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Diet shakes and bars — what's the deal?

Jacinta is a freelance writer and public relations consultant. She has a passion for health and wellness communications but also regularly writes about entertainment news and lifestyle topics ranging from travel, parenting, crafts and fo...

Fighting fat?

From SheKnows Australia
We've seen the ads and have heard the catch cries, but are meal replacements really the way to go?

These days it seems weight loss and health maintenance is getting harder, not because we can't do it but because there are way too many ways to do it.

From cutting out carbs, sugar or fat, signing up to programs or thinking like a caveman, trimming down and toning up is big business and it's hard to know which way is the best way.

An option that seems to be gaining popularity yet again is the meal replacement product. Diet shakes, bars and soups are readily available to help even the busiest person lose weight.

Although not a new option, there seems to be a resurgence of meal replacement products that promise to offer more flavour and more bang for your buck.

See how a food diary can be your best weight loss tool >>

It's what's inside that counts

Quite often, meal replacement products will be filled with lots of protein and fibre and will be low in carbohydrates and bad fats.

There may also be a few other "good" ingredients to help you feel great. Celebrity Slim makes meal replacement shakes that have added green tea (an antioxidant) and flavours like vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and banana.

Founder and director of Slim Secrets, Sharon Thurin, says their bars, "are also low GI (Glycemic Index), which helps keep you from craving more so soon after you have eaten your bar" and "can also help satisfy your sweet tooth without sacrificing your healthy eating plan."

How they work

One of the biggest differences we are seeing now is that diet shakes, bars and soups are being marketed as occasional meal replacements, not neccessarily a diet regime that needs to be followed.

Their best selling point is that if you are trying to be healthy or lose weight, these kinds of products can be used in place of a meal — such as those bad, fast food lunches you might opt for during work hours — or they can be the "pick me up" snack needed in the afternoon. They are also meant to be filling enough to sustain you until the next meal time.

The team from Bodytrim says their weight loss shakes, "... are a convenient alternative to eating real food, however, we don't advocate doing this on a regular basis."

Still prefer real food? Try these healthy food swaps >>

The balanced diet

Unfortunately, diet shakes and bars should not be seen as a quick fix. Like everything else, meal replacement products are best used in combination with a healthy diet.

Ms Thurin encourages customers to see their products as snacks that get you through a day of healthy eating.

"We advocate using Slim Secrets as part of a balanced healthy diet and exercise regime. Our bars aren’t a weight loss fad but snacks that can be consumed for life."

So if you find that your biggest challenge when trying to lose weight is feeling full and staying on track, then a meal replacement product might be a helpful option when you're in a hurry or in need of a snack. Just make sure real meals with fruit and vegetables still pass your lips every day.

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