Many people cannot prepare a healthy meal all the time due to hectic schedules. As a result, they either skip meals or turn to unhealthy options like fast food and junk food. But thanks to meal replacement products, it’s possible to get a good balance of nutrients in an easy-to-eat form.
Utilized since 1994, meal replacements have become an on-the-go alternative for a lot of people. But while convenient and time-saving, they may not be good for everyone.
To help you figure out whether they will work for you or not, we’ve highlighted how meal replacements can help your health goals below.
Meal Replacements and Health
Meet Daily Protein Requirement
Protein plays a vital role in numerous cell functions of the human body, such as building and repairing muscles. Having enough protein is essential if you want to recover faster from an intense workout or training.
It can also help increase feelings of fullness, meaning that you’ll have fewer food cravings and eat less.
Although you can easily obtain it by consuming beans, lentils, eggs, and dairy products, it might be hard to meet what your body needs.
It’s also worth noting that taking too much protein may result in excess fat. But with a high protein meal replacement, it’s possible to get only the appropriate amount.
Control Calorie Count
Consuming more calories than your body can use up is one of the causes of obesity.
If you’re looking to lose weight or prevent weight gain, you need to reduce your calorie intake. But it can be tough to stick to a low-calorie diet as they often leave you feeling hungry, especially if you’re working out or training frequently.
Fortunately, meal replacements can provide as much protein as food but fewer calories. Since high-protein consumption is important for controlling your appetite, a low-calorie meal replacement allows you to gain muscle and lose weight at the same time.
Using meal replacements in your meals can also help you control your calorie count.
Get High Amounts of Fiber
Eating food high in dietary fiber is linked to better digestive health and bowel function.
As a result of keeping the digestive tract in good shape, it improves digestion and promotes satiety, essential in proper weight management. But besides that, fiber can also lower your risk for diabetes, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.
While the best way to get this nutrient is from whole food sources like fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains, doing so can be difficult to sustain.
It is where using meal replacements becomes more beneficial as they are often high in fiber. You can take them to top up your daily fiber intake.
Improve Portion Control
Keeping control of portion sizes is essential for successful and sustainable weight management. It helps you get a certain amount of nutrients and their benefits without overeating.
But most often, it’s hard to keep mindless snacking under control, and tracking your calories, fats, carbs, and protein intake now and then can be tedious.
The good news is, meal replacements contain all the essential components of an energy-restricted diet in appropriate amounts, making it easier to monitor your portion sizes. With these easy-to-prepare and pre-portioned foods, you can meet your daily nutrients requirements without going overboard.
Provide Healthy Alternatives
There are many reasons why most people eat unhealthy foods, but most of the time, it is due to convenience.
Taking the time to prepare a nutritious meal is probably the last thing on your mind when you’re running short on time or low on energy. It is much easier to order food at a drive-thru or grab any junk food in the fridge.
But you can avoid such unhealthy food choices by having a meal replacement packed with essential nutrients at your disposal. Since they also come in a variety of forms like powders, meal bars, shakes, and beverages, it’s even more doable to steer clear of unhealthy snacks and fast food.
Considerations Before Taking Meal Replacements
While meal replacement products are good alternatives to stricter diets, they are not perfect. You need to know some important considerations before adding them to your diet.
If you want to maximize the benefits of taking these meal replacements, keep the following points in mind.
- Read The Nutrition Facts: A healthy meal replacement must have a good balance of essential nutrients. Read the nutrition facts carefully and check whether they have the right amount of nutrients. Note that it should contain around 15-20 g of protein and 3-5 g of fiber every serving, plus at least 33 percent of your daily recommended vitamins and minerals.
- Check The Sugar Content: While certain meal replacement products deliver nutritious contents conveniently, some might have a high level of sugar that may cancel out their nutritional benefits. Make sure that they don’t contain over 10 grams of sugar or a long list of fillers.
- Be Aware Of Potential Side Effects: Meal replacements are generally suitable for most people. But it’s still important to be aware of their potential side effects. If you have lactose intolerance, ensure that the product is lactose-free or doesn’t contain ingredients like gluten or whey.
- Get Them From Reliable Manufacturers: There is a lack of regulation for meal replacement products. Although there are restrictions on labeling and claims, some may not adhere. As much as possible, get your products from a reliable manufacturer with third-party testing certification.
- Pair With Whole-Food Sources: Though meal replacements have nutritional benefits, they are not designed to eliminate your whole-food diet. Instead, they should only serve as your backup source for nutritious meals. It’s still important that you get daily servings of proteins, carbs, fiber, and vitamins from natural food sources.
- Seek Medical Health Advice: Meal replacement products may contain ingredients that are not good for everyone, especially if you’re pregnant or have underlying health issues. Before using them in your diet, seek advice from a medical professional.
Conclusion: Use Meal Replacements For Your Health Goals
If you’re pressed for time and often eat on the go, using meal replacements may help you achieve your health goals. But note that it may not be a good idea to rely on them to optimize your health.
They can be useful in the long term, though, as long as you integrate them with a balanced whole-food diet, regular physical activity, and other healthy strategies.