Meal Replacement Shakes For Weight Loss: Does It Really Work?

If you want to lose weight one option is meal replacement shakes for weight loss. These are available in different flavors and provide important nutrients while reducing calorie intake. The big question is if they’re effective.

measuring tape around a jar of chocolate smoothie and an apple on the side

What’s the best way to lose weight? You have several options including meal replacement shakes for weight loss. These are popular in weight loss programs like WW (Weight Watchers). These products provide enough macro/micronutrients you need for a meal while reducing calories. Fun Fact: The weight loss industry is worth nearly $73 billion in the USA alone (2018). When picking a diet/program it’s critical to determine whether or not it’s safe and effective. These are both important issues when you’re trying to lose weight. Could losing weight be as easy as drinking a chocolate shake? Do you risk any serious health issues?

When picking a weight-loss method, one is us whether it will help you lose and keep off weight. This is critical. If you follow a fad diet it’s highly unlikely that will happen. For example, many trending diets like the Master Cleanse and cabbage soup diet might help you shed pounds but won’t be effective in helping you to keep it off. There are various reasons. One of the main ones is you’ll mostly be losing water weight instead of fat. Some health experts even argue against following a “diet.” It creates the idea you’ll lose some weight then go back to your old eating habits.  

What’s Exactly Is a Meal Replacement?

If you’re trying to lose weight you can find different meal replacement products including shake powders and nutrition bars. If you’re trying to lose weight then one way you can do that is to swap out an entire meal and add a bar or shake.

One of the main benefits is lower-calorie meals. For example, on a 2500-calorie diet, each meal is about 800 calories. If you’re just consuming a shake or bar then it will be significantly lower. However, you can still get a good amount of carbs, proteins, and fats.

You can also find some meal replacement products with a decent amount of micronutrients. However, it varies. You’ll have to get to the nitty-gritty of different products to find out what you’re getting.

There’s a caveat. While meal supplements are helpful for cutting calories, they can’t replace real food in terms of nutrition. Supplements aren’t whole foods. They’re made in a factory and often are highly-processed.

So, if you’re going to use these supplements as the name suggests they should add to your daily nutrient. They shouldn’t replace real food. This is also important for long-term weight loss since you should probably minimize your intake of such meal replacement foods to once in a blue moon.

When you pick a meal replacement food you have different forms. Some are powders that you can consume by missing with water/milk or making it into a smoothie or shake with other ingredients. These shakes are usually high-protein with 200 or 400 calories. Even at 400 calories, that’s about half a standard man’s diet.

One of the main perks of products like meal replacement shakes is that they’re ideal if you’re on the go. You can mix up a drink in a minute before you head out to work or school. If you’re running late you can toss a protein bar into your lunch box or briefcase.

Meal Replacement Shakes for Weight Loss

These are powder supplements that you can use to make tasty beverages. They’re available in several flavors like chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. You should still watch out for additives like sugar and artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners. These can offset the benefit of consuming a low-calorie meal.

You can get several benefits from these products including:

1. Convenience

If you want to make a weight-loss shake you’ll just need blender and ingredients like fresh fruit, yogurt, and your meal replacement powder. You can easily whip up a full “meal” that has a good amount of your daily nutrients. If you’re really in a hurry you can mix up some powder in water or milk.

Then there are meal replacement bars. These couldn’t be more convenient since it’s just a matter of removing the wrapper and then letting your champers do the rest of the work. If you’re really short on time or don’t have access to a cup and spoon then this is a good option.

2. Nutrition

OK, it’s safe to say a meal replacement shake won’t be as healthy as a meal of chicken breast, brown rice, and broccoli. However, if you’re on the go or want to really cut calories then a bar or shake is a good option. Make sure to check the macro/micronutrients of a certain product since the details will differ from product to product.

In addition, you’re not getting the nutrients from whole foods. So, it’s not the same as eating real food. On the other hand, a bar/shake will be healthier than eating a bacon double cheeseburger with large fries and jumbo soda.

3. Price

Sure, you’ll have to shell out some extra money for the convenience of meal replacement bars/powders. However, it’s still cheaper than a loaded burrito/sub sandwich, or filet mignon. The price might be worth it.

Key Features of Meal Replacement Products

1. Protein

Look for about 10g to 15g of protein for each serving. This is an important macronutrient. It helps with muscle building/repair, exercise recovery, and even healthy hair/nails/skin. Look for products with “good” protein that’s not highly processed.

2. Fat

This is a debatable issue. For example, the Keto diet is a high-fat diet in which you get about three-quarters of calories from fat. However, in general, you should go low-fat if you want to lose weight. One reason is fat has 2x more calories/gram versus carbs/protein.

You should also check the type of fat that’s contained in the products. There should be a high ratio of unsaturated/saturated fat and 0g of trans-fat. The latter was made for tub margarine so that’s a sign it’s quite unhealthy.

3. Vitamin/Minerals

It should have about one-third of all vitamins/minerals needed. This will make a true meal-replacement product since you’ll get the nutrients you need on a daily basis. Like the macros, it’s better to get your micronutrients from real food. However, you can still find bars/powders with a decent amount of micronutrients. If you eat 1-2 per day is a meal/snack it won’t really be an issue.

4. Fiber

The product should have 3g to 5g of fiber for each serving. Fiber isn’t digested by the body but is important for better digestion. It can also help to reduce the food’s net carbs since fiber is subtracted from the total carb count.

5. Calories

When picking a product look for ones that have about 220 to 230 calories per serving. This is still quite low whether you’ve been on a 2000 or 2500 calorie diet. Even if you’re not on a low-calorie diet it’s important to watch calorie counts since they can make it tougher to lose weight even if you’re using meal replacement shakes for weight loss.

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