Meal Replacement Programs Are Fast and Easy – But Are They Healthy?

Meal replacement programs can be a very convenient way to diet. But the ingredients for these products may not be all that healthy.

meal replacement

What Are They?

A meal replacement program uses prepackaged foods. They are most commonly in the form of shakes and bars. Some also come in the form of cookies and soups. The programs are designed to use one of these foods as a replacement for at least one of your meals and in some cases, all of your meals.

Some popular meal replacement diets and products include:

  • The Medifast diet program
  • The Optifast diet program
  • The Herbalife diet program
  • Slim Fast
  • Ideal Protein


This type of weight loss program is attractive for several reasons:

  1. You don’t have to cook one or more meals. That’s great if you’re a busy person or just don’t like to cook.
  2. It’s convenient. Again, if you’re a busy person, it’s easy to throw a shake or bar into your purse (or lunchbox) and take it with you to work or a day of play.
  3. You don’t have to think about it. For at least one of your meals, you don’t have to count calories or worry about what to eat.


OK, so there’s a lot of good reasons to use a meal replacement diet. But here’s the problem I have with them. These prepackaged foods don’t always have healthy ingredients. Very common ingredients include:

  • Soy
  • Sugar (Not exactly a diet food!)
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Artificial flavors
  • Preservatives

If you’re trying to improve your health by losing weight, what’s the point in eating unhealthy foods to do it? The good news is, there are healthy ways to replace a meal. Healthy meal replacement protein drinks and even bars can be made at home.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is this; meal replacement diets can be an easy way to lose weight, but check the ingredients of the foods you’re going to eat. Make sure they’re made with healthy, natural ingredients; not a long list of chemicals or even natural foods that are actually unhealthy.

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