What is the Difference Between Meal Replacement and Protein Shake?

In today’s ‘grab and go’ society, meal replacements shakes and protein shakes are going to be two different products that have widely been used by many different people, even though those same people may have been confused about the end result of the product that they were taking.  While it may not sound like that big of a deal, there is actually going to be a very important distinction between the two different types of supplements.  The main being that one of them is going to be more for weight management, while the other one is going to be more for athletic performance.  This by itself is going to be a huge problem when you try to compare the two different types of supplements.

According to the Global Burden of Disease Study, there has not been a single country that has been able to lower the amount of obesity in the past 27 years.  In fact, the fact of the matter is that obesity has actually tripled over the past 40 years.  With that being said, it is not a big stretch to call obesity an epidemic.  

When you have a huge imbalance between the number of calories that you consume and the number of calories that you expend, you are going to start to gain weight.  Now factor that in with the fact that society in general is becoming more and more sedentary, you now have the perfect storm of obesity happening.  In fact, the textbook definition of obesity is actually going to be eating more calories on a regular basis, while expending less calories on a daily basis.  

With that being said, you are going to need a reasonable strategy that you can follow but will also consciously create you with the opportunity for a much more active lifestyle, as well as a healthy diet.  With that being said, most people are going to struggle very hard with making the food choices that they should be making.  While everybody’s situation is going to be different, some of the main reasons for not making the right food choices include:

  • Not having enough time
  • Needing to eat outside of their home (like at school or work)
  • Being faced with increased portion sizes
  • How convenient it is to access a certain type of food that is high in energy, but low in nutrition

If you are having to deal with any of the above issues, incorporating a meal replacement shake may be something that you should seriously consider using in order to help manage your body weight.

What Exactly is a Meal Replacement Shake?

Often times confused with that of a protein shake, meal replacement shakes are going to be something that were designed with the sole intention of replacing all of the nutrition that an actual meal would provide you with, but with a much lower caloric intake than an actual meal.  While most meal replacement shakes are going to include protein in them, they are not to be confused by a protein shake.  In fact, a meal replacement shake is not only going to include protein, but it is also going to include other nutrients that are required in order to give you a weight loss or even weight maintenance effect.  The protein in the meal replacement shake is going to have the job of keeping your hunger at bay, as well as manage your appetite.  Depending upon the actual meal replacement shake program that you are on, you may use one meal replacement shake or even two meal replacement shakes per day.  And if you are on an extreme weight loss program, there is a good chance that you can even be using three different meal replacement shakes every single day.  As for a protein shake, it is going to be used more for delivering protein to the body, and not so much any other type of nutrition.  Essentially, a protein shake is going to be a post workout treat, while a meal replacement shake is going to be something that you consume to get all of the nutrients that your body requires on a daily basis.

One of the main benefits of a meal replacement shake is going to be the fact that it is more than likely going to be very easy to prepare.  While they can come in several different forms, the most common are going to be a meal bar, a special powder that you will need to mix with your favorite drink or water, or even a shake that you can simply add milk to.  When it does come to shakes however, you are going to need to know that they are often times used as a replacement for some meals that are not only high in fat, but high in calories as well.  The main benefit of using a shake instead of an actual meal is going to be that you will be saving yourself hundreds of calories that you will not need to work back off.

Not like any type of protein shake or any vegetable or fruit juice, a meal replacement shake will contain anywhere from 200-300 calories, as well as provide many different micronutrients and macronutrients (most of which would take around 800 calories of food to provide you with).  This is going to be the main reason that meal replacement shakes are so popular, as they are able to provide all of the nutrients that a full meal can, but with a fraction of the calories.

Meal Replacement Shakes vs. Protein Shakes:  Which is Better?

When it comes to meal replacement shakes and protein shakes, there is a lot of confusion about which one is better for you and which one you should be taking.  While it is true that there is a very different nutritional composition between the two, at the end of the day, the correct answer is going to be that they simply have been designed to help people who have different goals.  

A meal replacement shake is going to help you out a ton if you are looking to lose weight and better manage your weight, while a protein shake is going to be much better for those who are looking to gain muscle and do more performance-based athletics.  What this means, is that when you confuse a meal replacement shake with that of a protein shake, it is going to be a huge mistake that can not only derail your weight loss goals, but will not provide you with the nutritional balance that you require either.

Essentially, when it comes down to meal replacement shakes and protein shakes, they are going to be very easily confused as the same thing.  You just need to keep in mind that a meal replacement shake is going to do just that and replace a meal that you should eat.  It will provide you with all of the same nutrients and vitamins, but without as many of the calories.  A protein shake on the other hand, is only going to do what it says it will do, that being to provide you with an extra helping of protein that your body is able to use in order to build more muscle and enhance your athletic performance. 

So when it comes to the question of whether or not you should be taking a meal replacement shake or a protein shake, it is all going to depend upon what your ultimate fitness and weight loss goals are. 


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