How To Use Meal Replacement Shakes For Weight Loss

How To Use Meal Replacement Shakes For Weight Loss

Weight loss is a common goal for many people, so there’s no shortage of gimmicks, tips, and ‘secrets’ for shedding the extra pounds and getting lean. 

Meal replacement shakes have gained a lot of popularity among health-conscious people, including those looking to lose weight. 

But you’re probably wondering how to use meal replacement shakes for weight loss and whether they would work. 

If so, read on. We’ve broken it down below and provided actionable tips to boost weight loss success.

Table of Contents

Are Meal Replacement Shakes Good For Weight Loss?

To understand whether a meal replacement shake would be helpful for weight loss, we must first look at how weight loss happens in the first place.

While there are countless opinions on the matter, weight loss comes down to simple math:

You must consume fewer calories than you burn each day, also known as creating a calorie deficit. By doing so, your body has no choice but to break down fat and lean tissue for the extra energy it needs.

For example, let’s say that you burn 2,000 calories. So, 2,000 calories is the amount of energy you must consume through food and drinks daily to maintain your current body weight.

Eat 2,200 calories daily, and you will gain weight, but eat fewer than 2,000 calories, and you will lose weight. The more calories below 2,000 you consume, the more quickly you lose weight.

Now, here’s the kicker:

You will lose weight if you don’t eat enough calories, regardless of your food choices. Leafy green veggies with lean meat and candy bars with ice cream get broken down and used for energy in the same way.

So, can meal replacement shakes help you lose weight?

Yes, having a meal replacement shake would allow you to lose weight because these typically have fewer calories than meals.

If you can cut 400 calories by having a shake instead of a meal, that would be 2,800 in a week (7*400), or almost the deficit you need to lose one pound of fat. You can imagine how big of a difference that could make over the course of a year.

How to Use Meal Replacement Shakes for Weight Loss

1. Go For Nutrient-Rich Shakes

Look at the nutritional label of meal replacement products and make sure their formulas contain at least some protein, fiber, and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

Doing so is vital for two reasons:

First, by replacing real food with a shake, you open yourself to the risk of insufficient nutrient intake, which could eventually lead to deficiencies. Second, weight loss means consuming fewer calories, which itself increases the risk of nutrient deficiencies.

2. Control Your Calorie Intake

As discussed, weight loss results from a calorie deficit, regardless of what foods you eat. 

So, when using meal replacement shakes for weight loss, see how many calories you get per serving and make sure it fits into your ‘allowance’ for the day. 

For example, let’s say you need to eat 2,300 calories daily to be in a deficit and lose weight. The meal you want to replace with a shake is traditionally 600 calories. So, make sure the shake doesn’t have more calories than that.

If the shake has more calories than the meal it replaces, adjust your intake in the rest of the meals for the day to avoid going overboard.

Common Meal Replacement Shake Mistakes During Weight Loss

1. Not Tracking Your Calorie Intake

Replacing a meal with a shake and expecting weight loss is generally not enough because you wouldn’t know how many calories you eat relative to your expenditure.

A good way to fix this would be to write down what you eat (you can use an app like MacroFactor) and count the calories from the shake toward your total.

2. Adding too Many Things to Your Shake

Remember that the nutritional information on the label is for a shake without any extra ingredients. Adding banana slices, honey, sugar, oats, and other things to make it more satiating or boost its taste will increase the calories, and you must account for that.

3. Replacing too Many Meals With Shakes

Meal replacement shakes can be convenient, but nothing beats real food because it provides the many nutrients your body needs. It’s best to limit these shakes to once daily and get the rest of your calories from whole foods.

David Williams

David Williams

A diet and fitness enthusiast, David is an ex-Army Airborne Ranger and Infantry soldier with decades of fitness and wellness experience. A West Point graduate with a degree in engineering, he focuses on technical research related to fitness, nutrition, and wellness. He loves the beach and working out, and spending time with his wife and daughters.

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