The truth about meal replacement foods

  Weight loss is almost the biggest health need of modern people. Everyone is familiar with the basic principle of “controlling your mouth and opening your legs”, but it is easier said than done, and many people just stay on the lips. Therefore, various “weight loss diets” that “do not need exercise or diet, you can lose weight while lying down” naturally have great market appeal.
  Meal replacement is perhaps the most attractive of them. In the past few years, thousands of meal replacement brands have appeared on the Chinese market, all of which are selling “weight loss quickly, and you can lose weight when you lie down”. On the other hand, many “health sciences” are heartbroken and point out the various defects and even “hazards” of these meal replacements, which they call “flicker.”
  What’s the matter with meal replacement food?
  What is a meal replacement food?
  As the name suggests, meal replacement foods are foods that are used to replace regular meals. In this sense, infant formula milk powder and the “individual combat rations” used by the military are typical “meal replacement foods.” In foreign countries, the most famous meal replacement soylent was originally an “adult formula powder” designed for programmers who were too lazy to eat.
  However, in the current Chinese market, “meal replacement foods” are basically aimed at weight loss. The group standard “T/CNSS002-2019 Meal Replacement Food” formulated by the Chinese Nutrition Society also indicates that the standard is aimed at “meal replacement foods suitable for weight control adults.”
  It can’t achieve “comprehensive nutrition” by itself, and the taste is monotonous, and it is difficult to be a normal diet for a long time.
  This also creates an illusion: Meal replacement food is a new type of “diet food.” However, this is only part of the meaning of the “meal replacement” concept. In the group standard of the Nutrition Association, “meal replacements for weight loss” are divided into two categories: one is “in order to meet the nutritional needs of adults with one or two meals during weight control, instead of one or two meals, they are specially processed and formulated. One type of energy-controlled foods, that is, meal replacement foods; the other type, that “replaces part of the meal in one or two meals”, is called “partial meal replacement foods”.
  It should be pointed out that the “group standard” is not a national compulsory standard, and is only effective for companies willing to implement it. What it embodies is the perception of the product by some companies in the industry.
  From this point of view, the statement that “meal replacement foods help lose weight, does not require exercise, and does not require dieting” is not a big problem in itself.
  What do you rely on to lose weight?
  The core of weight loss is to create a “negative energy balance”, that is, “the calories consumed are less than the calories consumed.” According to scientific data, a negative balance of energy of 3,500 kcal can lose about one pound of body weight-no matter what kind of food, no matter how you exercise, this relationship can generally be established.
  Exercise is indeed not a “necessary” for weight loss. Relying on exercise to increase energy consumption is also more difficult than most people think. For ordinary people, it is quite difficult to consume 500 kcal per hour for the usual amount of exercise. In other words, on the basis of keeping the diet unchanged, one hour of moderate exercise a day, one week of persistence, you can probably lose 1 catty. And if you slightly increase your dietary intake after exercise-for example, drinking a cup of milk tea, then you can almost offset the effect of exercise.
  It is feasible to lose weight by controlling the calorie intake in the diet. If you want to lose one catty a week, it is equivalent to eating 500 kcal less every day-the average person consumes about 2,000 kcal per day, which means that the daily physical quantity has to be reduced by a quarter.
  What’s important is that if you simply use perseverance to reduce food-the so-called “diet” will not only be “hungry”, it will also affect the intake of protein, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, thereby affecting The health of the body. This way of losing weight is unsustainable.
  Meal replacement food savior
  value meal that by a certain degree of nutrition, on the basis of meeting the basic nutritional needs and satiety on controlling calorie intake. “Satisfying basic nutritional needs” is achieved by blending or adding micronutrients in food; while “satisfying a full stomach” and “controlling calories” is achieved by increasing dietary fiber and protein.
  That is to say, compared with conventional foods, a reasonably designed meal replacement food can achieve three goals: higher nutrient density, more satiety, and lower calories. These three characteristics are very important for weight loss. valuable.
  However, “valuable” and “helpful” do not mean magical effects. As far as the market is concerned, consumers with a strong willingness to pay are expecting a “treatment program to lose weight”, that is, “you can lose XX catties if you eat X weeks.” In order to achieve this goal, “reasonable nutrition” was sacrificed in the formulation design, dietary fiber was increased, and ingredients that might have diarrhea were added, and by “eating only meal replacements and a small amount of other low-calorie foods, and drinking a lot of water”. A large “energy negative balance” can be achieved in a short period of time, thereby quickly reducing weight. Such products and weight-loss solutions are promoted through “high-price, high-profit” e-commerce, micro-business, and direct sales channels, which are prone to “explosive styles”, which are also hugely attractive to investors and brand operators. However, this way of losing weight does not conform to the concept of health, and the problem of “rebound after fast weight loss and affect health” will gradually be recognized by consumers.
  Nutritional circles have criticized and questioned this, but they often avoided the core of the problem, that is, unreasonable ways to lose weight. The firepower is focused on the carrier of “unreasonable ways to lose weight”-meal replacement foods.
  In fact, “meal replacement food” is just a concept, and there is no need to treat it as a special food. Its value is to allow us to better achieve both “guarantee balanced nutrition” and “control calories”, and are not so hungry, so it is easier to stick to it for a long time. However, it can’t achieve “comprehensive nutrition” by itself, and the taste is monotonous and boring, and it is difficult to be a normal diet for a long time. However, if you lose weight through a “short-term relief” treatment program, once you return to a normal diet, the results of weight loss cannot be maintained, and it is worthless.
  All in all, meal replacement food is not the savior of weight loss, nor is it an “IQ tax” that deceives people. It is just a convenient food with a more comprehensive and reasonable nutritional composition. If it is incorporated into the daily diet to replace part of the “higher calorie, low nutrient density” food, then it can be a helper for weight loss-remember, it is just a helper.