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How Much Weight Can I Lose After Drinking Meal Replacement Shakes?

author image Laura Wallace Henderson
Piper Li, a professional freelance writer, began writing in 1989. Her articles appear online at Biz Mojo, Walden University and various other websites. She is the co-editor for "Kansas Women: Focus on Health." With a bachelor's degree in journalism from Mesa State, Li enjoys writing about health, horticulture and business management.
How Much Weight Can I Lose After Drinking Meal Replacement Shakes?
Meal replacement generally contain fewer calories than most meals. Photo Credit: Cathy Yeulet/Hemera/Getty Images

Meal replacement shakes provide a quick and easy way to cut back on calories. The amount of weight you lose using these shakes depends on many factors, such as your activity level, the type of shakes and the amount of calories you consume from other sources throughout the day. Talk to your doctor before you begin any new weight loss plan, especially one that severely restricts your calorie intake.

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Weight Loss

Weight loss requires creating a calorie deficit, either by restricting the calories in your diet or by burning more calories through exercise. One pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. Although your specific caloric requirements vary, New York University Langone Medical Center advises that average men require between 2,000 and 2,500 calories per day, while average women require between 1,800 and 2,200 calories each day. Most meals include around 700 to 800 calories, making it difficult for many people to maintain a healthy weight. Meal replacement shakes may help limit your overall calorie consumption.

Calories in Shakes

The nutrients and amount of calories in meal replacement shakes vary, depending on specific brands and flavors. Many provide around 250 calories per serving. By replacing an average meal with a shake, you may be able to cut about 500 calories out of your usual daily intake, resulting in a weight loss of about 1 pound per week. Depending on your eating patterns, replacing two meals each day with shakes may lead to an average reduction in weight of approximately 2 pounds per week.


According to Vanderbilt University, dieters may abuse diet programs that rely on meal replacement shakes, leading to dangerous side effects. Although following diet plan instructions that suggest eating one healthy meal per day can create a safe and gradual weight loss, extreme calorie restriction or relying on meal replacement shakes for all your nutrients may result in excessive weight loss. Studies show that consuming certain meal replacement shakes twice a day provides a safe method of weight loss for up to 12 weeks, according to Vanderbilt University. This method may help you lose up to 24 pounds in approximately three months. A study in the August 2004 "Journal of Nutrition" notes similar results, leading researchers to conclude that meal replacement shakes are as effective as conventional methods for losing weight.


Avoid extreme dieting that encourages your body to lose more than 1 to 2 pounds per week. The University of Michigan Health Service warns that eating less than 1,400 calories per day can make your body enter a semi-starvation state, increasing the risk of burning muscle tissue, rather than fat cells. Avoid meal replacement shakes that contain stimulant substances, such as caffeine or hoodia. These ingredients may cause dizziness, anxiety and an elevation in blood pressure.

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