Meal Replacement: a good strategy to lose weight

Meal replacement is a weight loss strategy that is fast regaining lost ground following recent clinical trials, and it is certainly one deserving of a second chance. Meal replacements can take the form of diet shakes, bars and other pre-packaged foods. These products are formulated to replace a meal and should contain all the necessary nutrients your body needs to keep going. The recommended way of using meal replacements is referred to as “partial meal replacement”, where only one or two meals are actually replaced every day.

Weight loss should, in theory, be rather easy. Your body needs a basic supply of energy to keep it going; influenced by a number of factors including your sex, height, weight, age and activity levels. If you then consistently take in fewer calories than required; your body will use stored fat to compensate for the deficit and you should lose weight. The average woman needs about 1800-2200 calories per day, while the average man requires about 2000-2500 calories per day. Your individually calculated daily energy requirement is referred to as your TER, or Total Energy Requirement.

If you reduce your daily calorie intake to a level of about 500 calories less than your daily requirement, you will lose approximately a pound per week. This is a healthy weight loss rate that will not damage your health or your metabolism. So, to lose weight you must find a way to consistently limit the number of calories you consume every day. The majority of people find it very difficult to limit their food portions, and really battle to refrain from overeating when confronted with some of their favorite foods.

The main reason for the success of meal replacement programs is that it offers dieters an easy and convenient way to manage their calorie intake. Since a single serving replace a meal, it automatically restricts calorie intake and enforces portion control. Usually the meal replacement program will also result in reduced temptation, since you will not come in contact with the foods that may normally act as a trigger for you to overeat. Dieters also often find it difficult to stick to their diets when they are traveling or when they do not have the time and energy to cook. When you use meal replacements, these problems are solved.


The question arises why meal replacements as a weight loss strategy is returning to favor nowadays. Modern meal replacement products with good reputations take advantage of advances in food technology and offer much more complete and balanced mixes of nutrients today than they did in the past. Most of the reputable products are now also sold as part of a broader weight loss program, with accompanying education about non replacement meals.

In a recent article on meal replacements, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, the results of several scientific studies were discussed. These studies highlighted the effectiveness of meal replacement in helping people lose weight. The use of partial meal replacements typically result in weight loss of around 9%-10% or total body weight in the short term (6-12 months), and 6%-8% in the long term (1-5 years). In one five year study the average weight loss for men were reported to be 5.8kg and for women 4.2kg. While this may not sound like much, these averages are high when compared to studies of similar duration.

When choosing your meal replacement product it is important that you select a product with a good reputation. Food Standards Australia and New Zealand specified the following requirements for commercial meal replacements per standard meal: approximately 850kJ (202 calories) with at least 12g protein and 25% of the recommended daily intake of 16 prescribed vitamins and minerals. It is suggested that you include at least 50g protein in your daily diet, and at least 50g carbohydrates. Some of the most popular meal replacement products include the following: Optifast for a lower protein diet; or Myoplex Lite Shake and Right Light Nutrition Shake for a higher protein / low carb diet.

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5 Responses to “Meal Replacement: a good strategy to lose weight”


  • I agree with Shelly, the busy career-woman. I work swing shift at a casino here in the States, and not only do I work swing shift (which is fine because I’m a night-owl by nature), I’m a total foodie who was born hypothyroid, of all things. I was able to maintain a sort-of healthy weight in high school and college, but once I got out of college, boom! Into the workforce and out of the regular routines I-and my physical self–enjoyed while in school.

    Because I work swing-shift, it is all too easy to either neglect a traditional breakfast or just grab something somewhat unhealthy. My boyfriend told me just to go without completely, just because he said it worked for him, but I know that’s not the most balanced way to do it. He somehow manages to work through any hunger pangs (he also works swing shift–at a factory), but I can’t. I get distracted and cranky and I mess up on the job too easily. He tells me I gotta assert more willpower not to eat anything, but it’s not about willpower. It’s all about making sure I have the kind of nutrients I need to start my shift with any modicum of feeling satiated–and feeling SANE! Because I know that if I have something to eat before my shift, I will NOT reach for the doughnut or the candy bar.

    But because my lifestyle is what it is right now as far as work hours go, meal replacements are the best thing that’s ever happened to me! :-D

  • In response to Jonell. Yes, many people do back to their unhealthy ways and eat just as much putting the weight back on, but with Meal Replacements it’s far a few between with 80% maintaining their weight up to 4 years in clinical trials done in many parts of the world. The good thing about meal replacements it really does change your lifestyle, changes in diet habits is not a short term goal but a lifelong one.

    For me i have lost around 7 kgs about 12 months ago and another 7 kgs about 2 months ago to get close to my goal, all on Celebrity Slim meal replacements. I still have 1 shake a day for breakfast for maintenance and really don’t watch what i eat but found alot of healthier things i enjoy eating. Also get in 2-3 times a week exercise.

    Meal replacements are probably the best and healthiest options around but does take discipline and changes in your life to keep going.

  • I had loads of trouble loosing weight. But I started replacing one meal a day with a shake. I also began to do light exercises 3 times a week. It was a hard change in lifestyle but I made an effort to stick through it. I still love my food and to eat but replacing one meal a day with a meal replacement shake was the best thing I ever did to loose weight safely.

  • All I want to know is, what happens to your figure once you stop replacing your meals! I am sure meal replacements can work for many people that want to lose weight, but it certainly does not teach them how to follow a healthy diet. Yes, I hear you that most of these products nowadays are sold with programs to teach you better eating habits, but I just wonder how many people bother. Most will just use the shakes until they’ve reached their goal weight, and then they will go right back to their old ways. It is like any diet. how many Atkins fans do you know that actually followed all four Atkins phases to start following a healthy lifestyle? a Handful. the rest follow the diet to lose weight, and then just start eating their normal foods again. People will start losing weight when they realize the only way to lose weight properly is to change to a healthy, natural diet and that exercise on an ongoing basis is a very necessary part of a healthy lifestyle.

  • Meal replacements work very well for me. I am a busty career women and before I tried them, I always found it difficult to eat healthy meals, especially for breakfast and lunch. No I have a Myoplex drink for lunch and breakfast very day of the week. weekend I let go a bit. It too me 3 months to reach my goal weight, and I have been maintaining my weight now for the past 4. Can recommend this approach to weight loss to anyone out there.

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