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Do meal replacement shakes work for long-term weight loss?

Here's what you need to know about replacing meals with shakes.

Do Meal Replacement Shakes Work? | Juniper

Looking to kickstart your health journey with weight loss? You might be leaning towards meal replacement shakes, in that case.

While hitting the gym, getting a better night's sleep and ditching highly processed foods are great ways to work towards your health goals, some people find they need a little extra support in the form of meal replacement shakes.

Whether you replace 1 or 2 meals a day with a meal replacement shake, you'll love how nourishing they feel for your body.

The secret to using meal replacement shakes for weight loss is finding a shake that works wonders for your body, without compromising your wellbeing. Juniper's Nourish Shakes do just that, boasting 20 minerals and nutrients that your body will love, as well as high-quality whey protein that contains all 9 essential amino acids.

So let's dive into the world of meal replacement shakes — we'll cover what they are, how they work, and whether they're right for you and your body.

What's the deal with meal replacement shakes?

Designed to replace meals in your diet, replacement shakes are a low-kilojoule and essential nutrient-filled alternative to real food. While it may sound counterproductive, replacing meals with shakes boasts a world of benefits for losing weight.

These specially-designed shakes are jam-packed with protein, vitamins, and nutrients, but are very low in carbohydrates and calories, making them a perfect companion for calorie control [1].

These shakes are most commonly used in low-calorie diets as a fast way to lose weight — and depending on what kind of program you're on, you might replace 1 or 2 meals per day.

How do weight loss shakes work?

The meal replacement shake diet works by controlling the body's intake of calories while conserving the body's lean body mass (muscles and organs) at the same time.

In doing this, the shake is designed to cover the body's protein requirements without relying on an excess of calories. This keeps the body healthy and strong while reducing caloric intake, which in turn, leads to weight loss.

What should I look for in meal replacement shakes?

While meal replacement shakes can be great for weight loss, it's important to find a high-quality, nutrient-rich shake — otherwise, you'll only be doing harm to your body.

When looking for a healthy meal replacement shake, make sure you check the ingredients list for red flags like high sugar levels, laxatives, preservatives or even empty filler ingredients.

A well-balanced meal replacement shake should contain:

  • an appropriate amount of vitamins and minerals that are great for boosting immunity and overall health
  • high-quality protein packed with essential amino acids (this is important so you don't lose muscle mass)
  • a good source of fibre to help keep you fuller for longer and support digestion
  • a low amount of carbohydrates and calories
  • pre and probiotics to support gut health.
@juniper.education Do I need to drink #protein shakes to lose weight? Fiona, our #healthcoach answers your questions. #weightloss #proteinintake #nutrition #fatloss #uk ♬ Aesthetic - Chill Beats

Are meal replacement shakes good for weight loss?

The short answer is yes! Research shows that when meal replacement shakes are used properly, weight loss follows.

Switching to a low-calorie meal replacement diet with shakes causes a calorie deficit and in turn, leads to weight loss. One 2018 study found that participants saw a 4% weight loss with 1 meal replacement shake per day over a 3-month period [3].

It's important to note that while the evidence for weight loss is clear when it comes to short-term situations, the science is a little blurrier on whether they can be an effective long-term solution.

Can the weight loss be sustained long-term?

When researchers looked at the effectiveness of using meal replacement shakes over a year-long period, they found that they were equally as effective in achieving weight loss as regular low-calorie diets without shake replacements [4].

The same study also found that for adults with obesity, drinking meal replacement shakes provided more weight loss than those who simply changed their diets.

More research on the efficacy of meal replacement shakes on long-term weight loss still needs to be undertaken as it's probably not possible to continue to consume fewer calories over such an extended period of time.

But, if you're looking to kickstart your weight loss, or work through a weight plateau, meal replacement shakes can be useful.

How much weight can you lose?

While it depends on a range of different environmental and personal factors, studies have shown that liquid meal replacements can propel people to lose anywhere from 5-7 kilos of weight over 3 months [5].

Other studies found that when all 3 meals were replaced with shakes, participants saw a 12.3% weight loss over a 4-month period.

The biggest factor in how much weight you can lose usually comes down to the fact that the shakes curb cravings by eliminating the physical act of preparing meals. Studies show that those who switch to shakes see a major reduction in food cravings.

With Juniper's Nourish Shakes, for those consuming 2 shakes a day, it's normal to lose up to 2kg for the first 4-6 weeks, then 0.8kg each week beyond that. Those having 1 shake per day (combined with a low-calorie diet) can lose 4% of body weight in 12 weeks.

Are meal replacement shakes suitable for me?

Meal replacement shakes can work wonders for some, but aren't as suited for others.

For those who are pregnant, are dealing with eating disorders or are taking medications that affect weight, shakes like these should be avoided.

Meal replacement shakes are only part of the puzzle

While meal replacements are effective in helping you lose weight, it's important to remember that they are only a small piece of the puzzle [6]. Long-term behavioural change should go hand-in-hand with using meal replacement shakes.

There are a number of other factors that are involved in achieving sustainable and long-term weight loss, including quality sleep, focusing on whole foods, drinking plenty of water and moving your body.

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