In all studies, meal replacement bars and shakes have been shown to be an extremely effective weight loss aid, and, in almost all cases, more effective than conventional methods of dietary restrictions (See figure 1). Additionally, meal replacements have been shown to be just as effective as dietary restriction combined with drug therapy. Most importantly, continuous use of meal replacements may be the most effective means of all treatments when it comes to maintaining weight loss (see figure 2 below).
Meal replacements are generally used to replace one or two meals a day and allow freedom of choice for the remaining allotted foods/calories.
Meal replacements allow:
• Between meal snack as an energy boost or appetite control aid.
• Portion control: people generally attempt to consume meals to completion, regardless of portion size. Therefore, portion size significantly impacts a person’s total calorie intake. Overwhelming evidence validates that the smaller the portions, the fewer daily calories consumed and vice-versa – i.e. people tend to “eat with their eyes not their stomachs”. Use of portion-controlled meals has proven to yield greater weight loss than conventional diet therapy alone.
• Accurate calorie counts of total daily food intake when compared to having to estimate the calories of self-prepared foods or those without food labels.
Figure 1: In all six studies the groups using meal replacements (PMR) as part of their overall calorie intake lost significantly more weight than subjects using the reduced calorie diet (RCD) alone. Heymsfield SB (2003)
Figure 2: In a 1-year follow-up in the groups that were tracked, the subjects still using meal replacements maintained significantly more weight loss than the RCD group. Heymsfield SB (2003)
Properly formulated meal replacements or meal supplements (as they may be called) are food, just in more convenient forms for specific times. You will always eat traditional foods, but in today’s hectic world meal replacements can remain part of everyone’s caloric intake to help satisfy hunger between meals and/or replace at least one meal daily. This allows freedom of choice for other meals such as lunch and dinners.