The Importance of Meal Replacements While Following Weight Loss Plans

By Missy, BS Nutritional Science, Lifestyle Consultant, Livea Centers

Whether you have been on a weight loss journey in the past or have just needed the convenience of a bar or shake for a meal on the go, you are probably familiar with the term ‘meal replacement.’ Or maybe joining Livea was your first exposure to these simple, convenient, pre-packaged meals. Either way, there still may be some unanswered questions regarding what exactly meal replacements are and why they are such an integral part of your Livea plan. As we have recently embarked on the addition of Livea medical, utilizing GLP-1 weight loss medications, the conversation about the importance of meal replacements needs to be revisited. So, what exactly is a meal replacement?

What are Meal Replacements?

The average “protein bar/shake” that you might find at the grocery store is not necessarily going to meet the metrics of a meal replacement, nor will it have the appropriate number of calories to ensure that your caloric needs, as well as your protein needs, are being met. Your Livea meal replacements offer fixed macro-nutrients, meaning you are getting the perfect ratio of calories from protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Not only are these meals high in protein, but they have a low glycemic index, which means they do not cause a spike in blood sugar. The nutrient density of these meals offers more bang for your calorie buck, ensuring that you are getting sufficient nutrition while still consistently losing weight.

In addition to supplementing nutritional needs, meal replacements also help promote behavioral change for a healthier lifestyle. Their convenience simplifies meal planning and eliminates the need for calorie counting or macro tracking. The use of meal replacements also helps establish consistent eating patterns. Not only does this help with weight loss, it will also aid in maintaining blood sugar throughout the day. The ease of the Livea meal replacements takes the guess work out of weight loss and increases compliance, which will, in turn, lead to greater success.

Why Use Meal Replacements?

Not only are meal replacements quick and convenient, they are also very effective for safe and consistent weight loss. In fact, a study conducted by the NIH found that 93% of individuals on a meal replacement weight loss plan lost at least 5% of their body weight over a 16-week period, as opposed to those on a whole food weight loss plan which reported only 55% of participants lost at least 5% of their body weight. In addition to more consistent weight loss, participants that were utilizing meal replacements also reported improvements to inflammation and decreased oxidative stress, which are both markers for chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, fatty liver disease, and even some forms of cancer (1).

Although proper nutrition during weight loss can be achieved with whole foods alone, it is much more challenging and requires more planning and prepping. Without the need to count calories or points and weigh and measure foods for every meal, more attention can be given to the behavioral changes that need to be made to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The ease of simply opening a bar or mixing a shake will make compliance with your Livea plan easier, while also guaranteeing that your nutritional needs are being met.

The Importance of Meal Replacements While on Weight Loss Medications

As GLP-1 weight loss medications become more mainstream and readily available, meal replacements are being utilized more to ensure proper nutrition. One of the benefits of a weight loss medication is suppressed appetite, which helps cancel out some of the food noise that can make mindful eating more challenging. Because the hunger cues are less obvious, undereating can be a common issue. Proper nutrition, especially protein, is necessary to ensure that lean body mass, or muscle is maintained while losing weight. Without sufficient protein while in a calorie deficit, muscle mass will be lost. Lean body mass is what helps determine metabolic rate (BMR); if lean body mass is lost, calorie expenditure will go down and the body will burn less calories over time, making it harder to lose and/or maintain a healthy weight. Although weight loss requires you to burn more calories than are consumed, too much of a deficit can be very detrimental to overall health. Calories are the body’s fuel source, and without enough, other body functions will be compromised.

In addition to maintaining a healthy calorie deficit while taking weight loss medications, meal replacements also offer small meals that are easier to eat if appetite is lacking and can minimize the risk of gastrointestinal side effects like heart burn, indigestion, and constipation, which may otherwise be present due to slowed gut motility. Small doses of protein throughout the day also make protein absorption more efficient, ensuring that calories are being put to good use. At the end of the day, the underlying goal of weight loss medications, paired with nutrition education, is to provide the tools to build healthy lifestyle habits. Meal replacements encourage those habits without the guesswork of counting calories and prepping several meals every day.

Whether you are utilizing weight loss medications or just following a Livea nutrition plan, proper nutrition is crucial to overall success in losing and maintaining weight. Healthy weight loss can be very challenging; the goal at Livea is to make this process as simple and effective as possible and meal replacements are the tool that will aid in that process. So next time you open your favorite bar, remember the intricacy of that little meal, beyond just satiating hunger, and appreciate that you are fueling your body in a way that makes weight loss safe while also offering convenience!

Sources:

  1. “Efficacy of Meal Replacement Diet Compared to Food-Based Diet.” National Library of Medicine. NIH, 2022. http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc2851659
  2. “Medically Supervised Weight Loss.” Mass General Brigham. Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 2024. http://www.brighamandwomens.org/cwmw/medically-supervised-weight-loss-options