Research: Meal replacements and weight loss

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Meal replacement products may be an effective means to assist with weight loss.

Meal Replacement Shakes
Meal Replacement Shakes

Meal replacements drinks and products are just about everywhere you look. There is a new product around every corner in the health section of your local grocery or box store. Despite the wide availability and popularity to assist with weight loss, there is limited evidence to back their use. In fact, meal replacement products are generally not recommended by experts to assist with weight loss. Also, most clinical guidelines fro weight loss steer clear of these products for the management of overweight and obesity subjects.

The good news is that new research from 2019 appears to suggest something different​[1]​. This systematic review aimed to provide a more up‐to‐date evaluation of the effect of weight-loss interventions incorporating meal replacement products as compared with alternative interventions on weight change. The study looked at studies that included obese and overweight adult subjects who when on weight-loss regimens with and without meal replacement products. Twenty‐three studies with over 7800 adult participants were included.

The researchers determined that mean weight change at one year was greater in the meal replacement groups relative to the standard diet groups. The mean difference was −1.4 kg or -3 pounds compared with alternative kinds of diets. If support was added, the mean difference was −6.13 kg or – 13 pounds.

The bottom line: Weight loss programs or plans that incorporate meal replacements led to more significant weight loss at one year when compared to standard diets. Support of an official weight loss program such as Weight Watchers improves success. In my opinion, this definitely answers the question. Meal replacements are a valid option for the management of overweight and obesity.

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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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