Meal replacements come in various flavors, consistencies and forms. Ranging from the “mix with water types” to ones that are “ready-made”, the list is endless. Regardless of the variety available, they all pretty much promote low energy diets, which are high in protein and low in carbohydrates.
These diets were initially developed to assist with the fast weight loss in overweight patients preparing for surgery to lower the risk during surgery. It has since become a million-Dollar industry, due to the distribution of these products to the general public as a “healthy, quick fix” to the ever-present weight-loss struggle.
People have always been attracted to the easy, no fuss no mess methods without careful consideration of the impact or lasting influences. One never picks up weight over night, yet people expect to loose weight that way.
Will you loose weight: Yes, as per all the other quick fixes, there will be a weight loss. Again, the weight loss is mostly due to the loss of water and also protein from lean muscle and vital organs due to the lack of carbohydrates in the formulas.
Contrary to the claim of “magical cure and components”, the low energy consistency of the diet will create a weight loss and will also create some body fat loss, which will be accompanied by the loss of water.
Effects on the body: As with all the other high protein, no or low carbohydrate diets, the loss of water will show up on the scale and the individual will feel great about the weight loss. Needless to say that once the diet is stopped, the water will be replenished within a day or two and the individual will have a sudden weight gain again. The loss in protein from the lean muscle or vital organs is however not that easily replenished and can have irreversible damaging effects.
High protein low carbohydrate diets will, as mentioned previously, cause bad breath, nausea, headaches and dizziness.
A low energy diet will cause the body to reduce the use of energy for basic metabolic purposes. Once the low calorie intake is stopped, the body ensures that it gets back what it has lost and regaining the weight that was loss is nearly inevitable. This is how the market for these products is maintained. You will loose weight and pick it up again and the marketer/manufacturer will encourage you to get more just to loose and pick the weight up again.
In cases where these meal replacement products are used to substitute more than one meal, it is not sufficient to accommodate all the body’s nutritional requirements due to the very low calorie intake.
With the low calorie intake the body can bearly cope with basic functioning let alone anything else. Individuals on these diets feel very tired and become very lethargic.
The biggest problem with these diets is that it does not promote healthy eating patterns. The user does not learn to make good choices and in the process maintain a healthy body weight and good nutritional habits. Instead, the individual is taught to go from one bad regime to the next in an effortless attempt to loose weight and feel good about themselves. Unfortunately the individual keeps on feeling bad about him/herself, since their weight still keeps fluctuating and they have by now spent ludicrous amounts of money.