by Will Grumke January 20, 2021 7 min read
By far one of the biggest struggles for most people trying to live a healthy lifestyle, is getting optimal amounts of protein.
It's also one of the most beneficial things you can do, whether your current goal is fat loss, muscle gain, or just overall health.
Because no matter what your goal is, there's a good chance you could benefit from a meal replacement bar or powder.
Do you eat too much ... or fail to eat enough?
Falling short on protein requirements?
Or maybe you’re looking to supplement your current diet?
If you can say yes to any of these, you're not alone.
Actually, one of the biggest things that people struggle with 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.
In the past, 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.
We live in a busy world where people are go-go-going all day long.
No longer is it just athletes using meal replacement supplements, but now it’s athletes, regular gym-goers, non-gym-goers ... and more people than ever who are using meal replacements as part of their daily routine!
It’s so much easier to reach for a meal replacement bar or shake than it is to take thirty minutes 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 usually a lot healthier of an option than fast food, which is more convenient than a home-cooked meal.
Since meal replacement bars and powders can be both convenient and healthy (check labels though, because not all are created the same), 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.
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.
A lot of people don’t eat healthily ... or don't have a plan and just wing it every day, hoping what they are doing is right.
The problem with that is that if you’re not eating 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.
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 important 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.
I want to note, that many people I have worked with who eat a vegan or vegetarian diet fall short on eating enough protein, and in turn, can struggle more to reach their goals.
A great plant-based meal replacement can give your body the protein it needs.
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), in the afternoon during a busy day at work, or even as a tasty treat before bed are the most popular times.
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.
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 nutrients they needed without having to make more food ... or adding in more 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 could be a great option to further dial in your nutrition and give you the edge you need.
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).
This helps ensure you get an ideal amount of protein, which will help with fat loss, not just weight loss.
However, under-eating protein can cause our bodies to sacrifice precious muscle instead of fat.
This, in turn, lowers your overall metabolism and affects your ability to get and maintain your results!
If you want to lose fat, meal replacements are a great way to help you with doing so.
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 a meal replacement shake for 1 to 2 meals a day … or even just 1 to 2 meals a week.
Either way, it's important to eat real food first, then supplement with meal replacements to fill in where you need them!
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...
Be careful not to fall for good marketing.
A good meal replacement is going to give you useful protein that 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 truly getting a good source of protein ... ideally around 20 grams or more!
There are other elements that differentiate the good meal replacement meals from the bad ones.
Here’s a short list of what makes good meal replacements better than other options.
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.
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).
If the protein in your meal replacement isn’t highly bioavailable, your short changing the advantage and benefits you are getting.
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.
Simply because your body can’t use it as effectively.
To help ensure your protein has a high bioavailability, make sure your meal replacement protein powder is a low-temperature processed protein.
This means it has not been exposed to high heats or harsh 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 can make you feel.
When it comes to supplementing with protein, whey protein has the highest ratio of essential amino acids and branched chain amino acids in a serving. Which these are the amino acids our bodies can not produce on their own, so we must get them through foods and supplements.
Because Whey Protein has the highest ratio of essential amino acids it is typically the best option to use when supplementing with a meal replacement protein powder. It helps give your body the essential nutrients it needs for muscle protein synthesis.
If you are vegan, make sure your vegan protein powder uses a combination of vegetable sourced proteins to give the essential amino acids your body needs!
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.
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!
Will Grumke is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Nutrition Coach, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, NASM Certified Weight Loss Specialist, NASM Certified Behavioral Change Specialist, and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer.