Authored by Victor Roffel in Weight Issues
Published on 09-07-2009
Meal replacements have been getting a lot of notice lately. Some people have good reviews about using meal replacement diets for weight loss. Some reported bad results and discontent. So what exactly are meal replacement diets and how do they work anyway?
Meal replacements are designed to replace whole food as a meal on its own. Depending on the brand, they give a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat which they believe is best for a person’s health needs. Most meal replacements are high in protein, moderate in carbohydrates and low in fat. They come mostly in liquid form as soup, shakes, puddings, etc. and are usually around 100-200 calories a meal.
Meal replacement diets come in many forms but the majority of these meal plans advise taking 2 meal replacement and 1 whole food meal a day. Some even recommend having 3 meal replacements a day with no whole food at all. The total calories consumed are drastically reduced so as to allow the body to burn fat.
Do meal replacement diets work?
Meal replacement diets do work when you make it individualized to you. The problem with meal replacement diets is that it is not addressed to solve the problem which you have. It is designed to address the problems in general and that alone may be counter-productive.
The total calories in meal replacement diets are usually less than 1000. This will no doubt allow you to lose weight but also muscle mass. When you lose lean muscle mass, your metabolism lowers and this results in less overall food you can consume when you get off the diet. Be smart and increase the frequency of the meals to 5-6 meals a day.
Quality of the brand is the most important factor in meal replacements. You have to make sure that what you’re buying has the proper amount of nutrients you need. For example, you should not buy meal replacements which are high in carbohydrates and low in protein. This destroys the purpose of a meal replacement. You see, carbohydrates which are not used are stored as fat and protein is needed to retain lean muscle mass while in a calorie deficit.
Choose brands which are trustworthy and have a good reputation among bodybuilders and fit people. They probably know what is best from first-hand experience. Having said that, you should aim for a meal replacement which is high in protein and fat while low in carbohydrates. Some brands even have BCAA and good quality protein in them. (Protein has its own quality based on effectiveness on building muscle)
Meal replacements are not magic. They will not allow you to lose weight miraculously without any effort. You should also know that whole foods is still better than meal replacements and you should not stay in a meal replacement diet for extended periods of time.
Meal replacements are very effective for weight loss. It depends on how you use it to your advantage by creating a diet plan suitable for your needs. Of course, do not expect to lose fat and gain muscle if you do not already have a consistent exercise or weight training plan.