Meal replacement shakes are calorie-controlled formulas that are designed to substitute regular meals (breakfast, lunch, or dinner.) Often meal replacement shakes are formulated to deliver enough protein, fibre, carbohydrates as well as nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Fundamentally, they are formulated to supply the energy and nutrients that the body requires in lower-calorie portions. Unlike protein shakes, meal replacement shakes are intended to provide a person with the nutrition of a regular meal.
It is important to know that meal replacements should never be used to replace all meals, only one or two at most per day depending on the nutritional content of the product. Regardless of how well-formulated meal replacement shakes (or bars) are they can by no means entirely substitute a healthy, balanced diet.
The benefits of meal replacement shakes:
Most meal replacement shakes will contain between 200–400 calories with ample amounts of protein, fibre and essential vitamins and minerals. This means that meal replacement shakes are a convenient method of consuming a healthy, low-calorie meal.
They are portable and fast to prepare making them useful when someone is “on the go.” They may also assist people to resist the temptations to opt for quick, unhealthy processed fast foods.
Also, they may maintain satiety and keep people feeling fuller for longer periods, suppressing the desire to eat again.
However, it is significant for people to be aware that the ingredients and nutrient compositions of brands can differ substantially, all containing various ratios of protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
In addition, some people may not be receiving optimal amounts of all essential nutrients they need if they are following a restrictive diet. Premium quality shakes are fortified with essential nutrients, such as calcium, iron, and vitamin D. Therefore, when looking for a meal replacement, it should ideally be a protein-rich, energy-dense formulation that combines organic plant-based wholefoods with essential micronutrients to provide the recommended daily intake of all key vitamins and minerals per serve.
What the research says:
Several studies indicate that weight loss can be faster when people replace one or two meals per day with a healthy meal replacement shake (1-3).
In one study, participants who used a partial meal replacement diet plan lost 2.4 kg more weight in three months than the participants who were on a reduced-calorie, food-based dietary plan (4).
Importantly meal replacement shakes may also assist people to maintain weight after weight loss goals have been reached (7).
Furthermore, some research shows that meal replacement shakes increase weight loss in people suffering from diabetes. In one study, when participants were given meal replacements shakes this led to 1–2% greater weight loss in the obese individuals who had type 2 diabetes (than the diabetic exchange system diet.) Other benefits seen in this study included decreases to fasting blood sugar as well as LDL cholesterol levels (5).
Other research also supports that meal replacement shakes given to type 2 diabetes patients contributed to slightly greater weight loss outcomes than when compared to conventional food-based dieting (6).
Product Highlight: Activated Nutrients Fill Up
Fill Up™ is a chocolate-flavoured certified organic formulated meal replacement and oral nutritional supplement. The organic ingredients in our products are grown and processed without the use of synthetic chemicals or fertilisers and are free from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and irradiation.
As well as containing premium protein sourced from brown rice and sprouted and fermented peas, Fill Up also contains premium plant-based superfoods to maximise energy and wellbeing including:
- Broccoli powder
- Chia seed meal
- Coconut milk powder
- High Vitamin D mushroom powder
- Quinoa powder
- Red algae
Scientifically formulated Fill Up™ was created by leading nutritional science experts to help meet the body's needs for energy, protein, fibre and key vitamins and minerals when these needs are not being met through diet alone.
1. Frestedt JL, Young LR, Bell M, (2012). Meal Replacement Beverage Twice a Day in Overweight and Obese Adults;8(4):320-329.
2. López Barrón G, Bacardí Gascón M, De Lira García C, Jiménez Cruz A, (2011). La eficacia a largo plazo de los reemplazos dietéticos en la pérdida de peso: revisión sistemática [Meal replacement efficacy on long-term weight loss: a systematic review]. Nutr Hosp;26(6):1260-5.
3. Huerta, S., Li, Z., Li, H. et al, (2004). Feasibility of a partial meal replacement plan for weight loss in low-income patients. Int J Obes 28, 1575–1579.
4. Heymsfield SB, et al, (2003). Weight management using a meal replacement strategy: meta and pooling analysis from six studies. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord; 27(5):537-49.
5. Yip I et al, (2001). Liquid meal replacements and glycemic control in obese type 2 diabetes patients. Obes Res,9;4:341S-347S.
6. Keogh JB, Clifton PM, (2012). Meal replacements for weight loss in type 2 diabetes in a community setting. J Nutr Metab:918571
7. Davis LM et al, (2010). Efficacy of a meal replacement diet plan compared to a food-based diet plan after a period of weight loss and weight maintenance: a randomized controlled trial. Nutr J;9:11.