The human body needs the right amount and type of food to stay healthy. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time to prepare a balanced and nutritious diet. The easiest meals that anyone can get may come from a drive-through or package, which are often high in total calories and low in essential nutrients.
But whether you’re short on time to get a healthy meal or trying to lose weight, skipping a meal is not an option. This is where meal replacement systems come to play. They typically aim to help you get a good balance of nutrients from a proper full meal in an easy-to-eat form.
There is a wide range of meal replacements available on the market, but they are not all created equal. To help you make the most informed decision, we’re discussing below how to choose the meal replacement that’s right for you.
What Are Meal Replacements?
The best meal replacements on the market are meant to replace the nutritional value of a regular meal but with a lower amount of calorie intake. They are also often used to maintain or lose body weight. Meal replacements can come in various forms like meal bars, shakes, and powders. But they can also be available as ready-to-drink beverages.
While many countries have a strict set of regulations for meal replacement products, the US doesn’t have one. With that, manufacturers tend to make the claim of a meal replacement on many products. But it’s worth noting that most of these products are marketed as conventional food and must bear a Nutrition Facts label in the US.
Note that it’s important to ensure that you’re aware of the lack of regulation so you can make the best choice and get more advantages from using these meal replacements.
How Can Meal Replacements Help Your Health?
Before getting hyped up with these meal replacement products, it’s always to consider how they can help your health. Because though they bring numerous advantages, meal replacements may not always be helpful for everyone.
- Eliminate Poor Food Choices. Many people go for unhealthy and processed food because they are cheaper and more convenient. But since meal replacements are high in nutritional value and easy to incorporate into your diet, you’re more likely to replace fast food, chips, or unhealthy comfort food.
- More Controlled Calories. With a good meal replacement, you’d be able to keep your calories more controlled and other nutrients high. If you think you have too many calories after eating out, you can always go back to a simple meal replacement for your next meal.
- Aid In Proper Digestion. Meal replacements typically contain high amounts of fiber, which can aid in proper digestion. Note that fiber is essential to keep your digestive tract working smoothly, so you won’t get bloated or have constipation.
- Maintain A Healthy Weight. Controlling portion size is an effective approach to reduce energy intake and maintain a healthy weight. Since meal replacements contain all important parts of a very low energy diet, they are useful for portion control.
What To Look For In Meal Replacements?
Meal replacements can provide a convenient and nutritious way of fulfilling the nutrients your body needs while allowing you to monitor your consumption. However, they might have different ingredients and nutrients. That’s why it’s important to carefully select the meal replacement you intend to use.
To help you do that, here are the key ingredients you should look for an effective and safe meal replacement product:
- Natural Carbohydrates. Carbs are a vital energy source for your body’s processes. But refined carbs and added sugars can contribute to conditions like obesity and diabetes. A good meal replacement contains no more than 25 grams of carbs from natural sources.
- Healthy Fats. Certain types of fats can be good for your heart health, such as omega-3s and unsaturated fats. Look for a meal replacement with high amounts of them. But note that a healthy one will have no more than 10-15 grams of fat per serving.
- Absorbable Proteins. Protein is essential for muscle health, but you need a source that’s easy to be absorbed into your system. Also, good meal replacement products must have at least 15 grams of protein per serving.
- Essential Vitamins and Minerals. As much as possible, look for a meal replacement that should contain at least one-third of the daily recommended vitamins and minerals.
- Enough Amount of Calories. A high-quality meal replacement product should have enough calories so that you can be fuller for a longer period. Ideally, meal replacements should have between 200-500 calories to be considered satisfying. But still, make sure it aligns with your daily calorie budget.
How To Properly Use Meal Replacements?
There are many benefits associated with meal replacement products. However, they can be unsafe and ineffective if you don’t know how to use them. Here, we’ve put together some tips that can help you use them properly.
- Check Out The Review. One way to find the most effective meal replacement is to check out the reviews about them. Other customer’s reviews and experiences using the product can help you decide whether it is worth it.
- Read The Nutrition Facts. A good meal replacement should contain a sufficient amount of nutrients to cover the calories costs of a regular meal. It is, therefore, vital that you read the nutrition facts to ensure you’re getting the number of proteins or carbs that you need to consume.
- Use It Only As A Backup. Meal replacements should not be used as your only meal every day. Use them only as a backup when you don’t have time to prepare a healthy meal. They are not meant to replace your whole diet.
- Consult With Your Doctor. Whatever your reasons are for using a meal replacement, it’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor. It’s even more so when you have health conditions like diabetes.