Very low calorie diets, with less than 800 calories a day, have been used in the treatment of obese patients. This type of diets produces significant weight loss and improves blood glucose levels, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Unfortunately, using very low calorie diets without a program to change lifestyle you may not be able to maintain the weight loss.
What is a meal replacement?
A meal replacement is a controlled portion of food or drink that contains between 100 and 300 calories to lose weight. Meal replacements may be shakes, soups, prepackaged entrees, or snack bars. Meal replacement can be eaten instead of foods that are higher in calories.
On a very low calorie diet to lose weight, you drink at least 5 servings of a commercial formula product every day plus generous amounts of beverages free of calories. You also include some foods very low in calories such as lettuce.
Meal replacements have vitamins and minerals to meet the recommended dietary allowances, because when you eat less than 1,200 calories a day, you cannot meet your nutritional needs from food alone. Many very low calorie diets do not include regular foods that you could buy in the grocery store.
What are the benefits of using meal replacements?
The benefits of using meal replacements are several:
You lose more weight than people who use standard low calorie diets
The calorie content is consistent
It is easier to reduce your calorie intake
It is easier to lower your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes.
They are easy to purchase
They usually cost less than the meal they replace and easy to store
They are easy to store
Require little or no preparation
They simplify your food choices
They help you avoid foods you might overeat
What are the pitfalls of using meal replacements?
Meal replacements are not for everyone. Some of the pitfalls are:
You may not like the taste
If you eat meal replacements in addition to all the other food you eat you will end up consuming too many calories
Overeating meal replacements thinking they are healthy
Eating meal replacements can get monotonous
You may feel deprived, have food cravings, and as a result start binge eating
Unfortunately, using meal replacements as part of a very low calorie diet alone, without a program that teaches you how to change your eating habits and lifestyle means that you probably will not be able to keep the weight loss. Some studies show that after 5 years, people in these types of diets have maintained only 5 percent of the amount of weight initially lost.
On the other hand, if you are supported by a program that guides you on how to eat healthy, eliminate harmful fats, reduce calorie intake, and keep food records, you can keep the weight off.
Meal replacements meet the demands of today’s lifestyles for quick and easy dining, while avoiding high fat, high-calorie choices from fast food chains. However, meal replacements should be used along with generous servings of fruits and vegetables daily. They were made to help you limit foods that can be a problem such as starchy foods, snack foods, and sweets.
Some critics of meal replacement argue that meal replacements are simply a crutch and do not teach the person to eat foods in the real word.