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Meal replacement diets — pros and cons

Meal replacement diets — pros and cons

It sounds simple enough: eat a bar or drink a shake in place of your regular meal, You’ll consume a smaller amount of calories, and you can control exactly how much you’ll eat. But do these plans work?

Meal replacements and weight loss

Whether meal replacements will work for you really depends on a number of factors. For people who have a lot of weight to lose, meal replacements often help them “jump start” their weight loss quickly. But, the downfall is that they are difficult to stick with long-term.

Experts from the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery point to evidence that the heavier you are, the more hungry you’ll be when dieting. They have stated that due to metabolic and hormonal changes, overweight people are more likely to be hungry and more likely to hang on to excess body fat despite calorie restriction. This could make it very difficult to drink a 200-calorie shake for lunch and make it until dinner.

On the other hand, if you feel you can stick to the meal replacement plan without dealing with extreme hunger or fatigue, it may be worth a try. Just make sure your physician knows about the plan you’re following and has given you the go-ahead to try it. When you do go back to eating “regular” meals, be cautious about the calories you consume so you don’t gain the weight back.

As with any diet, you may just need to try it to decide if it works for you. With meal replacements, you may know within a few days if you can stick with it long-term. If you’re hungry and looking for a “real” meal just an hour after you’ve had your meal replacement, it may not be the right choice for you. But if you feel you like the simplicity and level of control it offers, and can deal with some hunger (at least initially), then there’s no harm in trying it.

Sugar and other factors to consider

Some of the meal replacement bars and shakes on the market contain a hefty amount of sugar — as much as a soda, candy bar, or even more. This can be a major health concern if you have diabetes or other health conditions. Not to mention, it can cause the dreaded “sugar crash” when your body quickly processes all that sugar and you suddenly feel very hungry and tired.

If you do decide to try this strategy, choose a meal replacement that offers some good nutrition without unwanted calories. As a general rule, look for one that contains at least 10 grams of protein, several grams of fiber, lots of vitamins and minerals, and ideally, less than 15 grams of sugar. You may wish to ask your physician for recommendations.

CarePoint Health Bariatric Surgery

CarePoint Health Center for Bariatric Surgery offers a number of different weight-loss surgeries to help you meet your goals, including sleeve gastrectomy, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, LAP-BAND®, and REALIZE® Band. To learn more about our bariatric surgery options, contact us at 201-795-8175 and register for our free seminar.

Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.


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