The Ideal Protein Diet: Far From Ideal (Diet Review)

Last Updated: April 12, 2024

Every now and then a new diet comes along that promises to change everything. The Ideal Protein Diet is not exactly a new diet – it was created back in 2004 – but it recently caught my attention. 

This diet prides itself on being designed by doctors and is a low carbohydrate, moderate protein, and high-fat diet – basically a ketogenic diet packaged as a science-based revolution. The idea is to get your body into a state of ketosis, where it burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.

Is this diet one you should consider for weight loss? Keep reading to find out! 

How the Ideal Protein Diet Works

The Ideal Protein Diet is divided into three phases, each with its own set of guidelines.

Phase 1: Weight Loss

The first phase of the Ideal Protein Diet is focused on weight loss. According to the website, this phase lasts until you reach your weight loss goal. However, this can be a problem if you have a lot of weight to lose. 

For example, if you need to lose 100 pounds, it can be difficult to keep losing weight consistently without hitting a plateau, which can last for several months. This means you could be in the weight loss phase for an extended period of time, leading to both mental and physical fatigue.

During this phase, you are instructed to consume a low carbohydrate and high-protein diet to help the body reach a state of ketosis. In this state, the body burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrates, leading to rapid weight loss. 

During phase one, people are advised to limit their carbohydrate intake to no more than 20 grams per day, and to consume foods that are high in protein, such as meats, poultry, fish, and eggs.

Ideal protein phase 1 meal plan consists of the following:

Breakfast: Ideal protein prepackaged meal

Lunch: Ideal protein prepackaged meal

Dinner: Ideal protein recipe consisting of 1 serving whole protein, 2 cups select vegetables*

Snack: 1 Ideal protein prepackaged food

*They divide vegetables into 3 categories in their food list: unlimited, select, or occasional. Basically there are even limitations on vegetables. The food list includes other restrictions as well.

Phase 2: Stabilization

The second phase of the Ideal Protein Diet is focused on stabilizing weight loss and lasts an average of two to four weeks. During this phase, you are instructed to gradually increase your carbohydrate intake while maintaining your weight.

According to the Ideal Protein website, you’ll get a special “Macro Code” from your weight loss coach that tells you how many carbs, fat, and protein you need to eat each day to keep your body weight stable. However, the company doesn’t explain how this Macro Code is calculated.

During phase 2, you’ll only eat two meals made from the Ideal Protein products, unlike in phase 1 where you had three. For lunch and dinner, you can have your own prepared meals (from the ideal protein recipes) but you’ll still need to have an Ideal Protein breakfast and snack.

Phase 3: Maintenance

The third and final phase of the Ideal Protein Diet is focused on maintaining weight loss and lasts for 12 months. During this phase, you’ll still go to the weight loss clinic for nutrition counseling and use your personal Macro Code to keep your weight under control. 

The goal is to teach you how to keep the weight off for good.

One study conducted by a health system who carries out the ideal protein program found that those who followed the Ideal Protein protocol lost 12.8% of their weight on average after 3 years. 

It’s unclear if they continued to consume the ideal protein meals and recipes over these entire 3 years.

Ideal Protein Meals

Take a look at the Ideal Protein products, including the meals and shakes, and you’ll find it to be very underwhelming. They take simple foods like oatmeal and omelettes but add unnecessary ingredients and additives to them. 

The meals also seem small and lacking in volume as well as vegetables, so I’m not sure if people would feel full eating them. 

There are a lot of bars and shakes, but the meals look very plain, like something from the 90s TV dinners. 

What’s also surprising is there seems to be more desserts and salty snack options than there are entrees. 

There are so many creative ways to eat healthy and delicious foods while losing weight, so I wouldn’t recommend this diet for people who enjoy food and flavors.

Ideal Protein Supplements

Another mandatory part of phase 1 is the supplements. These include:

  • Multivitamin: 2 capsules daily
  • Potassium: 1 tablet daily
  • Cal-Mag: 2 tablets twice daily
  • Omega-3 Plus: 1 capsule twice daily

First of all, I think it’s a huge red flag when a physician makes their own line of supplements. Healthcare professionals should not receive financial gain from selling products to people who trust them to be impartial and unbiased. 

These supplements are not tested or regulated by the FDA, so you can’t be sure what you’re getting in those expensive bottles. 

Taking a multivitamin is okay, but there’s no proof that everyone needs to take potassium, calcium/magnesium, and omega 3s. 

The fact that these are required just means more money for the company, not necessarily improvements for your health.

Potential Benefits of the Ideal Protein Diet

  1. Weight loss

    The Ideal Protein Diet is designed to promote rapid weight loss due to the significant calorie restriction in phase 1.

    A recent 2022 study that involved 192 people with obesity found that those who followed the Ideal Protein Diet lost 17.8 pounds (8.1 kg) more than those who followed a low calorie/low fat diet over a period of three months. 

However, the study was not well designed as the two groups were consuming an unequal number of calories. The Ideal Protein group had a daily calorie deficit of 753.7 calories, while the low calorie/low fat group had a deficit of only 385.6 calories, which likely resulted in additional weight loss for the Ideal Protein group.

Research indicates that both very low carbohydrate and high protein diets, the foundation of the Ideal Protein Diet, can be effective for weight loss, however the very low calorie content of the Ideal Protein Diet likely contributed to its greater effectiveness in promoting fat loss. 

Not because the diet itself is superior.

  1. May improve blood sugar

    The positive impact of dietary changes and weight loss on health parameters, such as blood sugar, blood lipid levels, and blood pressure, is well-known. 

Low-carb diets have been shown to be particularly effective in lowering blood sugar and triglyceride levels.

While those following the Ideal Protein Diet are likely to see improvements in these and other health metrics, it is not clear if this diet is more effective than other calorie controlled low-carb, high-protein dietary protocols. 

  1. Encourages adequate hydration

    The Ideal Protein Diet emphasizes the importance of hydration and requires individuals following the diet to consume a minimum of 2 liters of water per day. 

This is to ensure that the body stays adequately hydrated, which is important for overall health and can also help with weight loss.

Disadvantages of the Ideal Protein Diet

In my professional opinion, the ideal protein diet has more cons than pros.

  1. Too restrictive

    The Ideal Protein Diet is too restrictive because it limits you to a narrow range of food options. 

In phase 1, many healthy food groups are completely off limits, including fruit, dairy, nuts, and legumes.

  1. Not sustainable

    The diet’s strict guidelines and restrictions on certain foods can make it difficult for people to maintain their weight loss once they have completed the program. 

The Ideal Protein Diet is extremely low in calories, which is what leads to weight loss. However, the strict guidelines and lack of flexibility in food options can make it difficult to maintain the weight loss long-term. 

This can lead to a cycle of going back to the diet repeatedly and blaming oneself for any weight regain, making it a profitable situation for the creators of the diet.

  1. Not personalized

    Serving sizes in phase 1 are the same for everyone, regardless of individual needs. 

This can be problematic as it does not take into account personal factors such as age, gender, height, weight, food preferences, and physical activity levels.

  1. May lead to deficiencies

    There is also concern about the potential health risks associated with the Ideal Protein Diet, as it restricts certain food groups and may not provide all the necessary nutrients the body needs.
  2. Ultra Processed Foods

    The Ideal Protein food products are heavily processed, and contain a lot of oils and artificial ingredients that you wouldn’t find in whole foods if you were to make the same meals yourself.
  3. Unqualified Health Coaches

    The people who work as coaches for the Ideal Protein diet are not necessarily trained or educated in nutrition. 

They are not required to have formal education in nutrition or weight loss counseling, and some don’t have a background in the medical field. 

This means that they might not be the most qualified to give advice on body weight and diet, which can be concerning for those seeking professional guidance.

Final Thoughts

The Ideal Protein Diet is a weight loss solution that is characterized by buzzwords like “food is medicine” and “restart your metabolism”. It claims to treat weight at its source, but it’s doing just the opposite. 

How is packaged, ultra-processed food targeting weight at its source? Rather than educating people how to grocery shop, meal plan, and cook healthy and balanced meals, it relies on heavily processed packaged food and creates a restrictive and yo-yo dieting mentality. 

Conversations about the diet are often led by unqualified health coaches who lack the proper training and education in nutrition.

So while the Ideal Protein Diet may provide temporary weight loss, it may not be the best choice for everyone as it has many limitations and potential health risks.

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