The great thing about meal replacements is that they contain all of the nutrition you would get from a full meal in a convenient form that requires little to no preparation. Meal replacement shakes can be purchased ready to drink or in a powdered form that you can mix into water, milk, juice, or smoothies.
Most meal replacements are low in calories, high in protein and fiber, and enriched with essential vitamins and minerals. This makes them super convenient for anyone looking for a healthy meal on the go, as well as for maintaining a healthy weight.
Here’s a look at reasons to consider meal replacement options and how to use them safely.
Reasons to Consider Meal Replacements
1. Meal replacements can help you fight cravings and avoid unhealthy eating.
It’s almost lunchtime and you’re absolutely starving. You didn’t have time to pack a healthy lunch, and the fast-food place around the corner is calling your name. But you’re trying to eat healthier and lose a few pounds. Believe me, we’ve all been there!
One of the biggest hurdles of eating a healthy diet and losing weight is finding the time to shop for healthy food and prepare healthy meals. And when you’re hungry or in a hurry, it’s so much easier to grab something convenient, like a fast-food burger and fries.
The great thing about meal replacement shakes is they’re portable and don’t require any prep. You can pull one out of your bag anytime you need a quick, healthy meal on the go. It’s a great way to satisfy hunger, fight cravings, and avoid unhealthy eating.
2. Meal replacements can fill in nutritional gaps in your diet.
Let’s face it, most of us try to eat a well-balanced diet, but life is busy and taking the time to sit down for a healthy meal isn’t always realistic. And, if you’re trying to lose weight, cutting calories also means cutting nutrients since you’re eating less. This is another area where meal replacements can really shine!
Meal replacements contain all the nutrients that you would get from a complete meal with fewer calories. For example, meal replacement protein shakes that are soy-based only have about 400 calories. But they also deliver 20 grams of plant-based protein and 39 essential nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids and all 9 essential amino acids.
A good meal replacement option will also include vitamin D, iron, calcium, potassium, and B12. These are nutrients that are often lacking in the diet, especially if you’re restricting calories or following a plant-based diet.
3. Meal replacements can help you lose more weight faster.
The only way to lose weight is to consume fewer calories than you’re burning. It’s called a calorie deficit. But restricting calories is tough, especially if you’re feeling hungry all the time. Meal replacements can be a great solution to this problem, too.
Meal replacement shakes can keep you feeling satisfied longer with fewer calories because they’re high in protein and fiber. That means you’ll be getting all the nutrients you need with fewer calories, and you won’t be hungry as often, which helps you cut calories even more.
Studies show that replacing just one or two meals each day with a high-quality meal replacement shake can help you lose weight faster. And, even more interestingly, those who utilized meal replacements rather than food found it easier to stay on the diet until their weight loss goals were met.
And that’s not all! Meal replacement shakes can help patients with type 2 diabetes lose weight. They also help to stabilize blood sugar and reduce LDL cholesterol levels. Beyond that, they can help you maintain a healthy weight once you reach your weight loss goals.
How to Use Meal Replacements Safely
There’s no question that meal replacements can be a useful tool for anyone who wants to eat a healthier diet or maintain a healthy weight. They’re especially useful for eating healthy on the go and minimizing cravings and binge eating.
That being said, it’s important to realize that all meal replacement options are not created equal. Here are some tips for using meal replacements safely.
Beware of unhealthy ingredients.
There are lots of meal replacements out there that are made from healthy, wholesome ingredients. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of products that contain unhealthy ingredients like hydrogenated oils, corn syrup, sugar, preservatives, and artificial flavors.
It’s not uncommon for meal replacements to be marketed as healthy and good for weight loss only to find out they contain more sugar than they do protein. As a smart consumer, do yourself a favor and read ingredients labels carefully.
You want a meal replacement that’s high in protein and fiber with very little sugar. Look for an assortment of essential vitamins and minerals, too. The ingredients should be natural and wholesome, with no chemicals or artificial ingredients you can’t pronounce.
Don’t overuse meal replacements.
Meal replacements are intended to be a substitute for a meal, but they can’t replace food altogether. You still need the antioxidants, enzymes, and plant compounds that are found in fresh fruits and vegetables.
And, the American Heart Association recommends that adults consume at least 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day from whole foods. Although many meal replacements do contain fiber, it’s not as much as whole foods like legumes and fresh fruits and veggies.
So, go ahead and use them to replace a meal each day (or two if you’re trying to lose weight), but be sure you’re also getting plenty of fresh, whole foods in your diet, too.
Meal replacements are definitely worth considering if you’re looking for a convenient, healthy meal on the go. They’re also fantastic for increasing your intake of important nutrients while reducing your calorie intake and maintaining a healthy weight. Just be sure to read labels carefully and choose a meal replacement option that’s nutritious and low in sugar.