If there is one universal truth in the weight loss and weight management industry, it’s this: Nutrition is key.
It doesn’t matter how hard you work out, how many hours you spend in the gym, or how many calories you burn at spin class, you won’t get the results you’re after without proper diet and nutrition.
Another truth: Nutrition is often the biggest struggle. Most of us don’t get enough fruits and veggies as it is. Never mind trying to do so when you’re cutting calories.
And when you’re cutting calories and not getting enough nutrients, good luck feeling full and satisfied. You’re going to feel hungry all the time. And then you start snacking blowing all of your efforts to hell.
If this sounds at all like you, meal replacement shakes might be exactly what you have been looking for.
They work for a lot of people.
Read on to learn the differences between meal replacement shakes and protein shakes, how meal replacement shakes compare to heart healthy diets for weight loss and weight management, and how to get the most out of meal replacement shakes.
What’s the difference between meal replacement shakes and protein shakes?
The difference between the two is quite simple, but very important.
Protein shakes are formulated to supplement your protein intake. Meal replacement shakes are designed to replace entire meals.
Protein shakes contain little to no carbohydrates, fat, or other essential nutrients. They are also low in calories.
Meal replacement shakes, on the other hand, have a wide range of essential nutrients, are rich in proteins, and contain carbohydrates. They have everything you need to replace a meal.
For weight loss, meal replacement shakes outperform a regular “heart healthy” diet
A study conducted in 2014 by Dr. Krista Varady of the University of Illinois at Chicago of Applied Sciences did a direct comparison of meal replacement shakes versus whole food. Each was combined with a dietary plan of caloric restriction and intermittent fasting. The results of the study were published in Journal Nutrition.
The study consisted of two phases. The first phase was a two-week maintenance period. The second was an eight-week weight loss period.
The results of the study were astounding.
The participants drinking the meal replacement shakes lost more body weight, more fat mass, and more visceral fat than the group that did not.
Meal replacement shakes also decreased a lot of factors associated with coronary heart disease. Low density lipoprotein (LDL) and total cholesterol levels went down. And so did heart rate, insulin, and homocysteine levels.
The results of the study highlight a few things.
1) A quality meal replacement shake is essential
For optimal weight maintenance or weight loss you need a meal replacement shake that is going to give you everything you need.
That means the shake has:
If you’re skimping out on these things regularly you’re going to experience adverse health effects and you’ll constantly be hungry.
Some meal replacement shakes on the market are very high in sugar and use various mixtures of artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners.
You don’t want these ones.
Too much sugar can urge you to eat more because of rapid spikes and drops in blood sugar. It kind of defeats the purpose of using meal replacement shakes to lose weight or maintain weight in the first place.
- Good protein sources
High-quality proteins are highly digestible and contain all the essential amino acids your body needs to build and maintain muscle. This is critical, especially if you’re training and exercising.
2) There is no substitute for planning
A major reason why the study conducted by Dr. Varady was such a success is because of the regimented dietary schedule.
Meal replacement shakes are part of the equation. Not the whole answer.
In this study, the shakes were used in combination with calorie restriction and intermittent fasting.
Both experimental groups consumed a calorie restricted diet for the first 6 days of the weight loss phase. On the 7th day, they fasted.
There are many ways to combine intermittent fasting and calorie restriction. This is just one. Contact me and I can tell you more.
3) Ease of use is huge
Meal replacement shakes work in part because of the convenience factor they are associated with. They fit really well into the fast-paced, busy lifestyles most of us have these days.
During the course of the study, Dr. Varady noticed many of the participants enjoyed the meal replacement supplements because of their convenience.
The prep is minimal, cleanup is virtually non-existent, and you can be confident knowing you’re supplying your body with everything that it needs while also cutting excess calories out of your diet.
As Dr. Varady said, “If a diet is hard to do, people aren’t going to do it for very long.”
In a lot of cases, meal replacement shakes are healthy alternatives to satisfying your appetite with junk food. And they’re a lot better than skipping a meal altogether.
Whether your find yourself too busy to sit down and have a real lunch or you’re looking for a good weight loss solution, a meal replacement shake is a good option. You don’t have to worry about nutrients and caloric intake, you can just down a shake that will satiate your hunger and you know contains everything you need to fuel your body and help you get, or stay, lean.
Let me know what you think about meal replacement shakes in the comments.
If you’d like to know more, please contact me, I’d love to help you out.
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