My BistroMD Review - I Lost 3 lb in 5 Days - Food is Great, Plan is Easy
by Marianne Plunkert
I was excited when Matthew, editor of WeightLossTriumph.com, an independent blog site with a focus on diets and weight loss programs, asked me if I would like to write an unbiased review of the BistroMD diet meal delivery program. I had done some research on BistroMD a couple of years ago, comparing it to other weight loss programs, and I remembered being impressed by what I had learned. The program had been developed by a board-certified bariatric doctor, so I reasoned that it must be good. Now I would be able to find out for sure.
Overview of the BistroMD Program
Blueberry Cheesecake (BistroMD Snack)
Because it had been a while since I had researched the BistroMD program, I revisited the website while I awaited the arrival of the meals. BistroMD prides itself in providing nutritionally balanced gourmet meals that are physician-designed to promote weight loss. According to the website, the BistroMD chefs use quality fresh ingredients to prepare the meals, which are then frozen and shipped in dry ice via FedEx to your doorstep.
Blackened Salmon with Champangne Sauce (BistroMD Dinner)
BistroMD offers a choice of plans. You can opt to receive either five or seven days’ worth of meals, and you can choose whether or not to have snacks included with those meals. BistroMD does not offer separate plans for men and women. The seven-day plan with snacks included provides an average of 1100 to 1400 calories a day.
However, BistroMD does have a team of expert dieticians to help you design an ideal plan for you, based on your gender, age, weight, height, and activity level. You can also consult an expert dietician as you progress, and newsletters and videos and articles on the site offer further support. You are not required to sign a long-term commitment with BistroMD when you register for the program; you can cancel at any time without penalty.
My meals arrived shortly after 5 P.M. The FedEx guy handed me a large cardboard box. I had been expecting a Styrofoam cooler.
Lo and behold, I opened the box to find a Styrofoam cooler, with a sheet containing a description of the five days worth of meals, allergy information, and abbreviated instructions attached to it, along with a bright yellow sticker warning not to touch the dry ice in the cooler with my bare hands.
I opened the cooler to find the dry ice packet separated from the meals themselves by a strip of cardboard. Bubble wrap had been used to protect the meals that were on top. After I deposited the first day of meals in my refrigerator to thaw, as per the instructions for “best results,” and the remaining meals in my freezer, I disposed of the dry ice, following the instructions provided on the packet containing it.
All the meals had remained frozen in transit, and they were all right-side-up in the cooler. Each meal was in a recyclable plastic container, which was enclosed in a cardboard sleeve, with a description of the meal, ingredient and nutritional facts, reheating instructions, chef’s tips, and a message from Dr. Caroline Cederquist, the bariatric physician who designed the BistroMD diet program, on one side and success stories and weight loss tips on the other.
The sheet on the exterior of the Styrofoam cooler delineated what meals were to be consumed when. More specifically, my meals were as follows:
|Lunch||Penne A La Vodka|
|Dinner||Moroccan Inspired Chicken|
|Breakfast||Cinnamon Sweet Potato Pancakes|
|Dinner||Steak House Wrap Kit|
|Breakfast||Chicken and Mushroom Crepe|
|Lunch||Pork Tenderloin in Asian Plum Sauce|
|Dinner||Grilled Chicken with Spinach Orzo & Roasted Garlic Lemon Veloute|
|Breakfast||Odyssey Chicken Crepe with Waldorf Apples|
|Lunch||Vegetable and Beef Stir Fry|
|Dinner||Salmon with Pepper Coulis|
|Breakfast||Jungle Chicken Crepe with Rosemary Red Potatoes|
|Lunch||Jamaican Style Bean and Sweet Potato Stew|
Both the sheet attached to the outside of the Styrofoam container and the individual meal cardboard sleeves recommended that the meals be thawed in the refrigerator anywhere from 24 to 36 hours before reheating in the microwave for best results. I followed these instructions. No meal required more than 4 minutes to reheat under these conditions.
Cooking times were also provided if the meal had not been thawed. The maximum cooking time did not exceed 5 minutes if the meal was still frozen.
Because I consumed all my meals at home, I had a microwave oven available. Most workplaces have a lunchroom with a microwave oven, so reheating the meals should not be a problem for those with 9 to 5 jobs, either. My one complaint is that I don’t always have access to a microwave oven. I am on the go a lot and need some luncheon meals that don’t require any reheating.
The Fullness Factor
On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is “starving,” and 5 is “reasonably full,” the BistroMD meals get a 5. I was pleasantly full after consuming most of the meals, and a couple of them left me feeling stuffed, although I was able to finish each one in one sitting. That being said, I could have saved one of the Odyssey Chicken Crepes I enjoyed for breakfast on the fourth day for a mid-day snack. To paraphrase a well-known Biblical quote, “My spirit was willing, but my flesh was weak.”
I did feel a bit peckish around 3 P.M. the first couple of days. That’s when my mid-day craving hits. I did have actual hunger pangs, even though I had felt pleasantly full after consuming the breakfast and luncheon entrees on those days.
As mentioned previously, you can opt to buy the program with or without snacks, and, supposedly, if you elect not to receive snacks from BistroMD, you will supply your own. I chose not to do this so that I could report whether or not I felt snacks were actually necessary from a hunger standpoint. In retrospect, if I were to subscribe to the program without snacks, I think I would purchase my own snacks to satisfy my mid-day pangs for at least the first week of the program.
I gave four of the fifteen meals I consumed a perfect “5” rating:
- Berry Crepes
- Moroccan Inspired Chicken
- Odyssey Chicken Crepe with Waldorf Apples, and
- Pork Tenderloin in Asian Plum Sauce.
Just typing the names of these meals makes my mouth water.
I enjoyed the Berry Crepes for breakfast on the first day. The crepes were cooked to perfection, and a vanilla-flavored cream cheese filling oozed out of them. They were served with a sweet blueberry compote, which I spooned over the crepes. They could hold their own against the best jelly-filled donut, in my opinion.
I couldn’t believe the size of the two large turkey sausage patties that accompanied the crepes—and they were as moist as if they had just been cooked and were seasoned perfectly.
Moroccan Inspired Chicken
The Moroccan Inspired Chicken was my first day’s dinner. The chicken breast was huge—but it was cooked through and tasted moist and fresh. I’ve had chicken breasts this size in a restaurant that were either not cooked long enough or cooked too long and were dried out and flavorless. The lentils and the vegetables offered a marvelous blend of textures, and the barely perceptible lime-based sauce complemented the individual flavors.
Odyssey Chicken Crepe with Waldorf Apples
The Odyssey Chicken Crepe with Waldorf Apples was my breakfast entrée on Day 4. The perfectly cooked crepes were stuffed with a perfect mixture of chicken, spinach and feta cheese béchamel sauce, such that no single flavor dominated.
The Waldorf Apples were equally yummy. Apple wedges, Craisins, and walnuts were tossed in a very light syrup that offered a subtle hint of cinnamon. The slight tartness of the apples was deliciously offset by the sweetness of the syrup and the Craisins.
All the food groups were represented in this breakfast, too, which I liked. I didn’t particularly like the fact that the meal contained 410 calories, 39% of which were fat calories, however.
Pork Tenderloin in Asian Plum Sauce
The Pork Tenderloin in Asian Plum Sauce was exceptional. The pork medallions were marvelously succulent, and the plum sauce that accompanied it was deliciously flavorful. The sugar snap peas that came as a side looked like they had just been picked from the garden and cooked, and they were nicely seasoned with sesame and ginger.
The meal was also remarkably low cal and low fat, with fat calories making up only 9% of the total 330 calories.
Vegetable and Beef Stir Fry
The Vegetable and Beef Stir Fry was the worst of the fifteen meals I received. The beef was chewy, and the slices were irregular in both thickness and size, making me suspect that perhaps they were cast-offs from the preparation of another meal.
In contrast to the sugar snap peas that accompanied the pork tenderloin meal, which was one of my favorite meals, the snap peas that came with this meal both looked and tasted overcooked.
The only saving grace to the meal was the brown rice dish, which appealed to both the taste buds and the eyes.
Salmon with Pepper Coulis
The Salmon with Pepper Coulis also gets a low rating from me. It looked far more appealing on the plate than it tasted. The coulis was flavorless, as was the quinoa side dish, and the salmon could have been flakier. It was a very nutrient-rich meal, however, and was also low in calories and fat.
- No Instructions Regarding Beverages and/or Snacks
Other than the weight loss tip to “drink water” that appeared on the cardboard sleeves, there was no list of allowed beverages provided. I happen to like water and drink a lot of it, but it’s not the only beverage I enjoy. I gave myself permission to drink coffee, green tea, and diet soda in addition to water during my five day trial of BistroMD meals.
I received no snacks, which was fine, but I would have liked to have been given a list of recommended foods that I could consume as a snack. I scrolled down the list of snacks on the BistroMD website and decided that I might reasonably be able to find a substitution for some of them in my supermarket, but specific guidance would have been helpful.
- No Eat-On-The-Go Meals
All of the meals I received required me to have a microwave to reheat them, and this isn’t always the situation. I am frequently on the go and need to have some meals that require no cooking---meals that I can simply unwrap and eat. This problem may be specific to me, however.
- Not Enough Fruit and Dairy
Fruit and dairy products were not well represented in the meals that I received. Even when a meal contained some dairy, it was often just an ingredient used to make a sauce or a shell and most of the time probably wouldn’t even count as a half a serving. The Cheese Ravioli was a notable exception.
The same is true of the fruit component of most of the meals. A half dozen raisins or Craisins does not make a serving. The single exception to this was the Odyssey Chicken Crepes breakfast, with its Waldorf Apples accompaniment.
- Inadequately Seasoned and Monotonous Meals
I also found some of the dishes to be inadequately seasoned. This is another problem that is probably specific to me; I like a lot of spice. And, as I mentioned in one of my breakfast entrée reviews, I got tired of eating crepes for breakfast—chicken-filled crepes, in particular.
- Since I would have access to an expert dietician if I signed up for the BistroMD program, I could probably ask him or her about what I should be consuming in terms of beverages and snacks, so this first problem would be easily remedied.
- When I scrolled down the luncheon menu on the BistroMD website, I couldn’t tell if there were any entrees that would adapt to a pack-and-go plan for the days when I don’t have access to a microwave oven. I would imagine that a BistroMD dietician would be able to make suggestions that would help me overcome this issue, too.
- And I could talk to the dietician about loading my menu with BistroMD’s spicier entrees. The directions on each meal indicate that I can season it to my heart’s content, so I could definitely spice up any meal that I considered bland.
- I browsed through the breakfast items on the BistroMD website and discovered that BistroMD does indeed have a wide variety of breakfasts without the word “crepe” in them. I just happened to get four days’ worth of the ones that did. So, that would turn out to be a non-issue.
- I also scrolled down the menu of snacks on the BistroMD website, thinking I might find some items with a heavy fruit and/or dairy component. There were a couple that might provide a full serving of one or the other; however, I’d probably just purchase my own snacks and target these two food groups.
How BistroMD Compares To My Other Experiences With Diet Food
Before I reviewed the three days of Diet-to-Go meals, I never had any experience with any diet meal delivery service. I was, however, very familiar with the diet frozen food selections carried in my supermarket. The BistroMD meals were prepared with obviously fresh ingredients, even though they were delivered frozen. The frozen entrees found in the grocery stores cannot begin to compare in terms of freshness.
The BistroMD meals were significantly more satisfying than the meals I’ve found in the frozen food section of my supermarket. I always felt at least pleasantly satiated, and a couple of times, I felt stuffed after consuming a BistroMD entrée.
Unfortunately, I didn’t think some of the BistroMD meals were very well seasoned, which puts them on a par with a lot of the frozen diet entrees in my local supermarket.
On a scale of 1 to 5, however, I calculated that I gave the fifteen BistroMD meals I consumed an average rating of 4.1, which happens to be the same average rating I gave the nine Diet-to-Go meals I sampled. Looking back, I see that not as many of the Diet-to-Go meals earned a rating of “5,” but I did give more of those meals a score of “4” or higher.
Who Would Benefit From The BistroMD Program?
This program is the definitive no-brainer diet program. You don’t have to count calories, fat grams, and/or carbs; you don’t have to chop, dice, or measure; and you don’t even have to choose the meals you want to order. Your weekly menu is designed for you by expert dieticians to provide balanced meals that will promote a healthy weight loss.
If you choose the 7-day plan with snacks included, you won’t have to waste your time grocery shopping, either, so it’s an ideal program for someone with a hectic lifestyle—which, it seems, describes a great majority of our population these days.
It’s also a perfect program for someone who wants to lose weight, but has a family to feed. The meals are quick to prepare—1 to 5 minutes of nuke time, and you’re done. Thus, you won’t have to spend a lot of extra time in the kitchen cooking an additional meal. The meals do look enticing, though, so you may have to spend time fighting off the forks of other family members.
My Own 5-Day Experience With BistroMD
I found that having the structure that the diet provided was extremely helpful. Because I was given a specific set of meals to consume, I was able to eat those and avoid snack foods, even as my husband sat enjoying them.
Although no snacks had been supplied with my five days of trial meals and I didn’t purchase any for myself, I felt no hunger in between meals after the first couple of days, so I would have only been eating out of habit—a very bad habit of mine. And once I give into that first handful of pretzels or nuts, I’m a goner for the rest of the day.
I also appreciated not having to cook two separate meals. My husband is pretty self-sufficient in the kitchen, but even on the days I prepared a dinner for him, all I had to do for mine was to reheat it in the microwave for a few minutes. It couldn’t have been any easier.
My real reward came when I got on the scale after I had finished my five days of BistroMD meals. I had lost almost 3 pounds. The program’s literature indicates that a 2 to 3 pound a week weight loss can be expected, so I’m guessing it might be possible for me to drop 12 pounds in a month on the BistroMD plan. Be still my heart!
Suggestions For Improvement
Since the BistroMD program does offer both a 7-day and a 5-day plan without snacks, I believe they should provide a list of recommended snacks with those plans. I realize that, perhaps, they’d prefer that everyone sign up for the plans that include snacks, but this would not be cost effective for a lot of people. As mentioned previously, I’d also like to see a list of allowed beverages presented.
The meals that I received seemed sorely lacking in items from the fruits and dairy food groups, which surprises me since the program literature indicates that the meals are nutritionally balanced. I’m not a nutritionist, so maybe I’m missing something here, but in my non-expert opinion, the meals should contain more of these types of foods.
I felt that a lot of the meals had too little seasoning. This may be intentional on the part of BistroMD since a lot of people don’t like or can’t tolerate highly seasoned foods, and the “Chef’s Tips” do suggest seasoning the meals to suit yourself. Still, seasoning a food during the cooking process often produces a better flavor, and I don’t think some lemon-herb seasoning on otherwise bland vegetables would be problematic for anyone.
While I enjoy cooking, I don’t particularly enjoy meal planning, especially when it involves the added chore of controlling the daily average intake of calories and fat, which I focus on whenever I’m trying to lose weight on my own. I wouldn’t have to worry about these types of details on the BistroMD program since everything would be decided for me.
I also like the fact that BistroMD provides me with a dietician to consult throughout the program. I think this would be especially helpful if the needle on the scale didn’t budge during one of the weeks I was on the program. I would find the knowledge and encouragement of an expert more supportive than that of a good friend or family member.
Cancel Any Time – No Fee
And, although the meals are recurring unless I take action, I appreciate the fact that I can cancel without penalty at any time. It’s also nice to know that I can cancel delivery of the meals for a week or two as well if I plan to be away from home.
5-day plan is Flexible
On the downside, I would miss having fresh, raw vegetables in my diet on BistroMD, although the program provides plenty of fresh cooked vegetables. But if I were to sign up for the BistroMD program, I would opt for the 5-day plan. On my two days off the plan, I would be free to eat all the fresh lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, and tomatoes that I desired.
In addition, my husband and I like to attend and throw dinner parties, and being on the 5-day plan would allow me to engage in these activities while on the program. I would just be vigilant not to overindulge on the two days that I was eating off the plan.
However, if I chose to go with the 5-day program, it is unlikely that I could lose the aforementioned 12 pounds in a month’s time. I would expect, instead, to lose only five to eight pounds a month, although I might lose more than that the first month. The initial pounds tend to come off easier for me.
BistroMD may be one of the easiest diet meal delivery plans available since you don’t even have to choose the dishes that will be shipped to you. This is truly an “all-you-have-to-do-is-eat” program. And, based on my own three-pound weight loss during the five days I tried BistroMD, I believe that most people can expect to lose the two to three pounds a week that the program literature suggests is possible.
The BistroMD meals added the structure and discipline I needed in my daily routine so that I wasn’t mindlessly reaching into the chip bag every so often. My experience with both the BistroMD program has shown me that structure and discipline are the key elements for success in my battle against the stubborn pounds. I hadn’t been doing all that well, left to my own devices.
It’s easy enough to discover if BistroMD might work for you. You can sign up for a one-week trial so that you won’t even have to bother cancelling if you find that it’s not the program for you. And if you do decide to sign up with BistroMD long-term, you can cancel at any time without incurring any penalty fees.
Make sure you use the coupon at the top of this page to save $25.
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