Ideal Protein is a popular diet and product series that many people claim is effective. But effective in the short-term doesn’t always mean effective in the long-term and there are plenty of other reasons why you should think twice about Ideal Protein.
I have been dedicated to dispelling dieting myths and the obsession, frustration and destruction of health that come along with them (not to mention time and money wasted) for years. The pull of dieting is strong though, and many people are struggling to get off the dieting roller coaster.
Most recently, I’ve witnessed a rash of people who are committing to a Diet (capital D because it’s not actually a human “diet”) and weight loss program called “Ideal Protein.”
What is Ideal Protein? In short, it’s a weight loss program that makes the majority of its revenue from selling you “over 60 varieties of weight loss products such as drinks, meal replacement shakes, bars, meals, snacks and more.”
With Ideal Protein, you can apparently lose weight while eating “triple chocolate wafers,” “creamy puddings,” “crunchy bars,” “fruity drinks,” “sweet and salty snacks,” and more.
All Franken Foods, of course. But pay no attention to that, this is a “medically developed,” “sensible” weight loss protocol. They repeat this line over and over in their marketing. They want to drive home the fact that this is “medically developed,” which is code for, “you don’t have to question the legitimacy of this.”
What is it *really* though? It’s a gimmick designed to appeal to people who aren’t ready to commit to changing their diet and lifestyle. It’s a smoke and mirrors program that targets people who believe it’s possible to get lasting results without doing any real work.
But I’m not going to dismiss it without a thorough debunking. So let’s dive into some of the details.
“Core Principles of Ideal Protein”
When you click to learn about the Ideal Protein “method” you’re introduced to some of the core principles of Ideal Protein. Here’s a blurb from that page:
Learning to live off of the body’s own fat reserves. The body employs energy from three reserves: glycogen (carbohydrate), protein and fats. First the body depletes its simple and complex carbohydrate reserves and then turns simultaneously to its protein and fat reserves for energy. A person not in need of weight loss typically has approximately 1-2% of their body’s reserves from carbs, approximately 19% from their muscle mass and 79% of their body reserves from fat.
Simple and complex carbohydrates can prevent weight loss. The body stores approximately three days worth of carbohydrates, therefore, our protocol restricts sugars (simple and complex) until 100% of your weight loss goal is achieved…why? Because, as long as sugar is being consumed, your body may not be burning fat. Remember, the first source of energy is derived from glycogen (carbohydrate) reserves. Therefore, the core principle of the Ideal Protein Protocol is to deplete the glycogen (carbohydrate) reserves completely, in order to compel the body into consuming its fat reserve to burn calories.
This sounds fantastic. Everyone wants to be able to “live off your fat reserves” and “burn body fat.” Unfortunately, while there are many facts intertwined in the “core principles,” there’s also a lot of deception.
“Simple and complex carbohydrates can prevent weight loss.” Ideal Protein makes this statement to setup the following core principle: “Therefore, the core principle of the Ideal Protein Protocol is to deplete the glycogen (carbohydrate) reserves completely, in order to compel the body into consuming its fat reserve to burn calories.”
In other words, they want you to believe that carbs are the problem. They set this up even more with a previous blurb about insulin causing problems with fat loss and cravings. Again, they sprinkle in some facts but become deceptive in their takeaways and “core principles.” Like most low-carb programs, they don’t provide you with the necessary context to understand what’s really happening in your body. I clearly laid all of this context out in The Practical Truth About Carbohydrates in a Healthy Diet.
Carbohydrates do not inhibit fat loss. Processed, hyper-palatable carbohydrates do cause problems (but it’s not just because they’re carbohydrates). Real, whole-food carbohydrates are not an issue and should even be considered as necessary for many people.
Also, glycogen does not need to be depleted in order to lose body fat. The body will burn stored fat even in the presence of glycogen. In fact, depleting glycogen reserves and going very low carb can cause destructive side effects in many people, especially women.
The next “core principle” is “high quality protein.”
How do we encourage the body to burn its fat reserves, but support its muscle mass reserves if both are depleted simultaneously? First, Ideal Protein foods are made with high quality protein. The quality of protein used in Ideal Protein diet products has an impact on effective protein absorption…the lower the quality, the lower the absorption. If protein absorption is low, you may not be able to protect your muscle mass and thus you will burn muscle along with fat. If you lose muscle while dieting, you may impair your ability to burn calories post-diet, as your body uses muscle mass to burn calories.
While it’s true that different types of proteins are absorbed differently by the body, Ideal Protein is using this fact to deceive you into believing that you need Ideal Protein foods to get maximum absorption.
The most beneficial protein for the human body comes from quality whole foods, particularly animal foods. It does not come from manufactured supplements and food products. At the very least, supplements and food products are not necessary for healthy protein intake as Ideal Protein would have you believe. This is blatant deception.
Unfortunately, this seems to be the extent of the “core principles” and science behind Ideal Protein. It’s nothing more than a low-carb diet supported mostly by Franken Foods created and sold by Ideal Protein.
Ideal Protein Products
Like all of these deceptive programs, Ideal Protein wants to advertise that you can eat all the amazing foods you love and still lose weight. Take a look at their “Classic Morning Selections…”
But what is this? Remember back to the “core principles” of Ideal Protein—they talked about carbohydrates and sugar and insulin. But according to their “Classic Morning Selections” you can start off the day with….carbohydrates, sugar, and insulin. Oatmeal, choclately chip pancakes, cereal flakes…WTF?
So I clicked on the pancake mix hoping to get a look at the ingredients and nutritional profile. But no. Instead, I was presented with a marketing blurb about “treating yourself” followed by fine print…
“For more information on nutritional values, please visit your local center.”
You have to go talk to a sales agent before you can see what you’ll be putting in your body. If that’s not blatant deception I don’t know what is. If you have a legitimate program and products, there should be no issue with providing those details to the consumer up front.
With a little Googling I was able to find the pancake mix ingredients: Oat flour, calcium caseinate (derived from milk), whey protein concentrate (derived from milk), soy protein isolate, albumin powder (egg white, yeast, citric acid), oat bran, cocoa processed with alkali, natural chocolate flavor, chicory root inulin, fructose, contains, 2% or less of natural flavors, cream of tartar, sodium bicarbonate, sea salt, silicon dioxide. May also contain wheat.
While it’s not egregious, it’s still a Franken Food. But there’s an abundance of evidence that shows that Ideal Protein is not concerned with your health in any way, shape, or form. Take a look at the ingredients for their Tomato Basil Soup:
Protein blend (milk protein isolate, soy protein isolate, hydrolyzed gelatin, sodium caseinate), modified corn starch, natural and artificial flavors, dehydrated
vegetables (onion, tomato, garlic), hydrolyzed plant protein (wheat), salt, sunflower oil, maltodextrin, lycopene extract, citric acid, dipotassium phosphate, basil,
spices, malic acid, xanthan gum, guar gum, sodium alginate, silicon dioxide, caramel color, mono and diglycerides, tocopherol, soy lecithin, sucralose (a nonnutritive sweetener).
Upon closer inspection it seems that the Ideal Protein “formula” is quite simple: take processed foods and add protein to them. Zero principles. Zero authenticity. 100% deception.
It’s not always about what you see and what’s presented to you when taking a hard look at Diets, it’s about what you don’t see and what’s not presented to you. Having worked with men and women in over 30 countries around the world via our online Academy, I can tell you with great confidence that most people are held back by lifestyle factors and the stuff swirling around in their head. Psychology is 80% of success.
If you want to get *and keep* a body and life you love, you must heal your relationship with food, body, and self. That’s the only path to sustainability and it’s missing from pretty much every mainstream program.
These Diets want you to believe that it’s all about their secret information and proprietary products. But information and products have very little to do with long-term success. While people are going to fire back and insist that Ideal Protein has worked for them and others, I would encourage them to define the word, “works.”
I have not argued and will never argue that deceptive Diets like Ideal Protein don’t work short-term. They absolutely do. But they fail miserably long term. In many cases, they leave you worse off than when you started.
When you look at Ideal Protein specifically, you are not being given any tools that will help you for the rest of your life. You’re given deceptive principles and Franken Foods. This will result in short-term weight loss followed by future struggle and frustration.
Contrast this to a program like Total Body Reboot that’s based on real food, functional fitness, and behavior psychology and you can see who is promoting an authentic process and who isn’t. You can see who is giving you real tools and who isn’t. You can see who is truly committed to your long-term success and who isn’t.
Kevin Geary is the founder of RebootedBody.com and a respected expert on cravings, eating psychology, and long-term habit change. He’s helped tens of thousands of men and women in over 35 countries around the world through his online academy and now offers all of his signature programs through a “pay what you want” model.