What Is A Meal Replacement Shake Diet … and Is It Right for You?
The object of any diet plan should be sustained weight loss — weight loss that you can keep off in the future, but finding a diet plan that works for you can be difficult. As is the case with dating, you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince and live happily ever after. Many people feel that a meal replacement diet will be their diet true love, but some find that it’s just another frog. In this post we’re going to explore the reasons why.
A meal replacement diet is one of the easiest and most impactful weight loss programs you can adapt to your lifestyle. Most dieters choose a low-calorie shake as an easy and fast replacement meal, but there are also other options – such as bars or a salad, as opposed to a burger.
The meal replacement diet is simply one type of diet plan you can choose. As with all diet plans, this one has both benefits and drawbacks.
the popularity of meal replacement diets
I remember back in the 1980s when Slim-Fast was first gaining popularity. It seemed so easy — a shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch, and then a sensible dinner. It also seemed a little scary (remember: I love food). I mean, not eating solid food for two whole meals? Really?
Meal replacement diets have gotten even more popular in recent decades. One reason for this is that they take very little time, and you don’t have to think about various options or plan extensively to begin or carry through with your diet plan. And, instead of replacing two meals a day, most of the current plans only have you replacing one.
Many people choose a meal replacement diet specifically for weight loss, but those with digestive problems such as Crohn’s disease, gastritis, and ulcerative colitis may lack the appetite to eat three solid, fresh meals per day. For these individuals, a meal replacement diet can be a godsend, providing essential nutrition and much-needed calories they might otherwise miss.
How does it work?
For those who need to lose weight, the meal replacement diet is considered a rapid and easy way to do so. This is the type of weight loss plan that’s targeted to busy, on-the-go people who have little time to plan or cook healthy meals. When you replace at least one meal per day with a low calorie or liquid meal and enjoy healthy, low calorie meals and snacks at other times during the day, you will decrease your calorie intake.
While it’s best to focus on good habits such as exercise and a healthy diet plan, meal replacements can work for some people to help them stay satisfied without having to consume or be tempted by high-calorie meals. When you burn more calories than you put into your body, weight loss is bound to occur.
it’s not all peachy keen
There are some drawbacks to the meal replacement diet. For example, although the shakes and other types of meal replacement products (such as Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig) advertise that they provide essential minerals and vitamins, they also contain super-processed ingredients — and some of them contain a whole lot of sugar. Side note: I was on the Nutrisystem diet for a while, and so was my dad. It works. I lost 30 pounds, and he lost a whole lot more. But when we quit buying and using the products, we gained all the weight back (well, I did. He only gained back some of it). Still, remember: we want SUSTAINED weight loss.
Choosing whole foods on a low-calorie diet plan can provide a more balanced and nutritious meal than does a replacement. Plus, when you choose real foods, you’re more apt to make the choices you need to continue making to help you keep the weight off for good.
But if you prefer a liquid meal replacement to a healthy meal, you might want to try making your own smoothies as an alternative to pre-packaged shakes and meals. Smoothies made with healthy fats and protein can provide you with great nutrition and can be a filling meal substitute.
If you still want to give meal replacement shakes or food substitutes a try, be sure you read all the labels to see if you’re getting all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to stay healthy and perform at its best.
is the meal replacement diet right for you?
Obviously, the meal replacement diet is going to be more appropriate and effective for some people than it is for others. Some may find it’s very easy to stick to, while others won’t be able to suppress the urge to break away from the diet plan and engage in some major binge eating.
You might find the meal replacement diet particularly appealing if:
- You’re not sure how to put together the most nutritious low calorie meals and snacks
- Meal planning and preparation, in general, is a definite challenge for you
- You love the convenience of having something you can carry in your purse or backpack so you can have it with you wherever you go
- You don’t need to lose a lot of weight, but you want the pounds you do need to lose to go away fast
- You cringe at the thought of counting calories; it’s a no-brainer with this type of diet
You might want to stay away from a meal replacement diet if:
- You prefer a more satisfying meal; i.e., one that you actually have to chew before you swallow. You may fall off the wagon really quickly if you feel deprived in such a way.
- Shakes and substitute meals are often laden with sugar, preservatives, and other unhealthy ingredients. There are some good alternatives out there. You just have to know where to find them.
- Replacement meals may also prove to be too expensive for your budget. This is the main reason my dad and I stopped using the Nutrisystem diet. Be sure to some comparison shopping before you choose a plan.
- You may not learn how to make healthy choices if you rely heavily on pre-packaged meals.
Before you decide to start on a meal replacement diet, you need to carefully weigh the pros against the cons to see if it’s the right diet choice for you. If you discover that it’s the perfect choice for you, you’ll want to look out for next week’s post, in which I’ll discuss how to prepare for a meal replacement diet.