Dieting isn’t the same as it used to be. The consumer has all of the power in their hands now, between apps, social media, and the latest in diet shakes and meal replacements. Regardless of the type of diet, you’re on, your nutritional or allergen requirements, your workout schedule, or your flavor preferences, there is a supplement or shake to help you get there.
The challenge is, not many people are familiar with the ins and outs of diet shakes, and frequently the only source of info comes from the shake companies themselves. This usually cuts out most feelings of potential impartiality. Let’s take a good look at what exactly diet shakes are, and what they can and can’t do for you.
What Are Diet Shakes?
Diet shakes are also sometimes referred to as meal replacement shakes. They are a high-protein supplement, that depending on the brand and product line will have varying amounts of fats and carbohydrates in them. They are meant to help curb cravings in between meals, or to serve as a low-calorie yet filling meal replacement, without depriving you of essential nutrition.
What Are The Upsides?
There are several benefits to including diet shakes as part of your nutritional plan or diet. They are portion-controlled, which helps with one of the most difficult things dieters struggle with.
They are also incredibly convenient, so they are perfect for times when you may not have time or energy to make a full meal. A busy day at the office, for example, may not give you enough time for lunch or may keep you too late to seriously consider cooking dinner.
Since they are fewer calories than the average person would likely consume at a meal, they are the perfect way to fill your stomach and stop cravings, while still coming in under your calorie budget for the day.
Diet shakes are great for managing weight loss over the short term, and they do not require the user to make any drastic lifestyle changes initially.
Do They Have Any Drawbacks?
There are some potential downsides or drawbacks to using diet shakes that many people do not consider before starting to take them. Initially, they may try to dive in too deeply, substituting the shakes for too many meals, and developing deficiencies in nutrients like vitamins or minerals.
This can also have the starvation effect of stalling out their metabolic rate. Since they are not taking in enough calories their body slows their metabolism, and some people may find that their weight loss plateaus and they are unable to start losing weight again.
The very nature of diet shakes also limits the amount of fiber that the user is consuming, which if continued for too long, can drastically affect gut health and gut flora. This can lead to continuing feelings of hunger even when unwarranted, resulting in the user potentially binging or gorging, which further damages their progress.
One final drawback is that people who have become accustomed to using diet shakes for short-term weight loss tend to use them cyclically. They use them to lose weight but have not adjusted their eating habits at all, they rely on them. This often leads to weight gain once they stop using them.
Do Diet Shakes Even Work?
Diet shakes largely work well for those who incorporate them into diet and fitness routines. They tend to work much more effectively for those who are dieting short term, less than 12 months or so, while they are working to reach their goal weight. By then, however, most people will have learned more healthy eating and activity habits, and will not generally need to use diet shakes any longer.
If you do want to use them long-term, they can certainly become a part of a permanent nutritional plan. For most people though, the expense of continuing to purchase diet shakes outweighs the calorie and portion control benefits. Since they have also likely learned more effective calorie control as well, the nutritional aspect of the shakes loses its value.
Can You Diet With Only Shakes?
This is not advisable at all. Even with shakes that claim they can provide complete nutrition, there are things that your body needs that diet shakes cannot provide. Even with nutritional supplements, you should not count on getting all of your caloric intake and your nutrition, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and so on, from the average diet shake or meal replacement shake.