By Christina Bracey
Thinking about swapping your knife and fork for a straw at meals? That’s an option provided by the widespread availability of meal replacement drinks. But what’s a meal replacement drink, and are they a healthy choice for replacing meals?
As their name implies, meal replacement drinks are beverages used in place of one or more of your daily meals. These popular products come in single serve cans and bottles as well as powders that need to be mixed with a liquid.
Are Meal Replacement Drinks a Good Source of Nutrition?
Meal replacement drinks provide a source of protein, carbohydrate, and fat, although the amount of each of these nutrients is highly variable among brands. To boost their nutrient profile, vitamins and minerals are added to most of these products. On the downside, these drinks are often high in added sugars and low in fiber. When making a choice, here are some things to look for:
- Protein: Aim for 15-20 grams of protein per serving.
- Low in added sugars: Look for hidden added sugars that provide calories with little nutrition. Examples of added sugars include fructose, sucrose, dextrose, and honey.
- Find the fiber: Look for drinks that are a good source of fiber to help keep you full and satisfied. Check the Nutrition Facts Panel for at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving.
Meal replacement drinks can be a handy back-up when time is short. It’s important to choose a drink that provides the nutrition you need to finish the day strong. Look on the Nutrition Facts Panel to make sure that you choose a product that will keep you fueled for the busy day ahead!
- Koohkan S, Schaffner D, Milliron BJ, et al. The impact of a weight reduction program with and without meal-replacement on health related quality of life in middle-age obese females. BMC Women’s Health. 2014;14(45) doi.org/10.1186/1472-6874-14-45.