Researchers: Meal Replacements Work

There are many opinions on whether meal replacement plans for weight loss are effective or not.

Diets labelled ‘Crash diets’ have a bad reputation, particularly meal replacement diets but is the tide turning?  Some experts now say it’s time to reconsider them for a few reasons:

  • Ingredients have improved a lot over the years.  In some cases meal replacements are more likely to contain all of the nutrients you need than if you tried to assemble a meal from food yourself.
  • They make planning meals easier as you don’t need to think as much about what you are going to eat.
  • There are strict rules to follow so no real grey areas of what you should and shouldn’t eat – just follow the programme!
  • Results can be quick

Dr Javid Abdelmoneim collaborated with some of Britain’s top scientists including Professor Susan Jebb and Professor Paul Aveyard from The University of Oxford in an exciting experiment that tests the most recent research on crash dieting.  The experiment focused on four obese volunteers with genuine health issues that are linked to being over weight, for example liver disease and type 2 diabetes.  These 4 individuals were assessed at the beginning and the end of the 8 week diet / experiment. 

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What happened?

Watch the video above to see all of the outcomes.  The volunteers lost well over 10% of their body weight each in just 8 weeks 1 of them lost a staggering 18% of their body weight!

The weight related medical issues also improved over the 8 weeks:

  • The individual with liver disease, reduced the fat in their liver by over 30%
  • The volunteer with diabetes type 2 is now in remission

According to Professor Jebb the maintenance phase is the most important phase of a meal replacement diet.  As its about making food choice decisions for yourself as well as deciding on portion control and not falling back in to old habits.

Tips of reintroducing food into your diet:

  • Have a clear list of what you are / are not allowed to eat
  • Don’t let a cheat day blow your diet off course – get straight back on it
  • Don’t leave what you eat to chance

Dr Javid Abdelmoneim said “I’m a convert, our experiment has shown that when done properly crash diets can work and those results are backed up by large studies”.

“I’m still impressed because I’ve seen it work with our volunteers.”

“The big fear with crash diets is that once the diet has ended people will just put the weight back on, but 4 months on the volunteers on our experiment have switched to solid food and continued to lose weight.”

Further evidence…

Another trial was conducted in Germany and involved 100 obese people to find out whether meal replacements work.

Half of the participants reduced their calorific consumption to a maximum of 1,500 calories per day.

The remainder of the participants replaced two of their three daily meals with a diet shake of approximately 220 calories and ate a typical evening meal up to 900 calories.

The individuals who reduced their calorific intake after 3 months lost just under two pounds on average, which equates to less than two per cent of body weight.

The people on meal replacements had lost just over a stone, equating to eight per cent of their body weight, on average.

The meal replacement group saw their blood pressure decrease along with their cholesterol and insulin levels.

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As a maintenance phase all participants changed their eating habits by sticking to 1,500 calories per day, switch one meal a day for a diet shake and was allowed one low calorie snack bar.

After 4 years both groups managed to keep off their initial weight loss and had and lose a more fat.


Source: Value of Structured Meals for Weight Management: Risk Factors and Long-Term Weight Maintenance