As a dietitian/nutritionist since 1990, I have seen, read, and heard more fads and myths related to weight loss than any other topic in nutrition. Carbs are the enemy, fat makes you fat, and eating cabbage soup with lemon and cayenne pepper will help you reach your goal weight. Thankfully, those myths and diets have long been debunked. Losing weight and keeping it off is difficult. Obesity rates continue to rise in children and adults, and people are searching for the right plan to help them shed those unwanted pounds and keep them OFF.
Let’s look at strategies to lose weight and keep it off
Protein is one of the essential nutrients for weight loss; it builds muscle, curbs appetite, keeps you feeling full, and repairs tissue. Protein also helps support metabolism when consumed in the morning. I recommend 20 g of protein at breakfast to help wake the body, and get the energy-conversion process started and your metabolism moving. Overall, the recommended daily allowance of protein is 0.8 g/kg of body weight, so consider your minimum requirements. Eggs are a complete protein source, along with all animal-based foods. However, consuming too much animal food is not the best for our health, so incorporating more plant-rich foods into the diet has tremendous benefits for our health and the environment.
Fiber helps the body absorb nutrients. Increasing fiber intake also plays an important role in weight management. Here are some of its benefits:
- Reduces appetite and promotes satiety
- Reduces between-meal food cravings
- Contributes to healthy blood sugar levels already within the normal range
- Helps lower the glycemic index
- Helps maintain healthy total cholesterol levels already within the normal range
Meal replacement shakes
I witnessed the benefits of using meal replacement shakes as part of a healthy weight-loss strategy, but the proof is in the science. Research shows that people who replaced one or two meals per day with a healthy meal replacement shake lost weight and improved their health. In one eight-week study, 50 obese men and women replaced two meals per day with a balanced nutritional meal replacement shake equal to 240 calories and consumed one regular meal. Researchers found significant reductions in body weight and waist circumference, and participants also reported improved health, reduced hunger, and better mental health. There is also evidence that participants following meal replacement shake programs maintained their weight loss.
Shakes are convenient and easy
Consuming a “shake” is a convenient, delicious way to meet your protein, fiber, and macronutrient requirements. For weight loss, I recommend 1–2 meal replacement shakes per day. The balance of the macronutrients must be ideal to provide the nutrition your body needs to be healthy. Weight loss is not the only goal: good energy levels, and strong immune and digestive health are vital. Complete meal replacement shakes that contain a balance of protein and complex carbohydrates (fiber) will help you lose weight and keep it off.
The ideal meal replacement shake contains:
- 20 g of protein (preferably plant protein, but you can switch it up)
- Less than 10 g of sugar
- No artificial colors
- No artificial flavors
- A perfect ratio of vitamins and macronutrients
Let’s get started
Setting yourself up for success is essential when starting a program with meal replacement shakes. I would start with the schedule outlined below as a typical day. (Please note that drinking plenty of fresh, purified water throughout the day will keep you hydrated, energized, and clear-headed, and will help control cravings. Thirst can be mistaken for hunger.)
4−8 oz of water, preferably with lemon
RealEasy™ shake (within one hour of rising) RealEasy shakes give you the ideal ratio of macronutrients to keep you feeling healthy, full, and satisfied. Mix with water or plant milk for a complete meal. Optional: you can mix up the flavour profile by adding an additional ingredient, but keep in mind that the ratio of RealEasy is complete, so nothing else is needed.
- 1 cup water or unsweetened plant milk
- 1 scoop RealEasy Meal Replacement shake
- Ice cubes
- ½ small banana, ½ avocado, 1 tsp nut butter, or ½ cup fresh berries
- 1 tsp hemp or chia seeds
Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Enjoy!
Choose one of these low-calorie protein- or fiber-rich snacks:
- 1 apple with nut butter
- ¼ cup blueberries, 100-calorie serving of yogurt, and 2 tsp sliced almonds or pumpkin seeds
- ¼ cup hummus and 2 cups vegetables (carrots, broccoli, celery, cauliflower, or peppers)
- ½ whole wheat pita with 3 Tbsp hummus and sliced cucumbers
- ¾ cup non-GMO edamame
- 1 small fruit with 1 boiled egg
- 24 cashews or almonds, or 14 walnut halves
Refer to the breakfast RealEasy shake recipe above.
If you get hungry in the afternoon, refer to the mid-morning snack options and choose one.
A sensible meal containing a balance of protein, fiber, and healthy fats will provide you with the nourishment you need to finish the day feeling vital, satisfied, and energized. Try this tasty plant-based spinach coconut lentil dahl. This curry dish is satisfying and comforting to the body.
Spinach coconut lentil dahl
Prep Time: 15 mins Cook
Time: 40 mins
Servings: 5 entrées
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1 sweet onion – diced
- 2 cloves garlic – minced
- 2 tsp garam masala curry powder – can be substituted with mild curry
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- A pinch of cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 cups dried red lentils – rinsed under cold water and drained
- 4 cups water
- 2 14-oz cans full-fat coconut milk
- 4 cups fresh spinach
- In a heavy bottom pot, melt the coconut oil over medium heat.
- Add the onion and garlic, and sauté until translucent for about 5 minutes.
- Add the curry powder, turmeric, cinnamon, and salt, and stir.
- Add the lentils, water, and coconut milk, then stir to combine and bring to a boil, covered.
- On low heat, let simmer for 35 minutes, mixing every 5 minutes to avoid sticking in the bottom of the pot.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the spinach. Since the curry is hot, the spinach will start to cook after a couple of minutes.
- Adjust the seasoning and serve hot with a side of sourdough bread or jasmine rice.
Feel free to drink a cup of hot or iced herbal tea anytime throughout the day. A hot cup of tea with lemon a few hours after dinner is a wonderful treat and something you can look forward to. In closing, choose products wisely. Unfortunately, many meal replacements contain unhealthy ingredients, like artificial sugars, colors, and preservatives. Always look for the ISURA® seal for purity, and speak to your health care practitioner before beginning any weight-loss program. Remember, don’t be hard on yourself or fall into the all-or-nothing spiral. Start adding healthy wholefoods, veggies, organic proteins, lots of fresh, purified water, and herbal tea to your daily routine. Soon you will feel so energized that you won’t want to go back to unhealthy eating habits.