Meal replacement shakes are often used as part of a weight-loss diet. Generally low in calories, portable and easy to prepare, meal replacement shakes promise rapid and painless weight loss while ensuring you get all of the essential nutrients you need to stay healthy. Weight loss shakes come in different flavors, from various manufacturers, including Cambridge Diets, Slim-Fast, Atkins, Maximuscle and Primal Nutrition.
Meal replacement shakes are designed to be consumed in place of a regular, solid food meal. You can replace one, a few or all of your daily meals with meal replacement shakes, depending on how much weight you need to lose. Most manufacturers encourage you to consume at least one regular meal in conjunction with your daily shake intake. Some shakes are available premixed, while others must be blended with water. Some companies also offer meal replacement bars and soups to provide variety.
Meal replacement shakes make managing your caloric intake easier. You know exactly how much protein, carbohydrate and fat you are consuming as each shake's nutritional values will have been calculated by the manufacturer. By simply replacing a meal with a shake, you can be sure you are consuming exactly the right amount of energy and nutrients based on your weight-loss goals.
Meal replacement shakes eliminate your need to weigh, measure or cook your food. They are portable, easily prepared and can be consumed almost anywhere. Meal replacement shakes eliminate the guesswork often associated with dieting and are especially suitable for anyone who does not have the time or ability to prepare or cook weight loss-friendly meals.
Although meal replacement shakes offer an easy and convenient weight management solution, this does not come without problems. Using meal replacement shakes does not teach healthy eating habits or portion control, so it is not uncommon for people to regain the weight they lost as soon as they return to a regular diet. Meal times in the family home can make you feel isolated as the rest of the family enjoys a regular meal while you consume a shake.
Because most meal replacement shakes are low in calories, you may feel hungry and tired, which can lead to poor adherence rates. The rapid weight loss associated with meal replacement shakes can also result in loss of lean muscle mass, which reduces your metabolism and results in greater weight gain when you return to your normal diet.
Meal replacement shakes often contain large amounts or artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and preservatives. These chemicals can cause hyperactivity, allergic reactions, headaches, nausea and digestive discomfort in anyone sensitive to these ingredients. Although most meal replacement shakes are fortified with vitamins and minerals, they do not contain sufficient essential fats, fiber and other healthful nutrients to maintain heath and well-being. Meal replacement shakes are essentially a form of processed food, which means that they should be consumed in moderation and not excess. Additionally, the low number of calories provided by meal replacement shakes can leave you feeling tired and weak which can prove dangerous in certain work and leisure situations.
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- "The Complete Guide to Sports Nutrition"; Anita Bean; 2009