Friday, October 30, 2009

Meal Replacement Options for Weight Loss

Meal replacements are pre-packaged meals intended to make it easier and more efficient for an individual to control his or her portion sizes when trying to lose weight. They are available over-the-counter and are typically fortified with vitamins and minerals, and contain around 300 calories or less per serving. Types: Meal replacements come in the form of shakes, bars, or frozen entrees that typically are low in fat calories, or carbohydrates, and tend to be high in protein. The Slim Fast products are one of the oldest and well-known meal replacement plans, but other common manufacturers include Weight Watchers, Atkins, and Nutri System. All of these programs have the same goal--help consumers lose weight by reducing portion sizes. It is important to include a variety of meal replacements in your diet to prevent boredom. Try mixing shakes with bars and experiment with different brands and flavors. Not all meal replacements are created equal! With hundreds of products available in the market it can be difficult to choose a meal replacement that will be both satisfying and nutritious. For satiety look for high amounts of protein and fiber while keeping the total and saturated fat and sugar content low. Below are additional guidelines to follow when purchasing meal replacement products. Bars should contain at least 3 grams of fiber and at least 10 grams of protein. Aim for bars with less than 15 grams of sugar. Gastric bypass patients should keep sugar to under 10 grams per serving to prevent dumping syndrome. Meal replacement shakes should contain similar recommendations to the bars but typically contain more protein (approximately 15 grams per serving). Check the label for saturated fat. Saturated fat intake should not exceed more than 7% of total calories. In other words, if you are on a 1200 calorie diet your maximum saturated fat intake is about 9 grams a day. Watch for sugar alcohols which are used in place of table sugar. Compared to regular sugar, sugar alcohols are not as sweet, contain fewer calories, and minimize blood sugar elevation. While sugar alcohols have beneficial properties, they may lead to bloating, diarrhea, and excess gas. Sugar alcohols will be listed in the ingredient list. Common sugar alcohols include mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol. Uses: Meal replacements should be used to "jump-start" weight loss, prevent meal skipping, provide fast, convenient meal structure without cooking, and improve decision making when healthy choices are not available. Utilize a meal replacement at the meal that is most difficult. If lunch is a hectic time and you tend to grab fast food for convenience, try using a meal replacement shake that you can drink at your desk. Include fresh fruit with any meal replacement to add fiber, vitamins, and minerals without a large amount of calories. Try blending a fruit with your shake for a smoothie.<>-< Results: Research has shown that regularly substituting meal replacements for 1 or more meals a day can facilitate weight loss. Experts agree meal replacements are one of the most proven weight loss supplements available. Many people have lost and maintained large amounts of weight by utilizing meal replacements; however, you must apply yourself, stick with the program, and use appropriately. Like many other "diets", once the meal replacements have been discontinued and regularly eating returns the weight may be regained. Costs: The costs of meal replacements typically are between $2-$10 dollars a meal depending on the brand. Shakes and bars tend to be cheaper than frozen entrees. Generic products are available and tend to be cheaper than name brands. Meal replacements can be a vital part of any well-balanced diet. If you are considering bariatric surgery, be prepared to use some form of meal replacement as part of your pre-operative nutritional requirement and throughout your weight loss journey. Overall, meal replacements can be helpful in achieving weight loss and maintenance, but you still need to focus on eating a well-balanced meal.

(Article Source: ArticlesBase, Meal Replacement Options for Weight Loss Posted: Oct 14th, 2009, Author: jamiehanson )

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