By Betty Murray
Liquid diets are never recommended as a long-term diet solution (unless you have specific health problems that require you to be on a liquid diet), but weight loss drinks may help you shed a few unwanted pounds quickly, particularly if you have reached a plateau in your weight loss.
Replacing meals with protein shakes can reduce your daily caloric intake, resulting in weight loss. However, you will eventually need to return to eating solid foods, at which time you may regain any weight that was lost. Relying too much on protein drinks also means you’re missing out on the nutritional value of whole foods.
When Protein Shakes Can Help
The average adult should get at least 46 to 56 grams of protein per day (possibly more, depending on your weight). If you are already eating a healthy, nutrient-rich diet but are struggling to get adequate protein, adding a protein shake to your daily diet can help you get closer to the recommended daily dose of protein. Protein increases calorie burn, so upping your protein intake can boost weight loss.
When Protein Shakes (and other weight loss drinks) Can Hurt
Even though a shake or drink isn’t a solid food, it still contains calories—and you might be surprised just how many calories are in a drink. Protein powder, though it varies, generally contains about 140 calories per serving, so a protein shake made from protein powder could contain as many as 300 calories. One Special K Milk Chocolate Protein Shake contains 190 calories.
Unless your physician has prescribed a liquid diet to battle other health concerns, going on a strict liquid diet simply to lose weight is not ideal. If your weight loss has stalled out, or you just need to lose a few pounds before heading to the beach, try replacing one meal a day with a protein shake.
The best formula for weight loss is to maintain a healthy, nutrient-dense, protein-rich diet and to get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every week.
Betty Murray, CN, IFMCP, CHC is a Certified Nutritionist & Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner with the Institute for Functional Medicine and founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Living Well Dallas and she is the Executive Director of the the Functional Medicine Association of North Texas. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. She specializes in autoimmune conditions, MTHFR, digestive disorders and complex health issues. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.