Do meal replacement shakes work? What do you want to know

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Meal replacement shakes have been a hot topic online. A quick and easy breakfast or lunch, meal in a bottle can be handy to grab when you’re rushing out the door. What’s the harm? It’s good for you, right?

The sheer number of options available also makes it difficult to know which is best. With everything from dairy-free meal replacements to vegan and organic, it’s no wonder we’re confused. Will you get your macronutrients (macros)? Will they help or hinder your weight loss journey?

Although these products claim to help with weight loss, they are not necessarily the secret sauce. Here’s what you need to know.

Meal replacement shakes won’t magically solve unhealthy eating habits

While specially designed meal replacements can be helpful for a quick meal on the go, they won’t stop you from hitting the drive-thru after your workout. Healthy, lasting weight loss requires behavioral changes that you can practice and stick with for a lifetime. There is no quick fix.

Meal replacement shakes can be a tool to help fill a nutritional gap when you can’t eat a meal. Think of them as a supplement to an already healthy diet. Calories from real food are processed differently than calories from liquids, so having real food is important. If you want to use meal replacement shakes, they need to go along with nutritionally balanced meals for weight loss and long-term health.

Not All Shakes Are Created Equal

Although meal replacement shakes may be healthier than skipping a meal, they are not all equal in nutrition or quality. If used incorrectly, one product may improve your weight loss, while another may hinder your efforts.

Ask yourself: does the shake contain the macronutrients of a well-balanced meal? Many shakes contain protein, but may lack essential vitamins, minerals, or healthy fats. Some protein shakes contain much more protein than you need, which can lead to weight gain.

“What makes a meal replacement shake healthy is its nutritional quality and how you use it,” says Jacquelynn Schwartz, registered dietitian nutritionist at Nebraska Medicine. “You need to check labels to make sure your fats and carbs are where you want them to be in your diet. Don’t be afraid of a little fat and fiber if you’re replacing a meal. If your shake mainly provides protein only, eat a piece of fruit with it.”

Things to look out for when looking at labels:

  • Note the serving size. If there is more than one serving per container, you may be consuming more calories than you want.
  • Watch out for too much added sugar. Look for five grams or less per serving
  • Aim for 20-30 grams of protein per serving
  • Look for about five grams or more of fiber per serving
  • Avoid artificial flavors and potential allergens

“The beauty of the New Direction® Weight Loss Program is that what we offer uses specially designed meal replacement shakes,” says Schwartz. “Designed to fit perfectly into the diet we prescribe, we’re sure what’s in them. Everyone on the plan is medically supervised to make sure you stay healthy and nutritionally balanced throughout. along your weight loss journey.”

Real food is best for your body, but meal replacements can be a useful tool.

“How you use meal replacement shakes is more important than what brand or type you use,” says Schwartz. “If you don’t get enough nutrients from the foods you eat and use them to fill in what you’re missing, that’s okay, but if you add them to an already high-calorie diet, they work against weight loss.I would also advise against using them as your sole source of nutrition unless you are on a structured, medically supervised meal replacement program.

If you are on a diet and want to use meal replacements, contact your doctor or nutritionist to determine what type of diet is best for you. Structure and support are key factors in nutrition and long-term weight loss success.

How can New Direction® help with weight loss?

The New Direction® program is a doctor-supervised weight loss program that uses meal replacements to help you lose weight fast. There are two different plans to choose from depending on your goals. Weekly education classes teach you how to transition to healthier eating and lifestyle habits and develop a new relationship with food. In fact, the program was named New Direction® because it encourages people to take a new approach to eating and eating.

“This program is well designed and you have a whole team to support your weight loss goals,” says Schwartz. “We’re not only here to help you lose weight, but also to help you keep it off.”

The Nebraska Medicine Bariatrics Center offers both medically managed and surgical solutions to help you achieve your weight loss goals. To schedule a free information session, please call us at 402.559.9500.


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