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Just How Legit Is the Ideal Protein Weight Loss Method?  

8/22 9:48:01

If you've swapped your regular meals for Ideal Protein eats, we don’t blame you. DietsinReview.com ranked the Ideal Protein Weight Loss Method the most popular diet of 2015, and #IdealProtein before-and-afters on Instagram are downright impressive.

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But since it’s our job to approach fad diets with a healthy dose of skepticism, we decided to investigate whether or not this plan is legit. 

What Is this Diet Anyway?
The Ideal Protein Weight Loss Method was developed by Tran Tien Chanh, M.D., a Parisian physician who determined that the standard North American diet causes the pancreas to overproduce insulin, which leads to increased sugar cravings and weight gain. His solution: Eliminate sugar to teach the body to use fat, protein, and glycogen reserves for energy, causing your body to lose weight.

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know Before Going on a Low-Carb Diet

How It Works
Intriguing, right? When you hop on the Ideal Protein train, you’ll visit a local clinic to enroll in the four-phase program. That’s when you'll meet with a weight-loss coach who will determine the right number of pounds for you to lose and educate you on the Ideal Protein way. Then, you’ll take home pre-packaged meals to eat during phase one of the diet.


A photo posted by Tiffany (@tiffbayb) on

A day’s worth of meals adds up to fewer than 1,100 calories and nixes carbs, root vegetables, sweet peas, corn, fruit, dairy, nuts, soda, and alcohol. You’ll also take supplements, like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and a multivitamin. You can forget about exercise for a while, too. Ideal Protein discourages working out when you’re first starting off. (Um, maybe because you're barely eating enough calories to function, let alone work out—just a guess.)

Once you reach your ideal weight (though there's no telling when that might be), you move on to the next phases of the program. These focus on preventing the pounds from creeping back. You’ll be able to make your own food at this point—but you’ll still need to follow restrictive guidelines.

Hmmm…Is That Healthy?
“Diets that are as restrictive as the Ideal Protein Diet will help you lose weight short-term, but will not help you keep the weight off in the long run,” says Kara Lydon, R.D., author of Nourish Your Namaste and The Foodie Dietitian Blog.


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The crazy-restrictive nature of this diet is no joke. Lydon’s particularly suspicious because Ideal Protein eliminates some foods that actually have a place in a healthy diet, like fruit, nuts, dairy, root vegetables, and whole-grain, unrefined carbs. “It's sending the wrong message that these healthy foods contribute to weight gain, when studies have shown that foods like dairy and nuts may help support satiety and weight loss,” she says. One study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that people who ate one-third of a cup of almonds a day lost more weight than those who avoided nuts.


A photo posted by @idealyouburlingame on

The diet also criminalizes sugar. And sure, eliminating sugar will help you lose weight and can benefit your health, but that isn’t something most of us can do forever. “It's unrealistic to completely eliminate sugar in the long run,” says Lydon. It's also worth noting that not all sugar is bad. Naturally occurring sugars found in fruit, veggies, and dairy are coupled with fiber and protein to balance your blood-sugar response and help you feel full, says Lydon.

We made several attempts to reach out to Ideal Protein for comment but didn’t receive a response by press time.

Take a More Realistic Approach
So if the Ideal Protein Weight Loss Method isn’t, well, ideal, what is the best way to maintain a healthy weight? Make realistic and attainable lifestyle changes rather than swearing off several food groups at a time, says Lydon.

Then, slow down and listen to your body (i.e. mindful eating) so you learn to eat when you’re really hungry, not when you’re stressed over a work deadline.

RELATED: Here’s Why So Many Diets Ban Healthy Foods

When it’s time to eat, make an effort to cook at home. Studies have shown that minimally processed foods—as opposed to the pre-packaged meals offered during the first phase of this diet—are key to losing or maintaining weight, says Lydon. (Kick off your body transformation with Women's Health's Look Better Naked DVD.)

And diet alone isn’t the answer. “You also have to increase your physical activity,” says Lydon. “This diet doesn't recommend exercising, but exercise is essential to maintaining weight loss.” A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that programs that combine diet and exercise were more successful for weight maintenance after 12 months than either one alone.

Bottom line: The Ideal Protein Weight Loss Method will likely help you lose weight—but it doesn’t take a healthy approach to get there, and the strict diet makes it tough to stick with in the long run.

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