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Meal Replacements: Liquid vs Whole Food

3rd Aug, 2022

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You’ve probably heard of meal replacement drinks  - but what are they? 

Most are intended as substitutes for solid meals, and many claim to have all the same nutritional benefits. 

Some are marketed for their convenience, others for having more protein, or fewer calories than your normal lunch, without compromising on nutrients.

SHOULD I BE DRINKING THEM?

Whole food contains more fibre than liquid food, and we know that lots of fibre is essential for our health.

Studies have shown that we feel fuller for longer after eating whole food that’s packed with fibre, compared to getting our calories through liquids, after which we’ll likely consume more calories throughout the rest of the day.

But the lack of hunger you might feel from drinking, rather than eating, your calories, could be more psychological than anything else.

Aside from fibre, there are other factors that influence how full we feel, such as eating slowly and mindfully, rather than being distracted. Drinking your lunch, after all, makes it much easier to continue working, texting or talking while you drink.  

Consuming our calories as liquid takes away some of the important sensations of eating that affect how full we feel afterwards, such as chewing, dietician and nutritionist Dr Cary Ruxton says in BBC interview.

This means the body doesn’t recognise the calories in the same way it does when we eat solid foods and the brain sends messages to the body so we feel full. Instead, we get a ‘short-term hit’ of feeling full, Ruxton says.

SO IS THERE ANY POINT IN A MEAL REPLACEMENT DRINK?

It seems that swapping a solid lunch for a drink in order to consume fewer calories might mean you’re wasting your time. 

But there’s a loophole. One study concluded that we’re more likely to lose weight from consuming liquid calories over solid ones when it’s part of a larger weight loss programme.

Some brands promise a protein boost - but a healthy diet high in plants will give you all the protein you need.

SO SHOULD I AVOID MEAL REPLACEMENT DRINKS ALL TOGETHER?

If you’re looking to save time or calories, there’s no evidence to suggest having the odd meal replacement drink will do you any harm. 

However, some of these drinks may have artificial ingredients, which is no match for a whole food meal made of fresh, natural ingredients. That’s why, at TYME, we prioritise only the freshest ingredients and meals packed with a variety of nutrients.

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