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Are Meal Replacements Bad for Weight Loss | UK

by Hamza Jamal |

Meal replacement shakes are a popular weight loss strategy because they offer calorie control and reliable energy. But are they all that?

Several well-designed studies have tested meal replacement shakes on weight loss by comparing their effects to conventional reduced-calorie food-based diets. The results? Meal replacements like vybey Complete Meal Powder come out on top.

Individual results vary, but replacing 1-2 meals daily with a shake, along with a reduced-calorie diet and comprehensive lifestyle plan, is a science-backed approach to losing weight permanently.

The not-so-secret weight loss recipe

Most nutrition gurus tell us that there's a super simple formula for weight loss for everyone: a calorie deficit.

It sounds great in practice because your body will metabolise its own fat when it has nothing else to run on, but without exercise and a balanced diet, you'll lose muscle and be a shell of yourself while running on fumes.  

A safer and more effective formula is this: nutrition, exercise, and a calorie deficit for sustainable weight loss, but the truth is that most people have no idea about nutrition and don't know what they should eat on a diet.

Enter the meal replacement shake.

Meal replacement shakes are portion-controlled products that can safely replace one or even two meals per day.

Most formulas have 200-400 calories and provide an optimal balance of protein, carbs, healthy fats, fibre, vitamins, and minerals to mimic a well-rounded meal without the chewing and time-consuming prep.

A masterclass in shakes

The best meal replacement shakes have ingredients that go beyond essential nutrition to enhance weight loss and overall health, such as:

  •         Plant-based proteins to preserve lean muscle.
  •         Fibre to promote satiety and digestive health.
  •         Healthy fats to support heart health and vitamin absorption.
  •         Probiotics and prebiotics for gut health.
  •         Metabolism boosters and antioxidants.
  •         Nootropics like lion's mane (found in vybey Complete Meal Powder).

The recipes vary between brands, but the purpose is always the same – to create a healthy meal replacement that's safe to consume daily.

It should be said that vybey Complete Meal Powder provides complete nutrition with sustainable and organic ingredients – it is low sugar, high fibre, and packs 29g of protein to keep you strong. No bloating and no fuss.

We can't speak for all other meal shake manufacturers, but our experience is that meal replacement shakes containing natural ingredients keep you full, making it much easier to stay on track while dieting.

What does the science say?

Several studies have found that substituting one or two meals per day with a meal replacement shake as part of a low-calorie diet can spark significant weight loss.

In one study [1], obese participants who replaced two meals per day with a meal replacement shake lost 12.3% of their initial body weight after 16 weeks, compared to just 6.9% in the food-based diet group. What's more, nearly 93% of the meal replacement group achieved clinically meaningful weight loss of over 5%, versus just 55% of the food group.

Another review [2] found that meal replacement diets resulted in 7-8% greater weight loss than food-based reduced-calorie diets at 1 year. Participants using meal replacements also had better diet compliance and higher overall nutrient intakes.

Researchers believe meal replacements are adequate for several key reasons:

  •         Built-in calorie control. Meal replacements take the guesswork out of portion sizes and calorie counting.
  •         Nutritional adequacy. Shakes ensure a balanced intake of protein, carbs, fats and essential nutrients, which can be difficult to achieve with a low-calorie food diet.
  •         Convenience and simplicity. Having a healthy meal prevents impulsive food choices and allows you to stay on track even with a hectic schedule.
  •         Enhanced dietary compliance. People tend to stick with a meal replacement plan longer than a traditional diet.

Do meal replacements provide long-term results?

Do you think hitting your weight goals is hard? Try maintaining them. The good news is that studies show the weight loss benefits of meal replacement shakes persist long-term, provided they become part of a regular diet.

One study [3] found that participants maintained a significant reduction in weight loss after 3 years by using one meal replacement per day.

A larger clinical trial [4] found that 7.3 kg of weight loss was maintainable after 3 years with meal replacement shakes versus 3.2 kg with a low-calorie diet alone.

These studies suggest that meal replacement shakes are worthwhile even after you reach your weight loss goals. And if they taste good, why not?

What to look for in a meal replacement shake

Your shake should have a complete nutrition profile meaning a healthy amount of carbohydrates, protein, fat, fibre, vitamins, and minerals – antioxidants come from vitamins and some shakes include extras like nootropics.

Look for:

  •         25-30 grams of high-quality protein to support lean muscle mass and satiety.
  •         5-10 grams of dietary fibre to promote feelings of fullness and support digestive health.
  •         Less than 10 grams of sugar and no artificial sweeteners or additives – natural sweeteners are acceptable.
  •         Fortification with essential vitamins and minerals to ensure nutritional completeness.
  •         Probiotics and prebiotics like bacillus coagulans support gut health and immune function.
  •         Antioxidants neutralise free radicals and reduce oxidative stress.
  •         Functional ingredients like lion's mane – this super ingredient has bioactive compounds like hericenones and erinacines that stimulate the growth of new neurons and increase the levels of BDNF in your brain.

Ultimately, the best meal replacement shake is the one that you enjoy drinking and look forward to as a satisfying part of your daily routine. It should not be a chore to consume – if anything, you should jump for joy at the thought.

Mixing things up

The complete nutritional profile of a meal replacement shake tastes amazing until it gets a bit boring. But fear not: you can make it your own!

Add berries, fruit, cocoa powder, peanut butter, or anything else you love and blend to create a satisfying, one-of-a-kind shake.

Adding extra ingredients will increase your calorie load, but provided you don't go overboard, your diet will be acceptable. Besides, you can always hold back a fifth of the powder to even out the additional calories from your ingredients.

Summing Up

Yes, meal replacement shakes are good for weight loss, but they only work alongside exercise, adequate sleep, and a calorie deficit overall – don't make the mistake of thinking a shake will overcome lousy lifestyle choices.

In any case, weight loss is a journey, and Rome wasn't built (or destroyed) in a day. Grab a vybey Meal Replacement and give it a go. It tastes great and is 100% natural and vegan, so there's literally no harm in dipping your toes.