Meal replacement shakes are a fantastic dietary supplement for those looking to lose weight, ensure their nutritional balance is correct or just keep themselves healthy on a busy schedule – because, let’s face it – time doesn’t always allow for home-cooked meals.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that you could just pick up any meal replacement shake straight off the supermarket shelf or order whatever flavour you liked the sound of online. But realistically, there are now so many different types of shakes on the market, that you need to find one that will work for you specifically.
Finding the right meal replacement shake can be a challenge – so whatever you do, make sure you don’t make one of these 7 rookie meal replacement shake mistakes:
1. Natural Doesn’t Always Mean Healthy
No matter what the industry, marketers and brands like to claim that their product is ‘natural’. It’s not hard to see why – the word alone just sounds good and automatically conjures up an image of sheer health.
But when it comes to products, it’s difficult to know what it truly means – especially as the legislation around the usage of the word differs from country to country. In the UK, the term ‘natural’, when used on a food or drink product, usually refers to the ingredients within. Whilst they don’t have to be organically-grown (many people get these two terms confused), the ingredients used must have been grown rather than created.
However, there seems to be a discrepancy in what then happens with these natural materials in the process of creating a meal replacement shake. Most ingredients require some degree of processing to make them into a liquid or powder, which is how meal replacement shakes are most commonly presented. To claim that a shake is ‘natural’, however, it should have undergone as little processing as possible, to keep the ingredients as close to their original state as possible.
The issue here is that no rules are set in stone, so some manufacturers use the ‘natural’ term in their marketing and on their packaging, even in cases where just one of the ingredients included isn’t artificial. In fact, they can still use this term when natural ingredients have been processed to within an inch of their lives – and believe us when we say this is common!
The ambiguity does make selecting a natural meal replacement shake difficult, but it’s important to keep the big picture in mind – does natural always mean healthy? Not necessarily. There are plenty of natural occurrences which aren’t positive – for example, plenty of natural ingredients are naturally very high in sugar.
However, genuinely natural products made with wholefoods are a fantastic choice. Ultimately, it all comes down to keeping your eye on the details. Ingredients lists come in quantity order from highest to lowest, so scan through the first few listed and make sure that they’re things you’re happy to consume a lot of – even if they are au-naturel!
However, genuinely natural products made with wholefoods, such as the Nutribuddy Breakfast Shake, are a fantastic choice. Ultimately, it all comes down to keeping your eye on the details. Ingredients lists come in quantity order from highest to lowest, so scan through the first few listed and make sure that they’re things you’re happy to consume a lot of – even if they are au-naturel!
2. Rapid Weight Loss Isn’t Healthy or Sustainable
It’s totally possible to see rapid weight loss as a result of substituting your food intake with weight loss shakes. But in most cases, such rates of loss are unsustainable – and even if they could be maintained, may be bad in terms of long-term health.
Sometimes, unethical meal replacement shake products contain senna leaves or laxatives in the promise of fast and significant weight loss. And the truth is, consuming laxatives will make you rapidly drop in weight – but it’s only water weight. Water weight is lost when your body’s energy source is depleted due to a lack of calories, so instead it consumes glycogen, which is stored in your liver. Each gram of glycogen is bound by up to four grams of water, so it burns that off along with it. However, there’s only so much glycogen in the body, so as other molecules begin to burn off, it takes longer for the loss to become apparent and any water weight is almost immediately regained once laxatives are stopped and food is consumed.
Losing weight fast can be dangerous health-wise, too. Risks include enforced malnutrition, an increased chance of developing gallstones and lethargy. Those using crash diet methods such as laxatives or super low calorie regimens to lose weight quickly may also affect their metabolic rates, inadvertently dehydrate themselves, unbalance their electrolytes and even induce hair loss and muscle wastage – none of which are good for the body or mind!
The key to healthy weight loss through meal replacement shakes is maintaining a steady rate of loss to reach your goal – and then sticking to it.
3. Sugar-Free Isn’t Always Best
When embarking on a health and fitness journey and a new nutrition plan, you’re instantly bombarded with a multitude of promises, jargon and dietary features to fit with your needs and help you achieve your objectives.
One of the most popular diet ‘trends’ at the moment is sugar-free dietary supplements and meal replacement shakes. But, despite their popularity, they may not always be as healthy as they sound.
If a product goes completely sugar-free, it’s bound to lack the sweetness in flavour which modern day consumers expect. This, for the most part, means that artificial sweeteners are added in their place to give an enjoyable taste whilst not raising the body’s blood sugar level. Manmade, synthetic sweeteners cause the body to react in a different way than it does to natural sugars.
In the UK, seven artificial sweeteners are approved for use in food and drink:
- Acesulfame K
Whilst these particular sweeteners are considered safe for consumption, opinions and studies vary widely when it comes to their health benefits and/or risks. Clinical trials carried out in the US have shown that people who regularly consume sweeteners are likely to replace the calories they’re not taking in by, instead, indulging in more calorific foods at other times. There’s also concern that ongoing usage of such ingredients can ‘trick’ the body and mind into disassociating calorific intake with sweet flavourings.
The body needs a safe amount of daily sugar intake and, for the most part, natural sugars are the best way to meet this need. However, the natural sweetener Stevia is widely considered the safest and healthiest artificial sweetener on the market. Consider this and the impact of non-natural sugars on your body when choosing the best meal replacement shake for you.
4. Organic Is Important
If you’re taking the time to research into the nutrition and nourishment that healthy meal replacement shakes can give you, then you’re already on the right path to seek out and adopt a healthier lifestyle. When doing so, it will become apparent that wholefoods and organic ingredients are the most beneficial thing that you can choose to consume.
There are less available ranges of organic meal replacement shakes than there are those containing cheap artificial ingredients and they’re often more expensive (organic ingredients cost more to purchase and process than synthetic ones). However, there are considerable health benefits to consuming organic vs non-organic foods.
Organic foods must be grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and growth agents, so you can be sure that you’re not inadvertently consuming any chemicals you wouldn’t choose to. There’s also more naturally occurring antioxidants in organically-grown food (in some cases, up to 20%!) and up to 50% more omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy, positive fats.
Organic ingredients really give your healthy shake an extra boost of positive health benefits, so if you can afford to purchase organic meal replacement shakes, they’re definitely worth the investment.
5. Vegan Meal Replacement Shakes are not Inferior to Non-Vegan Meal Replacement Shakes
The growth in veganism and demand for vegan products is believed to have increased 987% in the 5 years up to 2017; so it’s clear to see why the amount of vegan meal replacement shakes on the market has increased. There are now hundreds, if not thousands, of meal replacement shakes that are completely free from animal products available.
The vegan diet, and therefore vegan meal replacement shakes, are often subject to a misconception that it lacks in protein, which is associated heavily with meat intake. This means that many people consider vegan meal replacement shakes an inferior product compared to non-vegan meal replacement shakes – but actually, sometimes the opposite is true!
It’s true that those following a vegan diet need to consume protein as anyone else does – but without eating or drinking animal products, it simply needs to be consumed from different sources. This means that, unlike non-vegan meal replacement shakes that are often found to ‘bulk out’ their blends with a single protein ingredient, vegan shakes are more likely to contain a variety of plant proteins. These plant protein combinations are perfectly capable of providing the body with all nine essential amino acids whilst also being 100% vegan and cruelty-free – win win!
All Nutribuddy products, including the meal-in-a-shake Shake Complete, are 100% vegan and cruelty-free yet pack a real nutritional punch.
6. Protein Isn’t Everything!
Protein shakes are often confused with meal replacement shakes, but ultimately, they are two completely separate things which will yield significantly different results. Unless you’re looking for an entirely protein-based product, there’s a lot more to take into account when replacing an entire meal.
The whole point of a meal replacement shake is that it works as a dietary supplement: substituting a full food meal with a beverage which is expertly balanced for maximum nutrition. To maintain a balanced diet, protein is just one component required in a meal – and even then, the intake only needs to be modest. A perfectly comprised meal replacement shake will contain protein, but not just protein. You should be looking for an ingredients list with a healthy balance of carbohydrates, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein. This way all the nutrients your body needs are included, meaning a shake can make a wholesome substitute for sitting down and eating a meal.
If you are looking for a great quality protein shake, whether it’s to ease your afternoon cravings or to boost your fitness results, the high-protein vegan sculpting shake from Nutribuddy might be your perfect match.
7. Detox is a Flawed Concept
Before it was commandeered for use by the health and wellbeing industries, the word ‘detox’ was used in medical circles only; to describe ridding the body of illness, infection, virus, antibodies, allergens, pathogens or other dangerous substances. Now, the term is regularly used to describe a period of purging toxins from the body through a limited period of diet. Such cleanses are no longer medical in nature, and usually include ‘do it yourself’ programmes to be carried out at home, without the supervision of anyone medically qualified.
But the concept of a DIY detox is a flawed one. Unless the body has taken in a toxin that it needs rid of in order to maintain health or eliminate the risk of an emergency, it is designed to defend itself against negative intake. A healthy adult immune system is able to detect and expel any negative forces pretty quickly, rendering a ‘detox’ for anything else completely unnecessary. Indeed, using products aimed at stimulating such a detox could inadvertently purge the body of vitamins, minerals, electrolytes or other materials that it needs to stay healthy – which is, of course, the opposite of the desired health effect.
There is very little scientific or clinical evidence to demonstrate ‘detox’ products removing toxins from the body, at least, any more efficiently than could be done by a healthy liver anyway. Whilst amending your diet with a detoxification product may make you feel more alert and energetic, it’s far more likely to be a mere reflection on your previous (lacking) nutrition.
You’ll find a multitude of medical terms, promises and jargon used in the marketing of meal replacement shakes and other healthy nutrition products, but try not to get drawn in. There’s simply no substitute for good research and developing a thorough understanding of the products you’re choosing to consume in order to make an informed and practical purchase decision.
Ultimately, no one knows your body better than you, so ensure you’re entirely comfortable with your choice before you buy and start to amend your habits. And, always remember, weight loss claims aside: nothing matters more than your health!
If you’re on the hunt for a nutritious, natural (legitimately, this time!) and balanced meal replacement shakes, take a peek at the Nutribuddy Grab ‘N’ Go Goody Box. It contains our best-selling, 100% organic Breakfast Shake and our protein-packed Shake Complete as part of a money-saving bundle.