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Meal Replacements for Weight Loss

June 23, 2009 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

It’s late at night and I’m driving home after a decidedly rough evening. I’m feeling kind of down and all I see is an endless parade of fast food restaurants with convenient drive-thrus beckoning. A thick, cold and creamy milk shake sounds just like the ticket. Maybe some of you out there can relate? I know all too well that a pit stop to “soothe” the pain with some junk food would, ultimately, only make a bad night worse. So instead, I decide to stick to the resolve that’s helped me to lose over 80 pounds in the past several months. Then a thought occurred to me. Why not try sticking to my diet while still having some comfort food? So I that’s what I did.

The idea of taking an unhealthy, guilty pleasure and transforming it in something that’s equally satisfying, but genuinely nutritious is a hobby of mine. I put that interest into play here. The reason I mention it is two-fold: 1) This can be a valuable strategy that can be incorporated into any diet plan; and 2) Several studies published in the past year indicate that using nutritious milk shakes (“meal replacements”) can help promote and sustain weight loss and wellness.

On June 17th, a trial was featured in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It focused on a comparison between two strategies for maintaining long term weight loss. This is a very big issue in the arena of weight management. So called “yo-yo dieting” (repeatedly losing and gaining weight) is known to put individuals at greater risk for numerous health conditions and increased mortality. (1,2) Yo-yoing can be a vicious cycle.

This particular examination followed 62 volunteers who had achieved at least 5% weight loss via diet over a period of 6 months. The group was then split into two. One section received a once-daily (liquid) meal replacement in addition to a low calorie diet. The remainder of the participants followed a low calorie diet exclusively. All of the volunteers were monitored for a total of 6 months. (3)

  • Approximately 84% of the meal replacement group maintained their previous weight loss or lost additional pounds.
  • Only 58% of those following the low calorie diet plan achieved that same goal.
  • Those consuming the meal replacement also managed to lose about 2 1/2 times more weight than the diet group alone.

These results prompted the authors of the study to conclude that, “Substitution of a low-calorie diet formula for a meal is an effective measure for weight loss maintenance compared with dieting alone.”

Other recent studies have found similar success with meal replacements, but have also added additional information to the overall picture. A study from February 2009 determined that a high protein shake is more effective at lowering body fat than a “nutritionally balanced conventional” shake. (4) A 2008 study in the Nutrition Journal confirmed these findings and also noted that higher protein meal replacements appear to lower LDL (“bad”) and total cholesterol levels as compared to “standard protein” shakes. (5)

Those who used meal replacements most often lost the greatest amount of weight.

These results also hold true when tests are conducted in subsets of the population, such as those with type 2 diabetics. The use of meal replacement products in this group demonstrates greater weight loss, as well as a reduction in cellular damage (known as AGEs – advanced glycation end products) that may result from both blood sugar abnormalities and excess weight. AGEs are thought to contribute significantly to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, inflammation and the aging process in general. (6,7)

At this point, you may already be considering adding meal replacements to your regular dietary program. But before you do, just know this: You can make much healthier versions of meal replacements at home. That’s what I do and that’s what I typically recommend. It takes only a small amount of effort and the benefits are greater than anything you can expect to find in a bottle, can or smoothie shop. Here’s an example of a luscious, delicious and nutritious meal replacement that I make on a daily basis.

Ice & Cream Mocha Dream

  • 3 ice cubes
  • 2 oz of heavy, organic cream or organic coconut milk or suitable substitute
  • 4-6 oz of purified water
  • 2 scoops of Chocolate Green SuperFood
  • 3 scoops of ‘Source Naturals’ True Whey (or other sugar-free, natural vanilla or chocolate protein)
  • 2 scoops of ‘Health from the Sun’ organic, sprouted flax meal
  • 1 tsp of instant organic coffee *
  • a splash of organic vanilla extract
  • organic stevia, to taste
  • a dash of NutraSalt (to boost the flavor and add some additional potassium content)

* Or try a tbsp. of organic peanut butter instead.

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and process until creamy, smooth and thick. You can also use an immersion blender to make this treat. If you’d prefer the consistency of an ice cream or pudding, simply add a little more coconut milk/cream and/or flax seeds and/or blend a bit longer.

This meal replacement is loaded with antioxidants, fiber, healthy fats, nutrients and protein. It truly replaces the most important aspects of a healthy, whole food meal while at the same time helping to hydrate you. Best of all, the taste is as deceptively decadent as anything I could find at Baskin-Robbins, Ben & Jerry’s or Starbucks! If you try this recipe out, I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

Be well!

JP

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12 Comments & Updates to “Meal Replacements for Weight Loss”

  1. weightloss85 Says:

    Interesting post. Nice meal replacement. I will definitely try this one seems to be yummy..

  2. Oct Says:

    That meal replacement shake recipe looks modified-made for me :) Subbing a T of peanut butter for the coffee sounds wonderful. I will have to buy some chocolate green superfood and give this a try for sure.

    Thanks!
    ~oct

  3. julie pratt Says:

    I think we’d all agree that a healthy “real” meal should be the norm. The right nutrition plan can really give weight loss efforts (and health) a boost.

    That being said, it’s a lot better to reach for a good meal replacement than to succumb to the allure of cheeseburger value meal.

    I don’t know what “chocolate green superfood” will taste like, but I might be willing to give it a shot!

  4. JP Says:

    I hope you all enjoy it. The peanut butter substitution works out really well, in my opinion.

    The Chocolate Green SuperFood is really quite tasty. I honestly use it as much for the flavor as for the nutrition. A winning combo. :)

    Be well!

    JP

  5. anne h Says:

    I love this post, too! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  6. JP Says:

    Thanks, Anne!

    I just made one of these shakes for lunch. :)

    Be well!

    JP

  7. Christina Crowe Says:

    That recipe indeed looks delicious. I’ll make a note to try it as soon as I gather up the ingredients. I’ll also put my creativity to work more often in the kitchen.

  8. JP Says:

    Please let us know if you come up with any interesting recipes. I’m constantly experimenting in the kitchen too. I’ll post more meal replacement ideas in the future.

    Be well!

    JP

  9. Lynne Says:

    how much protein is in this shake? I should try this. I will sometimes use protein powder when I’m in a hurry and know I need to eat, but I just mix 1 scoop and water (I know.. not very exciting). so, your shake seems really high protein.

  10. JP Says:

    Lynne,

    The whey protein powder provides 24 grams of protein. All told, I’d say this shake contains roughly 35-40 grams of protein when you factor in the flax seeds, the greens and even the cream. The amounts can be easily modified. In fact, the entire recipe can be shaped to meet your specific caloric and nutrient targets. It just requires a little experimentation.

    Be well!

    JP

  11. Latisse Says:

    Hi Love this, Nice meal replacement. I will definitely try this methods

  12. JP Says:

    Thanks, Latisse!

    Be well!

    JP

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