Formula diet: lose weight with diet shakes?

Many people feel overweight and would like to lose weight. There are several ways to get rid of the flab. One of them is slimming down with formula diets, i.e. ready-made drinks or powders that are industrially produced. These weight loss shakes replace meals while providing the body with the nutrients it needs. What sounds simple and practical, however, also has negative sides. We present the advantages and disadvantages of these slimming diets.

What are formula diets?

With a formula diet, meals are replaced with special diet shakes for a certain period of time. These are either available as ready-made drinks or are mixed with low-fat  milk , oil or powdered water to make a drink or soup – there are many different flavors.

During the diet phase, these mixtures are intended to replace one or more meals a day. Few calories but an adequate amount of the most important minerals and vitamins prevent  nutrient deficiencies .

The powder drinks also contain a minimum amount of protein; this is why the method is also called protein-modified  fasting .

Well-known providers of such formula diets, which are among the balanced  diets  , are, for example, Almased, Herbalife or SlimFast. The drinks and powders are available in drugstores, pharmacies or on the Internet.

What do the weight loss drinks offer?

The pioneer when it came to slimming drinks was the Ulm nutritionist Prof. Hans Ditschuneit. He invented the first powdered meal, which is also  known as the Ulmer Trunk  . In the early 1980s, Ditschuneit described how energy intake can be reduced to 800 to 1,200 kilocalories a day with four to five ready-made shakes or ready-made soups.

Most “astronaut food” products are similar in composition. As balanced foods, they fall under the Diet Ordinance.

Since 1996,   certain nutrient levels have been prescribed for these products in EU directives . The packaging must state what is in it and how many meals it can replace. The daily rations must be between  800 and 1,200 kilocalories  (kcal) and must correspond to the “Recommendations for nutrient intake” for adults of the German Society for Nutrition. The balance of nutrients must be right.

For whom is a formula diet suitable?

Formula diets are particularly suitable for people who are very overweight ( BMI  over 30). In order to lose a lot of kilos over a longer period of time, however, the diet should be carried out under  medical supervision  . Nutritional advice and, ideally, behavioral training are also important. In this way, you learn to eat healthily over the long term and get further suggestions for keeping the weight off over a long period of time.

Powder diets are also suitable for people who want to lose a few kilos and then change their diet.

Formula diets: No permanent solution

 Meals in the form of shakes can be taken without medical supervision for  one to three weeks . With medical supervision, such weight loss programs should last a maximum of twelve weeks. However, in the long term, regular foods are essential.

No matter how well the convenience food is designed  ,  it cannot replace the colorful nutrient mix of natural ingredients in the long run. Thus, the composition of an apple can never be imitated one-to-one by a pill or a powder.

And the desire for real food generally increases over time, which should not be ignored for too long. Because the subsequent  craving  for “real” food promotes the  yo-yo effect  and ensures that you gain weight again faster after the end of a formula diet.

Instructions: lose weight step by step

If you want to lose weight with a formula diet, you should consider beforehand how long you want to stay on the diet. It is best not to set the target weight too low to avoid frustration. It’s just as important to commit to a daily amount of physical activity.

The manufacturers of the diet shakes often provide a special diet plan that regulates how often shakes are drunk, proper meals or snacks are eaten and which foods are allowed. Some programs provide for different phases. Some pharmacies, doctors and nutritionists also offer help with changing your diet, give tips and sometimes design individual nutrition plans.

What to Eat on a Formula Diet?

One, two or all meals of the day are replaced with a powdered meal mixed with water or milk. Some companies also supplement their powder products with appropriate bars so that the teeth have something to chew on from time to time.

Snacks and meals should be low in fat and high in fiber-rich  carbohydrates during and after the weight loss phase  . Lots of fruit and vegetables, legumes, wholesome  breadbrown ricepotatoes  and lean meat are recommended as a basis. It is better to avoid fatty sausages and dairy products. If fat, then good vegetable oils can supplement the diet.

Quit a formula diet

After the main phase of the diet, liquid meals are gradually reduced and replaced with solid meals. Substituting individual meals with formula drinks is no longer necessary after the changeover.

Criticism of formula diets

The principle of the formula diet sounds tempting: Instead of counting calories yourself or cooking unusual diet dishes according to special recipes, you simply reach for the weight loss shake. This contains everything you need, is also suitable for on the go and ideally tastes good too.

But the powder diets also come with some downsides. Because from a medical point of view, they are only advisable from a BMI of 30 and even then are only suitable as a start. Long-term weight reduction can only be achieved if one’s diet and lifestyle are permanently adjusted. A large study showed that only about 20 percent of the participants were able to maintain their weight in the long term after the diet.

Benefits of formula diets

Formula diets can score with the following aspects:

  • Anyone who only eats a formula diet will lose weight quickly at first.
  • Fast weight loss gets  motivation  going, so this diet is for people who need fast weight loss success.
  • You can also avoid the annoying counting of calories and fats, so no special knowledge is required.
  • The meals are easy to prepare without much effort.
  • With a minimum of 50 grams of protein per day, the formula diets protect the body protein that is broken down in the body with some diets.
  • In addition, the high protein content curbs the feeling of hunger.
  • Proteins , carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and  minerals  are supplied to the body in a balanced ratio.
  • The power drinks do not contain any risk nutrients, but prevent major deficiency symptoms.

Disadvantages of formula diets

The following points are criticized by critics:

  • Formula diets are only to be understood as a short-term measure. Long-term success in losing weight is only possible if you learn to do without powder and change your eating habits and integrate more exercise into everyday life.
  • Although different flavors provide variety, the diet is rather monotonous. As a result, many users develop a strong need for something “good” or something “chewable,” which often encourages snacking or leads to increased calorie intake after the diet.
  • The well-known yo-yo effect threatens. After the powder treatment, the body quickly regains weight because it is still working on the back burner and uses less energy.
  • The cause of obesity is ignored.  For example, if you fight stress, boredom, or  loneliness with food, or if you constantly eat outside of meals, you will do so even after a formula diet if you don’t work on it.
  • The shakes are quite expensive and quickly add up to high costs.
  • Many shakes have been criticized for their composition, which often has a high sugar content or contains artificial sweeteners, flavorings or other unnecessary additives.
  • The fiber content of such weight loss shakes is often rather low, which can lead to  constipation  .
  • One study suggests that severely calorie-restricted diets can put a lot of strain on the heart, so if you have a heart problem, formula diets should only be attempted after consulting a doctor. Experts also   advise caution with other underlying diseases such as diabetes  or  high blood pressure .

 

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