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How to choose the right weight loss shakes for you

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Weight loss shakes, meal replacement shakes, diet shakes, diet meal replacement shakes....it can be pretty confusing can't it? Are shakes and meal replacements good for you? Are they better at helping you lose weight than real food? Are they as good as real food?

When it comes to choosing the right shakes for your weight loss journey you'll need to have a clear idea about your weight loss goals and how you plan to reach a calorie deficit which will result in healthy weight loss. You'll then use a combination of shakes and food to ensure you're getting quality nutrition as well as all the essential vitamins and minerals you need to thrive.

Firstly, a little on good nutrition and idle carbs

Many nutritionists make a distinction between nutrients and complete nutrition. This leads to discussions about sugar and processed foods being bad for you.

What is Complete Food?

If you eat, say, whole grains or fruit and vegetables, these are complete food that contain fats, carbohydrate including sugar, fibre, protein and vitamins and minerals. They are, in essence, as part of a balanced diet, a complete meal. You can live on these.

Idle Carbs - processed foods

We developed processed foods – the classic being white sugar. Nutritionists call these idle carbs (carbohydrates). We are consuming these but are missing out in the balance of fats, carbohydrates that are not sugars, fibre, protein and vitamins and minerals. Processed foods are tasty but you could not live on them. We all eat processed food, but sometimes we should be asking why.

Food Supplements

Food supplements were developed to fill in the gaps left by idle carbs and to put vitamins and nutrients back into your diet. You can't live on food supplements but they have their place to balance our diet and counter some of the idle carbs we end up consuming.

Meal replacements and shakes

Fully designed and compliant meal replacements and shakes are designed that we can live on them and they can replace 2 meals a day safely.

What are weight loss shakes??

Weight loss shakes are low calorie, creamy textured drinks which provide the macronutrients your body needs in large quantities - protein, carbohydrates and fats. They are marketed to replace one or two main meals a day as part of a diet plan. Sometimes they're also also referred to as diet shakes.

Shakes will often be accompanied by diet and recipe suggestions to ensure the daily meal you consume with real food has the essential vitamins, minerals and fibre you need to keep you healthy while restricting calories.

Some weight loss shakes are powder based and need to be mixed with water or milk while others are ready-to-drink with a variety of delicious sounding flavours to create appetite appeal which include banana and salted caramel.

Some have more calories than others. 'High protein and low sugar' are commonly seen on labels. Protein sources can be both animal based ( whey protein ) or vegan. Protein, as well as supporting your body tissues like hair, skin, bones and muscles helps to keep you feeling full so you don't snack.

 confident mature woman

They're not not the same as protein shake

Protein shakes are used after workouts or exercise and are formulated to support functional abilities, like adding lean mass, improving muscle recovery, and increasing satiety. They are consumed in addition to main meals. They don't replace them.

Are weight loss shakes and meal replacement shakes the same?

No. Meal replacement shakes mean a consumer can safely replace one or two of their main meals with the meal replacement and not suffer from any nutrient deficiencies based on the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fats) and the vitamins and minerals.

There are criteria regarding the nutrient profile of these, set down in legislation, to ensure you have all the nutrients you need – including the balance of Amino Acids (the building blocks of protein) to be sure the diet is complete. Most of this reflects World Health Organisation guidance.

Meal replacement shakes

With Meal Replacement Shakes you'll be getting macronutrients with essential vitamins and minerals in a low calorie drink. Meal replacement shakes offer enough macro and micronutrients that you can replace a normal meal with them.

A meal replacement shake can contain between 200 and 250 calories. They can also contain between 25% and 50% protein (strictly between 25% and 50% of the energy of the food can come from protein) 

Is there a diet meal replacement shake?

Meal replacement shakes can be used tactically for different reasons and their ingredients and calorie count reflects this. A diet meal replacement shake will tend to be lower in calories than other meal replacement shakes.

Meal Replacements for Weight Control

Meal replacements for Weight Control' is a term given to meal replacements by  The European Food Safety Authority which have have a specific balance of macronutrient and micronutrient ingredients.Typically they will be under 250 calories and still meet nutritional macronutrient and micronutrient guidelines. They are linked to weight loss or weight maintenance based on science.

When used to replace two main meals a day as part of a calorie controlled diet a meal replacement shake made to these standards will support weight loss. When used to replace one meal a day they will help to maintain weight after weight loss.

How do meal replacement shakes work for weight loss?

Meal replacement shakes work by helping to create a calorie deficit (helping you to eat less calories than you need per day) while providing essential vitamins and minerals as if you were consuming a main meal. The benefit of a meal replacement is you need to worry less about getting enough quality nutrition when you're restricting calories.

Can I just have meal replacement shakes instead of food?

Although a meal replacement shake is nutritionally complete, it's not recommended you drop food altogether.

Meal replacement shakes are meant to replace one or two of the three main daily meals not all meals. Depending on the product they may specify when they are best used but at least one of your main meals per day should be based on real food which is balanced and healthy.

How to use shakes for your weight loss journey

To start your weight loss journey you'll need to understand what a calorie controlled diet means for you. This means working out what your calorie goal should be so you can plan your diet and exercise to make sure you're maintaining a calorie deficit.

Vanilla meal replacement shake

The key to dropping weight

Maintaining a calorie deficit is the key to dropping the extra pounds - expending more energy than your body consumes in calories. Once you know what this looks like you can choose your meal replacements or weight loss shakes to fit your diet plan.

How do you achieve a calorie deficit?

A calorie deficit means the amount of calories consumed is less than the number of calories needed to maintain your current body weight.

Reaching a deficit can be achieved by reducing portion sizes, increasing exercise, eating lower calorie food or a mixture of all three. Thats where your planning comes in! 

What is the recommended calorie benchmark for women?

To lose weight, the average person should aim to reduce their daily calorie intake by about 500kcal. Based on the recommended daily allowance for women in menopause of 1800 calories, this would mean a calorie goal of 1300k calories.

What is the recommended protein intake for women?

According to the NHS Most adults need around 0.75g of protein per kilo of bodyweight. For the average woman this is 45g of protein ( based on 60kg in body weight ) That’s 2 portions a day.

A portion of tofu, fish, beef or chicken should fit into the palm of your hand. Alternative protein sources include soya beans, quinoa and pulses.

Between 40 and 50 years of age your muscle mass will start to decrease naturally. To reverse this aim for 1-1.2g of protein per kilo of body weight and increase weight bearing and strength exercises to build lean muscle mass.More muscle will fire up your metabolism and help you burn calories at rest.

How to use Eve Biology to control weight

Eve Biology Meal Replacements For Weight Control are 209 calories each, are packed with all the nutrition you need to balance hormones and improve gut health.

To lose weight

Calorie guidance is 1300. Replace breakfast and lunch with a shake. Snacks and dinner would equate to roughly 890 calories per day and be a balance of protein fibre, carbohydrates and healthy fats. With 2 shakes you'll be getting

  • 50.8g of protein
  • 10.6g of prebiotic fibre
  • 10.6g of fat
  • 24.4g of carbohydrates.

To maintain weight after weight loss

Calorie guidance is 1700. Replace either breakfast or lunch with a shake. Lunch, snacks and dinner would be roughly 1500 calories per day.I shake of 55g will give you

  • 25.4g of protein
  • 5.3g of prebiotic fibre
  • 5.3g of fat
  • 12.2g of carbohydrates.

What if you don't need to lose weight??

If you didn’t want to or need to lose weight then you can use Eve Biology shakes to rebalance hormones, increase energy and improve gut health by planning breakfast, lunch and dinner around 1600 calories with 209 calorie shake as a snack.

Use a meal planning app to plan macros

Meal planning apps are a great way to work out a personalised food plan. Try MyFitnessPal, EatThisMuch or Mealime 

How much weight can I lose with diet shakes or a meal replacement shake?

Cutting your calorie intake by 500 calories per day on average, should see you lose 1 pound per week based on a pound of fat containing 3500 calories. If you're carrying a lot of extra weight or you're increasing your regular exercise routine then your first few weeks could see higher rate of weight loss.

NHS Exercise Guidelines

The absolute minimum exercise you should be doing recommended by the NHS is do strengthening activities that work all the major muscle groups at least 2 days a week PLUS At least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week OR 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week. Spread exercise evenly over 4 or 5 days a week, or do a little every day

The bottom Line

Both weight loss shakes and meal replacements can play their part in helping you to get to a healthier weight. Knowing what your calorie deficit needs to be to achieve a healthy weight, understanding how to balance your macros and micronutrients will make it much easier to select the right option for you and ensure your body is getting everything it needs.