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What Are Meal Replacement Supplements?

Meal replacement supplements are popular with hikers who cover rough terrain.
Meal replacement supplements.
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  • Written By: Sara Schmidt
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 20 April 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Some people consume their daily caloric needs through prepackaged meals known as meal replacement supplements. Whether for weight loss, bodybuilding, or convenience, meal replacement supplements can help people achieve their goals. Meal replacement options usually include edible bars, powdered drink mixes, or premixed drinks.

Also known as meal replacement products, or MRPS, meal replacement supplements are not snacks. They are also not intended to be consumed in addition to a regular meal. Instead, they are considered complete meals. They usually contain the same amount of calories as a low-calorie diet entree, as well as plenty of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. MRPs are typically low in fat and carbohydrates.

In order to pack so much nutritional content into a small drink or energy bar, various sources of protein are used. Some of these may include soy protein, micellar casein, whey protein, egg albumin, or calcium caseinate. This keeps the drink low in fat while maintaining the protein content.

Flax oil may be used to provide meal replacement supplement shakes and other MRPs with essential fatty acids. They may also contain carbohydrates from sources such as oat fiber, wheat flour, maltodextrin, and brown rice. Other ingredients in meal replacement supplements can include different amino acids, herbal additives, and muscle-building formulas, depending on the specific intention of the MRP.

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Powdered MRPs must be mixed with water, juice, or milk before being consumed. Premixed meal replacement drinks may be in juice, shake, or another form. These can be purchased in boxes, cans, and bottles. Meal replacement bars, available individually wrapped and in bulk boxes, are usually in fruit, chocolate, vanilla, or other flavors.

Depending on the type, some meal replacement supplements contain more calories than others. Supplements with higher calories are usually intended for bodybuilders hoping to build muscle mass, or for hikers or survivalists. Other meal replacement options are low-calorie foods, designed for dieters striving to lose or maintain weight. People who travel, work long hours, or do not have time to cook may also use meal replacement supplements for their convenience and availability; it is best, however, not to rely exclusively on these products for one's nutrition for extended periods.

Meal replacement supplements have a variety of benefits. In addition to being convenient and often full of healthy dietary needs, they may be able to speed up the body's metabolism. Some are considered tasty and inexpensive. Drawbacks of these products can vary as well. Some products may be expensive, not work as they are intended, or be full of unwanted ingredients, such as sugars or calories. While some people may be full after consuming a meal replacement supplement, others may remain hungry.

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