How do you do a meal replacement shake the right way? I wanted to write this article because there is a massive obesity issue in our population with skyrocketing incidence of diabetes in young children. This drives the concern for healthy weight control higher each year.
I have heard many conversations about the best meal replacement shakes to buy. It’s extremely difficult and time consuming to figure out the best shake to purchase. Meal replacements have increased in popularity mainly because of convenience. They are very quick, easy to prepare and efficient to use. They are also highly effective assuming you have purchased a good brand containing top quality ingredients.
Protein shakes are very extremely popular because they usually promise weight loss and sleek, toned muscles. Hopefully, this article will provide sufficient information to help you make a healthy choice. In this article I will be covering the following questions:
- What should you consider when purchasing a meal replacement shake?
- What’s the difference between a meal replacement and a diet shake?
- What should you look for in a meal replacement shake?
- Are meal replacement shakes healthy?
What To Consider When Purchasing A Meal Replacement Shake
The choice of what is the best shake can be difficult. Many customers purchase without knowing what the standards are and what they should be looking for. The problem is that the food industry is selling protein shakes that are filled with denatured proteins and chemicals, preservatives and other additives. If you are going to purchase a protein shake it is important to understand what is in it. This will lead you to the decision as to whether or not you want to eat it or discontinue use. Further down in the article I discuss some of the main ingredients and their associated health risks.
What’s the difference between meal replacement and diet shake?
Meal replacement shakes typically contain a full range of vitamins and minerals. They are lower in calories and are often used for appetite control and weight loss. The emphasis is on providing wholesome ingredients that nourish the whole body.
Diet Shakes may or may not have a full range of vitamins and minerals. They can have more than 200 calories and are often used as a snack as opposed to meal replacement. With these, the quality may not be as good because they focus more on mass production.
If weight loss is your main concern then there are a couple of other strategies that are very effective.
- Strategy 1: Make sure that you drink plenty of water. Sometimes the body mistakes thirst for hunger. Click here for more information on water.
- Strategy 2: Make sure that you get plenty of sleep. If you do not get enough sleep it can affect your metabolism and make it very difficult to lose weight.
So, What Should You Look For In A Meal Replacement Shake?
The following is from www.dietsinreview.com. They suggest looking for the following things in your meal replacement shake.
- Making sure it has a high amount of fiber: This not only helps with keeping bowel movements regular, but it can also help support appetite suppression. Somewhere in the range of 5 grams per serving would be optimal to ensure the maintenance of digestive health and to stave off hunger.
- Not using a shake that has artificial ingredients: Not only are they unnecessary and only added to substitute ingredients which are better for you, but certain additives can have a risk for side effects. Artificial additives like food coloring, preservatives, artificial sweeteners like sucralose, and others are only added to preserve or enhance flavor but they are not necessary.
- Ensuring there is a full range of vitamins and minerals: When you’re replacing meals it’s highly important you’re giving the body what it needs to thrive and stay healthy. Not only do vitamins and minerals help with the maintenance of many important body processes, but they can ensure you feel your best, which is especially needed when cutting calories which can sometimes lead to fatigue.
- Limiting sugar content: While it does provide a pleasantly sweet taste, sugar has been linked to metabolic disorders and overall weight gain. This is why it’s best to seek out an alternative or low-calorie sweetener such as stevia. This plant-based sweetener has been shown to not have an effect on diabetics, so as to not negatively affect blood sugar levels.
- Healthy source of protein: This is a major addition to all meal replacement shakes as protein is one of the macronutrients which most suppress appetite. It is also important when introducing exercise as it can help with rebuilding muscle tissue, making it easier to recover from workouts.
What Are Real Food Sources Of Protein?
- Meat sources of protein – beef, pork, poultry, eggs, yogurt, cheese, fish (very important to choose organic when possible if you go this route)
- Vegetarian sources of protein – legumes (dry beans, lentils, and peas), nuts and seeds (almond butter, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds), whole grains (oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, pasta), dark leafy vegetables, and some fruits like avocado. (Pea protein can have a grainy texture that some people do not like. To improve the texture you can mix with almond or coconut milk.)
Is Your Protein Drink/Meal Replacement Safe To Consume?
Consumer Reports conducted an eye-opening investigation that revealed several protein powders contain heavy metals – specifically arsenic, cadmium, and lead. EAS Myoplex tested for two heavy metals in higher amounts than the USP limit of exposure per day. Muscle Milk had the highest of all levels of all brands tested. This excerpt is taken from the Consumer Reports investigation on Protein Powders: Below is a summary chart of the ingredients in popular protein shakes and powders:
“?” indicates protein supplement has not been tested or proven to have that specific ingredient
Cadmium raises special concern because it accumulates in and can damage the kidneys, the same organs that can be damaged by excessive protein consumption. And it can take 20 years for the body to eliminate even half the cadmium absorbed today.” This is a highly toxic metal, and while there are some cases where decisions have to be weighed against relative risks, accepting that you have to be exposed to any cadmium at all in your protein drink after your workout is definitely not one of them,” says Michael Harbut, M.D., director of the Environmental Cancer Initiative at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Royal Oak, Mich.
“When these toxic heavy metals are combined in a product that is marketed for daily use, that raises serious public health concerns, especially for pregnant women, children, and young adults,” says Burns, who has been a toxicology consultant to state and federal government agencies.
A majority of the meal replacement shakes use either soy or whey as their main protein source. In an article from www.100daysofrealfood.com, they discussed not only soy and whey but Maltodextrin and Acesulfame Potassium.
Many protein drinks use soy protein concentrate or soy protein isolate in conjunction with other proteins. Over 90% of the soy produced in this country is GMO – but that’s not the only reason to avoid soy protein. When soy is looked at from a macronutrient perspective, it can give the illusion of a very healthy food – full of plant-based protein, essential amino acids, and fiber. However, the soy that is grown and produced today is largely hybridized, making the amino acids largely indigestible leading to digestive issues that have caused many people to be allergic to soy. What’s worse is when soy is isolated to just its protein state, it becomes severely denatured and can cause hormonal disruptions because of the excessive amount of estrogen contained in it. Soy also has an abundance of phytic acid that leeches calcium and other vital minerals from your body.
Calling out an ingredient filler like maltodextrin may make you think I’m being nitpicky – but is this carb substitute that is likely derived from genetically modified corn really necessary in protein powders? Maltodextrin can be used to make a substance like “fibersol” that, for instance, is in the Body by Vi Shakes. This fibersol is made by heating maltodextrin at very high temperatures and treating it with enzymes and acids to make a fiber your body simply can’t digest and makes you feel artificially full. If you are eating enough plant-based foods, there is no reason to supplement with this type of chemically derived fiber. Fibersol is just another additive that does absolutely nothing for your long-term health. Why not add a real food like spinach or a banana to your smoothie instead?
Acesulfame Potassium or Acesulfame K
This is the most common form of artificial sweetener available in protein drinks (and tons of other processed foods) today and according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) it is anything but safe. CSPI reported the safety tests of acesulfame-K that were conducted in the 1970s were inadequate. Specifically, two rat studies suggest that the additive might cause cancer, but these studies were never addressed by the FDA before they approved the substance to also be used unregulated in soft drinks. In addition, it is mentioned that large doses of acetoacetamide (a breakdown product of this sugar) have been shown to affect the thyroid in rats, rabbits, and dogs. This toxic sugar substitute can be found in EAS Myoplex, Isogen, Pure Protein, Atkins, and Muscle Milk.
Whey Protein Isolate
Whey protein isolate is highly processed, unlike whole protein food concentrate. Most whey protein isolates start from ultra-pasteurized conventional milk that has antibiotics and growth hormones and are then exposed to acid processing, stripping alkalinizing minerals, naturally occurring vitamins and lipids. This processing makes whey protein isolate over acidifying in the body. Chronically consuming whey protein isolate without an appropriate balance of alkalizing foods, can acidify your body and over time increase your vulnerability to degenerative disease. This overly processed form of whey can be found in a lot of popular protein drinks that are not included in this list but marketed under generic or store brand names including the one by Gatorade called “Recover.”
So, at this point, you may be wondering what you should do. You are a busy person and want to use a healthy meal replacement shake. Don't worry, I have a recommendation for you. I have found a meal replacement shake that is healthy. It is easy to use and does not have any added sugar, salt artificial coloring, artificial flavors or preservatives. It is free of GMOs, soy protein, maltodextrin, refined sugars, whey protein isolate, heavy metals, antibiotics, rbGH, artificial colors and carrageenan.
So what does it have?
It has medium chain triglycerides that function as “brain-food”. MCTs provide nutrients for mental sharpness and are a metabolic booster which aids in fat burning and weight management. Enzymes that aid in digestion and nutrient absorption and a balanced formulation of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. It also contains organic moringa and naturally sweet monk fruit in addition to organic pea protein (one of the proteins most easily absorbed by the body) and organic vegetables. It is designed to help burn fat and boost metabolism as well as promote healthy brain function and the elimination of toxins in the body. With pre- and probiotics to assist in digestive and immune system activity. It has 120 calories and there are 30 servings per container.
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