I’ve noticed a trend of the Meal Replacement Shake Diet lately. Unfortunately, I feel like most of this trend is having more of a negative effect on people’s health and body composition goals in the long run. In fact, I would go as far to say that the majority are downright irresponsible, dangerous and designed purely to promote yo-yo dieting so customers continue to go back to using meal replacement shakes.
Before I continue, let me tell you a little story which was the catalyst for me writing this.
I spoke to a lovely girl last week who is just starting on The Complete Detox Cleanse Nourish program after feeling frustrated and lost on what to do with her nutrition. She told me her story about how she did lose some weight previously but didn’t manage to maintain that. Not uncommon. The short story is that she was on a diet that included 2 x shakes and 1 x meal of 100g veggies and 100g chicken a day. (I actually asked her how how many meals of veggies and chicken because my first thought was she was eating 3-4 meals of this PLUS the two shakes … but no, it was just the one whole food meal a day).
This diet was recommended to her by none other than her doctor. Jawdropping.
She then continued to tell me that she managed to follow it for a while but couldn’t stay with it as it was really boring. Excuse my abruptness, but NO SH*T! Needless to say, I explained to her that it was hardly surprising as the diet was not maintainable, severely lacking in calories and even more lacking in micro nutrients, as well as being dead boring and completely and utterly ridiculous.
If you are following a diet that involves replacing more than 1 meal a day with a shake, then you are doing it wrong.
The Irresponsible Marketing of Meal Replacement Shake Diets
This story is the perfect example of the sort of irresponsible, bullsh*t diet plans that are floating around, breeding like naughty bunny rabbits. They are designed for rapid weight loss (note, not fat loss) and a quick, easy approach to nutrition. One of the barriers to weight loss and optimal health is simply time and convenience. Meal replacement shakes break that barrier because they are easy, quick and super convenient to use. This makes them popular as people can make a simple change to their nutrition just by replacing inadequate nutrition with a meal replacement shake into their diet – nice in theory, but easily implemented poorly.
I’ve looked at many programs using other shakes and they all seem to follow this cycle. Side note – as well as my passion for nutrition and fitness, I also work in marketing so I have made you a diagram to explain the clever purchase cycle of these shake programs that encourages yo-yo dieting and to keep you coming back for more shakes.
Do you see how this is simply set up to create an ongoing purchase cycle? Sneaky sneaky!
Personally, I like eating food. Real whole foods mostly. (Yes, sometimes I just want to eat ice cream too). I also like feeling fit, healthy, having good digestion and rockin’ a lean sexy body. So my nutrition is more than just what my tastebuds may want to eat, I also place a lot of value on what gives me the results I desire.
Using meal replacements as a primary basis of a diet plan may get you some short term results, but believe me that you are in for a disaster as far as the long term and bigger picture is concerned. Think about this …
- How long will you be able to follow drinking liquid and eating the same boring meal every day for? We are designed to crave a variety of food sources as our body needs a variety of nutrients. Pretty smart.
- Are you going to continue drinking mostly shakes for the rest of your life? I guarantee you will gain back any weight loss you achieved and possibly more because you will have completely slowed down your metabolism.
- How are you getting in enough micronutrients? We eat food and a variety of food for a reason. Because we need a huge variety of micro nutrients. It’s not just all protein, fats and carbs.
Now, there are some better meal replacement products out there, but I haven’t seen any that provide a quality nutrition program as well. A quality product is step one, and we looked at a lot of products before we chose the Complete Shakes as to use in our Complete Detox Cleanse Nourish program. We then spent a full year developing, trialling and tweaking our nutrition program before we re-launched it again in January 2014.
A meal replacement shake should be a complement to a great, whole food nutrition program – not the basis of one.
How The Complete Detox Cleanse Nourish Program is Different
Our meal plans are primarily whole food. We have three nourishing, whole food meals a day, plus 1-2 snacks that include a Complete shake. The Complete shakes are used in delicious smoothie recipes, or just with water and a side of some other whole food like veggies, fruit and nuts.
The program is designed to teach you how to cook and eat high quality, nutrient dense and yummy meals that you can continue on with for life.
The Complete shakes complement this in the following ways –
- They are a quick, easy and nutrient dense snack (meal in a smoothie recipe) that makes it easier to get in enough calories and nutrients each day to boost the metabolism and promote fat burning.
- They provide a flavour and texture variety, satisfying that sweet tooth craving.
- They are cost effective, which makes it a maintainable nutrition plan.
- They are low allergen, made with whole food and not full of artificial flavours or sweeteners.
- They are a great balance of plant based protein and carbohydrates.
- They taste delicious!
So the good news is that you CAN use meal replacement shakes, but you just have to be smart and responsible with how you use them and do so with the long term in mind. Whether or not you decide to do The Complete Detox Cleanse Nourish program, I urge you to consider the quality of the meal replacement shake you choose and any nutrition program that is provided.
5 Things to Look For in a Meal Replacement Shake
- Based on whole food based ingredients.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners, flavours or ingredients you can’t pronounce!
- Low allergen or vegan protein source – processed whey can cause digestive upset in many people.
- If it has soy protein, make sure it is Non GMO soy (the Complete shakes are).
- A balance of macronutrients – not just protein.
5 Things to Look For in a Meal Replacement Diet or Program
- Primarily based on meals, minimum 3 a day.
- Uses real, whole food as unprocessed as possible.
- Uses shakes to complement the meal plan, no more than 1 shake a day.
- Focuses on long term results, not quick fixes or rapid weight loss.
- Is from a reputable source (Fat loss expert and PT George Saragas wrote the meal plan for the Complete DCN).