Many Americans are constantly on the go. From work or school to picking the kids up and toting them to after-school activities, from grocery shopping to dinner dates, we are a busy people. In a perfect world, you’d have time to prepare healthy home-cooked meals 100% of the time. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Instead, companies who offer meal-replacement shakes, or weight loss shakes, are raking in the dough.

In a hurry in the morning? Grab a shake. Working through your lunch today? Drink a shake! It seems like a good solution, right? Especially if you’re trying to lose a few pounds. Unfortunately, weight loss shakes aren’t as great as they seem. It turns out that they may be doing way more harm than good.

Check out these five reasons why you need to stop drinking weight loss shakes!

1. They Are Loaded With Added Sugar

Have you ever noticed that weight loss shakes come in pretty delicious flavors? From mint chocolate chip to birthday cake, they usually sound super appealing, especially when they have a ‘low calorie’ label stamped on the front. With these dessert flavors, meal-replacement shakes usually contain loads of added sugar, artificial sweeteners, or a combination of both. Consuming too much added sugar can cause moodiness, dips in energy levels, inflammation, weight gain, and other health-related issues. (1)

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2. They Are Full Of Artificial Ingredients

Many bottled meal-replacement shakes contain highly processed ingredients, including:

  • Refined vegetable oils – Many shakes contain canola oil or corn oil, which promote inflammation.
  • Preservatives – Thickeners and preservatives, such as maltodextrin, are common ingredients in meal-replacement shakes. They can lead to blood sugar spikes.
  • Colors and Flavors – Many shakes contain artificial colors and flavors, along with artificial sweeteners which have been linked to problems, such as weight gain and headaches. (2)

3. They Can Cause Inflammation and Indigestion

The high sugar content in most meal-replacement shakes can cause inflammation and indigestion. In fact, many studies have linked sugar to increased inflammation, dental decay, hormone fluctuations, and low energy.

4. The Vitamins and Minerals Are Synthetic

While the bottle might promise you a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals, that’s not exactly what you’re getting. Many meal-replacement shakes do contain vitamins and minerals, but they’re made synthetically, making them hard for the body to absorb.

5. They Don’t Help With Weight Loss

Many people turn to meal-replacement shakes in hopes that they’ll shed a few pounds. Unfortunately, this strategy usually backfires. Skipping meals to drink a shake can leave you feeling deprived, restricted, and low in energy. It can also cause cravings. While you might be able to drop a few pounds initially by skipping meals and drastically cutting calories, the weight is likely to return. (3)

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Alternatives To Meal-Replacement Shakes

If you’re constantly on the go and a meal-replacement is often the easiest option, look for something that doesn’t have a long list of artificial and harmful ingredients. Try one of these alternatives:

  • Homemade Green Smoothie – Keep a homemade green smoothie handy. You’ll be getting your fill of antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies without any artificial ingredients.

  • Pureed Healthy Soups – To get your share of fiber, veggies and herbs, try a healthy soup. It’s filling, easy to digest and it can be frozen for future use.

  • Plant-Based Protein Powder – If you want to drink a shake for protein, stick to a plant-based powder.  For example, you might try pea protein or hemp protein.  However, make sure it’s free of GMO’s and other harmful ingredients.