How do Meal Replacement Shakes Work?
A meal replacement shake is a way to substitute meals with a nutritious shake offering a full range of vitamins and minerals. When one chooses the right brand it can offer nutrients with few calories while still being able to suppress appetite and relieve hunger.
Meal replacement shakes come in many different forms and the main ones are:
High calorie: For people looking to gain weight. Designed specifically for bodybuilders or people looking to either bulk up or recover from an injury or illness.
Weight loss shakes: Providing high protein and fiber with only a few calories. They function by helping suppress appetite for hours, while still providing the body with essential nutrients to prevent any deficiencies. Meal replacement shakes for weight loss can be best described as providing:
- Functional results: Your body needs calories and proper nutrients to work properly. A good meal replacement shake provides nutrients such as vitamins A through K, as well as minerals and some carbohydrates, fiber, and protein. This provides the benefits of a nutritionally well rounded meal in the form of a shake.
True protein shakes for weight loss will provide all the essential nutrients that the body requires to replace a meal; otherwise this may potentially lead to malnutrition and other related side effects.
Typically you can replace up to 2 meals a day depending on whether or not the shakes one chooses are well-rounded in their nutrient content.
There has to also be a kind of sweetener added to help give it a pleasant taste. Every meal replacement uses their own formula and mixes different kinds of sweeteners in high to low amounts.
The same goes for the other ingredients added. Some brands use:
- Natural ingredients
- Artificial additives and many other ingredients.
By using the proper meal replacement shake you’re given the luxury of convenience, ease, and overall satisfaction.
Why do Meal Placement Shake Diets Work Best?
By using a meal replacement shake diet one gains the following benefits:
- Replacing meals: A typical meal can range from 500 to 1,000 calories depending on portion sizes and how it’s prepared. A meal replacement can replace full meals with fewer calories. Certain shakes offer around 90 calories which is a significant reduction in comparison to what a standard meal might have.
- No need for calorie counting: With a single serving of a meal replacement you know exactly the full nutrient content and calories you’re getting. Otherwise there could be difficulty in the following forms:
- Forcing you to estimate the full calories of a meal since your cooking method and cooking oils can increase calorie content.
- You would also have to weigh foods and use serving cups and spoons for every meal.
Meal replacement removes the hassle of having to make accurate counting on every meal. It can take a lot of knowledge about nutrition to make sure you’re getting a full range of vitamins and minerals.
Fortunately, meal replacement shakes come with a nutrition facts label to show exactly what you’re getting.
All you have to do is read the back of the label and decide for yourself if the nutrient content is to your liking.
- Fast and efficient: When a good brand is chosen, all you have to do is:
- Add your liquid of choice to your protein powder for weight loss and shake it in a shaker bottle. You don’t have to waste time prepping and making complicated meals.
- Weight loss shakes can also be taken on the go with ease. Using portable bottles takes away the chore of having to sit down to enjoy a meal. You can eat as you go with shakes without having to use a blender or having to chop food up and store things in heavy containers.
- Reduced Stress: By limiting calories its normal to feel like weight loss is either difficult to obtain or a major sacrifice. This can reduce willpower and make it easier for one to fail their diets and reach out for unhealthy foods that are either fast food, or pre-packed and full of unhealthy additives.
By being able to quickly make a weight loss shake in seconds, you no longer have to worry about failure or seeking an easy out to help satisfy your appetite.
- Unlimited options: You can often create your own unique flavors by adding different liquids, fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients. This makes it easier to enjoy your shakes and shape it to your preference. It can be satisfying to enjoy a light yet filling meal that does not bloat the stomach or cause one to feel heavy.
Certain companies will also provide additional recipes to make all kinds of shakes to satisfy one’s particular taste.
- High protein from lean sources: Weight loss shakes use different forms of protein such as plant based or dairy based varietals. This is often lower in fat and calories, and if the right form is chosen it can have all the essential amino acids.
Amino acids are known as the building blocks of life and they help regulate essential body functions to ensure overall health.
- Balances ratio of carbs, fats, and protein: Nutritionists refer to these 3 as macronutrients, meaning they are the main nutrients the body requires in order to function properly.
- Fats regulate brain health and metabolism.
- Carbohydrates provide a fast acting energy source.
- Protein provides essential amino acids.
When these 3 macronutrients are added in balanced amounts they can help provide steady energy while regulating blood sugar.
It’s important to get the right ratio which can help you in getting rid of weight without feeling deprived.
- Won’t weight you down: Unlike conventional meals that can be heavy on the body, protein shakes for weight loss are meant to satisfy hunger without greasy oils, fattening foods, a lot of food, or additives which can bloat the stomach.
Weight loss shakes can help support an active lifestyle by providing the satisfaction of an entire meal, without any of the heavy additives.
The right brand can even aid digestion by proving the fiber needed for regularity.
How do Weight Loss Shakes Support Weight Loss?
Reducing calories is essential to weight loss. When on a diet you’re advised to lose around 200 to 500 calories a day depending on caloric demands and individual weight loss goals. This is considered the safest way as one isn’t severely limiting their food intake.
So if one were to replace up to 2 meals a day, say at a reasonable 600 calories each to total 1200 total calories per 2 meals, a 90 calorie shake would provide just 180 calories at 2 servings, 1,020 calories less than what one would be receiving from a full meal. This can be broken down to:
- 1200 calories (2 meals a day) – 180 (2 servings of a 90 calorie shake) = 1,020 calories.
- 1,020 calories (saved by replacing 2 meals) x 7 (total week) = 7,140 calories saved.
This surpasses the advised standard of around 500 calories maximum for weight loss. One could even replace just one meal a day to save themselves the required amount of calories needed for safe and proper weight loss.
In a week’s time this amounts to a total of a 7,140 calorie reduction if taking 2 weight loss shakes a day a week to replace 2, 600 calorie meals.
This is significant and shows how effective protein shakes for weight loss can be when used as recommended.
Certain low calorie protein shakes for weight loss offer a significant decrease of calories without leading to hunger pains or malnutrition. This is made possible by two things:
- Protein: Known to be the most satisfying out of all the available macronutrients by being able to suppress appetite for a longer time than fiber. It’s known that there are a minimum of 10,000 different proteins in the human body which help regulate proper function.
The USDA advises:
- Men should get 56 grams of protein daily.
- Women require 46 grams of protein daily.
Protein shakes for weight loss provide an easy to drink form of protein which can be used to keep the body functioning at a high rate. The importance of amino acids is essential to any healthy meal replacement shake as without it; it cannot be taken to replace meals. One would require extra supplementation in order to make up for the lack of amino acids.
It’s also important to consider what kinds of protein are used as Harvard.edu has stated:
“Animal sources of protein tend to deliver all the amino acids we need”
To this they add:
“Other protein sources, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds, lack one or more essential amino acids”
This is why whey protein which is extracted from milk is one of the best sources of amino acids.
- Fiber: Not only does fiber promote healthy bowel movements, but it can help lower weight while improving heart health and lowering the risk for diabetes.
It’s also used to help regulate blood sugar and make it easier to go to the bathroom. In describing the benefits of fiber for weight loss Web MD has mentioned:
“High-fiber foods tend to be more filling than low-fiber foods, so you’re likely to eat less and say satisfied longer”
Therefore a balanced amount of fiber is essential for improving health. When combined with a healthy amount of protein it provides the nutritional support to help replace a full meal and provide health benefits.
Are Protein Shakes for Weight Loss Easy to Use?
Another task in losing weight is making the right decisions. People are likely going to reach for the nearest source of food.
The convenience of weight loss shakes is that it offers:
- Only a few seconds of prep time needed. A full meal is ready to go with the simple addition of liquids. You just take your protein powder for weight loss and add your preferred liquids.
- Satisfying and delicious weight loss shakes which won’t make it feel like you’re dieting.
Certain diets require difficult preparation or have one devote time and energy to create a wholesome meal. A meal replacement shake diet takes the guess work out and gives access to a nutritious meal without feeling like one is sacrificing to achieve weight loss.
What’s the Science on Weight Loss Shakes?
Meal replacements have also been clinically proven to help with weight loss. A clinical study by the University of Ulm ran a yearlong 2022 review which showed obese people lost more weight by using meal replacements than by reducing calories alone. This is likely due to:
- High amounts of protein and fiber: This can suppress appetite for hours. This is a major benefit to drinking protein shakes for weight loss. It allows people to stay satiated between meals so you won’t overeat when it comes time to eat a regular meal. It can also help regulate blood sugar so you’re not feeling fatigued, low energy, or having to battle mood swings.
This same study showed:
“Individuals with the metabolic syndrome achieved significant weight loss while preserving fat-free mass”
Those who drank weight loss shakes lost a lot of weight while keeping what’s known as fat-free mass described as:
- Water, connective tissue, muscle, bone, and internal organs were all preserved.
It’s important to retain all this as it’s a sign that your diet isn’t wearing you down or causing harsh changes to the body. When the body uses these kinds of resources it typically means one is either starving themselves, or what they’re eating does not have the nutrients needed to help sustain the body.
The study concluded:
“protein-enriched diet may have advantages for the management of the metabolic syndrome”
So there’s a proven benefit to using a protein powder for weight loss. It can be a healthy addition to a dieting plan or even those who are simply looking for a fast and easy nutritious meal.
What to Look for in Weight Loss Shakes?
Protein shakes for weight loss should be:
- Priced fairly.
- Not created by a multilevel marketing company.
- supported by a reputable business.
- Provide good sources of protein and fiber.
- Be low calorie.
- Have a great taste.
- Be free of stimulants, artificial additives, binders, preservatives, and cheap additives.
If possible it’s important to also look at customer reviews. If there are testimonials offered than this is an even better indicator of overall quality. This can help show potential users what they can expect if they were to invest in trying out these weight loss shakes.
When looking to sample a protein powder for weight loss it’s important to find a brand that you can actually enjoy. The reason why most diets fail is because it’s not sustainable. Key things to look for to select a real functional meal replacement diet include:
- Taste: Do customers say it has a great taste? How does it mix? Does it claim to be easy to mix or does it require a blender?
Certain weight loss shakes use thickeners and fillers which are used to create a certain texture, while some don’t need it at all. If you’re unable to enjoy your shakes every time you drink it then it’s unlikely you’ll be able to lose enough weight before you get bored.
There are protein shakes for weight loss described as being goopy, too thick, too sweet, vegetable like, or bland. Making sure one selects a brand with a pleasant taste can make it not just easy, but enjoyable to drink weight loss shakes.
- Unproved claims: It’s important to look past the marketing and notice whether or not the claims made are actually legitimate. If specific claims are made about weight loss, look for proof in the form of reviews, testimonials, and clinical studies if possible. Certain companies will use trick language or deceptive marketing to lure customers.
- Amino acid content: Certain forms of protein such as whey are known to contain all the essential amino acids. However, some meal replacement brands will use either only small amounts of whey mixed with other protein sources, or they’ll end up using cheap plant based protein which often does not have the full amino acid content.
This is why it’s important to make sure that the shake you choose provides clear information as to their total amino acid yield. This makes it easier to see which product is actually thoroughly reviewed and tested for quality.
- GMP certification: A GMP seal of approval means that the meal replacement in question is made in a FDA approved, 3rd party reviewed facility. This is important as it ensures that each ingredient is manufactured in a safe, clean, and properly maintained environment.
It also lets you know that you’re getting exactly what’s claimed. Without this seal it’s possible for businesses to make mistakes and perhaps add either tainted, or lower than average ingredient strengths.
This seal of approval is a guarantee that what you’re putting into your body is as claimed.
- Free of stimulants or gimmicks: Certain shakes will provide hidden amounts of caffeine. While caffeine can raise metabolism slightly, it may also lead to side effects and the body quickly creates a tolerance. Cheap stimulants of other forms are sometimes added to help boost metabolism. This is not need however and it’s potentially dangerous.
- Free of soy: Soy is one of the most often genetically modified or GMO crops available today. It’s also been shown to potentially increase estrogen, reduce mineral absorption, and in some cases lead to a risk for gout.
Soy does have all the essential amino acids, but it’s also a cheap vegetable protein which can potentially increase the risk for side effects.
- Total intake: Not all weight loss shakes recommend more than one serving a day. For some brands it’s recommended to limit oneself to just one shake a day, or to ask for the support of a medical provider to ensure one can safely replace 2 meals a day.
For those who want extra support it’s recommended to look at each shakes website and dosing recommendations, as they don’t often admit this fact even in the FAQ section.
What Kind of Protein Should Weight Loss Shakes Have?
Whey protein is one of the richest forms of protein available. Examine.com has this to say about whey:
“It is very useful for hitting targeted daily protein goals. Whey is absorbed faster than other forms of protein, which means it also increased muscle protein synthesis”
This is important for weight loss as increased muscle mass can help burn fat much easier than a body which does not have muscle. They continue to describe the benefits:
“appears to aid the process off fat loss during hypocaloric diets”
This means when you’re reducing calories, whey protein has been shown to aid in reducing overall fat.
A meal replacement shake diet provides many unique benefits and can be a healthy way to promote weight loss. However, selecting the right brand can be difficult as Web MD states:
“some are nothing more than glorified candy bars or high-calorie, sugar – based drinks”
They go on to say:
“Savvy marketing adds to the confusion as consumers try to sort through all the heavily hyped super-nutrition health claims”
The next section will go over which protein shakes for weight loss offer are the best overall in terms of quality and possible weight loss effects.
The Best Weight Loss Shakes
- 18Shake: Made with all natural ingredients and free of any soy based protein. It has a total of 90 calories per serving with just 1 gram of natural stevia as a sweetener. The website mentions how it can help make one feel full for about 2 to 3 hours.
They offer testimonials and customer reviews on their official website. The company makes their products in the US under a GMP certified facility.
Pros: Low in calories and high in protein and fiber. It’s also made with natural ingredients with no preservatives or fillers. Customers have rated it highly and exclaimed it can suppress appetite for hours, has a great taste, mixes with ease, and does not cause side effects.
A free eBook with a $20 dollar value is offered as well as no auto shipment program.
Testimonials are also offered from satisfied customers who have lost significant amounts of weight while experiencing improved overall health.
Cons: Only available online through different retailers and the official website and the company has been known to run out of shakes.
- Yoli Yes: Made with grass fed whey protein and offering 90 calories per serving. It contains the company’s patented LeanImmune formula, which is made up of natural ingredients to help support the immune system and to promote weight loss. Flavors include chocolate and vanilla.
They make Yoli Yes available in both small packets and in larger canisters.
Pros: Low in calories and sugar and made with a quality source of protein. Direct sales are also offered from the official website.
Cons: Expensive and some customers have complained about the sweet taste with some saying it’s much too artificial. It’s also slighter lower in protein than other meal replacement shakes. Judging from the nutrition facts label, it’s significantly lacking in many vitamins and minerals, with some not being added in any form.
- Isagenix: A total of 23 vitamins and minerals are added with a total of 240 calories per serving. The company uses their own patented mixture of protein from whey protein concentrate, milk protein concentrate, and low-heat nonfat dry milk.
Flavors include Creamy Dutch Chocolate, Creamy French Vanilla, and Strawberry Cream, all of them being free of gluten and soy. It claims to offer a superior form of nutrition while providing a full amount of amino acids.
Pros: There’s a high amount of protein and fiber at 24 grams and 8 grams per serving respectively. A full range of vitamins and minerals are also included. Both packets and canisters are offered depending on preference.
Cons: The calories are much higher than other weight loss shakes which can make weight loss more difficult. It also contains sugar from fructose at a total of 11 grams, making it exceptionally high. This can make it harder for people to lose weight, as fructose is recognized as being one of the worst sweeteners for overall health and weight.
- Ideal Protein: Available in chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla, this meal replacement shake is made primarily milk protein concentrate. Depending on the flavor the protein can range from 18 to 20 grams of protein.
There’s around 110 to 140 calories per serving depending on the flavor. These shakes are available in ready to drink versions and in packaged powders.
Pros: The majority of the ingredients come from the protein sources added, with only a small faction coming from flavoring additives and thickeners. There’s also a lower amount of calories in comparison to the competition.
Cons: There are 2 forms of artificial sweeteners added such as sucralose and acesulfame potassium which may increase the risk for side effects. While the protein content is high, it also comes from cheap sources which can be replaced for a reduced cost.
- Vega One: This uses a mixture of pea protein and hemp protein with vegetables to create a vegan friendly meal replacement shake. It’s described as an All-In-One nutritional shake and it’s available in 8 flavors.
It also has a wide assortment of different vitamins and minerals while being gluten free and GMO free. One of the few meal replacement shakes to contain things like marine algae, goji berry, chlorella, and grape seed extract.
Pros: Available in many stores, contains 50% of the required vitamins and minerals, and is free of gluten and soy. It’s also low-glycemic so it won’t create a spike in blood sugar. The company also uses renewable practices to ensure that they have a limited impact on the environment.
Cons: Due to it being vegan based protein it’s likely to be lacking in certain amino acids. They also fail to add the amino acid content which is a red flag. Many customers have left negative reviews on the flavor, texture, and overall cost. It also has a high amount of calories at 170 per serving, which can make weight loss difficult.
Protein shakes for weight loss can help provide many well-rounded benefits to overall health while providing a satisfying meal. There are many considerations one must take into account before selecting weight loss shakes. Not all are created equal and there are different pros and cons to each one.
The right protein powder for weight loss can offer an easy to make, satisfying, and nutritious meal while helping to support weight loss.
They can be a convenient source of nutrition which is exactly what’s needed when one is starting off a diet. There’s no need for rigid or unsatisfying meals which can give one the impression that a weight loss diet is difficult.
The standard of fad diets, yo-yo diets, or extreme caloric deprivation with hunger pains is no longer an issue with protein shakes for weight loss.
Nutritionists know that in order to achieve weight loss one has to:
- Ensure they’re burning or receiving less than they take in over time.
- Subtracting 200 to 500 calories to promote weight loss results which is recognized as a safe limit that won’t be too extreme to follow. Weight loss shakes make it easier to meet this goal by proving satisfying fiber and protein to suppress appetite, while not requiring one to eat boring meals or having to starve oneself.
One can significantly reduce their overall caloric intake by replacing just one meal replacement a day. This is why meal replacement shakes have become so popular. They are a much easier way to lose weight without any strict diet plan that can be difficult or unsatisfying to follow.