The Look AHEAD study was one of the largest weight loss studies (a randomized control trial) ever undertaken:
The Look AHEAD Study: A Description of the Lifestyle Intervention and the Evidence Supporting It, Obesity, May 2006
They used liquid meal replacement in the intervention group, 2 meals/day replaced for 6 months, 1 meal thereafter, with replacement snack bars once a day. The study ran for about 12 years.
Participants potentially can choose from four meal replacements, including SlimFast (SlimFast Foods), Glucerna (Ross Laboratories), OPTIFAST (Novartis Nutrition) and HMR (HMR, Inc.). All products are provided free of charge.
What do you think? Are meal-replacement beverages a healthy way to achieve weight loss?
Here’s an example of one, SlimFast. Eight, 10-ounce bottles cost about $26:
Nutrition Facts, Per Serving; 190 calories, 6g fat, 210mg sodium, 5g fiber, 18g sugar, 10g protein
INGREDIENTS: Fat Free Milk, Water, Sugar, Cocoa (Processed with Alkali), Canola Oil, Fructose, Gum Arabic, Milk Protein Concentrate, Cellulose Gel, Mono and Diglycerides, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Potassium Phosphate, Maltodextrine, Soy Lecithin, Cellulose Gum, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Carrageenan, Sodium Bicarbonate, Sucralose and Acesulfame Potassium (Nonnutritive Sweeteners), Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid.
Vitamins and Minerals: Magnesium Phosphate, Calcium Phosphate, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin E Acetate, Zinc Gluconate, Ferric Orthophosphate, Niacinamide, Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Thiamin Mononitrate, Folic Acid, Chromium Chloride, Biotin, Sodium Molybdate, Potassium Iodide, Phylloquinone (Vitamin K1), Sodium Selenite, Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12) and Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3).
Personally, I’m not a fan of them. My mom drank some of those many years ago. I don’t think they helped.
If they work for some people and those people keep the weight off, then perhaps it’s worth putting the stuff in our bodies.
Do you think it is okay to lose weight in an unhealthy way, if it achieves long term health? Of course, most people don’t keep the weight loss off no what method is used.
I couldn’t be more against them. For two reasons:
1. They are not healthy. Casein (milk protein linked to cancer), fructose, trans fat, carrageenan (Google it), various other processed oils and sugars (including the chemical substitutes).
2. They do not change behavior. People don’t learn what and how to eat. They take a SlimFast pill.
But there is a lot of support for them in the medical and even nutrition communities, for exactly the reasons you stated.
Does the benefit justify the cost (in health, but also in dollars)? In my opinion, no.