First of all, there is a distinction between a meal replacement shake and a protein shake. I think of a Meal Replacement shake as something like what Oprah drank those years ago to lose all that weight and put on her skinny jeans on national TV. Sadly, when she began eating real food again the weight came back. I say that not to downplay the success of meal replacement drinks. These drinks come packaged with a balance of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and more often than not a multi-vitamin. They are usually used to lose weight by drinking a lower calorie drink in place of a higher calorie meal. Protein Shakes are often thought of more as muscle builders. Really, though, protein is protein whether you are getting it from a meal replacement shake or a protein shake.
In looking at a protein shake, the amount of protein is key. Women need 12-20 grams of protein per shake, men need 20-30 grams and for some people a shake is an alternative to eating meat or dairy. These drinks actually work because they often have more protein than you would eat with your regular meal. (Think, if you eat a bagel, fruit and coffee for breakfast you are getting NO protein. If you eat a salad without chicken, beans or some form of protein, you are better off with a shake)
Also, they typically offer a balance of the right portions of protein, carbohydrate and fat for the correct number of calories. So, one of the major reason meal replacement shakes work is because they provide more protein to your diet. The second reason is they are balanced with the right portions of protein, carbohydrate, and fat at the appropriate calorie level.
Obviously, not all shakes are created equal. Do your homework to get the best bang for your nutrition. Sometimes, drinking a a shake to replace a meal isn’t the healthiest of options. It does contain fewer calories than a normal meal, but can also contain fewer total nutrients and some people feel hungrier afterwards, as opposed to eating a meal. Some folks are “chewers” and don’t feel satisfied unless they have been able to chew and enjoy their meal. If you are solely relying on the shake to replace meals to lose weight, there’s also the effect on your body of going back to eating real food again. Like Oprah, some folks will gain their weight back.
Personally, I will drink a protein shake in the morning for a few reasons. First of all, I typically do not like to eat right when I get up, but know I need to do something to kickstart my metabolism.
I am usually time crunched in the mornings trying to rush out the door and do not have time to sit down for a traditional breakfast. I really don’t have to think about or plan this first meal. I just throw the ingredients in the blender and I’m done. I know I can control the calorie amount in the shake I make. Finally, I like, no LOVE, the taste. Typically, I will make a protein shake/smoothie and have a small portion of it before teaching a class and the remainder following the workout. So, for me, it’s a time saving and calorie saving, easy way to begin the day.
Dr. Oz’s wife, Lisa, stated the following reasons for drinking a protein shake first thing in the morning as a simple, weight-loss method:
• Boost your metabolic rate by 25%.
• Save calories by avoiding fatty foods (if you drink a shake for breakfast, you can save an average of 400 calories per day).
• Keep your blood sugar levels balanced, allowing your body to burn stored fat as fuel.
• Increase your energy levels, which enables you to increase your activity and automatically burn more calories.
She also has the following recipe you might like to try. Granted, I think you have to like the taste of coffee!
Fat-Burning Mocha Madness
• In a blender, mix ½ cup of cold water (you can add more or less water depending on the consistency you prefer).
• Add 2 scoops of nutrient-rich chocolate-flavored protein powder.
• Add 1 tsp of granulated instant coffee.
• Gradually add 5 ice cubes to thicken.
• Blend on high for one minute (in a pinch, this shake can also be made by simply mixing ingredients together in a glass with a spoon).
I haven’t tried this one yet, so let me know if you do! Now I’m off to enjoy this little ray of sun in this little window before the clouds come back!
Enjoy your day!
So, what do you think? Drink your meals? Does a shake satisfy you or are you one who needs to chew?