Because of the wide variety of health trends that rely on some type of meal replacement – whether in the form of juice, protein bars, or nutrition shakes, to name a few – there is not much of a consensus around what exactly one of these replacements should contain. This is especially true where the number of calories is concerned; products geared toward weight loss tend to have few calories while those aimed at gaining healthy weight have some more.
So how many calories should a meal replacement shake have, and does the source of your calories really matter? Keep reading to find out.
Number of Calories in a Meal Replacement Shake
Although conventional wisdom may suggest that fewer calories are better for a healthy diet, the reality is much murkier than that. While it is true that losing weight often depends on creating a calorie deficit in your diet – in other words, eating fewer calories than your body needs so it has to burn fat stores for fuel – the size of that deficit and the way you reach it do matter. Cutting too many calories can lead to a crash diet, the results of which are notoriously short-lived and unhealthy in the long term.
Still others look, not to lose weight, but to gain it instead. Those suffering from some wasting illness – cancer, Crohn’s disease, and HIV are a few of the most serious examples – can use meal replacement shakes as a convenient and easy way to supplement their diets and keep their strength up. So what do these two uses for meal replacement shakes – the weight loss and the weight gain – mean for the calorie count? The answer is simple.
The purpose of a meal replacement shake is referenced clearly in the name of the product itself: they are used to replace meals. For this reason, look for meal replacement shakes that have a similar number of calories to what might reasonably be found in a small meal; less that 300 calories is probably too few to meet your body’s needs in a healthy way, and more than 500 calories might mean the product is too energy-dense and could undermine any weight loss efforts. However, the best advice is to choose the product that best fits your specific needs and situation.
Do the Ingredients in the Meal Replacement Shake Matter?
If you’re focusing on the number of calories you take in at mealtimes, you may be overlooking the source of those calories. A quick skim through the ingredients lists of many popular meal replacement shakes will likely reveal the presence of some unhealthy sources of calories, some of which are added simply to boost the calorie count at the cheapest cost possible.
The most obvious example of the type of ingredient to avoid is any based on corn syrup. This inexpensive carbohydrate has seen widespread use not only among meal replacement shakes, but also in everything from cans of soda to pancake syrup. It has more recently found its way into meal replacement shakes because it packs a lot of calories, though it’s sorely lacking in any other form of nutritional value. Needless to say, this prevalent sweetener is an unhealthy part of anyone’s diet, no matter how it is consumed, and it makes for a poor source of calories in your meal replacement shake.
Ingredients to Look For in Your Meal Replacement Shake
While corn syrup is definitely not a good source of calories, there are plenty of great ingredients in meal replacement shakes that also provide some much-needed macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals for your diet. Whey protein is one common example of a nutrition shake component that comes with a wealth of benefits: it is easy to digest, helps you feel full, aids in muscle preservation and growth, and can even boost weight loss.
When looking at carbohydrates and fats, try to find natural options – whole grain, complex carbs and unsaturated fats tend to be the best kinds. These can come in many forms, from carbs in the form of brown rice or tapioca or fats from coconut or olive oils. Even though many of the top diet trends like to demonize these macronutrients, the fact remains that both carbs and healthy fats are essential parts of a balanced diet and should not be neglected.
ENU Meal Replacement Shakes Provide Calories From Carefully Balanced Sources
With so many options for meal replacement shakes, it can be difficult to know what to choose when the time comes to make your purchase. ENU nutrition shakes offer a carefully formulated array of macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals to fuel your body in an easy, convenient way without sacrificing your health or fitness goals. To learn more about all our products and how they can help you, visit us online or call (855) 266-6733.