Is it me or does working out making you want to eat a lot more? And yes, while it is said to eat 5-7 small meals a day, that just feels like…I don’t know…a lot. A lot of preparation, a lot of patience, and a lot of trying not to swing by the nearest drive-through for something not so healthy (which even right now sounds delightful). It just makes me wonder how in the world people consistently workout and not starve throughout the day the way I do.
Naturally, people who are successful at weight loss and muscle building understand the importance of a protein-based diet. This is why protein shakes and meal-replacement shakes have become increasingly popular. Protein shake meal replacement are not the only good source of protein, they provide other nutrients as well. Foods such as eggs, milk, meat, legumes, and poultry are also great natural sources of protein. But here again, all except the milk takes time to prepare several times a day – yes, I really dread the thought of cooking or preparing food several times a day.
Here is where I give thanks to fitness enthusiasts, bodybuilders, and athletes. Through them, I discovered protein shakes are a huge thing, and this is why people use them as a formidable source of nutrients (especially when working out).
Why protein? Protein is the building block of the muscles and protein shakes and protein meal replacements are great for muscle growth and they aid post-workout recovery. Studies also show that they can keep you fuller for longer, thus helping to avoid overeating, to keep you in line with your diet goals.
Yes, I knew protein shakes existed, but like many others, I still found it difficult to discern the differences between nutritious “one-meal” drinks and traditional protein shakes. Now here is where I get brutally honest. I thought the two – protein shakes and meal replacement shakes – were actually the same thing just called something different. Guess what…they are not the same. But wait, what about actually replacing a meal (sorry, y’all, I am a foodie so this matters)?
Protein shakes came into the mainstream as a favorite of bodybuilders, fitness fanatics, and professional athletes to increase muscle mass and improve athletic performance. Since protein shakes are dietary supplements, they are essentially a good source of amino acid herbs, vitamins, and minerals – the major constituent of proteins.
This means that protein shakes are exclusively designed to supply amino acids or essential proteins to the consumer, and nothing else. Wait, nothing else? Yes, nothing else. So, it makes me full but lacks other nutrients I can receive from a regular balanced diet. Are you thinking what I am thinking? I need to find a healthier alternative before I find myself eating things I will regret the next day.
Meal Replacement Shakes
Initially, meal replacement shakes were designed to supply instant energy for athletes during training routines; however, these energy-supplying shakes have become a usual staple and is now widely used by everyone desiring a nutritional boost.
Unlike protein shakes, meal replacement shakes are designed to offer the same nutritional value as a full meal. This implies that an ideal meal replacement shake is a balanced combination of the following essential nutrients:
- and vitamins
Today, meal replacement shakes are almost ubiquitous. They can be found on shelves in malls, grocery stores, gyms, and health food stores. These protein shake meal replacement drinks now exist in various forms as a liquid in cans and bottles, while others are packaged as a powdered form that can be mixed with milk or water. Winning! That makes them more portable.
Choosing the Perfect Protein Shake Meal Replacement
For a high protein shake to be called a “meal replacement” drink, it should have a high composition of calories and contain all essential nutrients. That means it should provide healthy proteins, vitamins, carbs, fats, and minerals that a balanced diet would offer. Protein powders that can be used as meal replacement protein shakes should traditionally contain any or a combination of the following:
- casein protein
- whey protein
- pea protein
- soy protein
- egg white protein
- rice protein
- pea protein
By composition, an ideal high protein meal replacement shake contains a reasonable amount of complex carbohydrates, a balanced amount of protein, and traces of simple sugars and fat. Additionally, it’s important to look out for additives and preservatives, which can only complicate your weight management journey because they are not so healthy.
The easiest way to know what to expect from a meal-replacement shake is to make sure it contains at least:
- 200-400 calories per serving
- Not less than 10 grams of fiber per serving
- 20-30 grams of protein per serving
- Less than 5 grams of fat per serving
- A reasonable number of vitamins and minerals
Meal replacement shakes are healthy, portable, and convenient, which makes them a better alternative to many unhealthy snacks and fast foods. In reality; however, it’s impossible to survive entirely on a protein shake meal replacement, but it’s a great short-term way to get the nutrients you need when hungry. So, can a protein share replace meals? Absolutely if it is the correct one and supplies all of the nutrients you need.