Want to lose weight fast? Meal replacements may be just the answer
A meal in a shake, bottle or powder form – can anything be simpler?
Once used mostly by athletes, meal replacements are now the smart choice for anyone who needs their nutrition on the go.
A meal replacement is a food, often in bar, bottle or powder (usually mixed with fluid into a porridge or shake) form. It contains all the essential macronutrients, namely carbohydrates, protein and fats, as well as vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Fast and efficient weight loss
When paired with a VLCD (very low calorie diet) and an exercise programme, meal replacements can spur fast weight loss. Eating a varied diet with a lower energy content will assist in weight loss, while regular exercise will also reduce the amount of energy available to your body for fat formation.
In a series of trials at the UCLA’s Centre for Human Nutrition, participants were placed on a diet plan of no more than 1,000 calories a day for a specific time. Research results from the programme showed weight loss ranging from 50 (22kg) to 250 pounds (113kg), depending upon the patients’ initial weight.
VLCDs work through “ketosis” – a process that prompts the body to burn stored fat for energy while taking in a limited amount of calories per day. It must be noted that a VLCD works best in short bursts as a means to incentivise fast weight loss. For the long term, however, you need a more balanced nutritional programme.
How meal replacements help you lose weight
1. There’s no mess, fuss or thinking involved – a meal replacement is a readymade meal with the calorie count all worked out. South African dietician, Lara de Santana says, “For weight loss specifically, a meal replacement is an energy-controlled substance, the portions are pre-packaged, and it may provide other functional ingredient benefits such as a low GI formulation and high fibre content.”
2. What you see is what you get. There are no lurking calories. When you combine a meal replacement with your handy meal plan and recipe guide, you know exactly how many calories you’re consuming for the day and can set weight loss goals.
3. Studies show that meal replacements are effective. In the Journal of Nutrition, researchers report that meal replacements were just as effective for weight loss as conventional diets. They also found that participants who used meal replacements were more positive about their dieting in general, and they rated their eating plan highly for convenience compared to those on the “regular food” diet plan.
4. Convenience is key with meal replacements. Simply take your replacement with you if you’re travelling or not at your desk for meals.
5. Losing weight tends to be a challenge when we have to “police” our diets by exhaustively counting calories. Meal replacements teach us moderation and essential tools like portion control and nutrient information.