Losing weight is not always easy. One of the biggest barriers to losing weight is the time it takes to prepare healthy meals. When one is stressed or in a hurry, it's much easier to grab a processed convenience food or give in to fast food. Meal replacements, offer an alternative, effective solution to weight loss and weight management.
Meal replacement shakes are a busy weight watcher’s best friend. That means, it will suit anyone that has a busy work schedule or does not have time to prepare a meal. But can meal replacements really replace food, and help one lose weight?
They’re nutritious — in the technical sense of the term — but they don’t replace bad eating habits. They only replace a meal. Meal replacements shakes won’t make you healthier or help you lose weight if you continue to eat large quantities of junk food. They may be convenient, but they definitely won’t work if they end up adding to an already high daily calorie count.
Are meal replacement shakes safe?
As a product, meal replacement shakes are completely safe to consume. They contain a mixture of healthy and natural ingredients, there isn’t anything in them that make them unsafe to drink, but you do want to make sure you’re choosing your shakes wisely.
The best way to ensure you’re buying quality meal replacement shakes — is to read the nutrition information and ingredients list of each product carefully. Companies are required to say what’s in their shakes. It’s there for your benefit.
Look for meal replacement shakes that — per serving — contain:
- At least 4 grams of fiber
- 5 grams or more of protein (whey protein is best)
- Less than 10 grams of sugar
- More than 30% of Daily Value for its vitamins and minerals.
Can meal replacement shakes help you lose weight?
Can they work? Yes. But their effectiveness may depend on the brand and ingredients used in making them.
Most people can lose weight successfully reducing their calorie intake. Because a meal replacement shake contains fewer calories than the average meal — anywhere from 200 to 400 calories. In most shakes, you will also find protein, fat, carbs, and fiber.
But are meal replacement shakes a good weight loss tool? Some studies have shown that replacing one or two meals per day with a meal replacement shakes can help promote weight loss faster than any other method of losing weight.
In 2018, researchers from the University of Oxford published a systematic review and meta-analysis of meal replacements for weight management, the study effectively gave meal replacement a scientific seal of approval for the first time. The trial involved 30 obese Germans.
15 people were asked to cut their food intake to a maximum of 1,500 calories a day by eating less and choosing low-fat foods.
The rest replaced two of their three daily meals with a meal replacement of 220 calories and had a ‘normal’ dinner of up to 900 calories.
After three months, those on meal replacements had lost just over a stone – eight percent of their body weight, on average.
Those on the do-it-yourself low-calorie diet lost just under two pounds on average – less than two percent of body weight. Volunteers taking meal replacements also saw a lowering in their blood pressure and in cholesterol and insulin levels.
Dr. Herwig Ditschuneit, who led the research at the University of Ulm, presented the results at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna.
He said: ‘Two daily meal replacement were more effective for calorie restriction and weight loss than traditional meals using the same prescribed energy intake. It works perfectly and is a very safe way of weight management.’
He ascribed the regime’s success to the fact that dieters found it easier to stick to liquid meal replacement than trying to restrict calories among a range of food.
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