It has been proven that you can use meal replacements to lose weight effectively, but they aren't right for everyone.
Meal replacements can help you to lose weight quickly, but they aren't an ideal long-term solution.
Although using meal replacements to lose weight is controversial, they've been shown to work. In a 2010 study, participants were put on either a standard low-calorie diet or a low-calorie diet that was enhanced with high-protein food replacement supplements. At the end of 12 months, the participants who used the food replacement supplements had lost more weight and less muscle mass than the participants on the regular low-calorie diet. If you want to lose weight meal replacement shakes can be a short-term solution that helps you shed fat without also losing muscle.
Shopping for and cooking balanced, healthy meals can be a time-consuming endeavor. Moreover, since they usually involve fresh ingredients with minimal preservatives, they can spoil easily and be difficult to transport. Switching to a full meal replacement diet can help you lose weight without spending hours preparing fresh, healthy meals. The supplements that you take with a total meal replacement diet are also highly portable foods like bars and shakes, so you can have a filling meal on the go without having to lug around a salad bowl and fork in your bag.
Sometimes, you make plans to start a diet and fill up your refrigerator with all kinds of healthy foods, but then you put too much butter and sour cream on your baked potato or serve yourself portions that are too large, and your beautifully planned diet program becomes a bust. When you're trying to lose weight meal replacement diets can help by doing all that meal planning for you. If you're on a total meal replacement diet, you don't need to carefully measure every ounce of Parmesan you sprinkle on your spaghetti or weigh your pork chops on a food scale before cooking them. You just follow the diet meal replacement plan and watch the pounds fall away.
Not all meal replacement supplements are created equal. Some give you everything you need for a balanced diet; others are low on crucial vitamins and minerals and can leave you feeling malnourished. If meal replacements to lose weight are too low in calories, fat, protein, or other substances that help you feel full, you may feel so famished after drinking one that you just end up binge-eating unhealthy snacks, completely undercutting the purpose of your meal replacement diet.
The very advantage of convenience and meal planning can also be a serious drawback for using meal replacement to lose weight. If you're on a traditional diet, you'll eventually learn how to prepare those healthy, well-balanced meals for yourself. If you're on a meal replacement diet, though, you won't learn those skills and risk regaining all of the weight that you lost as soon as you go off the diet.
This can be especially difficult if you're only on a partial meal replacement diet. Although a full meal replacement diet takes care of all your meals, some of the meal replacement plans on the market require that you eat "sensible snacks" or "a sensible dinner." If you're on one of these meal replacement plans, you can get into some serious trouble when it's time to cook for yourself. If your meal replacements leave you hungry, you might overeat when it comes time for you to cook for yourself. If you don't carefully educate yourself about how to prepare healthy meals, you might make yourself something that you think is "a sensible dinner" but is actually a calorie bomb, like a salad drenched with too much dressing.
If you're looking for a short-term way to jump-start your diet meal replacement supplements can be incredibly helpful, but it isn't clear if they have side effects that make them dangerous for long-term use. Many weight loss supplements include large amounts of protein to help you feel full without adding extra fat. The trouble is that consuming too much protein over the long term can lead to kidney disease, diabetes, and even prostate cancer. You aren't likely to become cripplingly ill if you just use protein shakes for a few weeks to kick your diet into gear, but if you adopt meal replacements as a lifelong dieting strategy, you'll be making yourself a guinea pig in the study of meal replacement safety.
If you're a foodie at heart, using meal replacements to lose weight may not work for you simply because you'll end up missing a wide variety of foods. Just as food replacements vary in nutritional quality, they can also vary in taste, with some of them being delicious and others having an unpleasant chalky or metallic aftertaste. If you end up stuck with a food repertoire that you dislike, you'll end up ignoring your meal replacements and reverting to your previous eating habits, which won't help you lose weight if you haven't learned to prepare nutritionally balanced meals.
Even if you love the taste of your meal supplements, however, you can still end up ditching them a week into the diet if there is a narrow variety of flavors that eventually leaves you bored. If you're tempted by a meal replacement diet, think about whether you'd really be okay with eating or drinking the same thing every day for a few weeks.