Using Meal Replacements
You've probably seen shakes and bars designed to be drunk or eaten in place of a regular meal. You may wonder, Are they a good choice for weight loss?
In general, it's better to learn how to choose healthy foods and eat them in reasonable portions than rely on a shake or bar to do it for you. However, meal replacements can be a good choice if you use them to replace a meal, such as breakfast, that you would normally skip. They can also be a healthy choice if you're caught in a pinch or need to eat on the go.
While meal replacements can be a convenient way to cut calories, it's important to keep in mind that not all products are created equal. Check the Nutrition Facts panel and make sure that the number of calories and other nutrient values fit in with your meal plan. At the DCN Weight Loss Group Meetings we often recommend brands like Slim-Fast and Glucerna.
Also keep in mind that drinking a shake or eating a bar may not be as emotionally or physically satisfying as eating a well-balanced meal containing the same amount of calories. For example, compare drinking a 220-calorie meal replacement shake with eating a breakfast of one cup of fresh strawberries, four ounces of low-fat yogurt, and a slice of whole wheat toast. The second meal has the same amount of calories, but it would probably leave you feeling much more satisfied.
So make time for "real" food whenever you can, and use meal replacements as a backup plan. Remember, a meal replacement may be a better choice than a burger and fries, but there's no substitute for learning to make healthy food choices for life.