Q: I’ve been told meal replacement shakes are helpful for losing weight because they are portion-controlled and nutritionally-balanced, while controlling my kilojoule intake. What do you think?
A meal replacement program can be an effective strategy for quickly losing a large amount of weight in a short period of time. It can be useful if you’re overweight by a large amount or if you have other health issues that come along with carrying excess weight (such as diabetes or heart disease) and you’ve tried changing your lifestyle (what you eat and how much you exercise) without success.
The key to weight loss success with meal replacements is working with your GP or an accredited practising dietitian. They will help you work out if a meal replacement program is right for you, and if so, which type, as there are different programs, with higher or lower total energy intakes over the day.
Also, consider that over the long term, meal replacement programs are no more effective than reducing your total food intake for weight loss. This suggests they may be difficult to follow over a longer period of time. While meal replacements are nutritionally balanced in that they provide adequate protein and key vitamins and minerals, none of them are a complete substitute for the abundance of phytonutrients (think antioxidants) and fermentable fibres found naturally in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, and wholegrain breads and cereals.
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