Open any magazine, and you’ll see full-page ads for SlimFast, and Special K meal replacement shakes. Log on to Facebook, and you will see your friends mentioning their sales of Plexus, Shakeology, and Herbalife.
Essentially, each of these brands boils down to the same concept: drink a shake instead of eating a regular meal, and you will lose weight. It seems simple enough, but as with all things, there are benefits and drawbacks to taking this approach.
To help decide if meal replacement shakes are right for you, here is our list of pros and cons for you to consider.
They’re Great if You’re Always in a Hurry
For many people, the biggest obstacle to eating right is time. If you work 12-hour shifts, or you’re trying to keep up with your kids’ sports schedules, or just have too many responsibilities on your plate, the thought of standing at your counter and carefully chopping vegetables seems ridiculous.
Meal replacement shakes cut through all of these issues by offering you a calorie-controlled and nutritionally balanced meal substitute that you can toss into a purse or backpack.
They Can Actually Help Boost Short-Term Weight Loss
Assuming you stick to the plan religiously, replacing one or two meals with a weight loss shake can create a calorie deficit. Keep this up for long enough, and weight will begin to come off. If you are about a month out from a big event like a wedding or a family reunion, meal replacement shakes might help you drop a bit of extra weight before then.
Easy Calorie Counting
Even though calorie counting apps offer amazing features like barcode scanning and even photo recognition, these features mean nothing if you forget to use them. For many people, the issue with calorie counting is being absentminded rather than anything else. However, weight loss shakes can help make calorie counting very easy for at least one or two of your meals each day.
No Chance of Straying
If you are committed to the plan, and you know you’ll be having a shake each day for breakfast, there’s no chance of messing that up. No more questions like “Did I put skim milk or half-and-half in my coffee?” Or, “Wait, does this have cheese in it?”
Preservatives, Added Sugar, and Other Potential Problem Ingredients
To successfully navigate the world of weight loss shakes, you will need to become an expert label reader. For instance, two different shakes could have drastically different sodium contents, and if you have blood pressure concerns, you will definitely want to choose the lower of the two. Other sneaky ingredients to look out for are chemical preservatives, added sugars, and too many carbohydrates.
They Can Be Expensive
A single slice of toast and a piece of fruit for breakfast may cost cents, but a meal replacement shake for breakfast could be costing you an extra $2.5 per day – or an extra $75+ per month! Take cost into consideration when deciding on dietary options, and do some price comparisons.
They’re Not Very Satisfying
Weight loss shakes may be easy and convenient, but they are not always satisfying. After a week or two, you may be dying to sink your teeth into something substantial, and you may not always make the right choice. Some people report feeling extremely deprived while on these plans and if this becomes an issue for you, you may want to consider other alternatives.
They Don’t Teach You to Make Healthy Food Choices
You know you’ll stay on course for breakfast and lunch, because all you have to do is drink a shake. But what happens if you forget to pack your shake one day? What happens if you’re meeting a friend for lunch?
Becoming overly reliant on shakes can leave you not knowing how to make the right choices. Although traditional diets are more complicated, they do help you learn more about portion control and nutrition.
Hopefully this list will help you put a few things into perspective. To start, try replacing three or four meals per week with a shake, and see how you do. Just remember to check labels, keep track of calories where you can, and make more healthy choices than unhealthy ones, and you will be on the right track.