding it as a precaution.
Cane sugar is the unhealthiest version of added sugar in our opinion, and is included in some BistroMD meals. There are alternative sweeteners like fruit juice and even stevia which we consider healthier. We recommend avoiding added sugar as much as possible.
A number of BistroMD meals contain vitamin additives like vitamin A palmitate in their Red Pepper Frittata. We recommend avoiding foods and supplements with vitamin additives, as it seems illogical to take supplemental vitamins without evidence of a deficiency.
As we documented in our Isagenix Collagen Elixir reviews article, some of that brand's customers experienced toxicity due to the added vitamins in their nutritional products.
Overall we consider BistroMD somewhat healthier than the average American diet but we do not recommend the program from a nutritional perspective due to the questionable additive ingredients in some of their meals, and the choice to use conventionally-raised meats rather than pastured meats.
BistroMD Snacks Review
BistroMD sells a number of snacks which we would consider to be the least healthy options on their menu. For consumers set on purchasing from BistroMD, we’d recommend getting most of your calories from their meals rather than snacks.
Some of their snacks contain relatively high levels of added cane sugar. As an example, their Salted Caramel Pecan bar contains 22 grams (g) of carbohydrates and 7 g of added sugar. It still somehow has a “diabetic” tag which is confusing to us.
Some of their other snacks are sweetened with honey and fruits which we consider healthier options.
These snacks are definitely healthier than commercial snack products by a significant margin, but they may not be the best option for someone dieting.
Can Food Supplements Cause Weight Loss?
There exist several over-the-counter (OTC), food-based weight loss supplements that don't require a prescription, and which have medical research backing.
Dietary fiber is associated with weight loss in clinical trials, especially when combined with caloric restriction.
A landmark medical study found that moderate caloric restriction (750 calories per day below baseline) combined with dietary fiber intake (a minimum of 20 grams per day) caused an average weight loss of 16.03 pounds over 6 months. That’s a pace of 32 pounds per year of weight loss in overweight individuals simply by adding fiber to a moderately-restricted-calorie diet.
The fiber supplement we recommend is SuperGut Fiber Mix. It contains a clean and effective formulation: a blend of three different types of unflavored dietary fiber and zero additive ingredients. It can be mixed into liquids or foods. Interested consumers can buy SuperGut fiber at this link to the product page on the brand's website.
We recommend using two fiber mixes per day, which provides 16 grams (g) of total fiber. Diet should provide the remaining fiber necessary to meet the 20 g minimum threshold.
MCT oil is derived from coconuts, quickly absorbed by the body and increases metabolic rate, which causes fat loss. A meta-study on MCT oil documented weight loss of 1.12 pounds over 10 weeks. This equates to a potential annualized weight loss of 5.84 pounds with MCT oil supplementation.
We recommend Bulletproof MCT Oil as our top MCT oil product, because it has a clean and effective formulation. The only ingredient is MCT oil derived from coconuts, and the product has no questionable additives. Interested consumers can buy Bulletproof MCT Oil at this link to the product page on the brand's website. This supplement only costs $15.50 for over a month's worth of product.
The effective dose range of MCT oil for weight loss (based on the medical review) is 1.7 g to 10 g per day. Bulletproof's MCT oil provides 14 g in one tablespoon, so around two-thirds of one tablespoon should be a maximally-effective dosage.