By Megan Zakarewicz, DO, family medicine physician board-certified in medical weight loss, Grand View Health Medical Weight Loss
I am often asked why I’m such a big fan of meal replacements for weight loss. Truth be told, I did not always like the idea of meal replacements. I reluctantly adopted them as part of my practice when mounting evidence suggested something that I could not ignore: meal replacements work!
I have spent more than a decade counseling patients on nutrition. I have learned that weight loss is complicated! Long-term success requires focus on the four pillars of weight management: nutrition, behavioral changes, physical activity and managing medication/medical conditions. In my experience, having short-term success, while delving deeper into long-term strategies, is the very best of both worlds.
Most patients who come to me for advice need to lose more than a few pounds. Most patients are in a position that weight loss is imperative to their long-term health. Meal replacements provide a perfect bridge to better health through sustained weight loss. They also become a valuable tool to add to the toolbox for sustained weight maintenance.
Here are six reasons why I continue to recommend meal replacements:
- They work
Often, patients come to me frustrated with their lack of success in losing weight. Many have tried to lose weight for years, but just feel like they are spinning their wheels. It can be a real challenge to figure out what has been keeping them for meeting their goals. Portion size? Wrong combination of macronutrients? Meal timing? There are lots of possibilities. Meal replacements can serve as an equalizer. They can be an excellent way to overcome that hurdle. They are scientifically formulated to provide the essential macro and micronutrients your body needs while limiting the extra calories that are counterproductive to weight loss.
- They are easy
Meal replacement plans are simple. You can start seeing results quickly. It is easier to focus on longer-term changes while you are having success. Working with a weight loss expert to help you develop a healthier lifestyle while efficiently losing weight with meal replacements is a proven recipe for success. There is less calorie counting, less weighing and measuring, and no special meals to make—just have a shake or two instead of your usual meals. This can be a great start to long-lasting change. Choose a type of shake you like, and then replace one or two meals a day and watch the weight drop off! Depending on your weight loss goals and preferences, I can help you determine a plan that will work for you.
- They are healthy
High-quality meal replacement shakes are loaded with useful nutrients such as fiber, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to get all these things into a regular solid food meal. If you look at the nutritional profile of our recommended shakes, you will see they contain a large percentage of your recommended daily allowance of a variety of vitamins and minerals but without the calories typically found in a full nutritious meal.
- They are portable
In a hurry? No time to prepare a healthy meal? No problem! You can whip up a meal replacement shake in 60 seconds or less. The fewer excuses you have, the easier it will be to stick to your plan. Meal replacements make things easier on your willpower. With meal replacements, you have fewer excuses for breaking your diet because you can take meal replacements with you every ago.
- They are flexible
With meal replacements, you are the boss. It is up to you how many meals you replace a day, and you can decide which meals to replace. My personal preference is to have a meal replacement shake for breakfast, but you might prefer to replace your lunch instead. If you have a lot of weight to lose or want to lose weight faster, you might replace two meals per day, whereas if you only have a little weight to lose or are not in a hurry, one meal replacement may do the job for you.
- They are tasty
Okay, so I may be a little biased, and I understand this one is subjective. Not all meal replacements are created equal. We evaluated many available formulations. Cost, quality and taste were the most important factors when choosing our favorite products. We offer products that score well in each category. When you find a meal replacement shake that tastes great, you look forward to drinking it each day. Many patients find that their meal replacement shake satisfies their craving for something sweet. With meal replacement shakes, chocolate, strawberry, and even vanilla cake pop are all available, albeit in a healthy, nutritious form. Ask me about my favorite go-to combinations!
Meal replacements can help with both short and long-term weight loss success. You will get the best results if you combine them with strategies to address the four pillars of weight management.
If you are ready to make a change and would like to learn more about meal replacements for weight loss, I’d be happy to help! Learn more about our Medical Weight Loss program.