Have you ever considered replacing one of your daily meals with a shake? Whether it’s in the form of a protein drink, a smoothie or a power-packed superfood supplement, these options offer both convenience and dense nutrition.
In this article we’ll take a closer look at the specific benefits to be gained from foregoing knife and fork and drinking your food instead.
Although juice fasts have become very popular in recent years, we are not suggesting that you adopt a liquid diet. Rather, we believe there are several valid reasons why you might consider incorporating meal replacement shakes as part of your day-to-day diet.
Read on to find out more.
How Meal Replacement Shakes Work
The term is rather self-explanatory, but meal replacement shakes are taken in place of regular food.
Formulated to provide protein, carbohydrates and fat in balanced quantities (but generally with a focus on protein), these shakes also provide an abundance of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
Most meal replacement shakes contain fewer calories than the typical meal – generally somewhere in the region of 200 and 300 calories. You’ll find them in health stores and pharmacies, as well as online.
In all cases it’s sensible to scrutinise the Supplement Facts label, as some of these products can contain a surplus of sugar.
Although some meal replacement products are made-to-drink (or, in the case of bars, made-to-eat), others come in sachet form. Just tear open the sachet, add to a shaker or blender with water, mix and drink. It couldn’t be easier.
It is up to you how many regular meals you replace with the liquid variety. It could be that one is enough: oftentimes people reach for a shake in the morning, as it keeps them from eating an unhealthy breakfast.
Are Meal Replacements Good for Losing Weight?
Losing weight can be tough – which is why many people turn to meal replacement shakes, which can help them manage appetite and calorie intake.
Research shows that obese adults who utilise meal replacements experience greater weight loss than their counterparts who receive only general dietary advice.
A study by Ditschuneit et al (2001) found that individuals following a 1200-1500 calorie “meal replacement diet” lost, on average, 6.4kg more over a 12-week period than individuals eating 1200-1500 calories worth of normal food.
What’s more, long-term weight loss maintenance was sustained for two years when respondents stuck to one meal replacement shake per day.
A 2004 Australian study, meanwhile, concluded that “meal replacement is equally effective for losing weight compared with conventional but structured weight-loss diets” while also noting that “dietary compliance and convenience were viewed more favourably by participants who consumed meal replacements than by those in a conventional weight-loss program.”
In other words, it was easier to stick to meal replacements than regular healthy eating. Perhaps due to the convenience, the portion control and the way in which shakes inculcate a regular healthy eating pattern.
Yet another study assessing the merits of meal replacements for weight loss was conducted in China in 2018. Researchers found that individuals who replaced a regular evening meal with a 388-calorie shake benefited from “significant improvements in body composition components…including body weight, body mass index, waist circumference, fat-free mass and body fat mass.”
Moreover, “body composition improvements corresponded with significant metabolic improvements of blood glucose” and meal replacements contributed to “clinically significant metabolic parameters in both male and female participants with overweight/obesity.”
All of which is to say that the evidence for meal replacement drinks is compelling. Of course, that isn’t to say that they are recommended for everyone.
What Meal Replacement Shake is Best for Diabetics?
Those who suffer from type-2 diabetes are prime candidates for meal replacement drinks, since weight loss is a key objective to reverse the condition.
Nearly half of patients pursuing a low-calorie (800kcal/day) diet consisting of carefully-formulated meal replacement shakes and soups reversed T2D in a landmark trial of just under 300 people.
The sachets in question contained 200 calories, and a balanced blend of nutrients.
In light of this, people with type 2 diabetes may elect to take their chances on such a diet, particularly with the promise of getting off medication. This is only natural. But which meal replacement sachet is best to use?
As mentioned, participants in the Newcastle and Glasgow University study consumed 200kcal shakes. That is not to say that only 200-calorie shakes will work: in the 2018 study, there were significant metabolic improvements of blood glucose with 388-calorie shakes.
What’s important is that the shakes contain a healthy balance of nutrients.
Maximum Vibrance is one supplement we would encourage you to look at. It comes in two flavours, chocolate and original (vanilla bean), but let’s take the former as an example: each two-scoop serving contains 200 calories, 23g of plant protein and an assortment of nutrients from vegetables, fruit, algae and botanical extracts.
In a single shake, you are getting over 100% of your Recommended Daily Intake of:
• Vitamin A
• Vitamin C
• Vitamin D3
• Vitamin E
• Vitamins B1, B2, B5, B6, B12
Maximum Vibrance also contains at least 40% of your daily vitamin K, iodine, copper, zinc and iron. That’s a whole lot of nutrition.
One perceived drawback of meal replacement shakes is that one misses out on a bounty of nutrition which only comes from real food. But because Maximum Vibrance contains 120 ingredients, that really isn’t a problem.
Not only are you getting pea protein and chlorella, but barley grass, wheat grass, strawberry, blueberry, burdock root – and much more.
Maximum Vibrance even contains 25 billion probiotics from 12 strains, to help with gut issues.
The advantages of meal replacement shakes are obvious, and even if you don’t fit into one of the above categories, you might consider experimenting to find out if you could benefit too.
Ultimately it’s a question of getting the right nutrients into your system in a way that is convenient, cost-effective and, most importantly, sustainable. If that’s via wholesome food – fruit, vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats – then great. If a shake or two helps you along the way, that’s fine too!
Questions, comments? Then get in touch with us. We’re always happy to talk!
It’s sensible to scrutinise Supplement Facts labels, as some meal replacement products contain a surplus of sugar.