People drink meal replacement shakes for a multitude of reasons. Some of the more popular reasons are weight loss, an inability to consume solid food or simply not having enough time to prepare a full meal.
No matter what your reason for using a meal replacement shake, there are certain rules of thumb that you should remember and apply so that your shake not only keeps you full but also provides you with other nutrients to keep your body functioning optimally.
Most commercially prepared meal replacement shakes (the best ones, at least) already have these considerations in place but if you are making your own, here are some ways to get the most out of it:
Don’t skimp on protein
Protein will keep you feeling fuller for longer by increasing the production of satiety hormones (such as GLP-1, peptide YY, and cholecystokinin) while also reducing the levels of ghrelin(a hunger hormone) in the body. This leads you to crave less so you can stick to your weight loss plan much easier.
To boost the protein levels in your homemade shake, you can use a protein powder or add a tablespoon or two of peanut butter to the mix. You can also use milk instead of water – milk has about 8 grams of protein per cup.
Nonfat Greek yogurt is another protein-rich food that you can add to your shake.
Remember that fiber is your friend
Fiber-rich foods–such as bread and potatoes–have gotten a bad reputation since the start of the low-carb craze, but eating the right ones can actually speed up weight loss. That’s because they fill you up and take a long time to digest, which burns calories and keeps you from reaching for another snack.
Adding apples, bananas, oranges and other fruits to your morning meal-replacement shakes will provide a healthy dose of fiber.
Oats are also rich in fiber and protein which make it the perfect ingredient for any meal replacement shake.
A sprinkling of flax seeds will add healthy omega-3 fatty acids and a good dose of fiber, as well as protein. In fact, just one tablespoon of flaxseeds provides a little over 10% of the recommended daily fiber intake for most individuals.
Use this opportunity to up your vegetable intake
Even if you’re past the point in life where your vegetables need to be “hidden” in order for you to eat them, they make a wonderful addition to hearty shakes and smoothies. It’s also an easy way to pack three or more servings of veggies into your day, which is beneficial on many levels.
Think mild, leafy vegetables like spinach and kale; bright and hearty additions like carrots and bell peppers; and pureés of colorful vegetables such as pumpkin and beets.
Don’t Combine Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables should never be consumed together, however, because they are digested differently. In fact, some fruit subtypes shouldn’t be combined with other subtypes either. Click here to read more.
Take it easy on the sweeteners
While you want your shake to taste good, don’t be tempted to overload the blender with excess amounts of sugar and honey. This is counterproductive if you’re trying to lose weight, as your body will still expect that sugar high every time.
Using the right fruits is usually enough but if you still need some more (or a different) flavor, you can try adding a hint of vanilla extract. Maple syrup is another option, as long as you use it sparingly. A handful of fresh herbs can go a long way towards boosting the flavor of savory blends.
Only Have One or Two Per Day
A full, balanced meal should still be a part of your daily food intake. While a meal replacement shake can certainly provide incredible nutrition (not just satiety), it simply doesn’t compare to a full balanced meal.
Switch It Up
This is especially important if your goal is to lose weight. Having the same concoction day after day may cause you to lose interest and give in to your cravings prematurely.
There have even been situations where individuals drink less of their prepared shake over time because of familiarity and disinterest.
Combat this by trying out new ingredients and combinations every few days, or at least once per week. It’s a journey of learning and experimenting that you may even find quite intriguing.
Regardless of your reason for using a meal replacement shake, there are certain guiding principles that can help you to get the most out of it.
By choosing the right ingredients, occasionally changing these ingredients and understanding and appreciating that a meal replacement shake (currently) cannot compete with the nutrition a full, balanced meal offers, you will not only stay full for longer but remain well nourished as well!