The lifestyles of people worldwide seem to be speeding up; with so many due dates and filled schedules, many people feel like they can’t find enough time to ensure a nutritionally balanced diet. Skipping meals, overindulging, and having replacement shakes are some of the unhealthy habits people turn to during their busy week. Some of you may be surprised to see that we’ve categorised replacement shakes as an unhealthy eating habit, and that’s understandable.
Companies that sell such shakes often put their efforts into making their products look like wonder beverages, containing the right amounts of all the nutrients you need, in such a convenient form. Still, it’s vital to pay attention to product labels, and if you end up reading too many unknown words, we highly advise you to make your own meal replacement shake using whole foods and some protein. Although having a low-calorie replacement meal in the liquid state may sound like a perfect weight loss solution – its downsides actually beat the perks.
I’ve asked medical experts from A Better Weigh clinic to let us in on the disadvantages of drinking meal replacement shakes:
They can upset your digestion
One of the most significant flows of meal replacement shakes is that they typically lack fiber and can, therefore, negatively affect your gut health. When you eat fast and don’t take enough time to chew each bite properly, you’re making it hard for your system to digest the food. One of the biggest misconceptions regarding meal replacement shakes is that they’re easily digestible. Although they’re liquid, these beverages often contain artificial ingredients your body doesn’t recognize as food. Such components can slow down the digestion process and cause adverse side effects, such as constipation, gas, and even leaky gut. Some meal replacement shakes also contain senna, a natural laxative that can be used short-term to treat constipation but should not be taken each day.
They can contain inflammatory additives
Soy lecithin and maltodextrin are often found in meal replacement shakes. Although they are derived from soy and corn, which might trick you into thinking they’re natural, they are actually inflammatory additives. Maltodextrin is typically used to thicken the beverage since it is a powder made from rice, corn, or potatoes (all of which are starchy vegetables). You should therefore consider this ingredient a carb when calculating your daily macronutrients.
They may cause weight gain
One of the primary reasons people take meal replacement shakes is to consume fewer calories and eventually lose weight. Still, it’s essential to get familiar with reading labels on these beverages, as they often contain too much sugar, which can mess up your insulin levels and leave you starving in no time. There’s really no point in consuming a shake if you’ll still have to indulge in a full caloric meal afterward.
They can contain artificial ingredients
Unfortunately, meal replacement shakes often contain artificial ingredients, such as preservatives, sweeteners, and stabilisers. For instance, they typically include a vitamin complex in some form, but these vitamin blends are often synthetic – meaning your body might not recognise them as beneficial. It’s always better to take your vitamins by consuming whole foods or mixing some fruit and veggies into your homemade meal replacement shake.
They are not a long-term weight loss solution
Although some companies try to provide good quality meal replacement shakes, it’s important to remember that such beverages are not a long-term weight loss solution, and they can’t fix your previous eating habits. By consuming them for a long time, you may end up depriving your body of essential nutrients, antioxidants, enzymes, and plant-based compounds, eventually doing more damage than good for your body and weight.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health and well-being.
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