Below we take an in-depth look at Ideal Protein to see how effective, safe and sustainable it is.
There are several stages to the program, where the consumer is weaned off the product over the course of a month once they have neared their goal weight.
However, we are not so impressed by other features of the Ideal Protein program. Our biggest concern is the huge cost of the program, including the initial sign-up fee. There seems to be little consistency between clinics on pricing, and some customers are being charged $400 plus just to sign up. It also appears that the products cost around $93 per person, per week, plus additional costs for other ingredients, and the long list of supplements that consumers need to take. These supplements also have a huge mark-up compared to similar vitamin and mineral supplements from a pharmacy or supermarket. The products are not covered by any returns policy or money back guarantee either.
We like that there are so many options for customers to choose from, especially compared to other low calorie meal replacement companies. This can help to prevent boredom with the diet, and lowers that chances of cheating on the diet.
Ideal Protein Review
Ideal Protein is not just a meal replacement program; it is designed to include two ‘key components – weight loss and a healthier lifestyle education to assist you in maintaining your results after dieting’.
The official Ideal Protein website states that the medically designed protocol ‘has evolved for over 20 years, but was originally developed over 2 decades ago by Dr. Tran Tien Chanh who focused his career and research on nutrition with a particular emphasis on the treatment of obesity and obesity related issues.’
One of the core principles of Ideal Protein is that if the body is using its glycogen reserves (from carbohydrates) for energy, then it will not use fat stores from energy; therefore, ‘Simple and complex carbohydrates can prevent weight loss’. Ideal Protein products are high in protein, and the diet heavily restricts carbohydrates and sugars (as well as restricting calories), in order to encourage the body to use its own fat stores as an energy source. They also claim that the protein content of their product is very high quality, which will help to prevent muscle loss during the weight loss phases; however, we did find numerous reviews that mentioned that they did lose muscle mass and strength, partially because they lacked the energy to maintain a regular strength-based exercise program whilst following the Ideal Protein system.
Anyone who signs up with Ideal Protein needs to do so through their local Ideal Protein clinic; if you have one close to you, that’s great, but as there are weekly meetings and support groups, living a long distance away from any clinics could be a real problem.
Ideal Protein was created by a French doctor over 20 years ago as a way for athletes to lose weight without losing muscle mass, but has evolved into a more general weight loss support program. The company’s contact details can be found on the official Ideal Protein website, both for the head office, and for the clinic nearest to you.
How to Take Ideal Protein
There are four stages in the Ideal Protein Plan.
Stage 1: You start out using a packet as the basis of 3 of your 4 meals each day. You eat a low-carb, low-fat “regular” dinner (fresh vegetables + lettuce + protein of your choice.) You are in Stage 1 this until you have reached 70-80% of your weight loss goal.
Stage 2: You reduce the Ideal foods to 2 per day, eating 2 low-carb, low-fat “regular” meals –fresh vegetables + lettuce + protein of your choice—until you’ve reached 100% of your goal.
Stage 3: For weight loss stabilization, you will re-introduce moderate amounts of fats and carbohydrates to your diet for 14 days. You only have 1 Ideal packet per day with 2 other regular meals.
Stage 4: By this time you have learned to eat in a healthy fashion, choosing the right foods and food combinations. As a result, you are able to maintain your ideal weight.
Ideal Protein Concerns:
- Incredibly expensive
- No money back guarantee
- Some side effects, especially in first 2 weeks of use
What Does Ideal Protein Claim To Do?
The official Ideal Protein website states:
‘Based on the experiences of over 3,000 clinics worldwide, the Ideal Protein Protocol enables the following:
- Structured weight loss while supporting muscle mass;
- An understanding of how food affects and is utilized by the body, including what causes fat storage;
- Weekly one-on-one coaching, lifestyle education and guidance;
- Personalized approach to setting weight loss goals, based on your health profile;
- Losing weight can improve blood sugar, cholesterol levels and reduce blood pressure;’
Some websites make the claim that On average women lose weight at the rate of 3 to 5 pounds per week and 4 to 7 pounds per week for men’ in the first stage of the program.
Does Ideal Protein Work?
If the consumer sticks to the strict diet completely, then we expect that their rate of weight loss is going to be very quick, at least initially.
However, we found lots of reviews where consumers were unable to complete the program due to money issues, and then immediately put some of the weight back on. Stages 2 and 3 appear to be vital for weaning the consumer off the Ideal Protein Sachets, whilst giving them enough support for them to continue eating healthily in the long term. Simply returning to your old diet will result in quick weight gain!
This diet is very strict, but for good reason. Once a consumer eats any high-carb or high-sugar food, their glycogen stores are replenished and the body stops burning off fat stores. It may take as long as three days for the consumer to again re-enter a state of ketosis, essentially derailing their weight loss for the week.
What Are The Ingredients of Ideal Protein?
With over 70 different Ideal Protein products, we obviously can’t break down the ingredients of each and every product. A full ingredients list for the products is available on the official website, but the calorie counts and nutritional profiles are not included. One poster in a forum mentioned that the majority of products contain 110 calories or less per serving. We have chosen a few products to see the ingredients used below. The majority of products have protein products as their main ingredients, which are often a mixture of milk protein, soy protein and whey protein. Only a few products do not contain ingredients derived from milk, making most of them unsuitable for anyone who is lactose intolerant.
- Milk Protein concentrate: Milk Protein Concentrate is a dehydrated milk product that is high in protein, but also contains some fats and cholesterol. As a percentage, it is not as high in protein as an isolate.
- Whey protein isolate (milk): Whey Protein Isolate is extracted from milk products, and is form of protein which are highly bioavailable, meaning that they are easily and quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. The protein contains a high number of branched chain amino acids which used to fuel working muscles and stimulate muscle growth.
- Inulin: a type of fibre that is not digested in the stomach. It is used to help lower cholesterol levels, to decrease the appetite by adding bulk and to treat constipation and other stomach problems.
Other ingredients: contains 2% or less of natural and artificial flavors, sea salt, xanthan gum, sucralose (a non-nutritive sweetener), soy lecithin, silicon dioxide.
Peanut Soy Puffs:
- Protein blend: (soy protein isolate, reduced mineral whey protein powder)
Other ingredients: sugar, palm and palm kernel oil, partially defatted peanut flour, tapioca starch, rice
flour, natural and artificial flavors, salt, soy lecithin, calcium carbonate, citric acid. Contains soy, milk, wheat, peanuts, and sesame. Manufactured in a facility that
processes tree nuts.
Caramel Nut Bar:
- Protein blend: (soy protein isolate, hydrolyzed gelatin, whey protein concentrate, acid casein, milk protein isolate, milk protein concentrate)
Other ingredients: malitol syrup, glycerin, sugar, peanuts, palm and palm kernel oil, water, natural and artificial flavors, malted milk powder (barley malt, wheat, milk, sodium bicarbonate, salt),
sorbitol, mono and diglycerides, pectin, vanilla extract, salt, gellan gum, dicalcium phosphate, sodium phosphate, sodium citrate, sucralose, (non-nutritive sweetener), carrageenan, tocopherol (antioxidant). Contains soy, milk, peanuts, and wheat. Manufactured in a facility that processes egg, sesame, and tree nuts.
Does Ideal Protein Have Any Side Effects?
There are some side effects that can develop whilst following the Ideal Protein plan, especially in the first few weeks of use.
Headaches are common in the first few weeks of following the diet, as the body adapts to the new lower daily sugar intake. If you stop drinking caffeine as well, the headaches are likely to be worse, as you enter caffeine withdrawal. Nausea and fatigue are also relatively common side effects, at least in the first few weeks of use. Constipation has also been mentioned by numerous reviewers; drinking plenty of water and eating the full allowed amount of vegetables is important to prevent this.
Bad breath is a common side effect, as it is a side effect of the body entering ketosis.
We have found a few reports of people developing kidney problems, but this does seem to be very uncommon. We also found several reports of hair loss; consumers should ensure that they take multi-vitamins and the mineral supplements recommended, and should consult their doctor for a check-up if they are worried about their health.
Consult your doctor before purchase if you are unsure about the suitability of this low calorie diet for you. Not suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women due to the very low calorie count of the diet plan. Not suitable for anyone under the age of 18. Not suitable for anyone with Type 1 diabetes, liver problems or kidney problems. Many of the individual products are not suitable for people with nut allergies, soy allergies, or people who are lactose intolerant.
Are There Any Customer Reviews For Ideal Protein?
We were able to find hundreds of reviews for Ideal Protein online.
The reviews overall were mixed, and even amongst the reviewers who lost significant amounts of weight, there was negative feedback. The biggest issues that reviewers had were the high cost of the products, some individual coaches giving poor support, the bland taste of some products, the loss of muscle mass and strength, the recommendation that you don’t exercise whilst using the product, and the incredibly limited list of vegetables that can be eaten in the evening meal.
I have been on this diet for 4 1/2 weeks and have lost 35 pounds as of today. The first week was difficult but I couldn’t believe it when I lost 16 pounds! That really gave me the motivation to keep going and I’m so glad I have. Of course you can’t expect to lose that much every week, but other than when I messed up (unknowingly) and ate pre-cooked bacon with dinner and stopped losing for a whole week, it has been a steady pound per day. I think that’s pretty tough to beat. My coaches have been GREAT! I would highly recommend this diet for someone who is really motivated to lose weight.
I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the cons though. For the first 2 weeks I felt I little weak off and on and for some reason I would sweat a lot. Also, I craved all the junk foods (pizza, pasta, chocolate) I had become so accustomed to. The third week was a little better and now I feel like they’re an after though. I personally have never cared for vegetables so that was very difficult for me. But I’m learning different ways to prepare them and it’s getting better.
Overview of Ideal Protein:
It does work. The only reason I did this program is because I saw 3 men turn from “football, husky bodies” into basketball lean, healthy bodies.”
you eat LOTS more veggies and salad than you probably normally would in your regular habits.
If you like a no-brainer (I don’t have to think about major meal planning) then this may work for you.
You drink at least 64 oz of water everyday.
There are approx. 78 packaged food to choose from.**
Ketosis is a real scientific process the body does when given the “right” foods for the process.
Meet with an IP Coach each week until weight is lost and transitioned back to “real” eating.
EXPENSIVE. $300 start up, then you buy $70-$90 of the IP foods/supplements each week, plus all the veggies ~4-6cups/day and fresh protein ~8oz/day.
**If you are lactose intolerant or have a dairy allergy there are less than 20 items that don’t contain dairy/whey. Most products use soy or milk derived protein sources. I wish I had known this before I signed the dotted line.
The ‘coaching’ videos are vague and, in my opinion useless. I believe they keep the videos that way to “protect’ their formulas/research.
Forget exercise 🙁 I’ve lost SO MUCH muscle strength in the past 4 wks 🙁 Boo!
Be sure to read the ingredients & nutrition labels (when they are listed). Even their fancy salt has sugar added to it. Yeah I know sugar in the salt?! What?!
I am losing weight, but am thankful I only have 20lbs overall to lose. I won’t be doing IP again. May 2016.
The diet concept makes sense and produces results. I’ve been on a similar diet with a competitor and had great success. But the high cost of the Ideal Protein food makes this program unsustainable. My monthly food bill is three times higher than it normally is ($1000.00 per month!!). I will not be able to complete this diet to my conclusion simply because it costs way too much. I’ll put in the 16 weeks I’ve already paid for then move on. Hopefully this program will help me get close to my goal before I’m forced to leave.
I am a 21 year old college student. This January I hit the biggest I have ever been at 224. I was devastated, before I had tried slim fast, Jenny Craig, beach body and weight watchers. Non of them had worked for me. I started ideal protein, and 3 months later, I have lost 42 lbs. I feel great and I have never been this small. I’m at my half way mark. The support and constant heath monitoring makes this the only diet that I will ever recommend to anyone. It is more pricey than others and takes alot of time. There is no fruit and some of the pre-packaged food lacks in taste, but once you find things you like, it is easy to stick with.
I grew up in a house where every night was fast food. I am learning to cook healthier meals, and to think about what I’m putting in my body. Look up recipes and ask your advisor if you have any questions. This is a great diet and I have had nothing but success.
‘My husband and I have been on this now for 8 weeks and we have both lost 30 pounds. We don’t use any of the drink powders and find that the variety of IP meals helps stave off the cravings for crunchy and/or sweet things. We find that we are learning to eat a lot of vegetables and drink lots of water everyday. We realize that we can NEVER eat bread, pasta, rice and junk food the way we used to! As far as expense, it costs us (together) $184/week….. but I figure my grocery bill has been reduced by about $100/week AND we aren’t spending $200/week eating out AND buying beer and wine! (To be honest, we were having a couple of drinks EVERY NIGHT….. we still have the occasional glass of wine, but restrict it to once a week) I too know people who lost weight on this program, and gained it all back….. but every one of them did not complete the whole program and they all went back to their old bad habits. The ones who have successfully kept it off, completed the whole program and altered their diets – for life.
Does Ideal Protein Offer a Money-Back Guarantee?
The company do not provide any details on their returns policy or money back guarantee online, and it is possible that each Ideal Protein Clinic could have individual returns policies. If you are concerned about returning items, we recommend only purchasing a small supply of the products to start with.
We did find one report of a woman exchanging some unopened products from her starter pack for other products from the range that she thought she would prefer, which she stated was dealt with quickly and easily. We suspect that any opened boxes are not returnable.
Where Can I Buy Ideal Protein?
Ideal Protein can only be purchased from an Ideal Protein clinic. The official Ideal Protein website will provide you with a list of clinics that are near you, and you need to go to the actual clinic for a consultation to sign up.
There is a sign-up fee, which appears to vary hugely between different clinics. It also appears that you are then signed up to that one particular clinic, and cannot move between them- this means that the program is not suitable for anyone who needs to travel for work, and cannot therefore go to the same clinic each week. The initial fee covers the sign-up cost, an 11 day supply of sachets (in numerous different flavours, so that you can try a wide variety of the 70+ options), a bottle of each required supplement and lots of information about the program.
One woman stated that she paid around $430 to join, whilst another paid $259. Another person stated “My initial visit was $312.94; that included meeting with my coach, weight, measurements, all literature and cookbook, 11 days of food, one bottle of each supplement and the protein shaker.”
The official Ideal Protein website does not provide a price list at all, and from the information provided in reviews, it seems that prices can and do vary.
We found one website called IdealWeightToGo.com which did list prices; a box of seven sachets generally costs $31, although there are some more expensive options. Consumers in phase 1 need to consume 3 sachets per day, and so will need to buy 3 boxes per week, for a total weekly cost of $93. Consumers also need to purchase vegetables, salads and protein for their evening meal.
Stage 1 is the most expensive phase, and the longest, but stages 2 and 3 will be cheaper as they demand fewer sachets per day.
There is also a list of supplements that consumers need to take, as the diet is not nutritionally complete According to one website, ‘The Multi-vitamin is sixty capsules for $30.10. The Calcium-Magnesium supplement contains 120 capsules and costs $24, the Omega 3s are $31, and a two-month supply of Potassium is $13.’ Again, prices may vary.