Many people use shakes as a meal replacement. But is this really a risk-free way of losing weight and getting your tummy full? A dietician answers.
"When it comes to weight loss, the most important thing to realise is that there are no magic potions that will make you thin," says registered dietician Gina Stear. "Many of these products are expensive and usually won't work unless you reduce your overall food intake or control your portions."
Ultimately, slimming products should purely be seen as aids, Stear reckons. They might have the desired effect of giving you energy and a feeling of satiety, but they must be used along with a kilojoule-restricted, balanced diet and an exercise programme.
"Meals in a glass can be part of a balanced diet and, in some cases, are preferable to a poor diet or missing a meal completely, as they do contain nutrients," she says.
Stear makes the following comments:
- Most shakes don’t contain fibre. Fibre plays an important role in bowel regulation and blood-sugar control. It also gives one a feeling of satiety after a meal.
- Many shakes don't contain adequate amounts of calcium – an important mineral for bone health that has also been linked to weight management. Women up to the age of 35 years absorb calcium optimally, so it is important to ensure that you consume the recommended 1000mg of calcium daily. A glass of milk (250ml) provides approximately 200mg of calcium, so if you're not someone who consumes a lot of dairy products, or soft-boned fish such as salmon or pilchards, a calcium supplement is advised.
- Many shakes have a high sucrose content, meaning that there is a lot of sugar making up the shake’s energy and carbohydrate content. This could result in a fast increase in blood sugar, which isn't always desirable.
- There is some evidence to suggest that consuming nutrients in the liquid form as opposed to the solid food form can lead to the consumption of more calories without necessarily providing the same sense of satisfaction in terms of satiety. For example, an apple is far more satisfying, contains more fibre and also less calories than two glasses of undiluted apple juice.
Go the smoothie route
Instead of commercial shakes, Stear recommends that slimmers rather opt for healthy, home-made smoothies. This is a great way of getting fruit and fibre in for the day.
She lists a few smoothie recipes:
1. Pawpaw punch
1 small pawpaw
1 punnet of strawberries
1/2 cup of low-fat natural or vanilla yoghurt
1/2 cup of low-fat milk
1/2 cup of pawpaw or mango juice
1/2 cup of oat bran
Juice of 1 lime
1 handful of almonds
1 handful of raisins
1/2 cup of oat bran
1/2 cup of high-fibre cereal
3/4 cup of low-fat milk
1/2 cup of low-fat vanilla yoghurt
3. Fruits of the forest
1-2 cups of strawberries
2 ripe bananas
2 Tbsp of lemon juice
3/4 cup of low-fat milk
1/2 cup of vanilla yoghurt
1 cup of high-fibre cereal
1 Tbsp of sesame seeds
2 Tbsp of pecan nuts
Make a change for life
"In summary, when you take any slimming product, you need to ensure a lifestyle change and a behaviour change towards food, without which you will have very little success in achieving long-term weight loss," Stear says.
"Go back to the basics, work with your body rather than against it and listen to your body’s hunger and satiety signals. This mental shift will enable you to have long-term success in weight control," she says.
Here are some pointers to ensure healthy weight loss, which should be no more than 1,5kg per week:
- Eat three meals a day with two healthy snacks in between meals. Meals should contain fibre-rich carbohydrate and moderate protein, and should be low in fat. Include a wide variety of foods from all food groups (dairy, meat, fish, poultry and eggs, starches, fruit and vegetables, and fats) and don’t remove foods or food groups completely from your daily intake.
- Aim to eat at least five fruits and vegetables daily (e.g. two fruits and three vegetables).
- Control portion sizes and avoid eating seconds.
- Drink at least 1,5 litres (6-8 glasses) of clean water a day.
- Exercise up to five times a week to ensure that you are burning adequate energy compared to intake, to increase your metabolism, to increase your muscle mass and to reduce fat.
An interesting aside
According to the South African Medicines Control Council, diet plans (by themselves or adjunct to other products) need to provide evidence that the suggested diet(s) will provide adequate proteins, vitamins and that the diet is capable of achieving the results claimed.
Diet plans need to provide at least 4 200kJ daily, be balanced and be planned by a registered dietician.
In the case of meal-replacement powders, they also need to provide at least 120g of carbohydrates a day. Words such as "with a balanced kJ-restricted diet" should be printed in equal type size and prominence. – (Health24)
- July 2006
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