Meal Replacement Shakes – Are They Healthy?

By Derek Henry, www.healingthebody.ca

By Derek Henry, Holistic Health Coach for Healing the Body

We all seem to be in a hurry.  Whether it’s checking out of work 10 minutes early (Seriously boss, I had my Blackberry surgically grafted to my hip, so I’m always technically working whether I’m in my office or not…) or a new weight loss program, we want to get where we’re going yesterday.  So give us a meal replacement shake and let me feel good about my contrived health!  Not so fast…

Good Shakes

Unfortunately, the good are far and few between when it comes to meal replacement shakes.

The good meal replacement shakes will actually feature real foods with naturally occurring protein and sugars (such as those occurring in fruit).  In other words, whole foods and not isolates or a bunch sequestered vitamins and minerals that will not be properly assimilated into the body and end up in the toilet.

Look for whole foods, natural occurring sugars or alternatives (stevia), and protein sources outside of soy isolate (which is highly genetically modified and undigestible) in the ingredients.  When you find one, you will know you’ve made a drastic improvement over the mass majority on the market.

These are the meal replacement shakes you can feel good about because you are actually absorbing the nutrition, and not ingesting ingredients that have been proven to cause health problems.

Bad Shakes

The bad meal replacement shakes are a little more common and look like the real deal, but they aren’t really.  That’s what makes them bad.

These meal replacement shakes offer a long listing of every vitamin and mineral on the planet, in a highly isolated and undigestible format.  You do get some nutrition, but often get the rubber glove when you compare the cost to the benefits.

The main issue is that ingredients like soy protein isolate (highly undigestible, and therefore toxic), artificial sweeteners or refined sugars, high glycemic ingredients, and other isolated vitamins and minerals (also highly undigestible) are not making you healthier.

Ugly Shakes

The ugly meal replacement shakes are often all marketing, and have no real value.  So really, its like a Saturday Night Live skit gone movie – all hype but little substance.

These meal replacement shakes offer very little nutrition, and a lot of crap n’ filler.  Common toxic ingredients include soy protein isolate, white refined sugar, maltodextrin, artificial sweeteners and flavors, corn starch, and artificial colours and flavours.

Ironically, some of the most popular shakes have these ingredients. Again, their money goes into marketing, not quality ingredients.

These ingredients are incredibly hard to digest and contain chemicals (soy protein isolate); are incredibly high on the glycemic index and spike your blood sugar like a 7-11 slurpee (white refined sugar, maltodextrin); and are known neurotoxins (aspartame, sucralose, and other cleverly named artificial sweeteners).

I wouldn’t offer this type of meal replacement shake to anyone if they TRULY were looking to get healthy.

So if you decide to go with meal replacement shakes find a reputable one with whole foods and natural sweeteners, or simply make your own smoothie with whole foods and without all the chemically laden preservatives, fillers, and stabilizers. Add a top of the line nutrition powder to it as well to ensure you get a wide array of beneficial nutrients.

*Image of “shaker” via Shutterstock

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