Diet Business – Meal replacements

Even a slight mention of the word ‘diet’ is enough to make a grown man cry.

There are a lot of people out there making a huge sum of money exploiting lost and confused dieters. It is all SO wrong and we will do all that we can to expose the lies. Finely Tuned Fitness is in its early days and we can’t promise that we will be the one company to change the whole diet industry (as much as we will endeavour to be). But even if we guide a handful of people to make sensible choices with their nutrition, then we will be happy.

When weight loss is concerned, one approach that gets adopted is meal replacement shakes. With companies like Herbalife and Slim Fast claiming to offer your body everything it needs to hit your weight loss goals and supply your body with all the goodness required, are they really the saviours of weight loss? What can we take from these alternatives to a well-balanced meal?

Firstly, what are these shakes teaching us about good nutrition? Let me tell you how meal replacement diets usually work. The individual will switch to meal replacements. They will then drop a bit of weight. Then they start to get fed up of consuming a liquid diet and old eating habits creep back in. The weight slowly begins to pile back on and they are back to square one. They have learnt nothing about their body’s energy demands or how to change their eating habits that led to their weight gain in the first place.

Then there is the issue of chewing the food, otherwise known as mastication (don’t laugh). One way that you signal to your brain that you have had enough food is through the process of chewing. By consuming these shakes, you are bypassing this natural process and it may leave you feeling hungry, despite already consuming a meal’s worth of calories as a drink.

I come from a Mediterranean background and food has formed the foundations of pretty much every family gathering I can remember since childhood. Food is there to be enjoyed and shared between loved ones. I absolutely love food. In fact it’s probably my greatest pleasure in life! I currently live away from my family and whenever I go home the first thing I’m asked is what food I would like on my return. If you are struggling with your diet then please don’t resort to extreme measures, because extreme measures don’t last long. Seek the advice and support from a qualified professional that can help you form a better relationship with food.

As you can probably guess, I am not a big fan of meal replacements and I certainly wouldn’t recommend them to a client, friend or family member. So, as a final word, learn what your body wants and what it needs. It doesn’t need blended up nutrients in a shake, it needs you to learn about what works for you as an individual. Learn what foods make you feel slow and lethargic and what foods make you feel fresh and energised. Once you have mastered that, you’ll never look back. You’ll be ready to fight off any meal replacement company representative and drop kick their meal replacement tubs out of a window.

Personally, I like to take a flexible dieting approach and this is the way that I approach nutrition with all of the clients I work with. Flexible dieting is NOT a diet. Flexible dieting is a concept. I establish the number of calories can be consumed in a day and then work out the protein, fat and carbohydrate intake. 90% of my diet comes from single ingredient, whole foods and then if I want something that is considered ‘less than favourable’, like a chocolate bar, then I simply fit this treat into my set calories. Sustainability is at the forefront of this approach and from experience, this has by far the highest success rate with clients in terms of weight loss and longevity. No food group is out of bounds and it allows you to live a ‘normal’ life. You can eat out with friends and it won’t have you avoiding social occasions to stay on track.