Meal Replacement Shakes aim to provide the nutrients (carbohydrate, fat, and protein plus vitamins and minerals) found in a balanced meal.
Often marketed for weight loss and convenience, these shakes can be problematic.
Consider the most popular Australian meal replacement shake brands on the market. These shakes contain over 20 ingredients, many of which are highly processed.
Some shakes are even marketed as 'fat-burning' due to their caffeine content, but this claim is generally misleading.
The Problem with Vitamins and Minerals in Shakes
While the list of vitamins and minerals may appear impressive, there's no guarantee that your body will absorb all these nutrients.
Nutrients in whole foods work in synergy. For instance, vitamin E, found in nuts like almonds, is best absorbed when consumed with dietary fat—also abundant in nuts. This kind of natural synergy is often missing in fortified products like meal replacement shakes.
Whole foods offer more than just vitamins and minerals; they also provide a range of other beneficial nutrients, such as antioxidants and phytonutrients, that are not present in these shakes.
Moreover, the supplement industry lacks strict regulation, so the quality and efficacy of these nutrients are not guaranteed.
Meal Replacement shakes can be useful in scenarios when you are time-constrained or can't carry fresh food with you.
If you want to keep carbohydrate intake low, opt for a protein shake (Roam Protein has <3 g carbohydrates) and pair with other foods - for example, rice crackers with cottage cheese and chopped vegetables or tuna. Or Energy Nut Butter, which does have more fat, but is lower in carbohydrate.
Chances are, you'll feel fuller and more satisfied by eating real foods.