Meal replacement product - is it the magic bullet?

Meal replacement products can be shakes, bars, powders that come in all flavors to suit every palate. All the commercial weight-loss programs have extensively marketed them. How important are these products for weight loss? Should it be included in every diet plan? 

The commercial weight loss programs weigh heavily on these products since most of them follow a cookie-cutter approach without any scientific basis. These protein-loaded calorie-controlled packages are sold as miracle makers to help shed excess pounds, slim the waistline, curb hunger, etc. They are sold as standard pre-made meal packages without customization. Everyone's caloric needs are different, and the one-size-fits-all approach is not the standard of care among obesity medicine specialists. 

Eat all you want and still lose weight. Is it even possible? Not to my knowledge and experience! No meal replacement product alone can help one lose weight. Obesity is a complex disease, and so is the treatment. It is caused by an interplay of genetic, environmental, behavioral factors, not to mention the diseases and the medications used to treat them. Hence the meal replacement shake alone will not help shake off the excess pounds. It can come in handy short-term when a person is starting a diet program, not having time for meal prep or a grab-n-go healthy portion-controlled snack option. 

The facts about MRP - 

1. They are practical tools for weight loss and maintenance when used with lifestyle modification.

2. They are different from protein drinks that are calorie and protein-loaded to help build muscle for athletes and gym enthusiasts. 

3. They are meant to replace a meal, as the name suggests. Hence they are produced with carbohydrates, fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals to mimic an actual well-balanced meal.

4. A good MRP must contain 150-200 calories, with 15-20 gms of protein, 12-15 gms of carbohydrates, and 5-6 gms of fat. 

5. No MRP alone will help one lose weight without a concrete nutritional plan, behavioral modification exercise counseling, and often with medical therapy too. 

The four critical aspects of weight loss management are diet, exercise, behavioral modification, and prescription weight loss medications. These four pillars will provide a robust foundation for long-lasting results. Hence start building your pillars and forget the magic bullet!. 

 

 

Author
Dr. Aparna Chandra, MD, FOMA Dr. Chandra is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Obesity Medicine. She has been honored with the designation of Fellow of the Obesity Medicine Association for her contribution to obesity medicine. Her primary focus has been centered around screening, preventing, and managing obesity. She offers a comprehensive medically supervised weight loss program at Jersey Medical Weight Loss Center, Somerset, NJ. She is actively involved in spreading awareness about Obesity through her blogs, radio shows, podcasts, Youtube channel, and publications.

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