The idea of a meal replacement diet is to replace the regular meals with low-kilojoule powdered shakes and snack bars in order to reduce the total consumption of energy and then help the person maintain a balanced weight. If you can have shakes and bars as a morning meal (and in some cases, lunch and dinner too), there is evidence to prove that meal replacements may be a feasible weight-loss strategy in the short term.
Meal replacements are kilojoule-controlled foods intended to promote rapid weight loss while retaining lean body mass (muscles and organs). The formulations are predominantly protein-based (mixed with water or skim milk from milk or soy-based powders), usually contain few carbohydrates, and are supplemented with minerals and vitamins.
What are meal replacement products?
A meal replacement product can be a drink, bar, soup, etc. intended to replace a solid food meal, usually with regulated calorie and nutrient quantities. Many drinks are made like a health shake. Medically prescribed meal replacement beverages include the vitamins and minerals that are required. Bodybuilders sometimes use meal replacements, which are not designed for weight loss, to save time while eating 5 or 6 meals a day.
Energy bars are supplemental bars that include cereals and other high-energy foods that are aimed at people who need fast energy but have no time for a meal. There are three sources of energy in food: fat, protein, and carbohydrates. A standard energy bar weighs between 45 and 80 g and is likely to provide approximately 200–300 Cal (840–1,300 kJ), 3–9 g of fat, 7–15 g of protein, and 20–40 g of carbohydrates.
Some carbohydrates are different types of sugars such as fructose, glucose, maltodextrin, and others in different ratios, mixed with complex carbohydrate sources such as oats and barley, in order to provide energy quickly. Energy bars usually do not contain sugar alcohols, as they do not need low-calorie sweeteners to enhance their flavor due to the type of carbohydrate content. Fats are kept to a minimum in energy bars, and cocoa butter and dark chocolate are often their main sources.
Types of meal replacement products
1. Ready to Drink
A common strategy for weight loss is the consumption of meal replacement shakes. There is no shortage of products on the market to choose from because of their success. Customers have a variety of keto-friendly shakes, low-calorie diet shakes, vegan shakes, protein shakes based on plants, shakes with added probiotics, and shakes rich in some vitamins and minerals.
2. Protein Bar
Protein bars are a form of nutritional supplement which comes in a variety of brands and flavors — chocolate, dark chocolate, almond, coffee, peanut butter, chocolate, oatmeal, and more. Most protein bars have a good balance of protein, carbohydrate, and fat, which makes them a good choice for a snack or post-workout recovery. Many protein bars are low in sugar, while others are higher in sugar alcohols. While it is not advisable to eat meal replacement bars every day, sometimes, they are useful as a healthy alternative to either missing a meal or making an impulsive choice of food.
Most meal replacement products contain about 10 to 20 g of protein per serving, but they differ widely in the amount and type of carbohydrate and fat. Most are supplemented with minerals, vitamins, and other micronutrients, while the service's size and calorie content vary depending on the type and product expected. Others include nutritional supplements and herbs. In ready-to-drink formulations or powdered forms to be mixed with liquids, meal replacement drinks are supplied to the market.
Meal replacement powder was the overall market-leading product in 2018. The rapid lifestyle and easy processing of powder products are expected to amplify the popularity of this product. Suppliers also provide powder packets for a free glass shaker. The introduction of a variety of flavors has been expected to attract more customers who concentrate on weight management and lead a healthy lifestyle.
The meal replacement products market is providing hundreds of meal replacement options today— from gas stations to yoga studios, almost everywhere. Nutrition bars and meal replacement beverages were originally targeted at serious athletes who needed extra fuel for workouts. Today, these products have gone mainstream, targeted at anyone who wants a nutritious boost. Shelf-stable bars and cans are conveniently stacked in a drawer, purse, wallet or briefcase for quick meals. There are a number of choices dizzying. Such healthy products occupy vast amounts of shelf space in gyms, grocery stores, and health food stores, and there are hundreds of bars and meal-replacement drinks to choose from.