Are Meal Replacement Shakes Harmful to Your System?

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Meal replacement shakes are not usually harmful if they are used as directed, but continuous use of meal replacement shakes can cause health problems. Learn about problems with bowel movements from the use of meal replacement shakes with help from a registered and licensed dietitian in this free video on health and nutrition.

Part of the Video Series: Health & Nutrition
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Video Transcript

My name is Christine Marquette, and I'm a registered and licensed dietitian with Marquette Nutrition and Fitness, and I'm going to answer the question: Are meal replacement shakes harmful to your system? In general, meal replacement shakes are not harmful if they're used as directed. However, if a person were to rely on meal replacement shakes for their daily diet continuously, then they could potentially cause some health problems. Meal replacement shakes are meant to be used short term. Typically, they're fortified with a variety of vitamins and minerals. They also have a certain amount of proteins and fats and carbohydrates. So they can be used for a variety of reasons. They can be used to help lose weight because they have a controlled amount of calories. And some people who are looking to gain weight, they can actually supplement their diet with these particular shakes in order to consume more calories. And the problem, again, is that because they're shakes -- they're liquid -- they don't have a lot of fiber. So one issue if you use these long term is you could have some problems with your bowel movements. So that's one potential health concern if you use these products long term. The other potential health problem is that if you are using them to replace all of your meals, again, you're going to be following a very low-calorie diet. Over time, this could really impact your metabolism. It could basically throw your body into starvation mode so that once you discontinued them, you would end up gaining a lot of weight very rapidly. So those are a couple of potential negative health effects of meal replacement shakes.


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