In this article, I am going to discuss the pros and cons of meal replacement diets.
Meal replacement diets have gained in popularity over the years. The increased use of these diets is often prompted by the manufacturers’ claims of rapid and simple weight loss. Also, these diets are often followed by celebrities, and the resulting publicity increases the popularity of these diets.
What are meal replacement diets?
The meal replacement concept is to replace your normal meal with a product, that is manufactured and has a know calorie content. The meal replacement diet meals can be in the form of shakes, soups, bars and real foods. With shakes and soups, they are often presented as powders for the drink to make up just before drinking your meal. Also for example in the Slimfast range, the milkshakes can be bought already made up.
A number of new products have been added to the dieting meals replacement product lines these are diet meals that resemble normal foods, but come in a meal sized portion. For example chili con carne or porridge.
Meal replacement diets will come with instructions to either replace some or all of your daily meals with their products. For example, the diet called Lighterlife Lite requires the dieter to have three diet meal replacement products a day and one small but normal meal, but the scheme called Lighterlife replaces your entire daily food intake with their products (shakes, soups and bars).
Meal Replacement Diets: Pros
1. If you follow the diet to the letter you are virtually guaranteed to lose weight.
2. You don’t have to make any decisions about what you eat, this can be helpful if you are obsessed or addicted to foods.
3. The portion size is already done or you, so you are less likely to overeat.
4. Ketosis – once your body is in ketosis you will experience appetite suppression.
5. Allows for a time away from food to rethink your relationship with food, some schemes offer cognitive group therapy (Lighterlife).
6. Rapid weight loss.
7. Maybe cheaper depending on your lifestyle to just buy and eat meal replacement products.
8. A possible replacement for bariatric surgery.
Meal Replacement Diets: Cons
1. Hunger the portion sizes may not be large enough to satisfy hunger.
2. You may not find the diet replacement products palatable, and you may find them boring to eat over the long term.
3. When eating meal replacements you don’t learn to eat normally and healthily.
4. Made from artificial products so may not be healthy.
5. VLCD (very low calories diets) can result in hair loss if followed for a long time.
6. In ketosis, you may experience bad breath.
7. Difficult to socialize, as you can’t eat normal foods at a restaurant or party.
8. If you are the meal provider in your household you may end up cooking meals for others but eating replacement meals your self.
9. Maybe more expensive to purchase all the diet meal packs than eating normal foods.
10. Pressure from friends and family to stop dieting using meal replacement products, they worry that you are harming yourself by following such a restrictive diet.
11. The majority of Doctors would not recommend these types of diets.