Meal Replacement Shakes for Men: The Complete Guide
Are you considering taking up a meal replacement shake program? You’re not alone. The market for meal replacement products including meal replacement shakes is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years and is forecasted to reach a market value of around USD $25.02 billion (approx AUD $32 billion) by 2025. So what’s with the sudden rise in demand for these kinds of products?
Well, there are a few reasons. Firstly, people are more health-conscious than ever before. That means people are turning to different solutions to help them lose weight or improve their overall quality of life, and meal replacement shakes are a good way to achieve that.
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Secondly, our lives are just too hectic. We work longer hours, stress and anxiety rates are at an all-time high, and people simply have too busy a schedule to spend 1-2 hours a night to meal prep and cook a healthy nutritious meal.
Additionally, as we continue to observe the rising trend of the “conscious consumer,” there is a steadily increasing demand for convenient, high-quality, and healthy food products. Products which you know exactly what you’re getting, where it’s from, and that you can be confident it’s a good source of fuel for your body.
With all that said, let’s break down everything you need to know about meal replacement shakes for men, including their benefits, some frequently asked questions, and how to use them to get the best results. Let’s dive into it!
What is a meal replacement shake?
Not to be confused with protein shakes, meal replacement shakes are designed to replace one or more of your daily meals in the form of an easy-to-digest liquid. Meal replacement shakes are typically packed with proteins, vitamins, and minerals in order to give your body a healthy dose of all the goodness it needs without any unnecessary calories.
You see, meal replacement shakes are much more efficient at giving your body the nutrients it needs in fewer calories. For example, a 250 calorie meal replacement shake will typically give you the same macro and micronutrients you would get from a 600-800 calorie meal. Now you can see why they are so good for weight loss!
For starters, according to the Australian Government’s Department of Health, to maintain their current weight, the average woman will need to eat about 8,400 kilojoules per day (2,000 calories), whereas the average man needs at least 10,500 kilojoules (2,500 calories). Of course, these are very general numbers. It varies widely from person to person depending on various factors such as age, level of fitness, current weight, and daily activity level.
Secondly, because of their larger size, men have more muscle mass than women (on average). This means that the average man requires more protein per day than the average woman, especially if the man is active and works out frequently. Men also need a higher intake of all of the macronutrients as they need more energy from all the different sources right across the board.
What are the benefits of using meal replacement shakes?
Let’s take a look at some of the key benefits of swapping out your meals for a meal replacement shake:
One of the primary reasons men turn to meal replacement shakes is to lose weight and get rid of stubborn body fat. If you’ve spent the last few years accumulating a hard-earned beer belly, meal replacement shakes are a fantastic way to kiss it goodbye.
The reason shakes help you to lose weight is because they lower your daily intake of calories. As mentioned earlier, if you opt for a 250 calorie shake instead of an 800 calorie meal, you’re saving a whopping 550 calories. Just from one shake!
Over the course of a week, that adds up to be 3,850 calories, which is about 484 grams of body fat each week. That’s pretty incredible just from adding one shake a day to your diet. And let’ not forget, you’re probably getting more nutrients from your meal replacement shake than you would be from your regular meals too; win-win!
If you’re a veteran in the dieting world, you’re probably already familiar with the term calorie deficit. You’ll be forgiven if this phrase sends shivers down your spine thanks to the past trauma of spending all of your waking hours feeling like you’re starving. However, this really isn’t the case with meal replacement shakes. Why?
They are usually high in protein and fibre, which are two of the nutrients responsible for you feeling fuller for longer. High-protein diets are usually recommended for weight loss as they stop you from feeling as hungry even though you’re in a calorie deficit.
No need for calorie counting
One of the most frustrating things you can do is meticulously log your calorie intake for every meal. Whether you’re doing it because you’re trying to lose weight, manage your health, or if you’re preparing for your next bodybuilding show, nobody likes counting their calories.
Meal replacement shakes can help to get rid of this as you know you’ll be in a deficit due to the massive calorie savings you make on your meals. Remember, you only need to save 500 calories per day, and that’s 484 grams of fat each week.
Easy to get in nutrients
Let’s face it, not many of us actually eat a well-balanced and healthy diet. In fact, the National Health Survey found that only one in twenty (5.4%) of adults were eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. With 51.% of Australians over 18 eating the recommended two or more serves of fruit and 7.5% of Australian adults eating the recommended five to six serves of vegetables a day.
Meal replacement shakes are a fantastic way of hitting your macro and micronutrient goals each day, providing a rich source of healthy vitamins and minerals that most people would struggle to implement in their diet, especially for all the fussy eaters out there.
Increased protein consumption
Adding one or more meal replacement shakes to your diet is a great way to increase your overall protein consumption. There are many benefits of a high protein diet, but a few of the main advantages include:
These days we all have busy lives. Whether that’s because we are overburdened with work, have family responsibilities, or spend a lot of time travelling, people find it hard to take the time to cook nutritious meals.
On average, it takes on average 37 minutes to prepare a meal and dish it out. Then you have to factor in things such as cleaning up, and the time it takes for you to go out to the supermarket and source all of the fresh ingredients. It’s actually fairly time-consuming when you stop to think about it.
This is one of the main appeals of meal replacement shakes as they completely get rid of the need for cooking. All you have to do is mix your powder with some water or milk, and you’re good to go. This is especially helpful for people who work long hours and want a healthy alternative to unhealthy fast food options.
Easier for your stomach to digest (no post-meal lethargy)
Shakes are great for your gut as they are already in an easy-to-digest liquid. Your body has to do very little work to break the nutrients down compared to if you have eaten a full meal. This means you won’t feel as sluggish and bogged down as you would after a large portion of solid food, which is awesome for people who want to remain active and light on their feet.
Great for vegetarians
Sometimes it can be difficult to meal prep if you’re a vegetarian, as the list of potential meals you can cook is naturally limited due to the absence of meat-related products. Furthermore, a lot of vegetarians struggle to hit their nutritional goals with certain micro and macronutrients (such as protein and some vitamins) as they find it difficult to find suitable replacements for meat.
Fortunately, meal replacement shakes are an excellent way to overcome this dilemma as you can find all of the nutrients you need without the need for a meticulously thought-out meal plan.
It’s great for your hair
Many of the vitamins and minerals in meal replacement shakes provide an essential blend of nutrients such as copper, selenium, and a good source of zinc, which is great for improving hair colouration and biotin for hair maintenance.
Have you ever stopped to calculate exactly how much each meal you cook is costing you? Once you factor in the ingredients, costs incurred when travelling to and from the supermarket, and even things such as your herbs and spices and the electricity, the bill for each meal really starts to add up.
The average home-cooked meal will set you back between $5 – $7 dollars on average, and that’s if you eat up everything without any waste. With that in mind, it’s easy to see how replacing a few of your meals with a meal replacement shake could help both your waistline and your bank balance!
Do I have to replace all of my meals?
The number of meals you choose to replace is ultimately your decision; however, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. For starters, even though meal replacement shakes are high in fibre and protein, you’ll almost certainly start to feel hunger pangs start creeping in if you skip more than one meal per day.
If you’re trying to lose a lot of weight, it can be tempting to want to switch out all of your meals for a meal replacement shake, at least until you’ve lost the weight. However, that is very rarely the best way to go about it. Extreme calorie-restrictive diets are incredibly difficult to sustain as your body will start to perform poorly.
You’ll start losing your mental edge and may become moody and irritable. Furthermore, there is some evidence to suggest that heavily reducing your calories causes your body to go into “starvation mode,” which is where your body slows down your metabolism and tries to preserve fat stores. Of course, this is not good news if you want to burn body fat.
As with anything in life, the best approach is a balanced approach. Consistency is key, and it’s far easier to be consistent if you are only making minor adjustments to your regular day to day life.
If you do want to go ahead and replace all of your meals (this is referred to as a Total Food Replacement Diet [TFRD]), proceed with caution and perhaps seek professional medical or nutritional advice. Maybe start with replacing your meals one or two days per week at first and see how you feel and then adjust from there.
So how many meal replacement shakes should I have per day?
Opt for a high-quality meal replacement shake to replace either one or two of your daily meals. Some people prefer to keep it strict throughout the week by replacing two of their meals, but when the weekends come, they switch back to only replacing one meal so they feel as if they can enjoy themselves with a well-earned treat. Flexibility is key to a long-term, sustainable diet, so don’t push yourself too hard.
Methods for meal replacement
Okay, so ready to start replacing your meals with meal replacement shakes, but you’re not quite sure where to begin or what the best time is to drink them? Don’t worry; here are a few ideas to get you started:
As they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. After all, this is the meal that’s going to give you all of the sustenance and energy for the activities that lay ahead, so it’s important to get it right.
Unfortunately, it’s very common for people trying to lose weight to skip breakfast in order to save on their calories. However, as any dietitian will tell you, this is a cardinal sin! Skipping breakfast means you’re going to be very hungry by the late morning and early afternoon. This means you’re far more likely to grab an unhealthy snack or calorific fast food to cure your hunger pangs. There goes the diet.
The key to weight loss is managing hunger. It’s far easier to keep hunger at bay than having to rely on your willpower for all your waking hours. So instead of skipping the first meal of the day, grab a meal replacement shake instead.
They’re simple and light, packed with all the vitamins and minerals you need to start your day off on the right foot. And the big bonus is that they take less than two minutes to prepare. This gives you more time to focus on your morning tasks, or better yet, you can have a little more time in bed. Perfect.
Lunchtime is one of the meals where people are most likely to opt for something unhealthy and derail their diet plan. If you’re at work, you have to dodge all of the vending machines, the unhealthy food from the work kitchen, lunch outings with coworkers, your rushed packed meals filled with junk food, and of course, the massive amounts of fast food options that so many of us are tempted by on a daily basis.
Instead of succumbing to one of these choices, why not bring a scoop of your meal replacement shake into work? That way, you can avoid the unhealthy options while getting in all of your nutrients that will spur you on with energy until the end of the day.
If you know you’re going to be hungry, you can always take some fruit along with you to accompany your shake. That way you’re saving yourself a lot of unnecessary calories and all of the money you would have spent on that lunch with your colleagues.
One of the main ingredients in meal replacement shakes is protein, which is a vital component for building muscle. In order for your muscles to grow, they need access to essential amino acids, which are often referred to as the building blocks for new muscle fibers. Consuming a large dose of protein near to your workout session is a great way to give your body what it needs to grow and boost your recovery, so you don’t feel quite as sore the next day.
Interestingly, whether or not you should consume protein before or after your workout is a hotly contested topic, although there is still no conclusive evidence to suggest one is better over the other. It’s all a matter of preference, and as always, it usually better to keep it flexible.
If you feel lethargic and low on energy before your session, then a quick meal replacement shake should give you the boost in energy you need for a solid workout. If you already feel full, then save the shake for a nutritious recovery meal post-workout.
A nutritious desert
Did you know there is an average of 384 calories in one scoop of soft-serve ice cream? Yep, reaching for the desert is a big no-no if you’re trying to get rid of your belly fat. Unfortunately, most of us tend to get cravings for something sweet and tasty after we’ve eaten, but more often than not, it’s for something high in calories with very little nutritional content.
This is the perfect time to reach for your meal replacement shake so you can curb your cravings in a healthy way. Even though this technically isn’t a meal replacement, it’s still a great way to replace unhealthy calories with healthy ones.
A healthy snack
Similar to the point made above, swapping out your unhealthy snacks for a meal replacement shake is a great way to shave off some kilos. If you’re the kind of person that gets peckish in between meals, try and keep your shaker near at all times and see if you can swap the chocolate bar for something a little healthier.
How Should I Use Meal Replacement Shakes for the Best Results?
This all depends on what your goals are. If you want to take a meal replacement shake to incorporate more nutrients into your diet, then feel free to consume the shakes as and when you see fit.
With that said, if your main goal is to lose weight, then you must focus on reshaping your eating habits while maintaining healthy habits across the board. For optimal weight loss and for a much healthier life in general, you should implement meal replacement shakes alongside a healthy eating plan and a regular exercise routine.
Remember, meal replacement shakes are not a magic pill that you can take, and then the kilos will start dropping off the next day. It takes hard work, determination, and you will have to overcome the occasional hunger pangs that will almost certainly beckon at some point.
With that in mind, it’s important not to do anything too drastic at the beginning. Start off by swapping out one or two meals per week and see how you feel. If it goes well and you think you would benefit from replacing even more meals, then give it a try.
After all, weight loss isn’t just about reducing your calorie intake until you reach your goals. If you employ this mindset, you will end right back at the same place where you started, guaranteed. You must create a sustainable and practical way of living that you can maintain without having to rely on sheer willpower because eventually, that runs out.
Start small, think long-term, and incorporate meal replacement shakes into your life to help you kick start your weight loss and eventually reach your goals.
Lastly, once you reach your target weight, you don’t have to stop drinking the shakes. Simply reduce your weekly replacements and find the right balance that allows you to maintain your weight.
Are there any side effects of meal replacement shakes?
While there are no serious side effects to discuss when taking meal replacement shakes, here are a few things worth noting before you begin your new diet plan.
Lethargy or fatigue
Without a doubt, one of the biggest challenges you will face with just about any diet is fatigue. As your body is going to be in a calorie deficit, you’re going to feel some relatively unpleasant symptoms—these range from tiredness, mood swings, dizziness, and a general feeling of hunger.
Interestingly, the severity of these symptoms varies from person to person. Where one guy may take the new diet in his stride, another might turn into a hungry prima donna throwing tantrums left, right, and centre.
Fortunately, meal replacement shakes are generally high in protein, which should keep you feeling fuller for longer and will go a long way to keeping your hunger at bay.
Any drastic change in diet is typically met with some level of resistance from your digestive system. If you go from eating your normal diet every day to changing out one or two of your daily meals for a meal replacement shake, your body may struggle to adjust. Again, the symptoms vary, but in the very worst cases, people can experience temporary constipation, diarrhea, or abdominal cramping. However, this is rare.
As with any food product, there are usually allergens that consumers should be aware of. Most meal replacement shakes contain milk products, which makes them a no go for lactose intolerant people and vegans. If you suffer from allergies, check the label before consuming it.
It may not be suitable for some medical conditions
Last but not least, it’s important to note that meal replacement shakes aren’t for everyone. If you suffer from a medical condition, it’s worth consulting with your doctor beforehand. As you will be changing your diet quite significantly, there is a chance it could affect things like your blood pressure and insulin production.
Five tips for taking meal replacement shakes
Finally, here are five tips to keep in mind when incorporating meal replacement shakes into your diet, you should also only make major changes to your diet in consultation with medical professionals.
Drinking plenty of water is key to keeping your body hydrated. This is vital for weight loss, and your body needs water to keep your metabolism going and burn off that extra fat that you’re trying to get rid of. However, we get 20% of our daily water intake from our food, so if you’re taking a meal replacement shake, you might benefit from drinking a few more glasses of water each day to ensure your body has all of the liquid it needs.
Additionally, if you ever feel hungry, but you find you’ve eaten all of your meals for the day, try drinking a cold glass of water instead. Often, we mistake the feeling of thirst for hunger, which is definitely a bad habit you want to get out of.
Listen to your body
While it’s normal to feel low levels of discomfort when in a calorie deficit, it should never be so difficult that it stops you from enjoying your day to day life. When starting your new diet, try and be mindful of your body and how you feel. If your energy is too low and you’re struggling to perform at work or if you become irritable, it’s a sign you might want to take it easy for a couple of days.
Similarly, if you start to suffer from digestive issues or feel that something is wrong, you should listen to your body and make adjustments where you feel necessary or consult a medical professional.
The more freedom and flexibility you give yourself with your diet, the higher the likelihood that you’ll keep it up. After all, what’s the use of a strict diet plan if you’re only going to stick with it for a couple of weeks? The great thing about meal replacement shakes is that they are super easy to prepare, they’re easy to transport, and you can swap them out for any one of your meals throughout the day.
Keep one on hand while you’re out and about and drink one when you feel yourself getting tempted by an unhealthy snack, or swap it out for your dessert if you still want to enjoy something sweet after your main meal. Whatever you do, remember that flexibility is key. If you feel like you went too hard, too fast, there is nothing wrong with taking a week off.
Manage your macros
Macro counting allows you to better understand where your calories are coming from and whether or not your body is getting all of the nutrients it needs. It’s a good practice for anyone to have, but it’s even more important for people on low-calorie diets as you need to make the most out of your reduced daily calorie quota.
Tracking macros is huge in the fitness industry, especially for people who are looking to pack on muscle. However, if your goal is simply to lose weight, then keeping an eye on the three main macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) is a great way to keep on top of things.
Last but not least, do not push it. As we have mentioned several times in this guide, consistency is key. Meal replacement shakes are an amazing way to incorporate a wide range of nutrients into your diet in an easy to digest form that requires very little preparation. However, replacing your meals with a meal replacement shake will almost always push you into a calorie deficit, which is great for weight loss but tricky to maintain unless you take things slowly.
It’s the perfect low-calorie meal replacement shakes for busy blokes wanting to boost weight loss and improve overall health. It’s full of whey and soy protein which means it’ll leave you feeling full and satisfied and keep you going till your next meal.