Is it okay to substitute a meal with a shake?

A meal replacement shake is quick to make and easy to consume, especially when short on time. There are several brands in the market providing various kinds of meal replacement shakes, but are they healthy, and can you replace your meals with these shakes? Let’s find out.


What is a meal replacement?

These are entirely different from protein shakes. The purpose of meal replacement is to replace your meal without compromising nutritional value and calorie intake. Because these replacements are lower in calories, it’s appealing to so many individuals. They contain protein and other nutrients like vitamins and minerals.

Many confuse meal replacement with protein shakes; that’s not the case. The significant difference between meal replacement and a protein shake is that meal replacement is used as a substitute and not as an add-on or satisfying protein count.  

These meal replacements are available in bars, shakes, or powders. The objective is to replace major nutritional value with low calories.

Plus points of meal replacement shakes

  • First, we need to consider, why are people switching to meal replacement shakes? The answer lies in its feasibility and quick preparation. All you have to do is take a scoop and blend it. 
  • Now and then, you’re running behind schedule or traveling, or heavily occupied. So rather than missing meals, you opt for such replacement shakes. They are helpful and contain protein and fiber to keep you going for the day.
  • To some extent, meal replacement is healthy. It does contain some nutrients.  However, it does not have all the nutrients required by the human body.

How does a meal replacement shake work?

Meal replacements are formulated as calorie-controlled products. These are designed particularly for weight maintenance and weight loss. The formulas used in them are predominantly based on protein combined with little carbohydrates, necessary nutrients, and minerals. You can also call it a low-energy diet as it covers most of the body’s protein and nutrients requirements with a much lower calorie intake.

A human body needs a particular amount of calories to maintain or gain weight. With a low energy diet, in this case, meal replacement offers low calories and restricts the body to that level. Once calories are restricted, glycogen, a fuel provider to the body, starts to run low in response to which the body automatically burns fat to fuel the body.

Such weight loss supplemental shakes are famous among athletes, fashion models, and anyone health-conscious.

Are meal replacements healthy?

While there are benefits of meal replacements, it also comes with many problems.


These shakes are highly processed and contain artificial ingredients to maintain shelf life. The balanced and complete nutrients contained in whole foods can never be matched. While there are vitamins and minerals, they are usually artificial or substandard. Also, they contain many nutrients but lack some, such as enzymes and antioxidants. 

You can choose these replacements for weight loss, but remember that these also include added sugar in forms like dextrose or high fructose corn syrup.

Unhealthy digestive system

The human body reacts differently to calories from regular meals and liquids. It’s necessary for your body to function properly, from chewing to swallowing to maintaining a healthy digestive system. Dietary satisfaction is something that only comes from whole foods.

Low calories affect a long time

Depriving your body of essential nutrients for a long time can be harmful. If you replace all your meals and only consume meal replacement shakes, it will hurt your health. Continuing with lower-calorie meal replacements, you’ll lose muscles, decrease metabolism, and feel more fatigue.  

What do you need to focus on when looking to lose weight?

You can replace one or two meals, not more than that. Consider it a supplement or an assist in your journey to weight loss

You need to remember that:

  • The process takes time as you can’t achieve results overnight. Even the slightest weight loss can improve your health in several ways.
  • Fat loss can regulate your sugar and cholesterol levels.
  • Similarly, your heart benefits as well. As you continue your weight loss journey, it reduces pressure on arteries. So, the heart doesn’t need to work hard to pump blood through the body.
  • Also, in case of heart stroke, high cholesterol increases blood pressure, which strains blood vessels.  This makes vessels stiff and increases the chances of a blood clot. In improving the efficiency of the heart, losing weight helps a lot.
  • And, the fitter you are, the more agile you’ll be. Losing excess weight will increase your mobility and make you feel more relaxed while walking and moving around.

Bottom line

Everything takes time. Prolonging the consumption of meal replacements will harm your health because of substandard ingredients and unnatural processing. Although they do contain necessary nutrients, not all do. You can replace a meal from a day for additional support or consume often when short on time. However, it isn’t recommended to live on meal replacements solely.

Author bio
Ivana has always had a love for all things healthy and fitness related. Recently she started getting into freelance writing as a way to express herself and share all she has learned throughout the years. One of her favorite things to do is grab a hot coffee with friends on cold days, or go for a nice jog around the block when the weather is warm.

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