If you’re researching weight-loss diets, you’ve probably come across the liquid meal replacement diet, and you may be wondering if it works and if it is safe.
Let’s face it; it’s not always easy to find a low-calorie eating plan that you can comfortably undertake for longer than a week or two.
Some are almost impossible to stick to because the calorie allocation is so low.
Others are inflexible or require a lot of meal preparation.
Then there are the fad diets that are downright dangerous if followed long-term.
While it is best to keep your weight in check through exercise and healthy eating, low-calorie meal replacement shakes have several benefits.
For a start, most people find the liquid meal replacement diet satisfying. It’s also extremely simple to follow, and very safe if you buy a high-quality product. The diet is ideal for busy people who don’t have time to plan, shop for, then cook healthy meals.
Liquid meal replacements are convenient, low in calories, nutritious, and most taste great. That’s not to say this type of diet is perfect. As with any eating plan, there are pros and cons.
In this meal replacement diet article, we will look at everything you need to know to help you decide whether it could be the right weight-loss method for you. I will also include recipes for five delicious low-fat, low-calorie smoothies
Meal Replacement Diet Overview
Liquid meal replacement diets have grown in popularity in recent years. One of the reasons for this is due to the variety of delicious options that are now available. Shake flavors include chocolate, caramel, banana, vanilla, strawberry, and many more.
While most people go on the liquid meal replacement diet to lose weight, some use it to help manage a digestive problem such as Crohn’s disease, gastritis, or ulcerative colitis. People suffering from these conditions often lack the appetite to eat three meals a day. As a result, they can lose weight when they don’t need to, and end up with nutritional deficiencies.
If you need to lose weight, the liquid meal replacement diet will help you to do so quickly and safely without a lot of effort. Replace one or two meals a day with a diet shake, and you will be taking in fewer calories. And, when you burn more calories than you ingest, you will lose weight.
Several large long-term European studies concluded that liquid meal replacements can be far more effective than traditional low-calorie diets. Participants not only lost far more weight, they were also able to easily keep the weight off and therefore avoid the yo-yo diet syndrome.
A downside of some low-calorie diet shakes is that while they provide a balance of essential vitamins and minerals, they may also contain highly processed ingredients. To get around this, if you own a blender, you can create your own liquid meal replacement in the form of a low-fat, low-calorie smoothie. Smoothies made from ingredients containing healthy protein, fats, and fiber make for a nutritious and filling meal substitute.
If you don’t have a blender, or you don’t want to spend time chopping fruit and veggies, then have to clean the blender afterward, liquid meal replacements are the next best thing if you choose wisely.
Who will the Liquid Meal Replacement Diet Best Suit?
The liquid meal replacement diet is best suited to people who only have a few pounds to lose. While there are many brands and flavors to choose from, if you had to replace one or two meals a day for months on end, you could become bored.
The liquid meal replacement diet should work well if you are the type of person who must eat at least one regular meal a day to be able to stick to a diet. If you replace one or two meals a day with a diet shake, you will be able to eat one “normal” meal a day and so not feel too deprived. This is, of course, providing you don’t go overboard and eat a massive portion, or choose high-calorie food.
Depending on your schedule, you may prefer to have a shake for breakfast if you find it difficult to eat in the morning, or for lunch if you have a busy working life. The distraction of work will help to keep your mind off food.
This type of diet is also great for people who travel for work and don’t want to have to eat at restaurants or be tempted to take the quick and easy option of purchasing junk food. Pop some diet shake packets into your bag, and you will be able to satisfy your hunger any time of the day or night and not resort to eating the high-calorie snack foods that are in your hotel’s bar fridge.
Another benefit of this type of food plan is that you won’t have to measure food or count calories. Swap one or two meals a day with a liquid meal replacement, and make sure your other meal or meals include a small serving of lean protein, some fiber, healthy fats, and lots of veggies. Eat this way, and you will create a calorie deficit and lose weight.
What to look for in a Liquid Meal Replacement
When deciding which liquid meal replacement to buy, there are several things to look for.
The first thing you should do is check the ingredients list and nutritional information on the label. Look for one that has at least 12 to 20 grams of protein per serving. Protein is filling, and this percentage should keep you satisfied for around four hours.
Look for a vitamin-fortified shake containing vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. This should enable you to stay on the diet for an extended period without risking nutritional deficiencies.
Find a diet shake that contains 3 to 5 grams of fiber. Fiber is essential for good health, and it will keep you feeling full for longer. If the liquid meal replacement ticks all of the boxes but it is a bit low in fiber, add a few slices of fruit and veggies to it.
Choose a liquid meal replacement that is low in fat. Up to 15 grams of fat for each serving is fine, provided the fat is unsaturated. Steer clear of products containing a high level of saturated fat.
For the best result, look for a shake containing between 250 and 350 calories.
Taste is an important factor, too. If you dislike the flavor, you will struggle to stick to the diet. Be prepared to try a few different brands before finding one that you really enjoy.
Two I’ve sampled and like are the Atkins Ready to Drink Shake, and the Premier Protein Shake, both of which I will be reviewing soon. Meanwhile, click on either of the previous links to see what Amazon customers are saying about them.
Are there any downsides?
There are a few downsides to even the healthiest of liquid meal replacements.
Firstly, if your shake of choice is not in powdered form but pre-made, it will not be convenient to take with you when traveling.
If you buy a powdered replacement meal, keep in mind that you will need to add water, milk, or some other liquid.
Another thing to be aware of is that some liquid meal replacements require refrigeration to be palatable and remain fresh.
Cost can also be an issue. While some liquid meal replacement products will cost around the same as buying a latte, others are more expensive. To save money, make your own low-fat, low-calorie smoothies. Granted, this will be more work than opening a packet, but it will cost less. And, you will know exactly what is going into them and be able to customize them to your taste.
5 Low-Fat Low-Calorie Smoothies You Will Love
Following are recipes five easy-to-make low-fat, low-calorie smoothies, along with their calorie count. Throw everything into a blender, blend until smooth, and enjoy! Each recipe makes one serving.
Berry, Oat, & Ginger Smoothie (179 calories)
- 1 cup of fresh or frozen blackberries
- 1/2 a cup of fresh or frozen raspberries
- 1/4 of a cup of cooked oatmeal
- 1/4 of a cup of 1% fat milk
- 1/2 a teaspoon of fresh, grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon of honey
Strawberry & Basil Smoothie (117 calories)
- 1 cup of fresh or frozen strawberries
- 1/4 of a cup of loosely packed basil leaves
- 3/8 of an ounce of unsweetened almond milk
- 1/4 of a cup of nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon of honey
Peanut Butter & Raspberry Smoothie (237 calories)
- 1/4 of a cup 1% fat milk
- 1/2 a medium ripe banana
- 1 tablespoon of creamy peanut butter
- 1 cup of fresh or frozen raspberries
- 1/2 a cup of crushed ice
Spinach & Almond Butter Smoothie (189 calories)
- 1/2 a cup of fresh, raw spinach
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1/2 a frozen banana
- 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
- 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/4 of a teaspoon of honey (optional – adds an extra 16 calories)
Peaches & Cream Smoothie (231 calories)
- 1 1/2 cups of sliced fresh peaches
- 1/2 a cup of nonfat buttermilk
- 1/2 a medium banana
- 2 teaspoons of honey
- 1/2 a cup of crushed ice
Liquid Meal Replacement Diet Summary
The liquid meal replacement diet is convenient and straightforward to follow. Stick to the guidelines recommended on the packet, and your chance of success will be high.
If you’d rather eat than drink your meals, replacement meal nutrition bars may be more to your liking. As with when choosing a liquid meal replacement, read the label to make sure the nutrition bar contains healthy ingredients and minimal additives.
Obviously, you won’t want to depend on liquid replacement shakes indefinitely. They can, however, help kick-start a diet. It will then be up to you to maintain your weight loss by sticking to a healthy diet and getting more exercise.