Are weight-loss shakes any good? - The West Australian

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What do cricketer Shane Warne, songstress Ricki-Lee Coulter and reality darling Kim Kardashian have in common?

They all reportedly shed kilos with the help of meal replacements.

But while they may seem like a miraculous weight-loss potion, Tara Diversi, dietitian and co-author of The Good Enough Diet, said meal-replacement beverages are just that: a nutrient-dense drink in place of a meal.

"Some people think the magic is in the shake, but it isn't magic, it just replaces your food," Miss Diversi said.

"Shakes can be great if they are medically supervised, your blood and blood pressure are checked and you are put on to the right type of meal replacement.

"They help you lose weight quickly, but this weight loss is difficult to maintain."

Even if you're not looking to drop excess kilos, an occasional shake can be a convenient meal for people who skip breakfast, or for those busy at work and lacking the time for lunch, Miss Diversi said.

Diet by D'Zyne principal dietitian Jo-Anne Dembo said meal-replacement shakes were acceptable for overweight people to use as a short-term kickstart to a sensible weight-loss program, so long as the dieter implemented eating behaviour changes that could be sustained long term for dropping weight and keeping it off.

"(Meal-replacement shakes) can also be used as a back-up, by having a low-calorie meal on hand," she said.

Some people may use a shake two to three times a week as an alternative to their regular meals, or if they were required to stick to a low-calorie diet for medical reasons.

"Very low-calorie diets are suitable for people undergoing weight-loss surgery, where the surgeon has requested weight loss prior to surgery," Mrs Dembo said.

However, she said these low-calorie diets should always be implemented under the supervision of an accredited practising dietitian, especially for people with clinically diagnosed conditions such as high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.

13 Sep, 2011

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