Should you use meal replacement shakes?
If you’re on a weight loss journey, it can be tempting to use meal replacements as a convenient alternative to full meals. Pre-packaged meal replacement shakes are easy to take with you for breakfast or lunch, and they can be pretty tasty. But are they a good choice?
Most pre-packaged meal replacement shakes are lower in calories, but the reason they are so affordable is that they use low quality ingredients and forms of vitamins that our bodies don’t absorb so well. The vast majority of these companies use synthetic vitamins that we can’t absorb at all, and can even cause inflammation.
Some of them claim to be high in protein. While we do need lots of protein in our diets especially when trying to build muscle and lose fat, it’s best absorbed from a whole foods source. Shakes based on soy protein run the risk of being genetically modified or sprayed heavily with chemicals, and many people have a low-level allergy that is undiagnosed, and which will stall weight loss efforts. Whey isolate can be beneficial as it’s well absorbed and low in dairy allergens, but the better quality whey shakes can get a bit pricy.
The biggest issue is that most of these shakes taste so good because they are heavily laden with sweeteners. Sometimes it’s sugar or high fructose corn syrup, and often it’s multiple types of artificial sweeteners and flavorings. These additives have no place in a sustainable, healthful diet.
If you enjoy the simplicity of using shakes as meal replacements, look for quality ingredients from whole food sources. You may not be able to find pre-made shakes that are of good quality, so you can make your own with good protein powders mixed with almond milk or coconut milk. Grab one of those shaker bottles to keep with you, but remember not to mix your shake until you’re ready to drink it.