Meal replacements may work well for those on-the-go needs, but are they really healthy for you?
We all deal with busy schedules and many times we resort to meal replacements when we cannot include a whole meal in our diet. As convenient and versatile on-the-go options, what you’ll find with meal replacements are tasty supplements packed with macronutrients, as well as other nutrients, to enhance all areas of our gains.
But one question you may be asking yourself is whether meal replacements are really healthy. There are so many supplements out there that claim to be worth it, but too often we find that they may be full of crap and other nonsense that we don’t need, or won’t help.
Looking at the nutrition label is key to determining if a supplement, like meal replacements, is worth it for you, but what you’ll find is that doing a little research and talking to people can go a long way. When it comes to something like a meal replacement, you want to be sure this works for you. If you are replacing a whole food meal, you must be absolutely certain that this supplement provides you with all the vital nutrients that you need most.
Let’s take a look at meal replacements and see what makes these supplements so great. For those wondering if they’re healthy, we’ll dive right into that. And for those potentially skeptical, we’ll give you the facts so you don’t have to hesitate or wonder if you’re wasting your time and money.
What are meal replacements designed for?
Meal replacements are supplements designed to replace a meal for those needs on the go, or if your busy schedule doesn’t allow time to sit down and prepare a full meal. These typically come in powder, prepackaged shake, or bar form.
What you’ll find in a premium meal replacement is a balance of macronutrients and as low a calorie count as possible. Keep in mind that you are replacing a meal, so the calories will be higher. In addition to the larger elements of a meal replacement, there will be other aspects like fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other added nutrients to make this supplement at least worth replacing a meal (1).
Benefits of meal replacements
Before we dive into the actual health aspect of a meal replacement, let’s take a look at some benefits that meal replacements can offer. Knowing what they can do for you may make you want to investigate further. Plus, you won’t be disappointed in results or benefits when you find the right product to add to your routine.
- Support weight control: High in protein and balanced macronutrients, these can work to support your weight management goals by ensuring the right amount of macros to give you energy while keeping weight in mind (2).
- Perfect for busy schedules: Great options to take wherever you are to improve athletic performance and your overall health.
- It has incredible ingredients: A variety of whole food ingredients are offered to support all aspects of our overall health, digestion and recovery. In addition to proteins, carbohydrates and fats, you will find fiber, vitamins and minerals to give you the necessary boost.
- Affordable and convenient: A quick, high-protein fuel source at an affordable price for the convenience and recovery of a well-balanced diet.
Are they really healthy?
When it comes to this question of whether meal replacements are healthy, it should be said right off the bat that it depends on the product and it depends on your goals.
Yes, meal replacements can be healthy alternatives, but they should be used sparingly. It’s always best to get these nutrients from whole foods, however, sometimes our busy schedules just don’t allow for it. Having a meal replacement every day is not the best idea, but if used in moderation it can be beneficial to your gains.
What makes meal replacements unhealthy is the amount of sugar and calories. As said before, these are replacing a meal so they are bound to have more calories, however, products that are not of the highest quality can have too many calories with insufficient reward, hurting your overall gains. Same with sugar. A great tasting product can be delicious with natural flavors and if a company is pumping the product with sugar and artificial sweeteners then it is doing more harm than good.
Also, you want to make sure to check the macronutrient ratio, because if a product is loading you up on carbs and not enough protein, then look elsewhere. The added ingredients should also be diverse, and things like fiber, collagen, omega-3s, and other vitamins and minerals should be included. If a meal replacement seems like a run-of-the-mill product, go ahead and find one that is worth your time and money.
So are meal replacement supplements really healthy? Yes, absolutely, they can be. Looking at the Nutrition Facts label and comparing products is a key way to get the answers you want. Don’t settle for a bogus product and work for the best possible gains when it comes to staying full and helping with weight loss and management (3).
If you have to skip a meal, meal replacements are those products that work wonders for you. While it’s important to do diligent research, don’t neglect what this can do for all those goals.
Check out our list of the best meal replacements for more great meal replacement products!
For those wondering if meal replacement supplements are healthy options, then you have come to the right place. What a good meal replacement can do for you is to replace a whole meal if you have a busy life. But honestly, these supplements work great for those athletes who may be traveling and need a midday meal. Whatever your needs, meal replacements can help, so don’t neglect what these supplements can do. And yes, the right meal replacement can be a healthy option for you.
*Images courtesy of Envato
- Kulovitz, Michelle; Kravitz, Leon. “Do meal replacements work?”. (source)
- Treyson, Leo; Chen, Steve; Hong, Kurt; Yan, Eric; et al. (2008). “A controlled trial of protein enrichment of meal replacements for weight reduction with retention of lean body mass”. (source)
- Davis, L.; et al. (2010). “Efficacy of a meal replacement diet plan compared with a food-based diet plan after a period of weight loss and weight maintenance: a randomized controlled trial.” (source)