Utopia Food & Fitness: The "Utopia" of Weight Loss?
In my 13+ years of experience as a weight management expert, I have come to learn one important lesson. One size does not fit all when it comes to losing and maintaining a healthy weight. Some may need more psychological care while others just need basic knowledge; while yet another needs to focus more on their intuitive habits when it comes to eating and nourishing their bodies. As a registered dietitian practitioner (RDN) and nutrition practice owner, I care deeply about directing people down the right path that is best for them.
Enter Utopia Food & Fitness. One of their co-founders, Carol Ireton-Jones, PhD, RDN, LD, FACN is a nationally known and highly respected colleague of mine. She along with her co-founders, Scott & Kirk Wilder, came up with a science-backed program that incorporates the right amount of calories along with the right amount of fitness to maximize weight loss without the loss of muscle.
An important element they wanted to have in their program is very flavorful food, so they partnered with Dallas-renown chef, Mike Smith to pull off the impossible. How do you make a perfect combination of calories, protein, carbohydrates and fat that is also amazing in flavor?
Our staff was invited to the Utopia Food & Fitness flagship store in Plano, Texas to tour the facility and taste their food. Chef Mike spent some time discussing his secrets in making their food taste so outstanding. (The recipes are highly guarded, but you might be able to get some hints from him one-on-one like we did!). For lunch, I had their turkey bolognese that is slowly simmered with vegetables and a homemade sauce over perfectly al-dente pasta. The rest of our staff made a point of trying all different dishes to see how they all tasted and they were phenomenal. The ones we had were all 300 calories yet they definitely tasted higher than that - and they were supringly very satisfying. We were happy to hear that meal plans were balanced with the right nutrients to avoid shortfalls and it met the sodium guidelines of the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
For a 6-week program, it is $2400. Before going into sticker shock, think about what you actually get for that purchase. It is every single breakfast, lunch and dinner plus 2 snacks for 6 full weeks that is specially designed by their dietitian to get optimal results without making you feel starved or sacrificing muscle loss. [The US Department of Labor reported our average monthly food costs per person were around $585 in 2015. So chances are, you are spending around $878 per 6 weeks in food anyway.] The UFF program also includes:
- Enrollment fee
- Monthly dues
- Goal setting strategy
- Custom meal planning
- 3 one-on-one evaluation sessions
- Setting of your resting metabolic rate (actual measurement of your calorie needs, by indirect calorimetry)
- Guidance by personal trainers
- Use of their state-of-the-art, medical-grade Nautilus equipment 2 days per week (targeted)
- Detailed results reports
In fact, 2 days per week is all the workouts that are required on their program to maximize a healthy weight loss. Typical results are a drop of 2 sizes in 6 weeks, but some lose more. For people that have more weight to lose, there is a 12-week program. The other benefit of this program is that you really get a sense of portion guidance and meal frequency so it does become transformational and your "new normal." These two are key in keeping your body working right and satisfied throughout the day.
Dr. Ireton-Jones says that most clients love the food so much that they continue buying a lot of their food after they complete the program. For all pre-ordered food Chef Mike makes it fresh (and never frozen) the night before and has it delivered to the participants' preferred club for pick up the next day. At each location, there is always food in a refrigerated case that is marked with the meal name, calorie content and ingredients. Even if you are not on a program, you can come by anytime. Utopia Food & Fitness is open 7-days per week to purchase meals or snacks at your appropriate calorie level.
Out of all the all-inclusive programs I've seen in Dallas, this the best backed by science and is nutritionally complete; the food tastes phenomenal and they have tracked over 18,000 people to-date, showing proven results that are carefully constructed with a person's health in mind (they are currently enrolling people in a validation study at UT Southwestern). They are not a fly-by-night business that want the fastest weight loss regardless of what it does to a person's health. The program benefits go beyond the weight loss. It really begins the trajectory of a new way of fit living.
At Lemond Nutrition, we see this program being right for that person that needs a jumpstart and cannot seem to get that going on their own. We do plan to refer a certain type of client of ours there that need that, and then follow them once they have completed the program to ensure a good maintenance program. People that would not be good candidates for this program would be anyone with a history of an eating disorder (calories are listed on the container), children under 15 years old (anyone <18 years of age would have to be specially evaluated in advance), people that have extra special dietary needs or someone with limited on funds. It is certainly a financial committment, but a great return on investment. The food is great to just pick up for a quick breakfast, lunch and dinner - and all containers are microwavable and portable.
If you live in the Dallas area, know that there is a Utopia Food & Fitness currently in Plano, Southlake and North Dallas. More locations may be coming soon! For more information, visit their website at http://utopiaff.com.