Across this site, one area that I strongly focus on is weight loss.
Being at a healthy weight is absolutely critical for health and wellbeing. Yet, this goal is often incredibly difficult to achieve.
To make matters worse, there are so many different diets and products out there that are supposed to make the process simpler.
This would be great if such claims were true but often diets are just filled with hype and aren’t realistic.
This post takes a look at one specific approach, which is called Take Shape for Life. To do this, I’m going to go through the various claims that the site makes along with Take Shape for Life reviews and whether the weight loss method is even realistic.
Take Shape for Life promotes itself as a community-based weight loss program. The idea is that you take advantage of the different products that the company offers, along with support from health coaches.
Those coaches are supposed to guide individuals towards good health and weight loss.
In concept, Take Shape for Life seems like it should work and the support component alone is certainly appealing. But, what do Take Shape for Life reviews have to say?
More importantly, does the diet actually work? Or, is this yet another company that is simply trying to sell products by manipulating customers?
Take Shape for Life is a weight loss program that offers support and a range of different products
How does Take Shape for Life Work?
Take Shape for Life basically breaks down into two distinct plans. These are called:
- The Optimal Weight 5&1 Plan
- The Optimal Weight 3&3 Plan
The first of these is designed for weight loss, while the second focuses on maintaining your current weight. As such, the idea is to lose weight by following the first plan and then keep it off using the second.
The first of these plans is shown on the right.
The first key component is that you’re eating many small meals per day.
I’m going to come back to the implications of this later – but the pattern is supposed to boost metabolism.
Additionally, the plan heavily relies on meal replacement products.
In fact, you end up consuming 5 products from the company along with one meal (which just includes a protein source and a vegetable).
This is where the name 5&1 comes from.
The products that you consume are designed to offer the nutrition that you need, while also helping to reduce your calorie intake.
Now, in theory, the system can work. But, as I’ll discuss later, there are some major limitations too.
The second plan is shown on the left and there are some similarities between the two.
Again, the emphasis here is on eating frequently. Specifically, you’re eating every 2-3 hours.
In this case, you’re still relying on the Take Shape for Life products but only 3 per day instead of 5.
This plan has the benefit of including more actual food. As a result, it’s also more flexible.
However, the emphasis of this plan is on sustaining weight rather than losing it, so most people would start out on the first option.
Positive Elements of the Program
There are many encouraging things about the Take Shape for Life program and these are areas that could easily play a role in health and in weight loss.
Meal Replacement Products
One element of the Take Shape for Life approach is the use of meal replacement products, including protein shakes.
Replacing meals this way isn’t for everybody but it can work well for weight loss. This concept typically means that you’re drinking a high protein shake instead of one of your meals in a given day.
This practice can be a fairly easy way to cut down your calorie consumption and many people find that it does work. For example, Shakeology and Isagenix both produce meal replacement shakes and there are many similar examples on the market.
Additionally, some people find products a good way to lose weight, simply because it means you don’t have to think about your food as much or cook. This might be great for anybody short on time or energy.
Likewise, there are also products that are designed to keep you going or make you feel full, rather than completely acting as a meal replacement.
Meal replacement products can work well for weight loss and Take Shape for Life has no shortage of such products
For the most part, weight loss simply comes down to calorie balance. This means that you need to be consuming fewer calories that you’re burning.
To some degree, all weight loss products and programs try to make this process as simple as possible. That’s also why you’ll find that most programs work to some extent.
Take Shape for Life is no different. The reliance on products and on some healthy meals does mean that your calorie intake is fairly low. This seems to range from 850 to 1,550 calories per day, depending on the specifics of the plan you’re doing, your current weight and your goals.
So, you are cutting down on calories and this alone would contribute to weight loss.
Weight loss is mostly about reducing calorie intake and the Take Shape for Life approach does achieve this
Take Shape for Life does heavily rely on products but there are some healthy foods in the mix as well. In particular, participants are supposed to have ‘lean & green’ meals.
These involve selecting from a list of different options, which include the following:
These are healthy choices and the plan does also include some red meat as well. So, there are certainly some healthy aspects to the diet and it’s good that the plan focuses on protein intakesomewhat.
One other positive aspect is that the information can help people to learn more about healthy eating, especially if many of the practices are new to them.
Some of the recommendations within Take Shape for Life do focus on healthy food, which is a plus for weight loss and health
Concerning Aspects of Take Shape for Life
As the previous section shows, there are some good things about Take Shape for Life. These areas are an indication of how the system could potentially contribute to weight loss.
Yet, there are also some pretty major issues and limitations.
Eating Healthy Fats
For one thing, the company includes canola oil and margarine in their list of healthy fats.
Defining a healthy fat can be a little tricky but most people don’t consider those oils especially healthy. For one thing, they involve a concerning amount of processing (particularly margarine) and can contain too much omega-6 fatty acid.
In fact, both of those options made it into my list of deceptive foods, which focuses on ingredients that seem healthy but really aren’t.
Additionally, the diet tends to steer away from fat wherever possible. This is somewhat concerning, as there is a growing body of evidence illustrating that fat is not the villain that we’ve always assumed. Instead, fat can play a powerful role in weight loss.
For that matter, sites like Wellness Mama also talk about how even saturated fat can be healthy and offer benefits.
That pattern is particularly evident from the way that low-carb and ketosis diets are extremely effective for losing weight and for getting healthier.
So, in the case of Take Shape for Life, you basically end up eating a range of food that sounds like it should be healthy but isn’t nearly as good as you might assume.