I get it. You are busy with work, family and friends and losing weight while keeping up with your diary seems impossible. If you are considering using meal replacement shakes to save time and still stay on target with your calorie deficit, read this article to find out why it may not be your best option and how to tackle this challenge.
What Are Meal Replacement Shakes?
They are supplements you can buy in the shops or even make at home to replace a main meal. You can either find them in the chilled section in a shake format, already ready to drink, or you can buy them in powdered form and mix it with a liquid of your choice. Of course, it’s not too hard to make up your own if you have a blender at home either.
The idea is that you can consume all the nutrients your body needs in liquid format instead of eating a meal. It takes minutes to prepare and you can drink it on the go. Sounds very appealing, right? Let’s investigate a few reasons you may not want to make it part of your diet though.
Just like other processed foods, pre-made meal replacement shake products need to be able to stay fit for consumption long enough to get through the packaging and shipping process and allow a reasonably long shelf-life. Not to mention that after purchase they need to stay good long enough so you have time to get through the whole bag.
This means that manufacturers must use preservatives during production which in itself would not necessarily be a bad thing. Ideally, you’d like to consume as little as possible of these additives though. Check the Food Standards Agency website for the list of EU approved additives if you’d like to be able to tell from the label if a product is harmful for you.
#2. Sugar Content
Depending on the ingredients used to produce a meal replacement product, the taste of an unflavoured powder may not encourage consumers to buy them again. Therefore, supplement companies will use flavourings and sugar to mask that “natural” flavour.
While I don’t agree with the trend of considering sugar the root of all evil, it’s very easy to consume well over the recommended daily amount of added sugar intake. The best approach is to always check the label and work out how much sugar a serving contains.
I also always point out to my online coaching clients that added sugars are wasted calories on their daily calorie balance. Even if you just have 30g of sugar a day, that makes up 120kcal that could be used elsewhere.
Fibre intake is essential for a healthy and efficient digestion. If you replace a supposedly balanced meal that would have decent amount of fibre content, with a shake that hardly has any, your digestion may suffer. Constipation, bloating and tummy cramps can all be symptoms that your body doesn’t like the product you are using.
This point doesn’t apply to everybody, but I have seen personal training clients struggling to understand why they were not losing weight on meal replacements. Compared to protein powders, these shakes are significantly higher in calories since they are meant to replace, not supplement meals.
Falling off the calorie deficit wagon is easier if the shakes don't satisfy your hunger and you end up having a meal as well. One serving of a meal replacement shake starts around 300 kcal while it only takes a few minutes to consume. At the same time, eating a balanced meal of 600kcal could take half an hour and keep you satisfied for hours after.
#5. Waste of Money
I heard many stories from friends and clients about having purchased a meal replacement product that they regretted later. Either because they didn’t like it or because it didn’t bring the desired results. Imagine spending your hard-earned cash on something that you ether throw or give away.
Many of these companies have a refund policy or free trial period. Most people don't bother though because it's more hassle to return these products so they end up losing the money.
What Should You Do Instead
I believe that no supplement trumps a well-planned, balanced diet of meals made of whole ingredients. I understand that’s not always the most time efficient solution. However, if you are on a journey to build new, sustainable lifestyle habits, figuring out how to make it work is imperative.
There is nothing wrong with making protein smoothies or even your own home designed meal replacement shakes. That way you have full control over the ingredients. Choose fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds, oats, yoghurt, a liquid of your choice and maybe a good quality protein powder for great taste to create a nutritious shake of your own.
Feel free to get in touch if you’d like some nutrition tips or you’d like to find out more about the methods we use at CD Fitness to help clients achieve their weight loss goals.
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My name is Calumn Duthie, founder of CD Fitness Coaching. You’ll find me in and around the gym and helping like minded people just like you get the results they deserve. I enjoy everything from keeping fit, yoga, snowboarding, coffee and making people happy. If you would like to improve your nutrition, training and mindset then you definitely want to be part of my bigger community. Join my Facebook group,Healthy Living With CD Fitness Coaching is a must.