Once upon a time, meal replacements were exclusively made for athletes in need of replenishment. Today, however, they’ve made their way into mainstream markets targeting every-day consumers pursuing either a healthier lifestyle or a weight-loss aid. In fact, supermarkets devote an entire section to meal replacement alternatives, such as whey protein shakes, snack bars, protein cookies and so on.
As a generation that’s known for being ‘on-the-go,’ meal replacements sound like the perfect option to maintain a weight-loss program through a busy schedule. After all, it’s much more convenient to drink a protein shake or snack on a protein bar than eating a full-size meal.
Although convenience is a perk, don’t fool yourself into thinking that a meal replacement is as nutritious and filling as a whole-foods meal.
Remember, not all meal replacements are built equally!
Most people believe that by purchasing meal replacements, they’re avoiding unhealthy snacking throughout the day. While there’s some logic to this idea, it’s not always the case. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of meal replacements are simply glorified candy-bars that contain suspicious chemical ingredients and cheap sugar additives.
If you choose to purchase a meal replacement, I encourage you to look over the nutrition facts beforehand.
- Are there any ingredients that sound like they were fabricated in a lab?
- What does the protein-carbs ratio look like? That is, am I being fed or fatten?
- How many grams of sugar does it have and where does it come from?
- How many calories does it have?
- Does it have any vitamins and minerals? If so, what is their percentage?
As you can see, meal replacements are not that great.
I was among the many who tried meal replacements, such as Muscle Milk shakes and Quest bars, to supplement my diet. It wasn’t until I researched their ingredients that I found out that they were heavily processed products filled with controversial sweeteners.
If meal replacements are not that great, what’s their best alternative?
As a person who understands first-hand the struggle of balancing my health with a long work-schedule, I’ve found some alternatives that may work for you.
To be perfectly clear, I didn’t tell you that you couldn’t drink protein shakes. I told you that manufactured protein shakes that are ready to buy at the supermarket are not great for you, which means that you’re free to make your own at home. Like I’ve previously mentioned in one of my blogs, I love to make a protein frappe with unsweetened cashew milk, powdered peanut butter and Impact Whey Protein from MyProtein USA.
If you don’t feel like drinking a shake, you can always pack a snack from home. Usually, I like to pack three 99% fat-free turkey ham slices (5 grams of protein, 25 calories each) with a serving of nuts (almonds, cashews or pistachios). I’ll eat that as a snack to keep my stomach full until I have time to eat my full-size meal.
Other options you might want to consider are: plain Greek yogurt (zero fat, low-to-no sugar), and Turkey Ham slices with a plain/unflavored rice-cake.
I can definitely come up with more suggestions, so please let me know if you’re looking for healthy-snacking options.
My advice to you is to stay away from company-manufactured foods. Try to eat as many whole-foods as possible.
If you have doubts about a certain food item, READ THE NUTRITION FACTS!
*Please note: Featured image is from arunonthewildside via Tumblr