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7 min read

Do you eat too much? Do you fail to hit your macros for the day? Falling short on protein requirements? Or maybe you’re looking to supplement your current diet?

No matter what you’re trying to do, you could benefit from a meal replacement bar or powder. The number one aspect that people struggle in our fast-paced society is getting all of their meals in every day.

In this article, we’ll explain what meal replacements are, how they can help you meet your fitness goals, and what separates the good meal replacement shakes and bars from the bad ones.

What Are Meal Replacement Bars and Powders For

Meal replacement bars and powders were another way for athletes to get the extra calories and nutrition they needed without eating an entire meal. This is where we get the term “energy bar” from. They weren’t considered meal replacements at the time.

Many athletes and fitness-minded people still use them this way, but their role has since expanded. Plus the types of people using these meal replacement products has expanded as well. No longer is it just athletes using meal replacement supplements, but now it’s regular gym goers and even those who do not workout use meal replacements as part of their daily routine!

We’ve moved away from the calling them energy bars or energy drinks and started to call them meal replacements because most people are consuming them in place of a meal. The term energy drink is now used to describe a beverage containing caffeine. 

We live in a busy world where people are go-go-going all day long. It’s so much easier to reach for a meal replacement bar or shake than it is to take an hour or more out of your day to plan, cook, and eat a meal. 

The good news is, reaching for a meal replacement bar or meal replacement powder is ussually a lot healthier of an option than fast food, which is more convenient than a homecooked meal. Since meal replacement bars and powders can be both convenient and healthy it’s easy to see why they have grown in popularity among everyday people.

It’s worth noting though that there are plenty of other reasons why someone would use these meal replacement bars and powders that have little to do with convenience though. 

Alternative Reasons To Use Meal Replacements

There are other reasons to use meal replacement bars and shakes aside from convenience.

Below are some other reasons why people take meal replacement supplements.

Nutrition

A lot of people don’t eat healthily. This is a fact. If you’re not eating all the right food as you should, you ’re missing out on certain important micronutrients or macronutrients. A meal replacement bar or protein powder is a great way to replace those unhealthy foods with better foods that can provide the body with what it needs. And since they taste so good, you’re less likely to go back to your old poor eating habits.

Protein

Good meal replacement bars and powders are based around protein. As mentioned above, many people struggle to get all of the nutrients they need every single day.

Protein is the macronutrient that most people struggle to consume enough of every day. I wanted to single this macronutrient out because protein is generally the most import in helping someone reach their goals. Consuming the appropriate amount of protein is crucial for fat loss, muscle growth, controlling cravings during the day, and overall health and wellness.

It should be noted that many who eat a vegan or vegetarian diet fall short on eating enough protein, and in turn, struggle to reach their health goals as well. A great meal replacement can give your body the protein it needs.

Diet 

Other people get the daily nutrition that they need, but they’re consuming too many calories with their food choices. These people are more likely to use meal replacements to maintain their nutrition while eliminating the extra calories that cause weight gain.

People who use meal replacements as a diet method will replace one or more of their meals with a bar or shake. Breakfast (because mornings can be chaotic) or Lunch are the most popular meals to replace. That’s because meal replacements are easy to eat while at work and don’t take a lot of effort to bring with you on your commute.

Athletic performance 

We already mentioned how bars and powders used to exist exclusively in the world of athletes and fitness junkies. Athletes used to use bars and powders to get the extra nutrition they needed without making fourth and fifth meals. Many athletes still do this. Meal replacement bars and shakes are a great way to get some added protein without adding a ton of calories to your diet. If you feel like you’ve hit a wall and you’re not progressing physically the way you would want to, meal replacement bars and protein powders to further dial in your nutrition could give you the edge you need.

Fat Loss and weight loss

Good meal replacements are generally low in calories, but they’re high in nutritional content. That means they can help you lose weight a bit more quickly by helping you create a caloric deficit (eating fewer calories than you consume, which leads to weight loss).

If you needed to lose weight fast, meal replacements are a great way to help you with that. Remember though, you need calories. Going super low calorie or trying to rely heavily on meal replacement bars and meal replacement powders will not give you the long-term results you want. A long-term weight loss and weight maintenance plan depends on consuming real food as much as possible and using meal replacements to supplement in when you can’t get to your meals. This could mean 1 to 2 meals a day … or even just 1 to 2 meals a week. Either way, real food first and meal replacements to fill in where you need them!

Make Sure Your Meal Replacement Shake or Bar Gets You Enough Protein

If you think meal replacement shakes and bars are the right options for you, you’ll want to make sure that they’re packed with protein. Some companies sell glorified milkshakes and candy bars by marketing them as meal replacements when they aren’t.

Be careful not to fall for good marketing. A good meal replacement is going to give you useful protein which your muscles, hair, skin, and other body tissues need to stay healthy. Meal replacements shouldn’t be packed with empty calories and sugar that can put you over your macros for the day and potentially get turned into fat.

Be sure you’re getting a good source of protein. If you aren’t, then you might just be eating a candy bar.

Good Meal Replacements Vs Bad Meal Replacements

There are other elements that differentiate the good meal replacement meals from the bad ones. Here’s a short list or what makes good meal replacements good and bad ones bad.

Good meal replacement bars and powders are nutrient dense

Meal replacements are typically supposed to replace meals as a lower calorie option. That means your meal replacement has to have the nutritional content of a meal. A good bar or shake won’t waste calories on excess sugar. Look at the nutritional information and make sure that your bar or powder is giving you the macronutrients your body needs… or very close to it.

If it isn’t, then it’s not going to do you a whole lot of good. Additionally, a quality replacement will have roughly 20 grams of protein or more to help you fulfill your protein needs and stay in the anabolic state (where your body is primarily burning fats and carbs for fuel and preserving muscle).

Good meal replacement bars and powders are highly bioavailable

If your the protein in your meal replacement isn’t highly bioavailable, you can’t take full advantage of it. In simple terms, the more bioavailable your protein… the more of that protein your body can ACTUALLY use and therefore you will get the benefit of protein.

A protein that is less bioavailable is not as beneficial as your body simply can not recognize the protein as protein … therefore can not use it for repair, recovery, or processes inside the body. Unfortunately, this means that they might as well be treated as empty calories because your body can’t use it. 

Make sure your meal replacement protein powder is a low-temperature processed protein. This means it has not been exposed to high heats or chemicals during processing, and in turn is the highest quality, most bioavailable (meaning your body will use more of it to actually help you reach your goals), protein powder option you can find. And since your body will be able to more easily recognize and use the protein, it also means that you won’t feel gassy or bloated after drinking it like many proteins will make you feel. 

Good meal replacement bars and powders use whey protein (unless you’re vegan)

When it comes to supplementing in with protein, whey protein is the superior option because it has the highest ratio of essential amino acids and branched chain amino acids. What this means is that your body will have the nutrients it needs to switch from the catabolic (fat storing, muscle burning) state into the anabolic (fat burning, muscle preserving) state.

If you are vegan, make sure your vegan protein powder uses a combination of vegetable sourced proteins to make the powder a complete protein source. Which means it will have all of the essential amino acids as well to keep you in the anabolic state.

1st Phorm Has Meal Replacements For Different Kinds Of People

If you’re looking for a quality meal replacement, 1st Phorm has what you need. 1st Phorm has two, excellent meal replacement shakes to choose from. There’s Level-1 and Vegan Power Pro. Both are good sources of high-quality bioavailable protein that your body will be able to more effectively use. Both taste great as well! 

If you are looking for a good protein bar to put in your purse, backpack, truck, or keep at your desk for those times when you can’t eat a real meal … you have to check out the Level-1 Bar! Soft … delicious … and based around protein to help you stay on track with your nutrition plan!

Whether you’re vegan or not, 1st Phorm has something for you.

*This post was written by Will Grumke. He is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, NASM Certified Weight Loss Specialist, NASM Certified Behavioral Change Specialist, and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer.

Will Grumke
Will Grumke



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