One of the major questions we get is just exactly how does a meal replacement shake work. When you look at shakes, or pills, or any weight loss method besides surgery, it is really all about the calories.
Losing weight is really just simple math – finding out how many calories you take in with food, and finding out how many calories you burn off. A meal replacement shake isn’t supposed to fully replace the calories you take in with a meal you would have normally eaten, the point is to reduce the number of calories. For example, if your normal breakfast consists of three strips of bacon, two eggs, and two pancakes, you are taking in about 750 calories in just that one meal. A meal replacement shake will only be about 180 to 250 calories, which means you are saving at least 500 calories in just that one meal.
What, Won’t I Still be Hungry?
The whole point of a meal replacement shake is to “replace” the meal, meaning you won’t feel full and you can go through the day without eating until your next meal while only consuming a minimum amount of calories. This is done by the ingredients in the shake. The most common ingredient to suppress your hunger is fiber. Foods high in fiber are going to be more filling. Most meal replacement shakes utilize fiber to stop your hunger. Some shakes also include other vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients that will keep you from feeling hungry. That way, you will successfully be able to cut your overall daily calorie intake and lose weight.
How Do I Know How Many Calories I’m Consuming And Burning?
Figuring out how many calories you are consuming can be very difficult if you are doing it in your head. Every food you eat at home will have nutrition facts, and calculating how many calories each item you have, and how much of it you ate or drank can be very difficult. Luckily, there are many smartphone apps that will do most of the work for you. My personal favorite is called Lose It!. I have used it multiple times to lose a healthy amount of weight over time. With Lose It!, you can select which foods you ate (including brands and restaurants) from a large database, as well as your serving size. Then the app will calculate how many calories you have eaten. Every time you eat or drink something with calories (which is pretty much everything except water) you can select it on the app and save it. The process can get a little annoying, but it is really the most accurate way to calculate your caloric intake and to make sure you stay on track.
Calculating your calories burned is a bit trickier. You will need to calculate your BMR (Base Metabolic Rate). The BMR is a calculation of how many calories you burn when you aren’t doing anything at all. Believe it or not, but your body burns a ton of calories just trying to keep you alive, whether it is your heart pumping blood, or your lungs breathing. The BMR calculation includes factors such as your age, gender, height and weight. Surprisingly enough, the more you weight, the more calories your body burns. With the Lose It! App, they do a pretty good job figuring this out for you, but here are a few resources you can use:
Once you know your BMR, you will know exactly how many calories you need to consume to keep you at a consistent weight.
What Does Counting Calories Have To Do With Weight Loss?
Burning 3500 calories will burn 1 pound. If you burn 2000 calories a day, but only consume 1500, you will burn 1 pound per week. 1-2 pounds a week is a good, healthy, sustainable weight loss goal. You can accelerate your weight loss by doing one of two things – reducing calorie intake, especially with things like meal replacement shakes, or exercising. Exercising frequently (especially cardio exercises like running, swimming, biking, or using equipment like elliptical or treadmill machines) will dramatically increase your calorie burn. A combination of both reducing calories and heavy exercise will greatly accelerate your weight loss.
How Do Meal Replacement Shakes Factor In?
Replacing a 750 calorie meal each day with a 200 calorie shake will automatically help you lose 1 pound a week without any other changes to your daily routine. Replacing two meals per day with a shake will double that result. You can also help weight loss with simple changes, like cutting back 100-200 calories each meal with small modifications. You can also burn 100-200 extra calories per day by going for a walk, or standing at your desk instead of sitting. Meal replacement shakes are a great way to really get the process started.
You do need to be cautious when losing weight. 1-2 pounds a week is the healthiest way to go. You can go faster, but it is likely unsustainable. Lifestyle changes take a lot longer than a few weeks to set in, so it is best to take the process slowly and lose weight over time.