Sometimes, it seems like everyone you know is on a health and fitness kick, which brings along a constant stream of product and service recommendations.
But if you decide to start taking better care of your health and are intending to lose weight with the help of healthy meal replacement shakes, don’t just purchase the first one you find or have recommended to you. There are lots of types of weight loss shakes out there – and what’s right for someone else, may well not be right for you.
The most common issue with those looking to lose weight through the use of weight loss shakes – but ultimately failing at it – is that what’s actually being consumed is misunderstood. This is often as a result of buying into misleading marketing spiel and committing one of the easily made mistakes during the decision process.
Here, we investigate the most common misconceptions around meal replacement weight loss shakes – so read on and ensure that you don’t fall into these traps too!
1. Getting Sucked into Rapid Weight Loss Claims
The real test of health and wellbeing products, particularly when used for weight loss, is time. Everybody is different, so it’s a physical impossibility to ever claim that any product can reach a set goal in a set amount of time. The truth is, that no two people will ever react to a weight loss shake in exactly the same way!
Cheap meal replacement shakes that claim rapid weight loss often yield unsustainable results from a long-term perspective. The initial weight lost is usually merely ‘water weight’. The human body’s weight is made up of about 70% water, but in the context of fitness and weight loss, ‘water weight’ refers to water stored in cells. This water sticks to a protein called glycogen, which some shakes aim to deplete and not replenish. Whilst this results in extremely fast weight loss (10lbs in a week isn’t unheard of), once the glycogen is gone, it’s gone, so the rate of loss can’t continue. To make it worse, glycogen stores are quickly replaced – so if you were to consume just one carbohydrate-rich meal, the weight will be back on.
On top of this, water weight isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Athletes and sportspeople need to maintain water weight reserves so that they’re well fueled for activity. The same applies for gym-goers – so if you’re supplementing your healthy diet with gym sessions, holding onto your water weight is actually a benefit.
So, what’s the take home? Don’t buy into any marketing hype that claims you can expect to see speedy and drastic weight loss as a result of supplementary meal replacement shakes. It’s unhealthy, unrealistic and unsustainable – slow and steady wins the healthy weight-loss game every time.
2. Assuming that Natural and Organic Mean the Same Thing
The words ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ have positive health connotations, but in the context of the British food and drink industry, they can potentially mean very different things.
There is no legally binding definition of ‘natural’ on food labelling, but there is for ‘organic’. The UK Government Department for Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) states that organic food or drink must be “the product of a farming system which avoids the use of man-made fertilisers, pesticides; growth regulators and livestock feed additives”, so those producing or selling consumables with this on the label can only do so if these requirements are actually met.
Where a product’s ingredients don’t quite match up to the legal definition of ‘organic’, the word ‘natural’ is often used instead. With no strict definition to live up to, brands have entirely free reign to use the word as they see fit – so as you can imagine, this can end up being rather misleading.
If in doubt, it’s best to opt for a weight loss shake that claims to be organic over one that says it’s natural.
For more information about natural weight loss shakes, check out our in-depth guide to natural shakes for weight loss.
3. Believing that Vegan Shakes are Always Inferior
With the number of those following a vegan diet quadrupling over the last five years, the health and nutrition benefits of veganism are up for debate and discussion often.
Most people looking for a meal replacement shake associate the consumption of them with high levels of protein. To non-vegans, of course, this is usually consumed through eating animal products. As a result, a popular misconception is that weight loss shakes containing animal products or derivatives are superior to vegan blends. However, this is simply not the case.
A well-rounded vegan meal replacement shake should contain a good protein and amino acid profile. This can be achieved both with and without the inclusion of animal products – and if anything, the creators of vegan meal replacement shakes have to try a bit harder to reach this balance, so you can be sure they’ve worked at it and found the perfect blend!
For more information on vegan shakes, check out our guide on vegan meal replacement shakes.
The 100% Nutribuddy Shake Complete, for example, contains rice, pea and hemp protein, providing 7g of protein and a great amino acid profile – with no animal products whatsoever!
4. Picking a Protein Shake to Replace Meals
A quick search on the internet for meal replacement shakes brings up a whole range of similar products, including protein shakes. Protein shakes and meal replacement shakes are different things – but this isn’t always obvious amongst the jargon used by fitness professionals and on brand websites.
Weight loss shakes are dietary supplements used to replace a meal a day with a nutritionally complete beverage that normally contains fewer calories than a solid meal would have done. Cutting back on your calorific intake over time results in weight loss and is particularly efficient when used in conjunction with an active, healthy lifestyle, other well-balanced meals and some exercise.
While protein shakes are also dietary supplements, they’re intended as an additional consumption to complement the user’s regular diet. This additional protein helps promote muscle growth, so is ideal for those attending the gym or bodybuilding to bulk up. Protein shakes are not nutritionally complete, so whilst they could, in theory, replace a meal, it’s not healthy to replace more than 1 meal per day with them. Replacing 2-3 meals with a protein shake rather than a nutritionally complete meal replacement shake could actually result in weight gain alongside nutritional deficiency in other vitamins and minerals.
If you do want to use a protein shake, such as the Nutribuddy High-Protein Sculpting Shake, for breakfast or lunch, it would be beneficial to blend it with a piece of fruit and perhaps some chia or flax seeds for increased fibre, vitamin and mineral value.
5. Relying on Shakes and Failing to Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes
There is no miracle cure to being overweight, nor any healthy way to drop pounds of body weight quickly. In truth, it can be difficult, but the slog is well worth it for the end result.
The results of a meal replacement weight loss shake are far better, and more sustainable when complemented with a healthy lifestyle. You can spend all the money in the world on surgeries, pills, shakes and other consumables, but nothing will work if you regularly wash it down with a burger, fries and hours of lazing on the sofa.
If you’re stuck in unhealthy habits, change one thing at a time and make the introduction of meal replacement weight loss shakes the first change. Ensure the meals you consume around the shake are healthy and well-balanced and commit to regular exercise, even if it’s just a few minutes each day.
Building a healthy lifestyle takes time but is the only way to sustain weight loss and a healthy physique. Work hard and think long term – if you want the weight off forever, you’ll have to stick to the changes forever, too. Don’t restrict yourself of your favourite foods altogether (a cheat day is good for the soul!), but do commit to balance.
6. Thinking it’s Healthy to Replace 3 Meals per Day
When you see how few calories weight loss shakes contain compared to your usual meals, it can be tempting to up your consumption of them and substitute more than one meal a day. This may seem like common sense, and may well speed up your initial weight-loss, but it’s actually a bad idea in the long run.
Weight loss shakes are only intended as a dietary supplement and not as whole nutrition. They’re designed to reduce your calorie intake gradually, without crashing to an unhealthy level that can cause the body to dehydrate or even go into shock.
Replacing two or three meals a day with a meal replacement weight loss shake rather than just one has a few obvious effects – the first of which, is increased urination. Whilst it may seem like a handy detox, your body is already capable of peeing out what it needs to, so you don’t need to test it further. What does need to be continuously used, however, is your digestive system – and over-reliance on beverages over solid food long-term is not conducive to good gut health.
Your body needs solid food as well as drinks to fuel it. Don’t replace more than 2 meals per day with meal replacement shakes and make sure to enjoy home-cooked, healthy meals whenever you have the time – or simply fancy a change!
7. Focusing on Marketing Rather than the Ingredients List
As a feature in an ever-competitive and rapidly growing market, weight loss shakes frequently find themselves subject to new claims and USPs (unique selling points) as a way to shift them from the shelves and line company’s pockets.
Nonetheless, meal replacement shakes are important products. You’re drinking them in good faith and expect a positive impact on your health by doing so – making it imperative to actually understand what it is that you’re consuming.
The proof of the pudding is in the ingredients list. If you’re not a nutritionist and are new to the world of nutrition, food labelling isn’t always the easiest to decipher – but as a rough guide, you should be looking for organic ingredients that you recognise the names of and understand.
Ideally, you’re looking for something with less than 400 calories per serving which provides complete nutrition from whole food sources alone. If you can, avoid anything which is overly artificial – you’ll be able to spot this by reading an ingredients list packed with unpronounceable items.
It doesn’t matter what the advert says – the only words you should believe are the ingredients on the packet.
Weight Loss Shake Mistakes: Final Thoughts
As with anything health-related, unless you’re a professional, it’s difficult to know what makes fact or fiction when it comes to meal replacement weight loss shakes. The internet is full of conflicting reviews and articles, which definitely doesn’t make your decision to start using weight loss shakes any easier.
When searching for the perfect weight loss shake, your best tactic is to never assume anything about them. For example, just because vegan shakes contain different protein to non-vegan shakes, doesn’t mean they’re inferior. Just because protein shakes sound healthy it doesn’t mean they’re the dietary supplement you need. Just because something claims to be natural, it’s not necessarily healthy!
There is a minefield of misconceptions and misinformation to navigate and, unluckily for you, you’re at the helm before you even get started on the shakes. The only way to ensure accuracy and fact is to thoroughly research your meal replacement weight loss shake blend and thoroughly analyse its nutritional values and ingredients. If you’re unsure of anything regarding the product, it’s always best to speak to your doctor, nutritionist or dietician.
Ultimately, when it comes to something that will impact your health, there’s no compromise that can be considered acceptable. Choose quality over quantity and always put yourself first – you are unique, and your shake blend needs to be suited to your lifestyle, goals and routine.
If you’re currently searching for your perfect weight loss shake, make sure to check out the Nutribuddy vegan meal replacement bundle. It contains 3 delicious, natural (and we mean it!), wholefood vegan shakes which are low in calories but jam-packed with delicious nutrients to keep your feeling full, fit and healthy.