Although going on a calorie controlled diet and creating a calorie deficit by cutting down on your daily calorie intake is one of the best known dieting strategies, this may be easier said than done as a third of people simply underestimate just how much they eat by as many as 1,000 calories per day.
This is often due to confusion about portion sizes, mindless snacking and a lack of nutritional information on restaurant menus and takeaway food.
One of the best ways to avoid this common diet mistake is to swap one or two meals for meal replacement shakes. Because they’re low-calorie and packed with essential nutrients, diet shakes make it a lot easier for you to keep track of calories, create a calorie deficit and lose weight.
But what are the best meal replacement shakes for weight loss? Read on to find out.
What are Meal Replacement Shakes?
As the name suggests, these shakes are a substitute for one or more of your daily meals.
Often, they come in the form of a meal replacement powder for you to mix with water, milk or a milk substitute (such as almond milk) to make an easy on-the-go shake, usually instead of breakfast and/or lunch.
As well as being low in calories, fat, and sugar, these shakes are fortified with fibre, protein, vitamins, and minerals. These help to provide a balanced diet, maintain muscle mass and keep you feeling full whilst reducing your daily calorie intake.
If you’re wondering, ‘can a protein shake replace a meal?’, it’s important to understand the difference between meal replacement shakes and protein shakes.
Protein shakes are dietary supplements, helping to increase your protein intake and build muscle mass. They are often low in sugar and fat and can help form part of a weight loss programme. But they aren’t fortified with nutrients like meal replacement shakes are.
As such, if you’re looking for a way to consume fewer calories as part of a balanced diet, you should opt for meal replacement shakes over other weight management products.
How Meal Replacement Shakes Make Weight Loss Easier
Meal replacement shakes are low in calories, fat, and sugar. This makes them a convenient alternative to traditional dieting.
Although many diets try to over-complicate the science of weight loss, it is a simple case of calories in vs calories out. If you’re replacing a 400-calorie meal with a 90-calorie shake, it’s much easier to achieve a calorie deficit.
A busy lifestyle is the downfall of many dieters. As diet shakes are easy to prepare and drink, they’re ideal for lunch during a working day, or as a quick breakfast option in the morning.
This means dieters can avoid the time-consuming food prep involved in many traditional diets. And, diet shakes also make it easier to avoid resorting to takeaways and calorie-loaded lunches when you’re pushed for time.
Plus, since the best weight loss shakes are designed to provide the same nutrition as a full meal, they ensure your daily diet doesn’t lack any crucial vitamins and minerals.
Choosing the Best Meal Replacement Shakes for Weight Loss
Swapping one of your daily meals for a diet shake can promote weight loss as part of a balanced diet. But not all shakes are made equal. As such, you need to consider each of these individual factors to find the best shake for you:
The most important thing to consider is how many calories one serving of the meal replacement shake contains. Pay close attention to this because misleading nutritional labels can often trip up dieters. For example, some labels provide the calorie content for 15 g of a product, when the serving size is actually twice that.
The calorie content of one serving of your diet shake should ideally be less than 100 calories. This will make eating in a calorie deficit much easier.
Low Fat & Low Sugar
While many low-calorie items are also low-fat, they’re not always low in sugar. Since removing fat from foods like yoghurts can make foods taste bland, manufacturers often add sugar for extra flavour.
For a healthy, balanced diet you should limit your sugar intake to no more than 30 g of sugar per day. As such, by choosing a diet shake with as little sugar as possible, you can ensure that you don’t exceed this limit through the day.
Dairy & Gluten-Free
Depending on your dietary restrictions, it’s also important to consider what ingredients the diet shake contains.
Thankfully, it’s now more common for the best weight loss shakes to be gluten-free and dairy-free. This gives vegans more choice while also making it easier for dieters with sensitive stomachs to avoid dairy and gluten.
If you’re replacing one or two meals per day with a diet shake, it’s important that the shake you choose contains a good amount of protein.
Protein is essential to maintain and build muscle mass, ensuring that the weight you lose is fat rather than precious lean muscle. Protein also helps you feel full, and it contributes to the maintenance of normal bones for a healthy body.
The recommended daily protein intake is 55 g a day for men and 45 g for women, meaning around 15 to 18 g of protein per meal. If your meal replacement shake is within this range then it’s a great source of low-calorie protein, making it ideal for weight loss.
Packed with Nutrients
As well as packing in as much protein as possible, the best weight loss shakes are full of nutrients. These should include potassium, iron, zinc, and magnesium, as well as vitamins A, C, E and a range of B vitamins.
When following a calorie-controlled diet, it’s often difficult to ensure you’re getting enough of these nutrients. But by choosing a diet shake with all of these essential vitamins and minerals, you’ll be well on your way to hitting your RDA.
Like protein, fibre helps keep you feeling full and better able to resist snacking. Fibre also helps promote a healthy digestive system and great internal health, so a high fibre content is a vital component of all the best diet shakes.
Last but not least, you want a meal replacement shake that tastes good too. Popular flavours like vanilla or chocolate are often perfect options as they give you a great-tasting drink that you’ll enjoy every day.
The Best Shakes for Weight Loss
The best meal replacement shakes for weight loss are the perfect alternative to traditional dieting.
Not only are they low in calories, making it easy to keep within your daily calorie limit, they also a great on-the-go option. This helps you avoid the temptation of fast food and packaged meals. And, by providing all the nutrients you need, you can be sure that you’re not sacrificing your health for your weight loss goals.