Why Meal Replacements?
Meal Replacements are usually drinks, similar to milkshakes, and instead of chowing down on a 'rabbit food' salad for lunch, you just have one of these shakes. People see meal replacements as an easy way of losing weight. For some people, this may be true. Since your having meal replacements, you are consuming less calories so therefore can lose weight. But is this sustainable weight loss?
I could make anyone lose weight by starving them. But as soon as they started eating again the weight would pile back on and often they can end up weighing more than before they lost the weight.
Whole Food vs Meal Replacements
Meal replacements don't always contain less calories than a normal meal you could make yourself. So, eating whole foods could be more effective at helping you lose weight. Also, they have much more volume than a meal replacement drink meaning you will feel more satisfied and stay fuller for longer.
Meal Replacement Chicken and Broccoli
Calories 230 186
Sugar 21g 2g
Protein 15g 32g
This shows that less calories can be consumed if we ate a meal consisting of chicken and broccoli. Although this may be a very boring and plain meal it also means that meal replacement shakes are not the best option and not even necessary.
Having whole foods also means that there is a lot less sugar been ingested. Sugar causes blood sugar levels to rise and for incoming calories to be stored away, usually as fat. This then means we quickly get hungry again. If you don't feel full after a meal you may end up snacking and then the small number of calories you ate quickly rises.
The protein content in the whole foods is also much higher. Protein is the hardest macro nutrient (carbohydrates, fats and protein) to store as fat. It also has a very high satiety value, meaning you will feel fuller for longer after eating protein. This will help you stop snacking and keep you from feeling hungry.
What can I do instead?
I know chicken and broccoli doesn't sound the most appetizing meal ever made and I'm not saying that is all you should eat. Most of the time, making your own food instead of buying pre-made meals will cut out a lot of the unnecessary calories anyway. Aiming to have a good source of protein on your plate along with nutritious vegetables is a recipe for a perfect, healthy meal.