January in particular is a fantastic time to make and start new plans, ideas and better habits. After Christmas, a focus for a lot of people is nutrition and starting the year as they mean to go on. But there are so many ‘diets’ out there to choose from and it can be a complete mine field as to what might be best for your individual needs. A large part of my job is to make sure my Clients diet suits the goals they are trying to achieve. I am very often asked the question as to whether a meal replacement diet works. This blog addresses a few questions I am asked and some helpful facts to help you decide if you think this is right for you:
What are meal replacement products?
The most popular form a meal replacement products comes in is in the form of a powder that you turn into a ‘shake’ using water. They are also know as protein powder. They are used to control calorie intake and can be either used to reduce your calories (ie. lose weight) or increase your calories (ie. bulk up). If you are using them to bulk, you add these to your diet instead of replacing a meal with them. If you are looking to lose weight, then you replace 1-2 meals per day with the shakes. The shakes, if made as per the instructions, provide a very set amount of calories that are easily controllable.
According to independent reviews, the product you use should contain the following, per serving. Have a look at the back of the packet before purchasing to check the full ingredients:
- At least 15g of protein
- More than 3g of fibre
- Less than 10g of sugar (shown as ‘Carbohydrates of which sugars’)
- 30% or more recommending intake (RI) for each vitamin and mineral (apart from potassium which is likely to be a little lower).
Are they safe?
Meal replacement shakes are completely safe to consume. You should read the instructions and make them correctly, but even if you add a bit too much powder, they are not going to harm you. Please be aware though that certain ingredients can be more difficult for certain people to digest. If you have a number of food intolerances or allergies, it is very important you ensure nothing in the powder is going to cause you a negative reaction. For example, most powders contain dairy so if you are intolerant to dairy products, choose a vegan friendly powder. There are more available on the market now.
Easy and Convenient
A very large reason why people choose a meal replacement based diet is that its very simple to do and stick to. All you do is pour the powder into a bottle of water, shake and drink. There is no faffing around with food preparation, clearing up, shopping for ingredients and finding the time. It’s also very helpful if you are on the go all the time. If you are driving a lot, darting from meeting to meeting (or Zoom call!) or away from home and don’t have access to a fridge all the time. It’s the busy persons diet.
As a rule, the meal replacement companies work very hard to ensure their shakes actually taste really nice. There are all sorts of favours available now but if you also don’t like anything too strong, there is always good ol’ vanilla. I would suggest though, that you do need to like the taste of milkshakes – they do taste similar so if you really hate any form of milkshake, this may not be the right choice for you.
The shake companies have done all the hard work for you. You don’t need to spend ages working out if your meal has enough protein or not too many carbs or enough vitamins in it because you can see the ingredients on the back of the packet. It is very important to point out though that you can’t just have shakes for every meal. At least 1 meal per day needs to be actual solid food. Your system needs to chew and digest actual food as well to maintain a healthy system.
Potential pit falls of meal replacement products:
As mentioned above, these products should have a certain amount of nutrients in them, but be aware of cheaper versions. Make sure you check the ingredients list. As is the case with this product, you often get what you pay for, so choose wisely.
Please also bear in mind that meal replacement shakes won’t make you healthier or help you to lose weight if you continue to eat large quantities of junk food. They definitely won’t work if they end up adding to your calories.
So are meal replacement products right for me?
If you read this blog and are still not sure whether this is suitable for you, then you can always contact me and we can arrange time for a chat. If you are also not sure which brand to choose, I am happy to make recommendations. After all, its my job to look after you and make sure you have a happy new year!