Table of Contents
- Why Buy Organic Meal Replacements and Not the Conventional Options?
- The Importance of Meal Replacement Shakes
- Choosing the Macros in Your Natural Meal Replacement Shake
- Powdered or Ready To Drink – Which is Better?
- Meal Replacement Shakes and Weight Loss – Is There a Link?
- Vitamins and Minerals Fortification – How Do Synthetic Vitamins Differ from Natural Options?
- Additives in Conventional Meal Replacement Shakes – How Do They Harm You?
- Artificial Sweeteners – Are They Worth It?
- Avoiding GMOs
- Shopping for the Best Organic Meal Replacement Shake – The Process
Meal replacement shakes are highly popular among people with busy daily schedules. The shakes provide nutrient-dense meals that do not cost you much. Again, you do not have to spend time preparing the meals. Most of these shakes are lightweight with sufficient nutrients without the bulk. Conventional meal replacement shakes may be laden with chemicals such as preservatives, colorants, and flavors. On the other hand, organic meal replacement shakes have all-natural ingredients.
The ingredients label should only have pronounceable ingredients to guarantee your health even as you enjoy the convenience of a shake.
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Why Buy Organic Meal Replacements and Not the Conventional Options?
The content of the foods you eat will affect your overall health. Most of the foods might also have an impact on the environment, especially based on how manufacturers produce them. Organic meals provide more nutrients compared to conventionally-grown meals. If you are allergic to certain foods, chemicals, and preservatives, you will enjoy your natural meal replacement shakes as they are free of these products.
Other advantages include:
- No Pesticides, which might remain in the food you eat causing bodily harm.
- Shakes are free from preservatives, making them fresher.
- Organic farming doesn’t affect the environment as conventional farming does – the farming doesn’t cause soil erosion, water pollution, and it uses less energy.
- The meals are non-GMO, which means the meals are as fresh as they should be.
- Most of the meals have plant-based ingredients, which are safe for most people.
The Importance of Meal Replacement Shakes
The benefits of these shakes compared to conventional meals are many. For starters, the shakes offer a measured food amount, which allows you to plan how much you consume. You can calculate your daily caloric intake by looking at the packaging.
These shakes are easy to prepare and do a little cleanup. Unlike traditional meals that can take an hour or even more, these meals only need a few minutes and they are good to go. They come in handy for breakfast when you may not have enough time to whip up a meal.
The high protein content of most meal replacement shakes are ideal for senior citizens and people who engage in strenuous workout. Shakes can help seniors maintain their muscle mass and their strength. For people who engage in strenuous activities, the high protein content helps their muscles recover. Others provide the energy needed before the workout.
The only concern with meal replacement shakes is that they might have high sugar content. Most of the ingredients used to make these shakes – such as chia seeds, fruits, and flax seeds - are safe on their own. However, when they are together in a shake blend, they may have high sugar content. Granted, be mindful of the ingredients in the shake.
Choosing the Macros in Your Natural Meal Replacement Shake
Your meal replacement shakes need to provide full meal nutrition. If you live an active lifestyle, you need a shake that provides sufficient amounts of proteins, calories, carbs, and fat to meet your nutritional needs. The best natural meal replacement shake needs a perfect balance between these nutrients.
Most shakes offer more proteins, but that doesn’t make them sufficient when you need to have a complete meal. Even if you need a shake with more proteins for post-workout, you also need fiber, calories and other nutrients to make the shake complete. The shake should keep you full with macro and micro nutrients. The macros that need to appear in your meal replacement shake include:
Your nutritional requirements will vary from those of other people, so choose the percentages of the above nutrients based on your needs. If you need the shake as a post-workout drink, you can pick one with a higher protein percentage. However, as a meal replacement, you need a perfect balance between carbs, proteins, and fat to ensure that the meal meets all your needs.
If you need the meal replacement for a special diet such as paleo, keto, low carb, or high protein, pick a meal that meets your special diet requirement.
Powdered or Ready To Drink – Which is Better?
You can buy a meal replacement shake either in the form of a powder or a ready-to-drink shake. If you are on the go or in town, a ready-to-drink or pre-mixed shake is better for you as it gives you the convenience of drinking as it is. However, these shakes are heavy when you have to carry them in your bag for long distances, unlike the powder version you can mix with water you buy at the nearest store.
Powders are lighter, and you can use them for a long time. Where a pre-mixed meal replacement shake can last you a few times, the powder option can last up to a month or more.
Meal Replacement Shakes and Weight Loss – Is There a Link?
There are many drinks with a “weight loss” label attached to them. However, most of these may not work as promised. For meal replacement shakes, products marketed for weight loss are low carb and low-calorie options. If you live a healthy lifestyle with workout and healthy ingredients, it is better to pick a shake with balanced formula than pick one promoted as a weight loss drink. Most of the products marketed for weight loss offer 120 calories or even less, and that makes them less balanced.
Taking a liquid diet can help you lose weight according to research. It could also reduce your BMI and your systolic blood pressure. In patients with type 2 diabetes, these liquid meals can result in reduced blood pressure.
If you need shakes to lose weight, consider those with a high protein content of between 1.2 grams and 1.6 grams for every kilogram of your body weight. Such shakes will reduce your appetite. According to Diabetes Spectrum, meal replacement shakes can increase sensory-specific satiety – this means you do not have to eat the same food until you are full.
Vitamins and Minerals Fortification – How Do Synthetic Vitamins Differ from Natural Options?
To create a perfect balance of ingredients, most natural shakes today provide vitamins and minerals. Some manufacturers fortify their products with synthetic vitamins and minerals. These may appear on the ingredients list in long names or may appear as a “vitamin and mineral blend.”
According to research, synthetic vitamins do not offer sufficient nourishment as you’d expect from vitamins. Some scientists argue that having these synthetic nutrients might be harmful to your body while others argue that having them is better than not having vitamins and minerals at all. However, if you decide to go for natural and organic meal replacement shakes, avoid the synthetic options.
Additives in Conventional Meal Replacement Shakes – How Do They Harm You?
While the price tag of conventional meal replacement shakes might entice you, the ingredients in them might not be healthy for your body. Most of these come with preservatives, fillers, sugar, colors, chemicals, and other additives.
Some of the additives you need to avoid include:
- Maltodextrin – This additive thickens the shake, giving a smooth texture. It also enhances the shelf life of the shake. The glycemic index of maltodextrin is higher than that of sugar, which means that eating too much of it will increase your risk of developing type-2 diabetes.
- Hydrogenated Oils – Also known as trans-fat, these oils extend the shelf life of the shake. However, when used for long, the ingredient might affect your blood flow by clogging arteries. It might also affect your heart and your brain.
- Added Fiber – Your meal replacement shake should only have fiber from clean plant ingredients such as fruits, seeds, and veggies. Some of the added fiber ingredients you need to avoid include gum acacia, retrograded corn starch, and oat bran fiber.
Artificial Sweeteners – Are They Worth It?
Most conventional meal replacement shakes feature sugar. However, most will only admit they use a little sugar in their shakes, yet the shakes taste like glucose. To create a sweet taste, the manufacturers add sweeteners. Sweeteners are harmful to your body when consumed for a long time. Some of the common sweeteners to avoid include:
- Sucralose (might also appear as Splenda) –This is fake sugar, which might disrupt the natural gut bacteria and increase blood sugar levels. On the bright side, it is zero-calorie sugar, which makes it better than ordinary sugar in terms of weight gain.
- Aspartame - This is another fake sugar whose use can result in headaches, increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome, and disruption of natural gut bacteria.
- Saccharin – Manufacturers commonly refer to this sweetener as “sweet ‘n low” as it is low-calorie. However, the sweetener causes nausea and possibly cancer, according to studies.
- Acesulfame K – This sweetener makes your meal replacement delicious, but your body will have a problem digesting it. It might also result in mood swings and kidney, eyes, and liver problems.
- Sorbitol, Xylitol, or Maltitol, and other sweeteners that end with –ol – Also known as sugar alcohols, these sweeteners are low in calories, but the body cannot absorb as easily as it absorbs natural sugars and other substances. The sweeteners might disrupt the microflora of the gut and can also cause serious stomach distress.
If you need a sweet meal replacement shake, opt for one with stevia. The substance replaces sugar as it is up to 200 times sweeter than sugar. It doesn’t affect your blood sugar level and is safer than artificial sweeteners.
One of the main reasons why people should choose organic ingredients is to avoid GMOs – genetically modified organisms. Today, most of the foods on the markets are GMO. In the US, for instance, most of the sweet corn produced is GMO. Scientists modify the genetic makeup of these plants to make them more resistant to pests and resistant to herbicides used against weeds.
Most common foods in the US such as soybeans, squash, alfalfa, papaya, canola, and zucchini, and breakfast cereals are GMO. Soy lecithin and corn syrup ingredients are more likely to have GMOs than other ingredients.
GMOs might not be safe for human consumption. There have not been any long-term studies that confirm the effects of GMOs on human beings. FDA and some biotech companies claim that these food items are safe while a few studies suggest that they might not be safe.
Shopping for the Best Organic Meal Replacement Shake – The Process
With so many products on the market, you may find it challenging to choose the best meal replacement shake. When shopping, consider the following:
- The Ingredients – The list of ingredients on the product you choose should show plant-based pronounceable ingredients. If you come across an ingredient you cannot pronounce, you can always search it online.
- The Certifications and Verifications – It is easy for a manufacturer to list all-natural and organic ingredients. However, with a “Certified” or “Verified” label on the packaging, you are more convinced that the product is organic. In the US, and organic certification from the US Department of Agriculture is proof enough that the product is safe. Other certification bodies include Quality Assurance International (QAI), International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements Certification (IFOAM), EU Organic Certification, SCS Global Certificate, Nature's International Certification Services (NICS). The more certificates a product has, the more confidence you may have in it as a buyer.
- Range of Ingredients – You need a shake that meets all your needs. If you need more proteins for your post-workout meal, choose a shake that offers you that, but ensure it has other nutrients too.
- Ease of Use – Ready-to-drink shakes only require refrigeration so that you can serve them chilled. The powder form requires thorough mixing and/or blending before consumption. Check the instructions on preparation to understand how to make the shake.
Why do you need a meal replacement shake? Do you need to take it to lose weight, for recovery after a workout, for energy before a workout, or for breakfast? Consider the ingredients of the shake based on the reason for wanting a shake. A shake with a well-balanced formula such as Orgain Organic Plant-Based Powder will meet most of your needs. If you need a specialized shake, you can choose one of the options offered by Amazing Grass Green Superfood.