A meal replacement is a pre-packaged meal, shake, or bar that replaces the need for a traditional meal. They work because they contain all the nutrients you need, at a fraction of the calories many people eat. However, it’s important to realize that calories vary from one brand and one product to another, so you’ll still need to pay attention to labels to ensure those products fit into your weight-loss plan.
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Partial or Complete Meal Replacements
Most meal replacement products are not complete meal replacements, so you cannot rely on them to replace all your meals. They are intended to be partial meal replacements so you can eat quickly on the go when you don’t have time to make a traditional meal. This means you’ll need to add food to your plan to make sure all your needs are met throughout the day.
Common Meal Replacements
One of the most popular meal replacement plans, this uses a combination of meal replacement shakes, with portion-controlled snacks, and one full meal you supply a day, to help you reach your weight loss goals.
Nutrisystem is a mail-order meal replacement system that costs anywhere from $8 to $12 a day, plus the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables. Meal replacement shakes are incorporated into most of the plans.
You’ll spend a monthly fee for consultations with experts, in addition to the cost of food. You can expect to spend anywhere from $15 to $23 a day, without the cost of fresh produce included, for a single person.
Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice
These are frozen meal replacements, where you can expect to spend $10 per day with fresh produce included. You’ll also be eating a lot of sodium, which can cause water retention and cause weight gain on the scale.
Science suggests that meal replacements can be effective for weight-loss, but keep them limited to one per day and aim for healthy meals the rest of the time.