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A quick, convenient, healthy meal replacement has long been the holy grail of diet and fitness enthusiasts. Those looking to lose weight, gain muscle, or just maintain their body composition tend to scour the shelves at health food stores and the websites of supplement providers to find that perfect product, but so many of the shakes, powders, and bars available today mislead consumers with labels that make big promises. Unfortunately, most of those products contain subpar ingredients.
So how do you figure out which products are actually good for you? And how do you know whether to choose a meal replacement shake or nutrition bar? Continue reading as the nutrition specialists at ENU discuss the topic of meal replacement shakes vs. bars.
Benefits of Meal Replacement Shakes
Meal replacement shakes can help you meet a wide range of dietary needs with very little effort. As with any food product, however, consumers should make an effort to sort out the quality products from the lousy ones, and that means reading and interpreting the ingredients label and nutrition facts. Depending on your fitness or health goals, there are specific components to look for in a meal replacement shake.
The most important aspects to look at are the three macronutrients that form the backbone of your diet – proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Not only do the amounts of each matter, but the quality of the source is equally important. Some key points to remember:
- Look for protein sources that are easily absorbed by your body; whey and soy protein are two good examples of this type.
- Focus on unsaturated fats like those found in coconut oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, or canola oil.
- Try to find unrefined sources of carbs, like those that come from whole grains. Avoid refined sources like corn syrup or other discreet kinds of sugar.
A mixture of vitamins and minerals can add to the benefits of a shake but offer a smaller overall impact than the macronutrient components. Look for a variety of vitamins and minerals on the
Meal replacement shakes are also thought to move more quickly through the digestive system because they are in a liquid state. Generally speaking, liquids spend less time in the stomach than solids and so reach the small intestine sooner, which is where nutrients are absorbed into the body. This makes meal replacement shakes ideal for post-workout recovery, as the protein, fats and carbs are readily available to support the rebuilding of muscles and other tissue that may have been damaged during exercise.
Benefits of Meal Replacement Bars
In many ways, meal replacement bars offer similar benefits to shakes. The kind of bar you buy will be determined by the objective you have in mind: do you want to gain weight, tame your appetite, build some muscle, or just grab a bite on the go? The answer will make all the difference.
Nutritionally speaking, bars should be studied with the same level of scrutiny as nutrition shakes. Look for easily absorbed protein, unsaturated fats, and unrefined carbs, though these are not always easy to differentiate from their less healthy counterparts. Sugars are especially egregious, as they can appear in a wide variety of forms that disguise its true nature:
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Brown rice syrup
- Evaporated cane juice
- Crystal dextrose
These are just a few examples of sugar in disguise; virtually any syrup is a form of sugar, which can make those offenders easier to spot, but it can nevertheless be difficult to discern which ingredients may secretly undermine your health goals.
Should I Choose Meal Replacement Shakes or Bars?
Because meal replacement shakes and bars can vary so widely in terms of quality of ingredients, it is nearly impossible to compare the two classifications directly; a well-made bar is going to be better for you than a poorly-made shake, and vice versa. However, there is one notable difference between the two products: assuming they have similar nutritional content – including overall calorie count – their different forms will change the digestive process somewhat.
As mentioned above, liquids tend to move through the system faster. While this can be an asset in some situations, it also means that liquid products don’t make you feel as full for as long. Solid foods, on the other hand, take longer to digest, so you may feel more satisfied after eating a nutrition bar, and your satisfaction may last longer. For this reason, nutrition shakes are sometimes thought to be better for those looking to gain weight, while bars are better for losing weight.
ENU Nutrition Shakes Contain Everything Your Body Needs
In an effort to provide the ideal meal replacement experience – for both your body and your taste buds – ENU has developed a balanced, delicious shake that contains all the nutrients found in a well-rounded meal. With 20 grams of protein from whey and soy, fats from coconut and sunflower oils, and carbs from ingredients like brown rice and quinoa, ENU meal replacement shakes are the perfect product to fuel your fight. To learn more about all our shakes have to offer, visit us online or call (855) 266-6733 today.