Meal shakes for weight loss

Healthy weight management – losing weight and keeping it off!

Protein powders and meal shakes are now two of the most popular and versatile types of dietary supplements available.

Meal shakes and protein powders

Support a balanced diet, appetite control and more…

Meal shakes and protein powders are used for a wide variety of reasons, by a broad spectrum of people, for various health goals. For example:

  • by slimmers seeking low-calorie, nutrients-fortified healthy snack alternatives
  • by those leading an active lifestyle, for support of high energy levels
  • by those with food allergies or intolerances (such as a dairy allergy or gluten intolerance)
  • by those who are health-conscious, as a quick and easy nutrients top-up everyday
  • by those on low-protein diets, such as vegetarians and vegans
  • by those with restricted food choice, such as slimmers, who wish to maintain optimum nutrient intake.

Weight management

A number of studies have suggested that a high-protein diet combined with regular exercise can support the natural weight loss process, enhance fat burning and improve muscle tone and blood fat levels. Most notably, protein can assist in the repair and growth of muscle. This, in turn, leads to more calories being burned each day.

Diets with higher levels of protein may also help people to gain better control over their appetites and calorie intake, as well as help to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce cravings.

Everyone knows that the slimming process can be a challenge. Most weight management programmes involve limited food choice and a reduction in calories. This can sometimes result in a nutrient-deficient diet, if the slimmer is not careful.

For those who want to reduce their calorie (and fat and sugar) intake, but nevertheless want to make sure that they are getting a good amount of quality lean protein, vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients daily, meal shakes and protein powders can provide ideal support, particularly if they are sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free and fortified with nutrients.

Of course, nothing replaces a balanced diet, but meal shakes and protein powders can be helpful in terms of substituting unhealthy snacks and boosting nutrient intake.

An active lifestyle

While protein is an essential macro-nutrient for everyone, it is particularly important for those leading an active lifestyle. It plays a key role in keeping the immune system strong and keeping energy levels high. In fact, it is one of the main sources of energy for those following a low-carbohydrate diet.

Vegetarians, vegans and raw food / living food fans

For vegetarians and vegans, a common issue is that they do not take in sufficient calories or protein to meet their body’s full nutritional needs.

Protein is a vital nutrient, which plays many roles in the functioning of our bodies, including building and repairing new cells and muscle tissue, and keeping the metabolism functioning efficiently.

Nutritional guidelines recommend that, as a broad rule of thumb, between 10-15% of total calories should be sourced from protein – ideally, lean protein.

However, a vegetarian or vegan diet does not have to mean a diet lacking in protein or healthy calories – there are a number of excellent plant-based sources out there, which offer high-quality, balanced and complete protein. What’s more, if you are a vegetarian or vegan trying to lose weight, your available protein sources are actually more conducive to your weight loss goals than traditional protein sources (which are high in saturated fat and calories). Plant protein tends to be high in fibre, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and healthy fats.

If you are a vegetarian or vegan who finds it hard to include these first class plant protein foods in your daily meals, vegan meal shakes and protein powders can play an incredibly helpful role in your diet, to address not only the problem of ensuring appropriate intake of protein and calories, but also to assist with daily nutrient supply.

Dietary supplementation

Anyone who lives with an allergy (whether that be to gluten or dairy or any other form of food allergy or intolerance), will know how hard it can be to find foods that suit their lifestyle and/or medical needs. This becomes even more challenging when you are trying to lose weight.

Food choice can often become very limited and, without variety in the diet, a person’s overall well-being can start to suffer. This is never ideal, but when you are in the process of slimming, you really need all the energy you can muster to support increased levels of physical activity.

It is important to bear this challenge in mind and take proactive steps to address it. For example, through careful meal planning and dietary supplementation.

Quite often, slimmers with allergies or intolerances find that meal shakes and protein powders that are dairy, wheat, gluten and sugar free (with no artificial ingredients) can help them to top-up on nutrients and healthy calories, while helping to keep them fuller for longer.

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Meal shakes and protein powders

Shakes – can they help with weight loss?

Tricky meal planning

Meal planning, as part of a slimming or ongoing weight management programme, which ensures that you are receiving optimal nutrition and a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients every day, can be difficult for a number of reasons:

  • you may be limited to a certain number of calories per day, making it problematic to eat high amounts of even fruits and vegetables
  • you may not be entirely clear on what nutrients you need, in which quantities and/or where to find them
  • you may not have the time to plan and prepare all meals in advance, particularly if you are eating up to 6 times a day
  • you may not have the budget to purchase the required amounts of fresh, organic produce every day, needed for optimum nutrient intake
  • you may not have the time to, for example, prepare fresh juices every day, which can help with the digestion of large quantities of fresh, raw produce and can be a good source of nutrients
  • you may have a medical condition, digestive complaint, food allergy or intolerance, which means that your choice of foods is limited
  • you may be a vegetarian or vegan, making it more difficult to eat a high protein diet which can support weight loss.

Making life easier

If one or more of the above applies to you, don’t worry! There are ways to ensure that you still get the nutrients you need to secure healthy weight loss for the long-term.

High quality meal shakes and protein powders can be an invaluable slimming tool because, not only are they quick and easy to prepare and drink, if you pick the right product they are also packed with nutrients (such as vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre) and are naturally low in fat.

They provide a convenient and reliable way for you to access high levels of nutrients every day, without having to worry about the calories.

Organic superfood shakes (or “green shakes”), for example, allow you to take in nutrient-dense, fibre-rich fruits and vegetables in quantities that would otherwise be unrealistic on a daily basis.

Vegan-friendly, gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free light meal shakes can provide a healthy breakfast or snack on the go, even for those people with specific dietary requirements. These types of healthy snacks can help to keep you fuller for longer, staving off cravings and bingeing.

Protein shakes, made from complete, natural and balanced plant-based protein sources (such as hemp, pea or rice) can make it far easier to implement a high-protein diet that supports slimming, because you do not have the high fat content of meat and other animal products.

The convenience offered by these daily food supplements means that there is no longer any excuse to skip meals. It couldn’t be easier for you to meet your optimal nutrient intake on a daily basis, while still sticking to your healthy weight management programme.

Ensuring your weight loss success

When it comes to healthy slimming, finding the best approach can be often be daunting and can sometimes lead to “information overload”. There are so many, often conflicting, information resources on weight loss and the weight management process.

But slimming needn’t be complicated – there are some basic rules that you need to follow. However, always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health practitioner before changing your diet, implementing a new exercise regime or taking health supplements.

Firstly, knowledge is power.

Losing weight in a healthy way and for the long-term involves you taking proactive steps to better understand:

  • your own body and how it works
  • how your body reacts to what you put in it
  • the ways in which existing medical conditions and/or allergies or intolerances can affect the weight management process
  • your metabolism
  • your daily nutritional requirements
  • how health supplements, including meal shakes and protein powders, can support the slimming process.

Nobody is going to lose weight for you and nobody knows your body and how it feels and works better than you. While the above may sound daunting, it really isn’t. The more information you have, the better placed you will be to achieve your health and weight goals. The fact that you have the power to make the desired changes yourself should be empowering!

Take it slowly – you won’t learn everything you need to know in one week. Start by finding a product you like, carry out additional research on the ingredients yourself through reliable online resources. It can also be useful to use high quality meal plans in the early stages, to guide you while you are still learning about how to eat a balanced diet.

Here’s to your long-term weight loss success.

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Healthy high protein foods

High protein foods

Protein is an essential element (macro-nutrient) in everyone’s diet.

It is a component of each and every cell, tissue and organ in the body and it is constantly being broken down and replaced.

With that in mind, it is clear that identifying healthy high-protein foods is an essential aspect of maintaining good health. Proteins are certainly not all equal.

How to identify healthy high-protein foods

Complete protein and essential amino acids

When choosing protein foods to incorporate into your daily diet, it is important to make sure that they are natural, complete and balanced, i.e. first class, unprocessed proteins that will provide maximum benefit to, and be easily absorbed by, the body.

A food protein is described as “complete” or first class if it contains all of the essential amino acids.

Amino acids are basically the building blocks of protein, while essential amino acids are those that cannot be synthesised by the body and therefore need to be sourced through the diet. They are “essential” in the sense that they have to be eaten daily for the body to function.

When we talk about a “balanced” source of protein, we mean a protein source that contains all of the essential amino acids in ratios that are most useful to the human body.

Animal protein vs plant-based protein

You also need to consider the source of your protein, i.e. animal protein versus plant-based protein.

Obviously, if you are a vegetarian, vegan, raw foodist or follower of the Living Foods Programme, this won’t be in question. However, if not, these are some of the facts that you might want to take into consideration:

1. There are few perfectly balanced proteins in our food supply, but animal proteins tend to be among the most balanced. Similarly, most animal proteins are complete. Unfortunately, they also tend to include a number of undesirable elements. For example:

  • red meat is widely considered to be carcinogenic
  • meat (especially red meat) and dairy often contain high levels of saturated fat
  • meat and dairy products are at the top of the acid-forming food list (it is thought that for optimal health, and for efficient delivery of balanced nutrients to the cells, the pH of blood should be neutral, or slightly alkaline)
  • animal protein is much harder for the body to digest (depleting digestive enzymes and placing a greater strain on the digestive system)
  • the nutrient-per-calorie ratio of meat is often lower than plant-based protein sources (which tend, for example, to be high in fibre, enzymes, phyto-nutrients, chlorophyll, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals etc).

2. There are a number of plant-based proteins that are both complete and balanced (including, wheatgrass, hemp and quinoa). In addition, non-animal proteins can be balanced by combining different food families. For instance:

  • combining legumes with grains and other plant foods will usually yield a complete and balanced protein
  • rice protein can complement the proteins in vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and spinach.  

Examples of high-protein, plant-based foods

  • Fruit, vegetables and plants:

Certain vegetables, fruit, seeds and grains contain a surprisingly high level of protein, as well as fibre (not present in animal foods), and tend to have a higher level of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients (such as antioxidants) on a nutrient-per-calorie basis. Examples of high-protein fruit, vegetables and plants include fresh leafy greens, hemp, wheatgrass, spinach, broccoli, dried apricots, prunes, dried figs, rose hips, blackberries and dates.

  • Soy foods:

Soy is one of the best sources of protein because it is a complete protein and is a rich in fibre and Omega 3 fatty acids. Examples of soy foods include soy beans, tempeh, tofu (or bean curd).

  • Legumes:

Examples of high-protein legumes include lentils, kidney beans, black beans and garbanzo beans. Although legumes are an incomplete protein, as mentioned above, those who choose to follow a plant-based diet can adequately meet their body’s amino acid requirements by eating a variety of plant foods on a daily basis.

  • Seeds, nuts and grains:

Examples of high-protein seeds, nuts and grains include quinoa, almonds, cashews and sunflower seeds.

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Tips for building muscle

Basic steps for gaining muscle

Increasing your muscle mass can be frustrating when you don’t immediately see the results you want, but the most common reasons for slow or inadequate muscle gain are easy to overcome if you know what to look for and how to avoid the pitfalls.

Improve your workouts and diet, and get an adequate amount of rest, to get the optimum results you want.

Work out techniques

To increase the mass of small muscle groups, you need to use proper body position, form, and technique each time you work out. A lot of people make the mistake of using momentum to lift weights. While this may make your workout easier, it also prevents your muscles from doing the work. Try working out in front of a mirror at first to make sure your body position is correct. Use your muscles to control your movements.

Expect small setbacks during your journey to increased muscle mass. For one thing, your muscles will begin to expect regular workouts so you must change the types of exercise you do. For example, once your are able to do more than 12 repetitions, you should add more weight to bring your repetitions back down to 6.

Target the specific muscle groups you want to build. While generic cardiovascular workouts and weight training exercises are great, you obviously need to focus on the muscle group you are targetting for a significant increase in mass. Keep your workouts short and focus on one specific muscle group each time you train.

Rest and recovery

Although you are trying to push your muscles to their limits, you don’ot want to push them past their limits. Ensuring adequate time for rest and recovery between workouts can be just as important for gaining muscle mass as time spent in the gym. It is during this downtime that muscle tissue is formed.

And of course, you want to avoid injury. Torn muscles and strained ligaments are painful and may take a long time to heal. Adding weight slowly will keep you from doing serious damage.

Muscle soreness is simply a normal build-up of lactic acid, a byproduct of muscle metabolism. Although soreness can be difficult to handle some days, look at it as proof that your workouts are making your muscles work hard!

As your muscles develop during the periods of rest between workouts, it follows that they need adequate rest in order to achieve maximum development. For this reason, you should only target specific muscles groups once or twice each week and the workouts should be well-spaced. Get an adequate amount of sleep each night because your cells regenerate and repair themselves while you are asleep.

Muscle mass diet

Getting your diet right goes hand-in-hand with perfecting your training programme, for optimum muscle gain results. If you are not taking in the right “fuel” to build muscle, you can work out every day of the week and you will still see only a small increase in mass. Even worse, you may even start to lose mass due to the increased calorie burn. It is essential to challenge your body through a combination of physical activity and proper nutritional support, otherwise your progress will inevitably stall.

If you’re looking to build lean muscle, your focus should be on:

1. Quality, lean high-protein foods (essential for gaining muscle); and
2. Complex carbohydrates and healthy fats (as necessary sources of energy).

If your goal is to gain lean muscle, you should focus on exercising regularly and eating more calories each day from muscle-building foods. Some of the top muscle-building foods include:

  • eggs
  • salmon
  • chicken breast
  • greek yoghurt
  • cottage cheese
  • tuna
  • shrimp
  • soybeans
  • turkey breast
  • beans
  • quinoa
  • buckwheat
  • tofu
  • brown rice.

Keep it clean to get lean!

Protein is necessary to help your muscles repair and rebuild the tissues and cells that are torn, exhausted and injured during workouts. Besides protein, your diet should also include an adequate supply of other essential nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, omega oils etc. Ideally sourced from nutritious fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other natural plant-based foods. And of course, water is key. Becoming dehydrated while working out can be dangerous, and hydration is important for all processes within the body (including digestion).

Supplements for muscle gain

In an ideal world, a balanced diet would be able to provide your body with all it needs to build muscle and realise your full muscle gain potential. However, this is very rarely (if ever) the case. Your nutrient requirements are likely to be so high, that it makes it very difficult to meet these through meals alone. What’s more, the right supplements can help you to achieve your goals in a shorter time. As such, it is essential to identify an additional source of quality nutrients from trusted sources.

Protein powders and meal shakes are the most obvious supplements for muscle mass gain. Organic plant-based protein powders can be an excellent source of complete, lean protein, not least because they also tend to provide valuable phyto-nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fats, antioxidants etc at the same time – ideal for all-round nutrition, giving your body what it needs to operate at its best. They add to your calories in a healthy way and support other aspects of your health (such as healthy digestion, immunity etc) that can impact muscle gain. Whey protein is also very popular, but make sure that you know the source of the milk to avoid unwanted contaminants.

The bottom line

A wide range of foods and food supplements can help you to gain lean muscle. Many of them are protein-packed and allow your muscles to recover and grow after you have been active. Others support your stamina, general health and well-being.

To reach your goal of gaining lean muscle, focus on exercising regularly, getting adequate rest and eating more calories each day from nutritious foods like the ones listed in this post.

And when attempting to build muscle mass, do not expect quick results – it takes time. Consider tracking your progress in a workout journal. Use a tape measure to keep track of the diameter of specific areas of the body, such as the upper arms. You should also keep track of your weight and body mass index.

Combine proper weight lifting techniques with a nutritious, high-protein diet for optimum results.

For more information, visit our main website

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