Keeping your body fueled with high quality nutrition isn’t always easy, even if you know it’s the best thing for you. For those with the desire to lose weight, with hectic schedules, suffering low appetite due to medical conditions, or intestinal issues such as IBS, meal replacement shakes can be a great solution.
The Lowdown on Meal Replacement Shakes
Chances are that, as a woman, you’ve tried meal replacement shakes at one time or another. Many women use them during weight loss regimens especially, when calorie counting and maintaining consistent blood sugar levels are keys to losing weight.
But not all meal replacement shakes are created equal. It’s important to check the ingredients to see what you’re drinking. Shakes with ultra-processed ingredients and a lot of sugar aren’t much better than eating a candy bar or junk food, except you might be fooled into thinking you’re drinking something good for you.
Generally, a meal replacement shake should only be used as a short-term solution, and they can’t substitute for good eating habits. Using them long-term (for years and years) is most often not sustainable, even for weight loss or weight management. Learn new eating habits that will support weight management and rely on the shakes only when you’re having a meal or healthy snack emergency after you have reached your weight goals.
Ways to Make the Most out of Meal Replacement Shakes
The best shakes contain protein, which helps you feel full. Good shakes also aren’t loaded with sweeteners like sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or synthetic chemical sweeteners. While some sweetener is expected for taste, it shouldn’t be among the first few listed ingredients.
Here are some quick and easy ways to make the most out of your meal replacement shake:
1. You want to choose a meal replacement shake that has as many—or more—grams of protein as grams of carbohydrates. If your shake has less than 20 grams of protein per serving, munch on a small handful of nuts or seeds or a hard boiled egg for added protein (and good fat) that will help you feel full. Grab a small apple or banana to round out a shake with very few grams of carbs.
2. A good shake will provide all the nutritional requirements for a meal. Eating empty calories—foods that provide very little nutritional value—forces your body to stimulate your appetite in order to get you to (hopefully) eat enough food to provide the nutrients it needs. A meal replacement shake shouldn’t leave you feeling hungrier than before you drank it, and it shouldn’t have you heading for the vending machine 20 minutes later.
If your shake leaves you less than satisfied, try blending it with greens like spinach or kale, apple slices, ground flax, or a tablespoon or so of chia seeds. Greens, whole fruits, flax, and chia are all sources of fiber, which helps you feel full as well as adding nutrients.
3. You can combine a meal replacement shake with a small, low-calorie salad packed with raw vegetables. Chewing your nutrients as well as drinking them feels more like a meal and can help you not cheat.
4. Instead of using your meal replacement shake instead of a meal, you might, instead, use it as an afternoon snack. Many people feel a slump in energy mid-afternoon, and a quick shake can perk you up and keep you going.
Finding the Right Meal Replacement Shake
The ideal meal replacement shake combines protein, carbs, good fats, and fiber in a nutrient-dense scoop of powder. These nutrients should come from top quality whole food ingredients rather than chemicals produced in a lab.
Nature’s Sunshine carries a variety of top quality meal replacement shakes, including our vegan Love and Peas (and a sugar-free version as well!) and Nature’s Harvest shakes; and meal replacement shakes for fat burning and energy boosting for weight loss and weight management (Nutri-Burn Chocolate, Nutri-Burn Vanilla, SmartMeal Chai, SmartMeal Chocolate, and SmartMeal Vanilla).