Alternatives to the Ideal Protein Diet

Though the Ideal Protein Diet undeniably has some fantastic pros to recommend it, and has seen many clients reach their goals, there are several insurmountable problems with it which I detailed in my previous Ideal Protein Diet review.

To begin, it’s very expensive, costing in excess of $15 per day for a year’s worth of treatment and support. Though this support may be helpful- especially to those who struggle with sticking to restrictive diets and maintaining willpower- I mentioned in my previous article that this money could be better spent elsewhere. This brings me to my first alternative:

Invest in a tailored plan

save money

For the kind of cash with which Ideal Protein wish to you part, you can get much more than their cookie cutter, restrictive regime. For a couple of hundred dollars, you can order a personalised, custom built exercise plan from any number of reputable online personal trainers. For a couple of hundred dollars per month, you could pay for one by the hour (depending on where you live). Whichever way you go, you will get a plan completely tailored to your needs and goals, which will help you to burn through extra calories in a hopefully fun and efficient way.

For another couple of hundred dollars, you can consult with a registered dietician. Once more, they will be able to tailor a nutrition plan suited to your needs and goals. Though you may not have such a degree of accountability from either, you will have the perfect fitness and dietary regime to help you shift the weight you want to.

Or, if you don’t want to break the bank for your weight loss journey to succeed, the cookie cutter approach that Ideal Protein offer can be had for much less (or even for free). They offer a take on the keto diet, whose tenets and plans can be found online for free. Similarly, exercise plans geared towards weight loss can be easily found with a quick Google search. You will find myriad great places to look for weight loss advice.

You will also be able to take control of your food prep if you forgo the Ideal Protein Diet. One of the major selling points of the Ideal Protein Diet is that they make most of your meals for you. If you’re busy, or if you don’t know much about nutrition/macronutrient intakes/calorie-controlled diets, this may seem like a good idea. However, their food is all highly processed and loaded with artificial flavours and sweeteners, high sodium contents and lots of unhealthy oil to get their fat delivery up to par. This leads me to my second alternative:

Follow a controlled diet solo, taking back control

Either follow a dietician’s advice or find any number of online weight loss diets. The basics will be to hit a caloric deficit, so as long as you know what calories are going into your food, you will be golden. If you don’t want to follow calorie controlled, follow a whole-food, clean eating approach, cutting down on:

  • Sugar
  • Bad fats
  • Processed and starchy carbs like bread, potatoes and pasts
  • Drinks with calories in them (soda, fatty milk in coffee and so on)

Then simply make your own food, revolving it around a healthy, controlled portion regime that will have you losing weight at no extra cost.


Go Keto alone

keto diet

There is also a wealth of information specifically on the ketogenic diet. Ketosis is a natural bodily function: no business or corporation owns it! Cut out all but the most minimal carbs, eat lots of fat and protein, and you’ll hit ketosis.

This is the main point of the Ideal Protein Diet, but it can be done by simply switching up your weekly shop. It will be a little more expensive than most diets: lean meat, nuts, avocado and good quality oils cost way more than the equivalent calorie count in bread and pasts. However, as stated above, you will have control; it will also be much cheaper, and you can include the whole family, rather than being given the solo portions for which Ideal Protein charge you an arm and a leg.

One of my main issues with the Ideal Protein Diet- and with keto diets, to a lesser degree, more generally- is how restrictive it is. It is unforgiving and relies on you following their extreme caloric deficits and carb depletion to the letter for success. So, for my next point:

Find a more forgiving diet

I’m not trying to talk you into cheating and eating anything you want. Far from it. But there are diets in existence that allow you to me more forgiving with your eating plan. ‘If it fits your macros’ springs to mind, in which you can eat whatever you like as long as it adds up to a requisite caloric and macronutrient count. The 5:2 diet is a good one: eat normally five days per week and restrict caloric intake the remaining two.

Again, these are all diets that nobody owns: they are free, they are accessible, and once you find the one that works for you your success will come on as a matter of course.

This next point will not apply to everyone, but the Ideal Protein Diet is not vegetarian of vegan friendly. This is quite common on ketogenic diets: they rely so heavily on protein and fat, which are most abundant in animal sources, and spurn carbs, which are generally plant based.

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan (I am, and I’ve struggled in the past when I’ve tried for ketosis) then there are plenty of other options:

Go for a plant-based alternative

plant based food

It’s very possible to have a moderate carb, high protein diet as a vegetarian. Again, I don’t eat meat: I also take part in strength training, holding a decent Wilks level and maintaining steady hypertrophy; I kickbox several times per week and go through light cardio and yoga sessions near enough daily. There is no reason that meat-free diets should hold you back!

Protein sources like eggs and whey protein are perfect for vegetarians. Soya and pea protein supplements for vegans will buff up your daily intake. Fat sources like avocado, nuts and oil are all vegan friendly and very healthy. Keep your carbs to high fibre whole-foods like beans and pulses, alongside easily digestible ones like white rice, and you’ll be onto a winner.

One of the main criticisms that has often been levelled at the Ideal Protein Diet is the sheer size of the caloric deficit it relies upon. It restricts you to about half what you should be eating- and that’s if you’re at a healthy BMI level. To be honest, I don’t know why they bother with anything else: why cut carbs, why insist on high fats, why cycle, why buy their expensive products? Simply cutting out 1000 calories daily will make you lose weight- the rest amounts to an unnecessary collection of frills.

Other than this, clients of Ideal Protein often report uncomfortable symptoms due to the structure and restriction involved in their diet. These include frequent headaches and bouts of nausea; hunger pangs and dizziness; cognitive impairment and fatigue; stomach issues (IBS, diarrhoea and constipation); and irregular menstrual cycles as hormonal imbalances come into play.

For my alternative:

Simply cut a reasonable amount from your diet

All weight loss diets come down to one thing: energy out versus energy in. It’s simple, basic, Newtonian physics. If you consume fewer calories than you expend, you will lose weight as your body burns fat to balance the equation.

So forget the rest, if you want to: just eat less. You can do this a number of ways. For starters, you can count and cut calories (500 per day from maintenance to lose 0.5kg per week.) Or you can skip select meals; or you can hit the 5:2 diet (see above); or you can simply buy smaller plates and bowls and eat smaller meals.

Keep the cut modest and simple. All else is ultimately just a distraction.

My final thoughts

I don’t like the Ideal Protein Diet. I hope this is obvious by now- I’ve written two articles detailing what I see as its many faults and explaining how you can find a better alternative. It’s expensive for what you get, especially when you can get similar plans for free from elsewhere. The meals are healthy only according to certain factors (macronutrient breakdown, mostly) whilst being unhealthy by most others- caloric load and the quality of the processed, junk laden recipes.

More than this, though, is the fact that you can get the results you’re after for a lot less fuss, a lot more healthily, and without putting yourself through hell. You don’t need to cut down to 1000 calories per day- given the side-effects, I would actively encourage you not to. You don’t need to avoid carbs like the plague. You just need to be sensible, eat a little less, and eat whole-foods in quantities that your body actually needs and can make use of.

There are many ways of doing this better than the Ideal Protein Diet advocates: above are just a few.

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James Dixon

James Dixon is a fully qualified personal trainer and award winning writer, with a decade’s worth of experience under his belt. Throughout his career, he has helped hundreds of people to meet their dietary and fitness goals, writing exercise and nutrition plans to suit any and every requirement.

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