Meal replacement shakes can successfully encourage steady weight loss and better health, but they're not always nutritious or filling. Many shake mixes are supplemented with protein, vitamins and minerals, but supplements aren't always as effective at delivering health and nutritional benefits. When you make your own shakes with whole and natural ingredients, however, you have the power to control exactly what you're drinking and how it can help you accomplish your goals.
Powdered and bottled protein shakes are typically made from protein isolates that might come from whey or plant-based sources like soy, hemp, peas or rice. Protein isolates aren't naturally sweet, so commercial shake mixtures are supplemented with either refined sugar or a sugar substitute to make them palatable. If you make your own protein shakes, however, you can skip that added sweetener and use fruit instead.
It can be hard to beat the amount of protein offered in a commercial shake with a homemade version. In one 30-gram scoop of whey powder, for example, you get 23 grams of protein for just 110 calories. Milk and standard yogurt have considerably less protein in a cup, but Greek yogurt can compare. One cup of the fat-free variety has 130 calories and 23 grams of protein – plus, if you build your shake with a base of Greek yogurt, you'll get its probiotic and calcium benefits. Another option is to use commercial protein powder as the base of your shake and add a variety of whole food ingredients.
Of course, if you don't need as much protein as a scoop of protein powder offers, you can use other bases for your shake, such as dairy milk, regular yogurt or plant-based milks. Add sweetness, nutrition and thickness to your shake with half a ripe banana. If you want the meal replacement to be dessertlike, blend in some unsweetened cocoa powder or a tablespoon of peanut butter. If you'd rather have your shake taste like a fruit smoothie, add a handful of fresh or frozen berries. Keep the final product chilly by blending all of your chosen ingredients with a handful of crushed ice.
Shakes as Meals
Everett Clinic endocrinologist Dr. Michael Tamber told the HeraldNet that a protein shake used as a meal replacement should have 100 to 150 calories, at least 10 grams of protein, no more than 2 grams of fat and "a few" grams of added sugar. Consistently using shakes to replace meals can make a big difference. In one yearlong study published in "Diabetes/Metabolism Research & Reviews" in 2010, subjects who consumed high-protein meal replacements as part of a low-calorie diet lost more body weight and fat mass than subjects who only cut calories. Before you make any radical changes to your current diet, however, get approval from your doctor.
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- HeraldNet: Protein Shakes Quell Hunger Pangs, With Differing Results
- Diabetes/Metabolism Research & Reviews: Enhanced Weight Loss With Protein-Enriched Meal Replacements in Subjects With the Metabolic Syndrome