Do Meal Replacement Plans Work?
Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet can be something of a challenge when you are also trying to balance the many demands of modern life. Making sure that you get all of the nutrition, vitamins, and minerals that you need to stay healthy can be tricky, and so a meal replacement option, such as a shake, is often an attractive alternative, but how healthy are these products? Can they help you to lose weight safely and sustainably? We have put together some advice to help you make an informed decision before you commit to parting with any hard-earned cash.
They Are Super Convenient
Most meal plan replacements come in the form of a shake, and this means they are super convenient to prepare and consume—perfect if you are trying to juggle weight loss and a chaotic lifestyle. You can often also prepare the shakes in advance, meaning you can be super organized and ready at any time. This convenience also makes you far more likely to stick to the plan in the long-term.
They Are Less Nutritious
Shakes and similar products may be more convenient, but research suggests that they offer far less nutritional benefit than a traditional solid diet which consists of whole foods. The latter can offer antioxidants, fiber, and other advantages which simply can’t be achieved through a meal replacement shake. It is essential to always supplement shakes with a low-calorie snack which is nutrient dense to help keep you healthy.
It Is Unsustainable
Weight loss on meal replacement shakes may be fast, but it is ultimately unsustainable in the long run. You will be unable to live the rest of your life this way, and it is likely that as soon as you start eating regularly, any weight lost will simply pile back on again.
For this reason, most experts would advise a total overhaul of your diet and lifestyle to have more long-term success. Learning how to follow a healthy, balanced diet, as well as regular exercise, will help you lose weight and keep it off in a more healthy, sustainable manner. Alternately, you can find both convenience and balance in meal delivery systems. Many offer a vast variety of taste profiles and styles. For instance, the South Beach diet recently added a Keto menu (source).
They Can Hide Disordered Eating
One of the main things to watch out for is the risk of disordered eating which can emerge from a meal replacement program. Sipping a shake is a great way to hide the fact that it is the only source of calories you have ingested all day, and this makes it an attractive prospect for those who may be struggling with disordered eating.
The emphasis on calories can also lead to an unhealthy mindset and bad habits, where the numbers are the only thing which matter. In truth, factors such as nutritional value and benefit are far more important than the number of calories contained, but this can provide a focus which may be unhealthy.
It can also be challenging to switch back to a normal diet after following a plan—the lack of structure and guidance can seem intimidating.