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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

To shake or not to shake?

If there is one dietary option that is sure to cause debate and controversy among health and fitness professionals, it is the use of protein or meal replacement shakes. And perhaps this is not surprising given the increasing number of shakes, potions and various weight loss products on the market.

Some avid fitness fans will make loud statements, “use real food”, “stay away from those processed drinks”, “lose weight the natural way”, giving such products a question mark about their appropriateness and effectiveness to use within the context of a healthy diet, to support weight loss or as a general meal or snack option.

My feelings are a little less rigid. In a number of cases, a protein powder or meal replacement drink is simply a mix of the core ingredients in food – carbs, proteins and fats which you could have easily consumed via your regular food choices. Sure you need to be careful that you are choosing a reputable brand and remember that if claims made by any one product sound too good to be true, they usually are but in general well formulated products tend to offer a number of advantages nutritionally.

One, they keep the calories controlled. Two, meal replacements are specially formulated to include all essential nutrients. And three, for some reason still not fully understood they do often give superior weight loss results, at least initially.

What a meal replacement or protein shake also does, is offer a quick and easy meal solution for busy people, or for those who are not all that keen on meal preparation.

There are no rules when it comes to the way we choose to eat. Some of us will find a shake useful; others prefer not to use them. Some of us will love them, others cannot stand them. Shakes are simply one of many dietary tools that may or may not take you towards your health and fitness goals long term. And so, as with all areas of life, feel free to make your choice based on what is the best way to eat, for you.