The journey to weight loss is unique to each person’s needs. There is truly no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to finding the best weight loss plan. For some, the freedom and flexibility to choose from a wide variety of foods works best. For others, a set plan and recurring routine that takes the guesswork out of each day is the best way to stay on track. If you find you do well with more consistent, portion- and calorie-controlled plans, a meal replacement program may be a good fit for you.
A meal replacement program is a specially formulated set of meals and snacks that are intended to provide you with the right amount of nutrients and calories to promote weight loss and support your overall health. Depending on the program and your individual needs, other food choices are either reduced or eliminated entirely for a limited period of time.
Meal replacement programs typically include:
- Specially formulated foods that can replace parts of the diet or the entire diet for a specific time period
- Calorie- and portion-controlled servings
- Consistent macronutrient content to make sure you’re getting just enough protein, carbohydrates, fiber and fat each day
- Vitamin- and mineral-fortified
- A variety of products to choose from, like ready-to-drink shakes, bars, soups, etc.
The Advantages of Meal Replacements
Finding the right weight loss plan combined with lifestyle education and activity is the key to success! It must work well for you and your lifestyle. Meal replacement programs are designed to help you eat to lose weight, and they can offer benefits, such as:
- Built-in portion and calorie control to remove any of the guesswork. It can be time consuming to calculate your calorie and macronutrient needs and determine which foods meet your personal daily requirements. Meal replacement programs provide structure and remove any ambiguity.
- Convenient and easy-to-follow guidance, which can be helpful for someone with a busy lifestyle. With a meal replacement program, you don’t have to make extra time for meal planning, prep and kitchen clean-up. Having limited choices helps avoid mindless eating.
- Complete and balanced nutrition, since meals, shakes and snacks have been carefully formulated to make sure you don’t miss the mark on the vitamins and minerals you need. Achieving a significant calorie deficit while still meeting your needs for vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients can be difficult to do with reduced-calorie foodbased diets alone.
- Better weight loss outcomes than other diets. Studies have shown people on meal replacement programs have greater weight loss and more success keeping it off compared to those on a reduced calorie diet with conventional foods.
Small Wins Lead To Big Gains
The road to weight loss can feel daunting. But, there’s promising news - for many people with an overweight, obese BMI, losing as little as 5% to 10% of total weight can improve some weightrelated health issues. That means if you weigh 200 pounds, losing just 10 pounds (5%) helps improve your health.
In addition to dietary modifications (like a meal replacement program), consider these lifestyle changes to help with weight loss:
- Physical activity: Exercise and movement is key, but no one goes from zero to 10,000 steps overnight. Start with modest, measurable and achievable goals and build on them gradually. Consider working with a personal trainer or physical therapist to help you create and work towards goals that are right for your fitness level.
- Food logging: Keeping a log of what you ate and how you felt is an effective way of noticing your own personal patterns and figuring out what food choices and strategies work best for you. Research has shown that people who keep food logs are more likely to lose weight and keep it off!
- A good night’s sleep: You may not realize it, but your body is working hard while you’re sleeping! Sleep is essential for your body to function at max capacity, and poor sleep has been linked to obesity.
If you are in an overweight or obese BMI category [JOC2], the path to losing weight is an important one, but you don’t have to go it alone. Talk to your doctor or registered dietitian nutritionist today about taking that next step.