Liquid, or ‘meal-replacement’, diets and diet products are becoming more and more common. Typically, dieters are provided with a range of nutritionally balanced shakes, bars or soups, which act as substitutes for meals. In addition, depending on the precise liquid diet plan chosen, dieters may also have one (or more) ‘normal’ meals.
The idea behind these diets is fairly straightforward. The food substitutes are a convenient and simple source of calorie-controlled nourishment. They take all the guesswork and cooking out of the weight loss plan and allow the dieter to concentrate on other things, like exercising. Further more, many liquid diets offer specific instructions (recipes etc.) about what sort of ‘normal’ meals are allowable and how they should be prepared. The advantages include: ease and convenience, good nutrition, as well as good calorie control.
The disadvantages vary somewhat according to the brand and type of meal-replacement plan you choose. For example, some shakes and other food substitutes have a bland, even unpleasant taste. Improvements have been made, but the issue hasn’t disappeared completely.
The other drawback is more serious. It concerns the whole idea of using food ‘substitutes’ instead of normal food. It postpones the need for dieters to choose foods and recipes for themselves, but it doesn’t remove it altogether. For instance, what happens when dieters finish the plan? They must then start making food choices for themselves. So unless the particular liquid diet plan offers help or training to prepare dieters for this situation, they might easily go astray. In contrast, regular diets don’t leave dieters hanging in this fashion.
Despite these drawbacks, liquid or meal replacement weight loss plans (eg. SlimFast) are relatively sound and nutritious. What’s more, they do work for thousands of people. Finally, it’s worth noting that several hospital-based weight reduction companies (eg. Optifast, Medifast) use this type of food-substitute eating plan in their expensive weight loss programs. The only difference, is that these programs are medically supervised, and require dieters to attend training sessions on food shopping, preparation and cooking, to help them manage their eating when the program ends.
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