Photo © Exante; used without permission
I was kindly invited to try out a week of Exante recently, and, as it’s been one of the suggestions from my doctor that I haven’t tried, was all too willing to give it a go.
If you haven’t heard of a VLCD before, it’s what’s known as a Very Low Calorie Diet. Most, if not all, require the dieter to reduce their calorie intake significantly, usually to around 600kcal a day. In order to do this, it’s usually achieved by following a total meal replacement plan.
Exante offers a few different options for those looking to lose weight: there’s a VLCD (The Total Solution), and two LCD (Low Calorie Diet) options (The Working Solution and The Simple Solution), as the VLCD option isn’t suitable for everyone.
Although I’m taking medication and therefore am NOT suitable for the VLCD/total meal replacement option, I decided to go with this option anyway, although I did take my medication with 100ml of milk. (This is probably really important in what I’ll say later! Bear it in mind.)
Hannah, the lovely lady I was in contact with, sent me out a selection of products. There’s a good selection on the website, from bars, shakes, soups, ready meals and extras such as mousse mix, drink mixes and flavoured coffees!
In my box, I was given chocolate shakes, strawberry shakes, two different bars, vegetable soup, tomato & basil soup, spaghetti bolognese, porridge oats, thai chicken soup and mushroom soup. I’m absolutely convinced that I had a pasta carbonara, too, but I can’t find any packaging (and I kept it all!) nor can I actually remember eating it… but I can remember thinking, “I’ll have the pasta carbonara at Mum and Dad’s on Saturday!”
I was actually really impressed with the shakes; the chocolate in particular was really good. I made it in two ways: I made it with my shaker (Tony Ferguson brand but I doubt that matters. So long as it’s meant for shaking up protein shakes/meal replacement shakes, it’s fine) and I made it with my blender. Making it with my shaker meant there were lumps left in the mixture, while making it with my blender meant that the shake was smooooooooooth and kinda frothy.
It also didn’t taste like I expected. I expected chalky and gritty and overly-sweet. Instead, what I got was very cocoa-y and almost dark-chocolate-y, I think? Like a cold hot-chocolate drink. It was really pleasant.
★★★★★ for the chocolate shake, so long as it’s been blended and not hand-shaken. (I was going to go for a James Bond joke, but couldn’t quite get it to work.)
The strawberry wasn’t quite as good – the flavour wasn’t as strong. You could taste the strawberry flavour, but I’d have liked it to have been stronger, personally.
★★★★☆ for the strawberry shake, because it still mixes up really well in the blender.
The spaghetti bolognese had a really nice flavour. It tasted like a slightly spicy spaghetti bolognese, with one awesome difference: it wasn’t. I’m not a fan of spaghetti bolognese. I will eat the spaghetti out from underneath the mince, and my Mum will tut at me and complain about it, but it’s just… ick.
That said, I don’t know what it was about the two ready-meals (this and the porridge oats). The texture around the noodles (spaghetti-bits) just didn’t settle properly. Maybe that’s what I liked about it. It wasn’t like soy mince texture. It didn’t quite do what it was supposed to.
Maybe I measured my water incorrectly or something, but I don’t care. The flavour was lovely.
★★★★☆ for the spaghetti bolognese for not-settling-into-its-texture-properly.
If you’ve ever eaten Ready Brek, you’ll get straight away what the flavour of the Porridge Oats is like.
The really unfortunate thing about that is I think I might be allergic to the flavour of Ready Brek. The last few times I’ve eaten it, I’ve had a violent vomiting incident not long after breakfast.
I won’t bore you with the details of what happened after I ate the Porridge Oats, but suffice it to say I highly doubt that I’ll ever, ever be eating Ready Brek again.
Re: the texture? This is supposed to get really thick, I think? It stayed mostly thin, with some little lumps in it. I don’t think that really helped with the violently upset tum.
★☆☆☆☆ for the Porridge Oats. Definitely not. No. Other people might like it, and be able to get it to work correctly, but this was absolutely not for me.
The soups were… difficult.
The first one I tried was the Tomato & Basil, which I made by following the instructions: water, powder, blender. Microwave for a minute with some stirring in between. Microwave for another minute, stir, let sit.
First of all: I’m not a fan of tomato & basil as a soup flavour at all. Tomato & Chilli, or just plain Tomato, and I’d have probably been fine with this.
The soup came out in a weird… almost mousse-y texture. And it wasn’t just because I’d used my blender. When I made another pack in my shaker another night, it turned out the same way.
★☆☆☆☆ Tomato & Basil gets a big NO NO NOPE from me.
Vegetable: the flavour’s actually not all that great. Texture’s not QUITE as bad as the Tomato & Basil soup; the better flavour makes it slightly more bearable. It’s got a kind of overbearing flavour of peas, which I wouldn’t usually like, but for some reason, this soup makes it work.
★★☆☆☆ for the Vegetable Soup.
Mushroom: by far my favourite soup. Almost creamy, very mushroom-y. The texture was still the same kind of mousse-y, but again the flavour made it more bearable.
★★★★☆ for the Mushroom Soup.
Thai Chicken Soup: okay, I have to admit something. This one smelled a lot better than it tasted, and it really disappointed me. 🙁 It smelled really curry-ish and tasty, and the flavour’s actually kind of weak and I made a pretty sad face when I was eating it. But it also kind of reminded me of something and I can’t remember what! Which is a stupid thing to write in a review, haha. I wanted to say curry flavour Pot Noodles, but that’s not it. It’s something down that… OH. Super Noodles! It tasted SORT OF like curry Super Noodles. Texture, still the same, alas.
★★★★☆ for the Thai Chicken Soup.
I’m actually going to give them both the same score, because they both have the same pros and cons.
Both have excellent flavours (actual chocolate chips on a very low calorie diet?! Nuts and raisins?! Get out of town!) but they could do with being a little softer and a little less… almost powdery, I want to say. When you first bite into one, it’s weird, trying to describe it. But that aside, I’d rather the bars over the soups. They’re far more filling and tasty. But you’re only allowed one per day, as they have more carbohydrates and calories than the sachets provide.
★★★★☆ for both the Chocolate Orange and the Toffee, Nut and Raisin bars.
My Week On Exante
My first admission is that I didn’t complete an entire week. Because of my intense dislike for the Tomato & Basil Soup and the Vegetable Soup, I didn’t have enough meals to complete a week – even given that I went to my parents’ place on Saturday, and forgot to put the meals I’d placed aside into my bag (because I’m actually a village idiot, reincarnated, didn’t’cha know?).
Other than my first night when I was absolutely ravenous and ate an entire pack of biscuits I’d found stashed in the top of my cupboard “for emergencies” (doesn’t everybody have one of those?), I actually found that I adapted to it easily. I’m pretty sure that all Exante products contain Chromium, which helps to balance blood sugar levels, which, in turn, helps to stop cravings. I’ve talked about this in previous reviews, and how Chromium’s the one thing that’s really, really helped me overcome physical cravings.
(I’m working on mental cravings, slowly but surely. My Psychologist is working on a game plan this week!)
But I really was shocked by how little I was hungry after day one. I didn’t want to eat between my meals (although I really wanted fruit! That’s no shockarooney, though.) and even when I had to go to the shop to do things like top up my electricity and gas meters and buy little cartons of milk to take my medication, I was never tempted to buy junk.
However, and here’s where what I was saying about the milk comes in, I never went into ketosis. On a VLCD like this, your body should go into the state of ketosis, where it doesn’t get enough carbohydrates from its food and it starts using the body’s stored adipose (fatty) tissue for glucose energy instead.
(It’s a wee bit more complicated than that, but I did a short course on Human Nutrition this year and I’d probably start babbling about enzymes, so I’ll just shut up there.)
It never happened for me. I bought ketone strips for when I was planning to do Atkins (still a choice but ugh no fruit :() so it was good to have them on hand. I tested myself on Tuesday morning when I weighed in, and I tested myself on Friday night, and there was no change. Absolutely none. The strip was exactly the same colour.
Obviously, after Saturday, it would have taken days again to get my body into ketosis, and with all the setbacks, I finished on Sunday night instead of Monday night.
Although my official weigh-in this week was on Tuesday, I did weigh-in on Monday morning.
If you didn’t see Tuesday’s weigh-in, that’s actually 2.4lbs less than on Tuesday. (How does one gain 2.4lbs in a day?!)
That would put weight loss at 8.4lbs in (LESS THAN) a week.
|September 17 2013
Right upper arm: 18″
Under bust: 49.5″
Upper Right Thigh: 32.5″
Upper Right Calf: 20″
Upper Left Calf (mutant/left leg): 21″
|September 24 2013
Right upper arm: 18″
Under bust: 49″ (-0.5″)
Hips: 67″ (-0.5″)
Upper Right Thigh: 32.5″
Upper Right Calf: 19.5″ (-0.5″)
Upper Left Calf (mutant/left leg): 21″
Total Loss: -1.5″
September 04 2013
September 24 2013
Well, despite my personal snags and my own weird tastes interrupting the process, I was actually strangely happy with the trial. It certainly worked as advertised: that is to say, I lost a lot of weight.
If I was to choose, personally, to continue with Exante, I’d probably forgo the soups altogether, and go for the bars and shakes. There’s a vanilla shake available, and I’m a sucker for vanilla shakes – add a spoonful of coffee, and you have a vanilla latte shake in the morning.
But that’s my personal opinion, and others may choose differently. Maybe the strength of my microwave was to blame. Maybe I overheated things without realising it?
Whatever happened, it’s definitely something that I’d be more than happy to revisit in future, so long as I was free to make my own choices.
★★★☆☆ For the selection sent to me.
★★★★★ For the effectiveness and ease of use of the programme (and lack of dishes!).
★★★★☆ For the selection available.
★★★☆☆ For value-for-money.
You can view all of the Exante products over at http://www.exantediet.com.
There are really good deals on bulk buys, such as boxes of 50 sachets or 50 bars, or 4-week bumper packs (as of time of writing). While I personally think it’s quite expensive (but then, I am an unemployed bum with roughly £25 to spend on food every fortnight), people with actual jobs might find it an affordable and easy way to lose weight.
In the interests of full disclosure: I have received no monetary compensation for this review. I was provided with enough product to last me one week, picked for me. I did not get to choose. I was not asked, nor expected, to give a positive review, but an honest and unbiased one. As of July 2014, this page now contains outbound affiliate links to the Exante Diet website.
If you would like me to review your product, please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org, although requesting a review does not guarantee acceptance.