I wish everyone who is using this approach the greatest success.
However, from my experience (and from dozens of other health professionals) it is highly likely that any weight-losses achieved using this approach will be short-lived. I estimate that less than 5% (and this is being generous) of people who lose weight by replacing main meals with shakes will keep the weight off longer than 18 months.
1. Replacing breakfast and lunch with shakes (as most of these diets
recommend) means you will be reducing your daily calorie intake substantially. Of course you will lose weight. However, this reduction also means your body will be put under undue stress, which will result in it invoking the 'Anti-Starvation Response'. This results in re-bound weight gain at some stage in the near future.
When you eventually go back to eating 'normal' foods, the weight piles back on and usually with re-inforcements! It does this because of our body's anti-starvation response, which is still part of our genetic make up and has come from our ancestors who lived during the Paleolithic Era (Hunter/ Gatherer Era), and whose main cause of death was infection and starvation. This was around 100,000 years ago. Unfortunately our modern-day bodies haven't yet adapted to our current lifestyles.
2. Most of the shakes on the market are generally quite unhealthy because they contain cheap, high GI sugars like glucose, maltodextrin or high fructose corn surups (these are the same carbs used in weight gainers for bodybuilders!).
3. They contain inferior quality protein sources like skim milk powder or milk protein solids. How much does a kilo of skim milk powder from the supermarket cost? Is is more than $3 a kilo and what do you pay per 45-60g sachet?
4. These approaches to weight loss are not sustainable- they cannot be followed for the rest of your life! Any nutritional principles you decide to incorporate into your lifestyle should be sustainable long term.
5. The people who get the best results and keep the weight off long term discipline themselves to spend time in the kitchen preparing their own meals and eating whole foods for almost all of their meals with the occasional shake as a convenient snack (in between their main meals). Pus, the shakes they use are low in carbs and fat and high in good quality whey protein.
Folks, PLEASE think logically before considering this approach; think seriously before considering meal replacements as an option. Does it make sense to you? I realise the dramatic weight losses are attractive but the dramatic weight gain that almost inevitably follows is devastating for most people!
A family friend of mine put on 10 kilograms in 3 days after finishing one of the popular meal replacement diets and you can just imagine how she felt and the resulting impact it had on the people around her.
Elsewhere on this forum I have written an article on meal replacements and how to select the right one for you. There is also a sample weight-loss diet on the forum too using whole foods.
I sincerely wish everyone all the very best with achieving their physical goals and if you have any questions or comments please post them on this forum or contact me directly. I am more than happy to help.
Stephen is the part-owner of Body Concepts and Focus On magazine. Stephen has been involved in the health and fitness industry for over 18 years and has a science degree from UWA.