Drinkable meals, commonly referred to as meal replacement shakes, are liquid versions of complete meals. You can buy them to help with calorie control during a diet or to increase certain vitamins or nutrients like protein, or you can make your own homemade smoothies with the real food ingredients you need. This article has the details on how meal replacement drinks are scientifically proven to help maintain successful diet programs and weight loss, and what products or ingredients you should look for when selecting the best drinkable meal for you.
Why Drinkable Meals?
Studies have shown over and over again that high-quality meal replacement shakes, when utilized properly, can help curb hunger cravings, aid in sustainable weight loss, and increase the success rates of diets. Meal replacement drinks that contain the necessary nutrients like healthy fats, protein, and fiber without artificial sweeteners or GMO ingredients can help in many ways. Here are three of the top reasons to drink your meals.
1. Remove the Guesswork
Many Americans cannot tell what a proper portion size is by looking at it. Restaurants do not serve proper portions, and even if you had an excellent health, home ec., or kitchen science class in high school, there was likely no lessen plan teaching you that a serving size of chicken is about the size of a cassette tape. Besides, that information wouldn’t necessarily help a vegetarian anyway, or someone born after the invention of MP3s.
If you do know your portion sizes or you have a kitchen scale, you can make your own protein shakes and meal replacement smoothies at home, but for many beginners the ability to buy a pre-portioned drinkable meal that can fill you up as a lunch replacement may be invaluable. It can also provide the micronutrients you may otherwise miss by ordering a take-out or fast food meal just to stave off hunger while running errands or getting swamped at work.
2. Added Convenience
For working professionals, especially those with family and community responsibilities, health and fitness is often put on a back burner. When prioritizing life, their kids’ nutrition comes first, their job second because it’s necessary to provide for the kids, and, of course, maintaining relationships (be they romantic or familial) are at the top of the chart. People also have to sleep for at least a couple of hours each night too.
When all those vital requirements take up the entirety of each day, where does that leave time to go to the gym or prep a week’s worth of healthy lunches? That’s when a drinkable meal could be ideal.
Commercially produced meal replacements can be purchased in bulk and in different flavor varieties and nutrient profiles depending on if it’s a breakfast, lunch, or pre-workout shake. You can also select brands that are in adherence with diets or restrictions like ketogenic, vegetarian, vegan, non-dairy, gluten-free, etc.
The long shelf life of certain products means they can be easily grabbed from the fridge or pantry each morning, stored in your desk at work, and even in your car (more appropriate for protein powder mixes than ready-to-drink products in case your car gets too hot during the day).
When you eat regularly and feel full throughout the day, your energy and mental stamina improve and you’re less likely to over-consume calories at dinner because you won’t feel like you’re starving.
3. Ensuring Vitamin Intake
The right product with the ideal natural ingredients and essential nutrients can help stop vitamin deficiencies before they cause problems. Some nutrients are so commonly low in the general population they’ve been added to foods and other substances we consume: calcium in orange juice, iodized salt, fluoridated water, fortified cereals, and so on. Moreover, there are certain nutrients the body needs that not everyone has easy access to, like the omega-3 fatty acids in fish that those who live far from coastal areas may not have readily available.
A drinkable meal can help make up for some of the nutritional loopholes associated with modern living, like a lack of seed consumption. A homemade drinkable meal, for example, could easily contain chia seeds to add micronutrients like omega-3s and increase satiety thanks to their ability to swell up with moisture. Likewise, commercial products often incorporate ground flaxseed for its valuable fiber content.
Adding the occasional meal replacement shake to your diet may even help you get more nutrients than you would from your whole food meals in the first place.
Drinkable Meals: Key Ingredients
Here is a list of ingredients that you may want to utilize independently (especially if you have allergies or other dietary restrictions to consider). You can also use it as a guideline for real ingredients when shopping for a new product to buy. There are products that are nut, dairy, and soy free out there, so if time is of the essence, you can find high-protein mixes and shakes ready to go or you can get creative on your own with some of the following main ingredients.
For those on the low-carb keto diet, avocados are often the top healthy fat used in rich, green smoothies. Botanically classified as a single-seed berry, avocados are filling and full of vitamins like C, E, K, and folate, plus minerals like copper and potassium. With fatty acids, phytochemicals, and fiber content, avocados and avocado oil are ideal ingredients to include in a drinkable meal.
2. Nut Butters
Not applicable for those with nut allergies, of course, nut butters like almond, hazelnut, and peanut butter can provide tasty grams of protein when included in a drinkable meal recipe. With the right combo, your meal replacement can almost seem like a dessert, as when a nut butter is blended up with some cocoa powder and a banana.
3. Leafy Green Vegetables
Dark, leafy greens provide a powerhouse of nutritional content, and you (and any kiddos in your life) can most likely consume a lot more of them if you’re drinking them instead of chewing up a big bowl of steamed spinach. Check out the green smoothie challenge and see if you can’t feel the health benefits of getting more fresh, quality greens into your diet thanks to drinkable meals.
4. Whole Fruits
The natural sugars in fruits are the ones you’re still welcome to have on just about any diet you can name. Including fruit like dark berries in a drinkable meal brings you captivating visual appeal, nutrients like antioxidants, and the sweet, zesty taste that makes your meal replacement shake appetizing instead of a chore.
5. Healthy Oils
Coconut oil and its concentrated form MCT oil not only help make smoothies actually smooth in texture, especially when you’re putting whole nuts, seeds, and fibrous veggies in there, but they also contribute to feelings of fullness and satiety that especially help those who are going the intermittent fasting route.
Full of essential fatty acids, coconut oil can even be used in baking recipes to cut down on sugar and carbs. Other healthy oils include the cold-pressed (i.e., non-refined) olive oil and avocado oil too.
A Drinkable Meal, A Moveable Feast
There are many reasons why one might look into drinkable meals for temporary or long-term use. Those recovering from surgery or injury often need to consume extra protein, and those looking to lose weight or build muscle can help further their goals with meal replacement shakes.
Whether you want to lose weight, gain muscle, up your nutrient intake, or all of the above, making your own drinkable meals can help you take control of what you put in your body, and buying the right product can bring you the convenience you need to help manage your busy life and fitness goals. While doctors and dietitians would never suggest giving up whole food meals altogether, the science is clear: drinkable meals can help improve your health.