Many people debate whether shakes and bars as meal replacements are a good or bad idea. They typically have fewer calories than a full meal while still leaving you feeling satisfied. If you replace, say, one meal a day with a shake, given enough time you’ll build up a calorie deficit big enough to produce gradual and consistent weight loss. So yes, replacing meals with shakes or bars can indeed be an effective weight loss tool. However, since these items are classified as dietary supplements, the USDA doesn’t apply the same regulations to them that they do to other foods. Therefore, the marketing claims they make do not have to be truthful, and accurate information can be hard to confirm. Some meal replacement products do have genuine nutritional benefits, but others contain enough added sugar or fat that they may actually negatively impact your health.
Meal replacement is not something that should be done for every meal. Meal replacement shakes and bars simply can’t replace all the things that whole foods provide; things such as antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, as well as other important nutrients.
If you’re going to use either shakes or bars as meal replacements or snacks, there are a few things you should look at before purchasing them. Try to find products with less than 5 grams of fat per serving, less than 230 calories per serving and 10-20 grams of protein per serving. Please note that this should be per serving not per bar or shake. Some bars are actual two servings and they only expect you to eat half the bar.
So what is the best shake or bar to get? This is a difficult question to answer. It depends on the individual and their fitness goals. For example, I can’t tolerate milk-based proteins such as whey and casein protein. I use plant-based proteins when I consume shakes or bars. I find it is easier for my body to digest those proteins. And don’t forget you can make protein bars at home. I’ve heard about quinoa bars that you can bake at home. I plan on baking some this weekend. I have never had one so I’ll wait to recommend until I bake and eat them myself.
Whole food is always better than meal replacements. Sometimes though, a shake or bar is the most convenient option. Just remember to check the nutrition facts before you buy them. Also take into consideration how you feel after digesting the product. If you don’t feel right after consuming don’t continue to eat or drink it. Find which ones are best for you because what works for a friend may not work for you.