Meal replacement drinks have been around for a long time. They are typically marketed toward those wanting to build muscle and lose weight. But just like with any diet or major lifestyle change, it is important to do your research and determine if it’s the right choice for you.
Researchers at the University of Ulm published a study in the 2010 issue of Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews that found obese participants who used meal replacements lost more weight in a year than those who reduced calories without using the replacements. You may get especially good results if you drink protein shakes as meal replacements, since many scientists believe protein to be more satiating than either carbohydrates or fats.
When it comes to nutrition, meal replacement shakes are less beneficial when it comes to overall nutrition. Many meal replacement shakes simply can’t provide all the nutritional components of whole foods, which include antioxidants and other protective substances as well as vitamins and minerals. For each meal you replace with a shake, supplement it with a nutrient-packed, low-calorie snack such as a small fruit salad or a serving of brown rice. Plus, be sure to read the labels since many are full of unnecessary sugars.
Shakes have a definite advantage over full meals when it comes to convenience. They’re easy to take with you, quick to drink and simple to prepare. Often, no preparation at all is involved. Because they do provide some nutrients and will help keep you full, shakes are preferable to skipping meals entirely if you’re traveling or in a rush.
Trying to lose weight or change your physique using only meal replacement shakes isn’t a sustainable strategy. The most successful long-term weight maintenance programs involve detailed weight loss plans, regular physical activity, and healthy eating. It’s best to find a way to incorporate a meal replacement shake into your plan and stick with it. Using shakes for a few months may offer immediate results, but like anything else, you have to stick with it.
When used in combination with a healthy diet, meal replacement shakes can be an effective tool for weight loss. Adding foods rich in vitamins and nutrients can ensure that the body gets essential dietary needs. It is important however, that dieters check the nutritional value of the shakes before they begin using them. Drinking shakes that are high in fat is not likely to produce the weight loss results that most dieters want. Reading the label before using any meal replacement drink is crucial.