Ideal Protein Overview
Initially I was thrilled that I was essentially able to go on the Ideal Protein website and download the 28-page guide for free. I clicked and downloaded. Done. At first I thought that would tell me all I need to know about the Ideal Protein diet, but it turns out, you really need to find a center—yes, a brick-and-mortar building (it seems most are in pain management centers, chiropractor’s offices, holistic centers, or similar).  
Based in Ottawa, Quebec, Canada, with another headquarters in the Tampa area of Florida, Ideal Protein says at the outset its team of medical professionals were moved to action based on the study which found that 70 percent of Americans were overweight or obese, and that 1 in 6 kids were considered overweight or obese (more than 23 million kids.) 
It’s no surprise, then, that the weight-loss industry is a $60 billion one.
Ideal Protein’s motivation is one based on medicine, it says. It’s their responsibility to help you lose weight—for a price. (And it is not cheap. Not by a long shot. But we’ll get to that.)
Ideal Protein includes the use of technology to help you lose weight, keep track of your progress, educate yourself, and change your life.
First, go to an Ideal Protein location, pay for the program and all the meal replacements required, get acclimated, set up the technology, and follow the plan to the letter.
Next, lose all the weight you need to lose on their plan, become the new you, and stay that way for life.
That’s all there is to it. (She said, only a wee bit facetiously.)
Ideal Protein Claims
Described as a “Medically Developed Weight Loss and Weight Management Protocol,” Ideal Protein is a low-calorie, low-carb, high-protein ketogenic program with meal replacements and supplements, all virtually supervised. Its approach is to see you reach your weight loss goal and stay there—of course, that’ll be up to you if you do. They say after you reach your goal you must remain “stabilized’ (don’t cheat or go back to your old eating habits) for at least one year—12 months—because if you don’t, the chances are your lost weight will come running home to its safe place. But if you can do it for a year after your have reached your weight loss goal, you’re set for life—but with Ideal Protein’s ongoing support. You must stay with them. 
How Does Ideal Protein Work?
It says right on the home page, in four phases.
First, lose the weight you need to lose—the “Lifestyle Building” phase. Presumably the first phase could last a very, very long time for some of us.
Next, the first year after you reach your weight loss goal is called the “Ideal Difference” phase. This second phase is to learn and master the fundamentals of healthy eating (by paying for their stuff) and how it impacts your body and life.
The third phase is to actually do the stuff you learned in the second phase.
An finally phase four, the stabilization and maintenance phase, called “Lifestyle Living.”
I don’t know; it sounds silly. More like there are no “phases;” you start the program and then commit to it for life (or a well-informed version of it). And it turns out, after a little more reading, that’s what Ideal Protein admits: it’s actually made up of two components—losing the weight and incorporating the process as your new lifestyle.
The real Step One is to find the nearest “clinic” and get over there to get your tools. Note: You must be willing to work with the technology. It’s not difficult, but you either need to know what you’re doing or, in the case of some of us at a certain age, have a grandchild help you.
The technology part of this diet is called IdealSmart Platform—a personalized Lifestyle-Building assistant designed to help you achieve your weight loss goals while in the weight-loss phase of the Ideal Protein Protocol. The tools include access to an online IdealSmart Portal where you get your personal video coaching and support with a dieter dashboard to monitor your progress, daily coaching and support videos, and fitness and cooking videos featuring coaching, tips and tricks. 
Starting with the technologically advanced IdealSmart Scale (at who knows what price—apparently that’s a secret kept within the walls of the clinics) which allows you to precisely measure weight, body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage, and hydration, and monitor progress. This scale sends what Ideal Protein says is a harmless electrical current stimulation through the body to calculate body fat percentage (BFP) using the Bioelectrical Impedance Method (BIM). The current is passed through the body and electrical impedance is measured. Using this measurement, along with height, weight, age, and gender BFP is calculated. They caution at this point that, “As the calculation relies on the proper use of the scale and variables entered by the user, there are elements of this process that can produce erroneous readings.” They also caution against it being used by anyone with a pacemaker or similar medical device, women who are pregnant, and athletes who exercise more than 10 hours a week (why, on this one, I have no clue). 
They say they’ve submitted clinical testing to the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Bottom line: it’s a scale. Maybe slightly smarter than the average scale; it’s connected wirelessly via Bluetooth to the required Ideal Smart mobile device (smartphone) app. This app tracks meals, supplements and hydration, accesses the Ideal Protein Video Library, sets up your in-clinic appointments and set goals, and monitors progress. The app is available for both Android and iPhone.  
So you set up your scale, download your app, step on your scale—barefoot, with your feet centered on the metal sensors—and remain still while the scale and the app sync. This is all relatively new, because I found user reviews from 2013 who were dubious of the then-$10 app (now “free” when you buy into this program).
Next is the IdealSmart Activity & Sleep Band, basically a more sophisticated dollar-store step counter—like what comes standard as the “health” app on most smart phones anyway—but is “correlated” with the IdealSmart app-set up on your phone and monitors:
- Active time
- Calories burned
- Sleep time
So here’s what the Ideal Protein diet is all about: keeping copious track so you can better control your results. And on your phone which, once you set it all up, appears to be pretty cool. Ideal Protein says the vast majority of clients think this technology helps them better follow the Ideal Protein diet.
What is the Ideal Protein diet, anyway?
It’s great to have all this technology to keep you on track, but what does the diet entail? Well, you really don’t know until you find a center and begin the signup process.
I plugged in a random zip code and a number of clinics popped up: a lot of hiropractors and, in this case, a “center for interventional and functional pain medicine.” Hmmm. Anyway, on the site—which included services from clinical hypnotherapy to weight loss—the Ideal Protein program at this center had a different name: “PHYS•ique Medically Managed Weight Loss and Lifestyle Program.” All the exact same Ideal Protein information and video, but called a different name. In order to sign up, I would have needed to call and make an appointment to come in to the clinic and have a consultation—which I expect would have been a hard sell. 
I did not do that. But I nonetheless wanted to know exactly what this diet is and how much it cost, so I searched until I found a clinic website that included price.
How Much Does Ideal Protein Cost?
The Ideal Protein cost is $325 for the first two weeks. This price includes 2 weeks’ worth of food, all your required vitamins for the month, a shaker bottle and a reusable bag. You take a multivitamin, calcium-magnesium supplement, a potassium citrate supplement, an omega-3 supplement, amino acids powder, and Ideal salt. 
Information posted in January 2017 on another pain management clinic—this one in central Florida—doesn’t mention the scale cost or the arm band thing. But we do learn that the meal replacements are not optional. And the cost is roughly $325 for the first two weeks. During the first phase you will be eating three of the Ideal Protein foods and your own dinner—which is just 8 ounces of lean protein and vegetables. 
And you stay in this phase until you have lost your weight. Imagine someone needing to lose a hundred pounds or more?
I always read the disclaimer on a weight loss website. You learn a lot: “Typical results vary up to 6 and 8 pounds lost during the first two weeks and up to 2 pounds per week thereafter when the Ideal Protein Weight Loss Protocol is followed properly.” 
Ideal Protein Ingredients
You must use their meal replacements during the first phase—which could last a few months, or a year or more. Meal replacements include bars, snacks, shakes, drinks, desserts, and full meals like Chicken-Flavored Patty Mix, Mushroom and Parmesan Couscous Risotto, and Chicken à la King Flavored Pottage Mix (yum). They say you take these “meals” and combine them with 2 cups of your favorite vegetables. They also have meal replacements like Mango Drink and Chocolate Soy Puffs.
(There’s no way in the world I could see myself trying—much less ordering—any of this stuff, but that’s just me.)
Here’s the thing though: meal replacements like shakes and bars have been found to be effective for the obese as a tool to drop pounds, as you’ll see in the science about Ideal Protein. This isn’t a huge surprise at all; restrict calories, eat less and viola, drop weight.
On a website called Ideally Yours, which is a Canadian IP program “distributor” with locations all over Canada, there are recipes and a lot more about the nutrition of the meals, but you cannot get on the site unless you register at a clinic. This whole thing is so cloaked in mystery—but not because it’s an enigma; it’s because they want to make sure you’re paying for what they are offering. 
I did find nutrition labels for some meal replacement foods, like the Triple Chocolate Wafers. It’s 200 calories of low-carb and very high protein something: there are no ingredients listed. But it has, wow, 16 grams of protein. 
(So does three-quarters of a cup of cottage cheese, at 146 calories and 7.5 grams of carbs—and that’s the 4 percent milkfat stuff. With a visible ingredients list. Just saying.)
I located a lot more labels, but none included the actual ingredients; just nutrition info. Again, Pinterest does provide a closer look, if you’re really interested. This one from a center in Groton, Connecticut. 
The Science Behind the Ideal Protein
This diet—or, actually, complete lifestyle change—purports to be medically sound and created in response to the obesity epidemic. When the American Medical Association (AMA) recognized obesity as a disease, more and more of these medically-created or supervised kinds of diets and clinics began popping up everywhere. In this case, the clinics, practices, or pharmacies already exist, and they sign on to add Ideal Protein program as an adjunct (making money for all).   
But science and nutritional experts generally agree that some meal replacements may be okay. And in general, experts say high-protein diets like Ideal Protein are okay for already healthy people. 
But let’s assume that someone who is very obese is likely not healthy. Common sense. So when experts say it’s usually not harmful for healthy folks, then it could be for unhealthy people—like extremely overweight people. The Mayo Clinic says while diets like this may help with weight loss, the jury is still out on the long-term safety of high-protein-low-carb-low-fat diets because of health concerns. 
Mayo says when you significantly restrict carbs, you may also get insufficient fiber and end up with “nutritional deficiencies” (which may explain why the Ideal Protein Protocol kit comes with so many supplements). And side effects including headache and constipation. Plus, they say, high-protein diets may hurt people with kidney disease. Their suggestion is to cut out bad carbs—processed ones—and replace them with whole grains and good carb-rich vegetables. They also say that a restrictive diet is not sustainable: “…weight loss may be temporary, especially if you return to your previous way of eating. The best eating plan is one that you can stick to long-term.” 
Word on the Street About Ideal Protein
What about Ideal Protein reviews? Good question. On the Ideal Protein website, under the “Success Stories” there is a disclaimer (and points out the reason I never use reviews from product websites):
Testimonials posted on this website have been provided by individual dieters and are representative of their own personal experience and are not typical. Any statements or claims, posted on this page, are not being made by the owner of this website or by Ideal Protein. Testimonials, reference and/or results do not guarantee or predict future results, and you should not specifically expect to experience these results. 
It’s very hard to find actual reviews, because of the whole deal about having to go through a clinic. But SparkPeople.com does have millions of registered members, so it’s good place to visit to hear about diets that people have tried and their experiences. The most recent post about Ideal Protein I found was a message board thread from late 2014.
Here’s one comment from that thread, this from “CallMeCarrie:”
“Some doctors do prescribe an 800 calorie-per-day diet, but it’s temporary and closely-monitored for morbidly obese patients. My doctor has strong opinions on Ideal Protein (she said absolutely not) but some doctors say it can be done safely. I’d ask your doctor. Ideal Protein is offered at my hospital and many people have joined it and lost dramatic amounts of weight. Almost every person has gained it all back. The only person I know who lost weight on Ideal Protein and kept it off is a man who married a dietician right after he went off the diet.” 
One full review on PissedConsumer.com from “TBruns2020” says, “I should have known better.”
But they needed to lose weight and decided to go for it. And the claim ‘medically supervised’ helped influence their choice to try Ideal Protein.
Unfortunately it’s not medically supervised, its a total lie. I got past the fact that it’s very expensive and the foods taste horrible. I started to lose some weight but was constantly sick and had no energy. Then I noticed I was losing my hair. I went to my doctor and was told that this Ideal Protein diet plan was dangerous and that it starves the body of much needed carbs and nutrients.  (emphasis added)
And the doctor provided “TBruns2020” with the following:
The main problem with such plans is in the theory itself – the idea that by starving your body of carbohydrates that you will then use fatty tissue for energy, and lose weight. We’ll that part is true, but the issue is that is not the whole truth. It’s kind of like lying by omission. Yes, you will lose weight, but it is not the way that you should want to lose it, and therein lies the problem. The issue is that not only does the fatty tissue get used, but so does the lean tissue. You know…your heart, liver, kidneys! So, while you are losing weight temporarily you are not losing it properly and can be putting yourself at risk. In addition, you are not giving your body what it needs – your body need carbs to survive, and is very dependent on them. Without them your body will start using what are called ketone bodies instead, which can lead to additional problems due to the imbalances this creates by making your blood overly acidic. Unfortunately, the Ideal Protein Diet falls right into this category, and thus really should be avoided.’ I wasted a lot of money and put myself in danger with this scam.  (emphasis added)
A blogger named Sarah who says she receives no compensation from Ideal Protein and doesn’t write her blogs to “sell a diet. It’s just my personal experience put out there so others know what they could be getting into.” Taking her at her word, since there are no weight loss ads on her WordPress page. She says a lot about Ideal Protein and her experience with it. In summary, “the good, the bad and the weird:” fat and cellulite loss, and energy bursts are good; bad includes boredom, mood swings and hair loss; and the “weird” includes food dreams and irregular periods. Also, since the low carb diet sends you into ketosis, you will have bad breath. That’s a side effect that can be dealt with via a good strong mint and lots of gargling. 
Ideal Protein Alternatives
Based on our research people frequently try to compare Ideal Protein to other weight loss solutions. Often the brands and their products are different in many ways which makes it hard to compare apples-to-oranges. This is our attempt to compare below 6 and pick the winner. This is not necessarily to say that we recommend any of the winners, instead this is simply author’s opinion when asked to compare each. Please take this information with the grain of salt and do your own research. If making dietary changes we recommend consulting with your medical doctor.
|Ideal Protein||Keto OS|
|Ideal Protein||Ideal Shape|
|Ideal Protein||South Beach Diet|
|Ideal Protein||Trim Down Club (Favorite)|
Atkins vs Ideal Protein
I first did Atkins before people got hip and realized that all the garbage and I mean super-bad-for-you junk in processed meats was a really bad idea. Back in the day, you ate hot dogs and bacon by the pound. I lost a lot of weight doing Atkins because I cut carbs way way way back. Years later, I found that a modified Atkins, a smart really-low bad carb diet was doable. So there’s that. What you need to know about Ideal Protein is you must be willing to go to a brick-and-mortar center. So if that’s not feasible for you, forget this diet. It is similar to Atkins in theory because its a low-carb, high-protein ketogenic program but with meal replacements and supplements taken after going to a center, then doing the rest of it online and you pay a lot of money for the foods and supplements. Once on the diet, and after you reach your goal weight (presuming you do), you must maintain that loss for a year, meaning you still pay them and still take supplements. Sorry. No thanks. So I’d say Atkins if and only if you do it in a modified manner and exclude the processed meats, eat super healthy fats, and get carbs from vegetables and superior whole grains. That’s my take.
Keto OS vs Ideal Protein
First, go to an Ideal Protein location, pay for the program and all the meal replacements required, get acclimated, set up the technology, and follow the plan to the letter. Next, lose all the weight you need to lose on their plan, become the new you and stay that way for life. That’s all there is to it with Ideal Protein. Oh, And for about $325, for the first two weeks on it. Do I sound as if I am being a tad facetious? Perhaps I am. But when we talk about comparing Ideal Protein versus Keto OS know that they have the same ketogenic idea of weight loss so in that way, Keto OS and Ideal Protein are similar, but that's about as far as it goes. On Keto OS you take actual ketones to put your body in ketosis for a limited time and during that time period, usually a few hours, your body thinks it’s in ketosis and burns fat for fuel. I’m not a huge fan of Keto OS but I get it. I suppose chugging down ketones in their flavored drinks is cheaper, but not by too much, than Ideal Protein. Plus, you don't have to go to a center, purchase foods and supplements, then be monitored online, and later stay on that diet far beyond reaching goal weight if that ever happens. So it’s Keto OS as victor.
Ideal Shape vs Ideal Protein
You need to know that Ideal Shape has a secret ingredient called Slendesta, a so-called hunger blocker, in its meal replacement shakes within its proprietary blend of protein and fiber that they say works because you feel full longer than with regular meal replacement shakes. I am not opposed to replacing meals with shakes and smoothies, if they’re made in your kitchen or by a venue or manufacturer that does not use any junk, sugars, preservatives, or anything else but good whole foods. If you make those shakes by adding ingredients we know naturally keep you feeling full such as oats, apples, bananas, chia, berries, pears and yes, avocado, just to list a few, you’re far better off. But since Ideal Shape doesn’t have you tethered to a center, I guess I’ll go with Ideal Shape.
WonderSlim vs Ideal Protein
As I’ve said, you cannot do the Ideal Protein diet unless you register and show up to one of their ‘clinics.’ WonderSlim is about meal replacements, bars, their foods, and kits. Some of it is good nutrition, but not all and as we know, anything processed and packaged has some questionable ingredients. For people that do well on programs where the foods and meal replacements are made for you, it’s okay since unlike Ideal Protein you’re not required to go to a plaza nearby to a storefront sign up, get sales-pitched, and then buy in. This is a self-guided program. That said, I am just not a big supporter of any of these programs that have you eating their foods. Sorry. The one redeeming quality about WonderSlim is they donate food for hungry kids when you buy their stuff. And it’s for that reason I call this for Wonderslim over Ideal Protein, although it’s hardly a reason to do this program; just donate food regularly to your local food bank.
South Beach Diet vs Ideal Protein
What’s interesting about the South Beach Diet vs Ideal Protein has to do with location, location location. Let me explain: the South Beach Diet was so-named because it was created by Miami, Florida-based doctors. Long a fairly solid diet that focuses on low carbs, but includes good healthy carbs from starchy veggies, and high protein. Check. Just like Ideal Protein. But while South Beach is from that trendy South Florida home, the so-called clinics that you must register with and visit located in the Sunshine State are often found located in, near, or within clinics for pain management. What does that even mean? Well, I happen to live in Florida and though I believe probably most pain management clinics, as they are called, are legitimate (they do need to be licensed) there’s two problems. One, what does pain management have to do with weight loss? Two, there’s no shortage of horror stories about these clinics that are supposed to help people with pain ending up as pill mills and in some, contributors to the opioid epidemic. Don’t get me wrong: I am not equating Ideal Protein with any nefarious stuff done in shady clinics, but I am just not supportive of a weight loss clinic being associated with an alleged health care practice where one has nothing to do with the other. (Unless it’s that it’s a side business for people that run these clinics? Hmmm.) Regardless, not interested. It feels too much like a scam. Even though South Beach Diet sold itself off to Nutrisystem, and before you know it the diet will be primarily focused on prepackaged stuff, I’m not happy about that. Still, I definitely will declare South Beach Diet in principle as winner in this showdown.
Trim Down Club vs Ideal Protein
Is it fair to declare a winner before the brawl? In this case, yes. There’s no reason to throw down. In the matchup between Trim Down Club vs Ideal Protein it’s Trim Down Club by a technical knockout (TKO, folks). Don’t even put the gloves on. Trim Down Club says this: eat whole, fresh healthy food, do not eat junk food, processed or modified foods, or foods with preservatives and other chemicals, especially pesticides and the like. Bad stuff. Shop smart, prepare cleanly, and serve your family and yourself (and get everyone in to help) great healthy foods. Foods that support good health and contribute to weight loss as well as support weight loss management. Then, add regular daily exercise. And, the beauty part? You do this with a few thousand friends for support. Trim Down Club offers guidance, advice, recipes, blogs, nutrition info, guides, and a network of support that helps you stick with it. For life. It costs less than a pair of movie tickets. No brainer. Trim Down Club is the new champion. Until something better comes along, if it does.
Is Ideal Protein Worth a Try?
Risky (mid- to high-risk). Maybe it’s for you, but you must ask your doctor. If your physician is okay with a long-term low-calorie, very low-carb, very high-protein diet, then it may be for you. Then again, based on what I have read, it may not be and may likely be unsafe—unless of course you are in perfect health. But we all know, if you’re significantly overweight or obese (like millions and millions of Americans), the chance that you’re super healthy is highly unlikely.
Also, it’s ridiculously expensive. The first two weeks will run more than $325. And that’s just for the tools and the required meal replacement “foods” which, I can only imagine, are packaged and perhaps tasteless or just not too appetizing—chicken-flavored patties (eww) or chicken-flavored (Flavored? It’s either chicken or it’s not, right?) and processed foods. Processing must add some junk we don’t need, but how would we even know? Based on my research, it’s hard to find ingredients on the foods.
If you end up on this diet, let me know. Bottom line for me: I would never do it. Ever.
Top 5 Diets in 2018*
6 Month MBG
|#1 PS1000 Plan||$$|
|#2 Trim Down Club||$||–|
|#3 Ketogenic Diet||$$$||–||–||–||–|
|#4 Weight Watchers||$$$$||–|
*Individual results will vary.
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