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What does an Integrative Nutritionist look for in a "weight loss program?"

by Madelaine Schaufel, RD

What does an integrative nutritionist look for when choosing a weight loss program???

In our office, we see the best, healthiest, and real long-term success with Healthy Transformations lifestyle change program.  Why would I do Healthy Transformations instead of Ideal Protein (which you'll most commonly see at doctor's offices)? I’ve had the chance to see how both of these programs work firsthand, and I’ve come to a few key conclusions that I’ll discuss below.

When considering any weight loss plan, I encourage you to be a great detective for your health and to consider these 3 critical factors.

  1. Does it support a real, whole foods lifestyle and teach sustainable habits?

For lasting results, look for a program that is going to keep the focus where it should be – on real, whole foods and improving diet and lifestyle quality! The food we eat has incredible power to hurt or heal our bodies! Excess weight is a symptom of an underlying disease process in the body.  Don’t just treat the symptoms – go after healing your system. 

Healthy Transformation is NOT a weight loss program, it is a lifestyle change program. Does weight loss often come as a result of positive health changes? Yes, absolutely! On the other hand, the whole focus of the Ideal Protein program is weight loss.  ALWAYS REMEMBER - Any weight loss efforts should be focused on healing the underlying metabolic imbalance, increasing/maintaining muscle mass, and losing fat mass. Sometimes the scale merely shows water loss, and worst case scenario, it also reflects muscle loss, unfortunately common in DIY weight loss efforts and many programs out there.  The scale is just one number. It does NOT provide an overall picture of the health of your cells, tissues, and organ systems. While you may see results on the scale, are they actually the results you’re going for?

While both programs feature a high protein approach, this is where the similarities end.  The Healthy Transformations approach focuses on food quality also features menu plans, real food recipes, and incorporates other aspects of holistic health, such as physical activity and mindfulness.

Ideal Protein program’s focus is a diet of expensive pre-packaged, processed “food-like” products for three meals a day plus snacks and does NOT support healthy lifestyle habits. 

Which sounds more sustainable in the long run? Don’t be fooled by any program that promises results without real lifestyle change!

2. What is the quality of the products used?

Ideal Protein products are designed to induce weight loss. End of story.  Any weight loss that occurs is at the cost of putting chemicals, artificial sweeteners, and other junk into your system. Visit the Ideal Protein Website. Can you find ingredient list or nutrition facts label for any of the products?

The products featured in the Healthy Transformation Program are designed to enhance health and healing. The program uses evidence-based supplements such as Vitamin D, probiotics, Omega-3s, a multivitamin, and fiber. As we heal the body by providing what it needs, healthy and significant weight loss is almost always a natural side effect. While there are meal replacement products available for use in the Healthy Transformations program, they are high-quality formulations that meet the rigorous standards discussed below, and they are meant to enhance nutrition and NEVER to replace a balanced, whole foods diet.

What do I look for as a skeptical integrative health professional when it comes to supplements??  It only makes sense to look for professional, physician grade products for professional, physician grade results. The gold standard is Triple-GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) Certification by organizations like the National Science Foundation (NSF), Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), and Natural Productions Association (NPA). I also look for companies that conduct frequent, objective 3rd party testing of both their raw ingredients and finished products. Quality and safety information should always be clearly listed on the company’s website. Healthy Transformation products meet all of these standards. Read on the Metagenics website for yourself about research, safety, and quality.  

Could you find any GMP quality certifications on the Ideal Protein website??? Neither could I.  Be completely confident in the quality of any financial investment in your health.

3.  Are the individuals administering the program qualified natural health professionals?

Don’t be fooled by the marketing language of the Ideal Protein website:  “medically developed” or “sensible weight loss protocol.”  As many of you know, there are a lot of “medical” approaches out there that are NOT sensible.  

Seek out health professionals who are qualified, licensed and trained to provide natural health and nutrition guidance for lifestyle change. Top choices include registered dietitians and physicians with functional and lifestyle medicine training.  If the focus of the “health professional” appears to be selling a program or products, run away!

Again - I hope this article has helped  you critically think through a potential avenue for weight maintenance. Be a great detective for yourself! 
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