Weight loss: Meal replacement shakes – Are they good for you? Expert issues warning

Weight loss meal replacement shakes have been promoted heavily by brands over recent years. They claim to be an effective way to reduce your calorie intake and lose weight while still being nutritious for you and providing your body with essential vitamins. But how healthy are they? A Nutritional Therapist has revealed her thoughts on weight loss meal replacement shakes.


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Louise Mercieca, a Nutritional Therapist & Founder of Health Kick has told Express.co.uk how weight loss meal replacement are not the best option for weight and a more healthier option should be considered.

She said: “As a Nutritional Therapist I get asked about weight loss a lot! The issue I often find is that people today are looking for a quick fix, how can something be done with minimal effort in as short a space of time as possible?

“With this in mind it’s unsurprising that the weight loss meal replacement shakes are a popular option! Quick, easy and often marketed to guarantee fast weight loss.

“But how healthy are they? This does vary from brand to brand. Often these ‘meals’ are quite artificial in their make-up – understandably they would be pretty tasteless so in goes; artificial sweeteners, thickeners, emulsifiers and stabilisers. To be able to identify themselves as ‘healthy’ they do have to ensure that they are fortified with vitamins and minerals but these would be readily available from eating actual healthy food so should not be a reason to choose a meal replacement!”

Louise explains that the issue with artificial ingredients is that they don’t fuel the body in the same way food does and when this relates to weight loss, there is simply no quick fix.

She continues: “To effectively lose weight you first need to get your head in the right place as all food decisions start with your head – simply saying to yourself right from now on, no sugar, fat, bread, pasta, alcohol, potatoes etc” simply means you’re denying yourself and creating an internal battle, you may manage it for a while and during that time you may experience weight loss but as soon as you go back to eating them the weight goes on plus a little extra for the metabolic damage you created restricting yourself!

“Once your head is in the right place then it comes down to biology. The key to effective weight loss is your metabolism. Why has obesity risen globally at the same time the diet industry has grown in size and profits? Because dieting slows down your metabolism making it harder for you to effectively use energy, encourages your body to store fat and slows your body down to conserve energy. Thus having the counter-productive overall long-term impact on your weight loss.”

The expert explains how meal replacement shakes are not an effective way to lose weight and they alter your perception of food.

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She says: “Food is not numerical it is nourishment, rather than focus on restrictions and calories, learn about the foods that boost fat loss and metabolism. Eat real foods that aid a healthy gut microbiome and this in turn will help you to effectively metabolise fat. Ensure you sleep well, sleep is a huge factor in weight loss and relax. The stress hormone increases abdominal fat, dieting is stressful, see how this can be counter-productive?

“Why do they make weight-loss claims? Because, people will lose weight, this weight loss is temporary in about 95% of people and if you were to measure the composition of a person rather than focus on the scales you would see that the weight loss was actually largely water and lean tissue not body fat.

“Body fat is of biological importance to us humans, whether we have too much of it or not our body will still store it if it feels it needs to, in times of calorie deficit this can lead to fat storage and lean loss.”

Louise explains that to have a healthy relationship with food and a healthy weight loss process you need to work on getting to know your own body and mind.


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She continues: “Weight loss can be easy but often the way it is marketed is to deliberately mislead you into making it more difficult, this leads to feelings of guilt and blame which are then linked to further weight gain and low self-esteem!”

Healthline suggests that meal replacement shakes may help you resist the temptation to indulge in unhealthy processed foods.

Meal replacement shakes can also help you feel full while consuming fewer calories, the key to losing weight.

Some weight loss shakes are packed with protein, a nutrient which is proven to boost the weight loss journey and high protein drinks will help you keep satisfied for longer.

However, many contain unhealthy ingredients and they may not be a long-term solution and stopping them once started could result in a bounce back and end up with you putting back on the weight you have lost.

Many studies have shown how different meal replacement shakes have led to weight loss but anyone consuming less calories whether that be by food or shake will lose weight eventually.

The best meal replacement shakes contain protein, fibre and essential vitamins and minerals but these essential nutrients may be artificial and you could otherwise receive these from healthy nutritious foods.

Before embarking on any dramatic diet or weight loss journey you should consult a doctor because every body needs a different amount of calories and nutrients depending on different variables like gender and height.

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