Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Meal replacement (weight loss) shakes - the good, the bad and the ugly

In recent months, a few people close to me have decided to use meal replacement shakes for weight loss, which has sparked an interest in me to research whether this relatively simple and easy weight loss method is effective and whether the weight loss can be maintained even after 'normal' eating has resumed.

It seems obvious that drastically cutting your calorific intake for the day will elicit weight loss, but is this healthy losing weight so rapidly?

Okay, so lets break the advantages/disadvantages down into subsections to take a closer look at the impacts:

1. Weight Management
- More weight is lost per year with shakes than when using a reduced calorie diet
- Protein based shakes have been found to provide the most beneficial results

2. Nutrition
- Important nutritional components are absent in shakes e.g. antioxidants, vitamins and minerals

3. Convenience
- Shakes win hands down on convenience as they are easily prepared and can be consumed on the go

4. Continued Weight Loss
- Although weight is easily and rapidly lost when replacement 1-2 meals daily with a shake, as soon as you stop this weight loss strategy and return to 'normal' eating habits the weight lost is very easily re-gained
- The above weight gain (often resulting in yo-yo dieting) is due to a decrease in the metabolism when consuming shakes, which when your normal diet is resumed remains lower than usual, resulting in the body storing excess energy, and therefore storing excess fat
- Its not all doom and gloom though, weight re-gain can easily be avoided by ensuring a high protein diet and taking part in resistance based exercise

To sum it all up, if seriously considering using meal replacement shakes as a weight loss tool, I would recommend ensuring a healthy/balanced diet remains in conjunction and only using the method for short-term weight loss to avoid yo-yo dieting.