While cleaning my closet, I came across my soap box. It was neglected, dusty and supporting nothing more than the remnants of an abandoned spider web. Feeling oddly sorry for it, I dragged it from its dark corner, stared at it pensively, and then it hit me: I’LL BRING MY SOAP BOX TO MY NEXT HANGRY CHICKS POST!
Right now I’m standing on my soap box, and I’m ready to pose a provocative question about which I feel passionately: ready-made meal replacement shakes. The following question is intended to be respectfully thought-provoking; I assure you it is not a diving board from which I will jump into a pool of self-righteousness.
I have been a consumer of ready-made meal replacement shakes since I was a teenager, lured by Slim Fast’s promise that if I gave them a week, they would take off the weight. When I was in my early 20s, working at Gold’s Gym, I became a MET-Rx brand zealot not because of the marketing; rather, it was the brand of choice for many of the club’s personal trainers who had bodies chiseled from granite. Naturally, my rationale was that MET-Rx must be great stuff if the club’s Adonises were ingesting it. In the decade that followed my stint at Gold’s, I tried many other meal replacement shakes. The list is too long to share without running the risk of losing your attention. Suffice it to say that every time I jumped to a new meal replacement product, there were two reasons I made the switch: brilliant marketing and images of people with beautifully chiseled bodies, attributing part of their physical superiority to the benefits of the product.
In my decades as a ready-made meal-replacement product connoisseur, I can honestly say that I never invited common sense to the decision-making party, held right before I invested in the latest, greatest product. I allowed the marketing and testimonials to easily convince me that I needed [Insert Name Here] Meal Replacement Shake. Then, this year, I started listening to the questions posed by common sense:
- Don’t you think that it might be healthier for your body to make your own shake from real, natural, fresh ingredients? Why do you think a manufactured powder is better for you?
- The marketing materials keep telling me that it’s fast and easy to make these shakes, ideal for those with a busy life. What price are you paying for this “fast and easy” benefit? How hard is it to manage your time in such a way that you can allocate an extra 10 minutes to make a healthy shake from scratch, using real food?
- You already eat very healthy, well balanced meals – you’re not eating fast food or processed products. So why would you replace one of your healthy meals with a processed, engineered powder or liquid?
When I finally listened to these questions that my common sense has been trying to ask me since the 80s, I realized that I don’t need MET-Rx. I don’t need SlimFast. I don’t need Herbalife, Lean Body, Special K or Shakeology. Rather, I needed some recipes for meal replacement shakes that actually use real food, not faux-food powder. The best part of this realization was that recipes for real-food shakes are not only abundant, but many of them are free. Take the following recipe for example: It’s my favorite meal-replacement shake, and the only cost to you is an optional “like” on Facebook!
The richness and flavor of this shake cannot be understated. Its sweetness is subtle and its texture is thick and nutty, requiring a little chewing while drinking. The nutritional profile (featured below) is so robust that it will satiate you for hours. In the past, I required a mid-morning snack to quell my hanger; but when I started drinking this shake every morning, I did not feel hunger (or hanger) pangs until 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon. The fat content can take most of the credit for this benefit. If you’re alarmed by the amount of fat in this shake, don’t be. I actually lost weight when I started drinking this shake for breakfast, following a diet comprised of 30% fat, 30% protein and 40% plant-based starches and carbohydrates. Unfortunately, we’ve been misled to believe that fat makes us fat. In reality, sugar is the #1 offender in making us fat, followed closely by processed food. High-quality, healthy fat actually has the ability to help us lose weight.
Since I started this post on a provocative note, soliciting common sense to join me on my soap box, I would like common sense to finish this post. Even though I no longer subscribe to the practice of using ready-made meal replacement products, they do serve a useful purpose for many. If the circumstances of your day are such that you have two choices for lunch – no food or a Myoplex shake – then some nourishment is better than none. Similarly, if you are trying to kick a Quarter-Pounder-with-Cheese-and-French-Fries habit, and you’re replacing it with a Shakeology shake, well done! That change is a step in the right direction. Or if your Creamy Dutch Chocolate Isagenix shake serves as your daily allotment of gustatory joy, then I won’t be your designated killjoy. As someone who is constantly learning and growing in the area of health and well-being, I greatly respect anyone who is making an effort to make better nutritional decisions. My Real Foodie Shake just serves as a delicious reminder to invite common sense – instead of marketing – to help make those decisions.