Fad Diet Takedown: Do Meal-Replacement Shakes Work?

Hello everyone!

Kaori here and I’ve taken on another fad diet experience for your benefit. You can thank me later. 

This time I went through the old-fashioned meal replacement diet. I replaced two of my three meals with a shake, and ate a snack in between them. The meal replacement diet has been in style for a long time and they come in different forms: SlimFast, IdealFit, Herbalife…It’s a trend that many people get results from and each one swears they are better than the next. Each company boasts that they are filled with all the nutrients needed to keep your body healthy, active, energized, and full. They also promise it won’t slow you down in your workouts…Hence the super-lean and super-fit spokesmodels.

I will say this: In just two weeks and without working out more than just twice a week at that time, my body changed rapidly. I dropped weight fast, it seems, and my body–at least physically–looked like it was thinning out. I was really enjoying the results and progress of this diet! I started to feel confident again!

Photo: Lecic [Getty Images]

The setup is two shakes (one replacing breakfast, the other replacing lunch) and to have a full healthy meal for dinner which is a palm size piece of protein (like chicken or fish), a palm size side of complex carb (like brown rice or wheat bread), and a palm size side of vegetables. In between breakfast to lunch and lunch to dinner, I ate a snack like a cup of yogurt, or a handful of almonds, a protein shake, etc…

The good was that these shakes were so easy to make and saved me a lot of time and money. I bought a container of shake powder for about $40 and it covered about 30 meals. If you do the math, that’s about $1.33 per shake, so you’re spending less than $3 for both lunch and dinner. It wasn’t only massively economical, it really did provide that weight loss advertised. The less you put in with your shake (I just added soy or almond milk), the less calories you intake. Some people like to add foods such add berries, or peanut butter into their shake but I was recommended to keep it to a minimum since I did want to lose body fat. You can really customize it to your liking, however. Also, shakes are so quick to make that having one for breakfast was a lot simpler and quicker than cooking up something in the morning or even thinking about what to have for tomorrow’s lunch in the evening. I’d wake up knowing all I had to do was shake some powder with some soy milk and drink it on my way to work! I even got some extra minutes of sleep! The practicality and the results of meal replacement shakes were a huge bonus. Felt really nice not to worry about the next meal and caving into bad foods because I already had my meals determined.

More “Fad Diet Takedowns”: Is Counting Calories Still Effective?

Well, day one – like many of these diets I’ve been on was hard but in order to make it through I had to remember my goals. Take each meal moment by moment. Day two and three were the toughest of all because like the others, my body wasn’t used to what was happening and I felt pretty tired and defeated through most of the day. But as my body flushed out the negative excess of solids, I started to feel lighter and I started to drop weight. I looked slimmer after two weeks and that very fact got me addicted to staying on it for a bit longer.

The biggest problem I had with the meal replacement diet was they usually state that you won’t feel hungry as the shake has all the nutrients you need. Well…I was always hungry. I’d find myself using all the will power I could muster to stop myself from heading into the fridge to cheat it out. It wasn’t easy replacing two full-on solid meals with shakes that I drank in a few sips. I also eventually grew tired of the flavor. Though they have many flavors there’s so much you can do after seeing and tasting the same thing over and over again. If you’re the type to “eat to live” rather than “live to eat”, then that may not bother you too.

Of course, as I’ve been noticing in all my fad diet articles, the sustainabitly isn’t great. That’s why this diet didn’t last for me. With the loss of excitement due to getting tired of shake after shake, even the price tag couldn’t keep me staying. Eventually you want a full breakfast again, eventually you want to eat lunch with your coworkers and not just drink while they eat. And with that being said, unless you start to eat healthy, you’ll gain it all back. I do believe these shake replacement companies don’t expect you to stay on these forever. So having a way out is highly recommended. If you want to try one of these shake diets, I’d recommend preparing to implement healthy foods into your diet especially once you transfer back to full foods.

Would I do it again? I’m not against it as a quick fix however, I have tried to do it again and I didn’t last for more than three days. For some odd reason – getting back on once you fall is tougher than the first time you do it.

Have you done a meal replacement diet? Which one and how did it work for you? Drop a comment or a question! See you next time!