Given my well documented experiences with meal replacement companies, I did not ever expect to be approached again to review another meal replacement product, so I was so surprised when So Shape sent me their 28 Day Reborn Kit for my Honest So Shape Review.
And, in truth, I was happy to do so as despite my experiences and knowledge, I still do search for the magic potion that will deliver me faster fat loss results. I know that they do not exist, but that does not mean that I stop wishing that they did.
The alternative of discipline, determination and dedication sounds just too difficult. It might have taken me four years to reach my current weight, but I sure as hell do not want to take four years (or even four months) to regain my fitness levels or to lose some considerable weight.
This is often why I write supplement reviews. To highlight how useless, exploitative and expensive these products can be and how easy it is to fall under their spell.
But here’s the thing, I do not hate So Shape, even if I really wanted to.
As a company, they have been one of the most transparent, communicative and friendly that I have worked with. However, that is not why this review will not be overly negative.
For I do think that So Shape have their heart in the right place and that they have a product that can serve a purpose, even if it is not one they had envisioned and not one that does not require some changes.
For as a fat loss product, it does not work for me (other than it er, did), especially not as a 28 day programme.
So, What is So Shape?
So Shape is a French Smart Meal company that has landed on the shores of Great Britain. There have been a wave of extremely and nauseatingly positive reviews from other bloggers who have all treasured the beautiful packaging, the flavours and the weight they have lost while instagram is awash with toned and sexy customers flying the flag for So Shape.
Now, I would never ever suggest that these bloggers have no integrity and are simply writing a positive review for a product they were paid to blog about, but I do wonder how they managed to miss many of the shortcomings that Helen (yes, they DID ask my Herbalife bashing partner to also review them) and I both observed.
Honest So Shape Review
The first being that no health professional in the UK would advocate the calorie deficit generated by replacing meals with So Shape, outside of those receiving medical interventions
Whether it is the 5 Day Reboot, the 14 Day Remove or the 28 Day Reborn the premise of the Challenge is the same. You consume two So Shape meals a day and one normal meal. Each So Shape meal is perfectly formulated to be packed with vitamins, minerals and some flavour.
And approx 200 kcals per meal.
As a relatively active man carrying too many pounds, my daily calorie requirements (just to stay the same weight) is 3,378kcals
The NHS recommends, for weight control, that each meal should be no more than 600 kcals and my average lunch seldom exceeds that, so even with some healthy snacks, I found myself consuming around 1,200 kcals per day, So Shape provide a list of free foods, but being plant based, I was limited more or less to salads and vegetables. Which makes me wonder why I do not just get my nutrients directly from natural foods?
It was no surprise then that I lost 6lbs in the first week. I was experiencing a daily 2,000 kcal deficit.
What WAS surprising was that unlike Helen, I was not hangry…..for the first week, at least. After having my morning shake (I do like the Mint Chocolate Ice-cream), I did not feel hungry or lacking energy for the rest of the morning and on days that I had early appointments, it was a quick, convenient and enjoyable car breakfast (the alternative is getting out of my cosy warm bed earlier on cold and dark mornings).
Although there is just one problem. So Shape pride themselves on their French style but je ne sais pas what the they were thinking with their Smart Shake bottle. While I do like the removable fruit infuser (and the advice to keep hydrated), it suffers from one major design flaw.
It is quite frankly awful to drink from.
So bad that I ended up using one of my Smart Shakers for the rest of the Challenge….which didn’t last 28 days.
For while I did enjoy the breakfast shakes, I had a torrid time with the evening meals.
So Shape market the smart meals really well and their efforts to fully detail the ingredients and nutritional information of their dishes are to be applauded. Seldom do you see such transparency.
However, if you check almost every other So Shape review, you will notice a pattern. Very few of these bloggers use images of the actual dishes and instead it is instagram friendly and well shot images of the packaging surrounded by REAL food.
All style and no substance.
Sadly like the So Shape Smart Meals. When cooked in a microwave, the pasta dishes have little pasta and look as appetising as a dog’s dinner (either before or after it has been eaten and digested)…
While the soup was er, very non liquid like. So Shape do advise adding water to dishes if they become too solid, but this became a chore and success was based on trial and error and in my case, it was mostly errors.
However, So Shape should maybe advise on not using microwave ovens and instead encourage Shapers (So Shapes equivalent to Beliebers) to cook the dishes on a hob.
Not only did it look better, but the consistency and taste of the food was also much better.
Talking of taste, I did find most of the dishes reasonably palatable. Adding some chilli flakes to the pasta dishes and following the suggestion of seasoning the soups with paprika further improved the taste and made successfully this way, I could see them being a reasonable post workout protein meal.
If it was not for the price. Each smart shake and smart meal works out at about £3 and despite having a far superior range of flavours, the closest that I could find as a comparison were the vegan friendly (sadly, So Shape is not) Huel at half the price and this VLCD Meal Replacement from My Protein at £0.50 per serving. So, can So Shape compete?
Possibly not in the weight loss market. For me, the 28 days was impossible. While not as active as I once was, the calorie restriction was far too low for me and around Day 11, I started to feel weak and hungry….all the time. I also enjoy food too much (far too much). I can rustle up (or rather, Teresa can) a stir fry of veg, noodles and spices in minutes while a sweet potato curry is almost as quick. Both are bursting with flavour and packed with nutrients with no additives or sweeteners.
I worked out that these dishes cost about £2 per head and come under 600 kcals. They are also dishes that you will sit down to eat. That you will savour. Talk over and talk about (how do you know someone is Vegan? They will tell you).
For me, I cannot replace this with a powdered meal, no matter how smart it is. The So Shape meals are too small (for a larger man, at least) and too expensive while the dishes are not sufficiently flavoursome. I can have oats in the morning with oat milk, homemade soup for lunch and a quick stir fry or curry for an evening meal and still enjoy a reasonable calorie deficit and sensible fat loss.
And THAT is what I am now doing!
However, like Helen (her husband has been adding them to his diet to increase his calories and nutritional intake) I can see other applications for So Shape.
Would the pasta dishes make for great camping dishes? Small, filling and relatively tasty, they could be heated on a stove for quick and nutritious campsite meals.
I also worry that my children eat too much rubbish (as a parent, it is not always easy to say no sweets and kids DO go through only eating super noodles stages) and possibly not enough nutrients. The salted caramel (which I did NOT get to taste) and the other flavoured shakes can (as suggested by So Shape) be used to create quite appetising desserts. This and the Smart Muffins (another new product) could be a stealthy way of ensuring my kids intake enough nutrients.
For those of you looking to reduce your calories without reducing your nutrients too much, a meal replacement shake might be an option and for those that have read this review and still want to try it for themselves (you never know), I give you my discount code STEPHEN10 to get 10% off your 14 or 28-day Challenge.
Personally, I will be sticking to real food and the odd vegan protein shake (if I can find a good one) if in a morning rush (although I should be instafriendly and prepare some overnight oats in trendy layered jar).
This was a collaborative post (probably my last) and I was paid to write this review. I pride myself on writing honest reviews, regardless of whether I have been gifted with goods or paid.