Are you trying to move from your well-designed and disciplined diet patterns and try to become adventurous? This certainly may help in pampering the taste buds but at the same time will also increase those extra calories which you may have so carefully avoided eating with the help of your well planned diet programs.
On the other side of the spectrum you have those “miracle pills” which make very tall promises but they may not deliver on them. So, most of us would certainly look for replacement meals or diets which may include doing away with one meal and instead finding out ways and means to replace the same with healthier and less calorie-filling options. These replacement diets could include tomato soups, strawberry shakes and even chocolate bars during the day time.
What is Meal Replacement?
The theory is quite simple and there is no rocket science involved. It is about taking lesser calories than what your body needs. When this becomes a regular feature, then the body turns to stored fat and uses the same to provide the extra energy that we require for our proper functioning of the body. If this continues for a long period of time, we lose fat and eventually we also start losing those extra pounds of fat. The main objective or the purpose of such meal replacement products is help us to find a way out by which we can control our calorie intake, without the need to bother about two meals a day. Most of these replacement meals provide the body around 1200 to 1400 calories per day.
How Can a Meal Replacement Diet Be Implemented?
It would now be interesting to find out ways and means by which this can actually be implemented on a practical level. This should not be a big task given the fact that there are a number of such replacement meal brands that are available in the market. However, it is very important to follow the instructions that are available in such replacement meal brands. The most common practice is to replace two meals, generally lunch and breakfast with a meal replacement shake, bar or soup. The next step would be to have a 600-calorie healthy meal during the evening.
Most of these plans also allow the freedom to go in for two to three 100-calorie snacks. It also recommends drinking around 6 to 8 glasses of water of some low-calorie drinks. Many reputed meal replacement brands including Slim Fast also come with a lot of written information on healthy living, on losing weight the normal and healthy way, making changes to eating habits and finding out ways and means to be more active.
How Much Weight You Can Lose?
The main purpose of these meal replacement plans is without any doubt to help you lose extra weight. However, the main question that comes to our mind is how much weight we can lose by such meal replacement plans. As a general thumb rule, when we reduce our daily calorie intake between 1,200 to 1,400 calories each day, we can lose around 1 to 2 lbs each week.
Are Meal Replacement Diets Safe and Healthy?
Do they provide the necessary nutrients? Yes, they will but they have to meet certain standards like the ones set by as per the European Directive. As per this directive, meal replacement plan should ideally contain 200 to 400 calories, of which 25% should be protein apart from the essential 23 vitamins and minerals. These figures have been arrived at after a lot of research and after considering the nutritional needs of people who are running such diet programs. The next important component is fiber. Any good meal replacement diet should have around 18 grams of fiber for adults. It is also important to add fruits and vegetables as snacks which have a rich content of fibers.
It would also be pertinent to point out that meal replacement products are perhaps not the only source of protein and therefore, it may not be appropriate to mention them as very low calorie diets. Very low calories diets are those which have less than 800 calories which are unsuitable for most of us.
What Are The Advantages Of Such Meal Replacement Diets?
These diets are known to be as effective if not better than the traditional calorie-counted diets that many people practice and follow. There are many people who also believe that such meal replacement diets help only in temporary loss of weight. Such beliefs are based on opinions and not supported by research findings.
In fact there are many studies which suggest that long term practice of such replacement diets do actually contribute a lot in reducing weight on a permanent basis. They are also convenient to practice and follow. Finally, they do take into consideration the fact that calories and energy is very important for people during the day time. So this factor is already built in and factored while designing such meal replacement diets.
What Are The Cons?
When talking about the problems or cons of such meal replacement plans, the only thing that could irritate consumers is the lack of research and other such findings on the same. All research and trials are short term in nature. While countries like USA and Germany have some long term research findings, there is none in UK for example.
Further very little research is available on customers in real life situations. The researches that have been conducted are based on such diets that have been given to the volunteers who get these replacement diets on a free basis. Therefore, it would be doubtful whether such volunteers would stick on to these diets once they have the need to pay for the same out of their own pockets.
Also it would be pertinent to point out here that most of these research findings have been based on studies as a part of the overall comprehensive programs. Such programs include dietary advice and support provided by health professionals. So, it would not be wrong to state that very little information is available about the use of these programs on customers who use them on their own without help and assistance from any quarters.
Lastly, these programs have been conducted on people who are obese or overweight. But very few studies have been conducted on people with a BMI of around 20 to 24.9 whose main objective is to lose a few pounds to make them more presentable and attractive. These replacement diet programs which are designed only with a commercial objective in mind, do very little in educating customers about the need for a good diet and health practice. Many people start these programs and discontinue it after a few days. This leads to putting on weight again and that too at a much rapid pace.
Meal Replacement Program Can Help Anyone?
On the report of British Dietetic Association, these replacement plans are best suited for those who are looking for a simple and fast weight loss solutions rather than going in for tough approaches. Further it has been found that these diets are popular with those customers who have readymade low-calorie products available in a ready to use format. They would not like to spend time cooking or preparing such foods in their homes.
These diet programs will not work for those people who look for variety in their eating habits. Many customers become bored with such replacement diets and hence they drop out midway. If you are one of those who hate chocolate, strawberry and vanilla milkshakes, these programs may not suit you.
There are no published articles to point out towards unwanted side effects by following such meal replacement program. Many people thought that these programs were quick fix, temporary solutions and not good on a long term basis. However, research over the last few years does prove that apart from being safe, these meal replacement programs can help people to maintain the weight that they have lost. It is important however to follow your doctor’s advice regarding diet and follow the same even after you are through with such replacement diet programs.
Though the effectiveness of these meal replacement products have been reasonably proved and have been in practice for a long time, health professionals and other experts in the field are not very keen on recommending them. However, as the benefits of such diet programs are becoming evident and obvious, many health organizations have taken it upon themselves to recommend it to people who are overweight or obese. There are many such organizations and few names that come to our mind are National Obesity Forum, British Dietetic Association and Dietitians in Obesity Management. These organizations consider meal replacement as one of the many good alternatives that could be followed for weight reduction.
Author Bio: Mihai Taraipan – an internet enthusiast, who has been involved in web content and management for over 3 years.