Meal Replacements – The Truth
Below are the facts to help you find a plan that works for you…
Meal Replacements vs Traditional diets
The march 2001 issue of The Journal of the American Dietic Association includes a year-long study of 64 overweight women between the ages of 18 and 55 who were looking to lose 20 to 40 pounds and also maintain their weight loss. All these women claimed they found it difficult to change their eating habits. Half the women were given a 1,200 calorie per day meal plan and the other half were told to replace all three daily meals with meal replacement shakes containing 220 calories and consume fresh fruit and vegetables to total a daily calorie intake of 1,200.
What was found?
After the first three months, both groups of women had lost between 3 and 6 pounds of body fat without losing lean muscle mass. However, after a whole year on the program, the women using meal replacements maintained their weight loss whereas the women on the other diet plan regained the weight they had lost. Does that sound familiar to you?
Another study of 100 overweight people (21 male and 79 female aged between 35 and 55) published in the August 2000 issue of Obesity Research also sheds a favourable light on meal replacement plans. Again for the first three months half the participants were given standards 1,200 calorie per day plans whilst the other were given a plan consisting of two meal replacements per day plus one balanced meal. By the end of the three months, the traditional dieters had lost 1.7 pounds and the group using meal replacements had lost 7 pounds. Following this both groups were asked to use one meal replacement and one snack replacement each day for 4 years. At the end of the study, the traditional dieters lost on average, 3 pounds, whilst the meal replacement group lost an average of 8 pounds. It seems that initially losing more weight helped the second group to maintain their weight loss for the 4 years. We know what you are thinking, 8 pounds may not seem a lot , but any amount of weight that we can lose and manage to keep of contributes to improved health. Along with weight loss, both groups seen a decrease in their blood sugar levels, but the meal replacement group also had lower blood pressure levels.
If you have trouble with portion control, and find yourself eating too often or tend to choose foods high in fat and calories, meal replacements could work for you as we all know that losing weight and keeping that weight of is easier said than done. For people who struggle to change their eating habits permanently, using one meal replacement per day could be the ticket to stop the weight from coming back. As an added bonus, reducing body fat typically results in decreased risk of diabetes, heart disease , high blood pressure and osteoarthritis.
But just like other diet plans, meal replacements are not everyone’s cup of tea. If you enjoy the taste of real food and like to chew rather that drink your meals, you’re probably better off sticking to healthy foods, not meal replacement shakes and bars. Six baby carrots and a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread with mustard and green lettuce is just as healthy as a 220 calorie meal replacement shake.
Six ways to get maximum results from meal replacement shakes:
Use these helpful tips to make meal replacements a successful part of your weight maintenance plan:
- Use meal replacements to replace no more than two meals daily, or one meal and one snack, unless you are under supervision from your doctor.
- Choose meal replacements that contain at least 200 calories. They should also have a balance of carbs, proteins and fats to provide adequate nutrition and help cut snacking in between meals.
- Use meal replacements at the meals that cause you the most trouble. Is breakfast always a doughnut on the run? Drink a meal replacement shake instead. If you routinely skip lunch, or give in to the fast-food advertisements, grab a meal replacement bar.
- Mix and match so you don’t get bored. You can use two meal replacements on some days and just one on others when you have more time to make healthy meals. Also, try lots of different meal replacement products to keep your taste buds happy. For example you could have a shake for breakfast and a bowl of Special K for lunch.
- Choose fresh fruit for snacks twice a day for added nutrition and fibre. If you’re drinking lots of shakes, you’ll be happy to have something you can chew.
- Maximise your weight loss by making your traditional meal well balanced. To do so, make your plate look like this: Fill half with vegetables (raw or cooked – your choice), one quarter with protein (chicken, fish, tofu, red meat) and the remaining quarter with the starch (pasta, potato, rich, bread).
Would you consider replacing two meals a day with meal replacement shakes?