Slim-Fast shakes, shake mixes, meal and snack bars are part of the company's 3-2-1 weight loss plan. Even pregnant women who do not want to lose weight often use Slim-Fast products as convenient grab-and-go snacks or meal replacements. Slim-Fast shakes have extra nutritional supplements that might pose some health risks to pregnant women. Although drinking a shake occasionally during pregnancy probably will not do you any lasting harm, discuss your use of the shakes with your primary care provider.
Weight Loss During Pregnancy
Using Slim-Fast shakes to lose weight during pregnancy might deprive your baby of the full range of nutrients necessary for proper growth and development. Instead of losing weight during pregnancy, normal weight women with a body mass index, or BMI, of 18.5 to 24.9 will typically need to gain 25 to 35 lbs. Although the weight gain might seem excessive, not all of the extra weight is from the baby. Your placenta, enlarged breasts and enlarged uterus add to your total weight gain. Even overweight or obese women should put on some extra weight during pregnancy to fuel their baby's growth and to ensure they have enough fat stores to feed the baby adequately after birth.
Doctors might advise some women with a BMI of 40 or greater to lose weight during pregnancy, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, but this loss should be very gradual and done under medical supervision.
As of 2011, Slim-Fast shakes and bars contain both nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners, including sucralose and acesulfame potassium. Nutritive sweeteners, such as sucrose, corn sugar or honey, add extra calories into your diet, but don't contain many vitamins or minerals. Non-nutritive sweeteners add sweetness but no extra calories to foods, and are a common ingredient in reduced calorie foods and beverages. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration categorizes acesulfame potassium as safe for moderate use during pregnancy and sucralose as safe for all users, including pregnancy women.
James F. Smith, a maternal fetal medicine specialist, tells Babycenter that the supplementary vitamins and minerals added to diet shakes can pose a potential hazard to pregnant women. According to Smith, the additional amounts of different vitamins, such as Vitamin A, on top of a daily prenatal vitamin, might exceed the amounts considered safe during pregnancy.
Tips and Precautions
Show your primary care provider the labels from your Slim-Fast shakes or bars so he can ensure they do not contain ingredients that might harm you or your baby. In an article on the Babycenter website, registered dietitian Melinda Johnson suggests making your own shakes so that you can control the ingredients. Make a chocolate banana shake by blending together milk, a frozen banana and chocolate syrup. Add a scoop of protein powder or wheat germ for extra nutrition.