Why weight loss shakes aren’t a long term fix
Shake diets, or meal replacement shakes, can seem like the simple solution to achieving your weight loss goals. Lite n’ Easy dietitian Larissa Robbins explain why they are not.
We’ve all seen it, and possibly been tempted, by the huge claims of those ‘weight loss smoothies’ or meal replacement shakes. You know the ones: replace one or two (or even three) meals a day with a shake and you’ll lose kilo upon kilo and ‘burn off that gut fast’.
Shake diets, or meal replacement shakes, can seem like the simple solution to achieving your weight loss goals. But like all diets, they aren’t always as great as the advertising makes out. Here are a few reasons why:
They’re often very low in energy/Calories.
Although a very low-calorie diet can result in fast weight loss, it can also leave you feeling tired and lethargic and can result in a loss of muscle mass.
They don’t work long term.
They might be convenient, but replacing meals isn’t going to help you get a handle on how to eat in a healthy way so that you can maintain any weight loss for the long term.
They don’t teach healthy habits.
Replacing a meal with a shake does not build new healthy eating behaviours. What happens when you stop the shake? Most people revert back to old habits.
They aren’t as nutritious as ‘real food’.
A shake may contain added vitamins and minerals. But they often don’t contain enough fibre and lack any of the phytonutrients and antioxidants found in whole foods like fruit and vegetables.
They aren’t as satisfying or enjoyable as real food.
Two elements that are key when trying to lose weight. Meal replacement shakes miss the mark when it comes to the pleasure of eating. There’s no variety of tastes, textures and smells that come with real food which can lead you to feel hungry.
When you consume predominately liquids, the process of chewing and savouring the meal is lost. It takes about 20 minutes for your body to register fullness and if you are ‘drinking’ your meal than that sensation of fullness may not occur.
Whilst shakes might contain some beneficial nutrition, they are not designed to replace a healthy diet. To lose weight you need to eat sensibly around them and your other meals still need to be portion-controlled. Common brands will claim that there is ‘no calorie counting required’, however, the standard use of the shakes recommends a meal plan that is based on 2 shakes, 2 snacks, and 1 meal per day. To meet these requirements, snacks and meals need to be calorie-controlled to 150cal and 400cal respectively, which would require calorie counting skills regardless.
The ‘Fat burning’ qualities are also often overstated. There is no scientific evidence that any food or pharmaceutical-based formula can effectively burn fat on its own. The claims made by shakes or meal replacement programs are solely based on being in a calorie deficit which can be achieved by more enjoyable and sustainable measures.
Regaining the weight after it has been lost is one of the most common outcomes of meal replacement diets. In the early stages of rapid weight loss, the majority of change seen on the scales is actually only reflective of dehydration/water loss and minimal reduction in actual fat mass. This can be disheartening after transitioning back to a wholefoods and seeing the perceived ‘success’ be undone. This experience can lead to an unhealthy association between food and weight gain and perpetuate disordered eating habits.
Diets and nutritional goals are a very personal thing and should be well considered before making drastic changes. There is a time and a place for everything. For example, a health care professional may recommend a ‘very low energy diet’ using shakes prior to an operation with the intention of rapid weight loss to reduce surgical related risks. The take home message is to ensure you are well informed, not persuaded by good marketing but by facts that meet your individual needs.
When deciding on the right diet for you, you must ask yourself;
- Can I see myself following this for life?
- Will I enjoy this changed lifestyle long term?
- Can I see myself being successful in this program?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, then it is likely not going to help you achieve your health goals.
How can Lite n’ Easy help?
Variety and taste are the keys to losing weight and keeping it off. Lite n’ Easy offers portion-controlled weight loss meal plans on our chef-inspired seasonal menu, backed by expert dietitians. Enjoy the convenience of losing weight while enjoying delicious, healthy meals delivered to your door.
Visual results are important for motivation while on your weight loss journey. That’s why we created Jump Start, a 2-week meal plan combining intermittent fasting and a weight loss tracking app for great results.