While they should never replace a whole meal if possible, meal replacements can still add dietary benefits to your routine.
So many meal replacement products exist that it can be beyond challenging to really find one that is worth the hype. Whether it be a shake, a bar, a gel, or some other “innovative” kind of meal replacement, you could arguably spend the rest of your life combing through brands to find the best one for you. As bodybuilders with insanely busy schedules, finding the time to eat constantly, and finding the right foods to eat, can be a hassle and one we just don’t need. You’ll hear people say meal prep more times than you may want, and while that is great and should be done, a meal replacement can offer some pretty solid benefits towards your dietary routine to keep you fueled and fired up for any workout or whatever else may come your way.
Before we dive farther into meal replacements, it should be said that no one should simply live off of these. It is always your best bet to look into whole food meals, for the essential nutrients in many foods are often missed in meal replacements. When used strategically in your diet, meal replacements have the ability to work wonders in terms of keeping you full, pumping you with those much needed macronutrients, and providing a convenient option to eat. But preparing your own home cooked meal is not only fun, but will also promote a better lifestyle overall and should not be fully replaced by these.
Now, with that settled, let’s jump into meal replacements and look into just what makes these supplemental meals so great. Knowing what to look for and which brands will provide the most nutritional value is beyond important when it comes to your bodybuilding goals. Let’s see just how important a meal replacement can be for all of your bodybuilding wants and needs.
What Is A Meal Replacement?
Meal replacements come in many forms, but the three most popular forms are a pre-bottled shake, a bar, or in powder form which you will then use to make a shake. They offer good caloric options while pumping you with a great balance of macronutrients so you don’t miss out on any of the essentials needed to thrive inside and out of the gym. Many of the top meal replacements will also include fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other solid ingredients to keep your body primed and ready to go for whatever comes your way (1).
Meal Replacement Benefits
When it comes to meal replacements, it is important to realize that this isn’t some magic pill for gains. These are supplemental products that can work for you by providing a host of great benefits to keep you on track and living a healthy lifestyle.
- Good ratio of macros: You will find in a good meal replacement a great balance of macronutrients to cover all of your goals. This is huge for those of us looking to keep that shredded physique looking great.
- Support fullness & reduce snacking: They will work to keep us full as we go throughout the day so our temptations for snacking are severely reduced.
- Provide energy: Offer us a boost of energy to get us through the day, as well as supporting our training and performance goals, especially with recovery (2).
- Support weight management: As we seek to maintain our weight, these will help that balance so we don’t fluctuate and ruin our gains (3).
- Convenient: Great grab-and-go options to give us the essential nutrients without having to stress about where to get a meal.
What To Look Out For
When looking into a meal replacement, there are a few things to keep an eye out for. Make sure each has a good amount of protein and fiber, as these will work to promote fullness so you don’t feel the need to snack. Sugar is a big factor to look for as many will taste good because of the high amounts of sugar. It is possible to find a good meal replacement without all the added nonsense. Lastly, look for whole food ingredients. While it won’t replace a home-cooked meal, you will be closer than with unnecessary ingredients that some of these will add.
Importance Of Meal Replacements For Bodybuilders
Meal replacements are important for bodybuilders and strength athletes because they provide a great way to get all of those essential macronutrients and calories into your body despite a busy schedule. If your job is one where you need a quick grab-and-go meal, or you simply don’t have time one day in the week to sit down and have that hour lunch, a meal replacement will still give you the calories, a good ratio of protein, fats, and carbs, and the added benefit of fullness so you don’t throw your dietary routine out of whack.
For us bodybuilders and athletes, that structure is important. We usually know when to eat, what to eat, how to eat it, and all the above, but sometimes that structured day can become a little too chaotic. And we get that. Looking into a solid meal replacement product may not build muscle and increase your gains, but it provide those important nutrients, support your weight and dietary routine, and give you energy to get you through the day, as well as boosting performance and recovery.
Meal replacements have the power to really enhance all of our goals so we see the growth we want to see the most. By keeping us full and providing those essential nutrients, meal replacements provide a convenient option for those of us bodybuilders always on the move. Look for a good option and strategically place them in your routine so you see the health benefits you want and need as you progress with your bodybuilding journey.
Check out our list of the Best Meal Replacements for some great options!
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*Images courtesy of Envato
- Kulovitz, Michelle; Kravitz, Len. “Do Meal Replacements Deliver Results?”. (source)
- Heymsfield, Steven B. (2010). “Meal replacements and energy balance”. (source)
- Davis, Lisa M.; Coleman, Christopher; Kiel, Jessica; Rampolla, Joni; et al. (2010). “Efficacy of a meal replacement diet plan compared to a food-based diet plan after a period of weight loss and weight maintenance: a randomized controlled trial”. (source)