Today I want to talk a little bit about shake diets. They just keep popping up and people ask us about them all the time. People want to know if it’s the answer to weight loss success. To be honest, as a general rule, I’m not a big fan of them. For a number of reasons which I will discuss below.
Firstly, shake diets tend to be the very low in calories. Sounds great right? You’ll lose lots of weight quickly that way, right? Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. It would be nice and easy if it was. You body requires a certain amount of energy to function regardless of the amount of exercise your do. If you consistently provide well below that, your body will likely start to believe it is starving and will actually hold onto body fat.
Because of the very low calorie intake, you will likely start to feel fatigued and hungry a lot of the time. You will also likely feel as though you’re being deprived of many of your favourite foods. Feeling fatigued, hungry and deprived can lead to binge eating when you finally give in to temptation. Things can really start to spiral out of control from this point – you feel guilty, you feel like you’ve failed. Being on this constant rollercoaster of emotion isn’t helpful at all.
Shake diets tend to be fairly restrictive. Ever the ones that allow you to have some of your own meals. There are often strict rules about what can be included in your self-prepared meals which can perpetuate the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ labels that are frequently attributed to particular foods. The reality is that all foods are just foods. Some foods are more every day foods and others are more sometimes foods but no food is fundamentally “bad” and no food needs to be banished from your diet permanently (except for in the case of allergies and intolerance).
My other frustration with shake diets (and many diets, truth be told) is that you’re not learning to listen to your body’s natural internal cues for hunger and satiety. Children tend to do a great job of this – they eat when they are hungry and they stop when they feel full. As adults, we have generally stopped listening to our bodies. Instead, we eat based on what some book or website tells us to eat, when they tell us to eat, rather than listening to what our bodies about what and how much we need.
So what is my advice before taking on a shake diet (or any other structured eating plan from any source)? Chat to a dietitian. They are there to help you with your nutrition requirements. We recommend someone who subscribes to the non dieting approach as a starting point. They will be able to talk through the pros and cons of these types of diets and how they might relate to your specific set of circumstances.
Shakes have their place under certain circumstances but certainly shouldn’t be used as a long term strategy, particularly if you are not under the supervision of a healthcare professional. There are certainly much more moderate, yet effective approaches to sustained weight loss that are much more psychologically and physically empowering than restrictive eating.
Note: No personal trainer should be providing you with any type of specific eating plan, they are not qualified to do so. Some personal trainers have additional qualifications in nutrition so always make a point of asking what their qualifications are before following an set plan. The majority of personal trainers are only able to provide you with general advice about nutrition.