Meal replacement shakes were once confined to the inner circles of the bodybuilding scene – and long before that were the stuff of science fiction. But as the protein supplement market has become more mainstream in recent years, so too have meal replacements. Now they’re everywhere you look, from supermarket aisles to vending machines.
But are they good for you and how should you use them? We spoke to Dr Adam Collins, Head of Nutrition at Form
, the experts in vegan protein powder
, who have just released a new meal replacement called Peakblend
, to find out more.
What are meal replacements?
“As the name suggests, meal replacement shakes are designed to provide the equivalent nutrition of a full meal in an easy-to-consume format,” says Dr Collins.
They typically range from 200-400 calories and contain a good serving of protein, fibre and essential vitamins and minerals that make them a convenient way to enjoy a healthy, low-calorie meal with minimal fuss.
Perhaps “enjoy” is the wrong word, as taste is often sacrificed for function with this type of nutrition. However, with Peakblend, Form believes it has conjured up a meal replacement shake to be enjoyed, not just tolerated.
Peakblend reimagines Form’s award-winning vegan protein, combining it with gluten-free oats and flaxseeds, as well as MCTs from coconut oil, for an evenly balanced, nutritionally complete meal, available in Chocolate Peanut or Banoffee flavour.
Are meal replacements good for you?
Not all meal replacement shakes or bars are created equally. Some are nothing more than poorly-disguised energy drinks or chocolate bars, harbouring heaps of sugar and suspect additives.
“The best meal replacements, however, contain high-quality protein, dietary fibre to aid digestion, and a full line-up of essential vitamins and minerals that many people might already be lacking from their regular diet,” explains Dr Collins. “That’s why it’s crucial you examine the ingredient list of any meal replacement before tucking in.”
Peakblend’s meal replacement recipe is enriched with a host of functional ingredients for gut health, immune support, stress and energy. It includes medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) from coconut oil that help you feel fuller for longer, antioxidant-rich flavonoids for improved gut health and even ashwagandha – the king of ayurvedic herbs – to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
What ingredients should you look for in a meal replacement?
Any meal replacement worth its weight should include a mix of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats, along with the 26 micronutrients in vitamin and mineral form that will keep all your bodily functions operating optimally.
With Form’s Peakblend formula, the sustainably-minded company has reimagined the category further. Its 34g of protein per serving comes from organic pea protein, omega-3 essential fatty acids come from flaxseeds and immunity-boosting vitamin D is sourced from responsibly-farmed algae.
“Vitamin D is rarely vegan,” Dr Collins explains. Most sources rely on fish, meat and dairy. “Peakblend’s Vita-algae D is sourced 100% from algae that are farmed in Europe, ensuring complete control over its quality and purity, and it is responsibly sourced with no negative impact on the local environment.”
Peakblend also includes a powerful beta glucan called Wellmune. This form of dietary fibre has been clincally proven to help improve immune health, protect agasint the harmful effects of stress, boost energy and promote mental clarity.
When should you use meal replacements?
“A well-balanced meal replacement shake can be used as a substitute for any meal when you’re pushed for time, providing you with a nutritionally dense hit to keep you firing on all cylinders.” Dr Collins says.
If you’re a meat-eater, swapping one of your daily meals for a vegan meal replacement, like Form’s Peakblend, is also a great way to reduce your impact on the planet.
However, Dr Collins stresses, it’s probably best not to rely on meal replacements for every meal – especially on date night. Chugging down a shake kind of takes the romance out of a candlelit dinner.
FORM will be sponsoring The LAB stage at Balance Festival 2021. To find out more about Peakblend, available in Chocolate Peanut or Banoffee flavour, click here.
A Standardised Withania Somnifera Extract Significantly Reduces Reduces Stress Related Parameters in Chronically Stressed Humans: A Double Blind Randomised Controlled Study, JANA Volume 1, No 11 (2008)
De Marco Castro E, Calder PC, Roche HM. (2020) b-1,3/1,6 glucans and Immunity: State of the Art and Future Directions. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, https://doi.org/10.1002/mnfr.201901071.
Talbott S, Talbott J. (2010) Beta 1,3/1,6 Glucan Decreases Upper Respiratory Tract Infection Symptoms and Improves Psychological Well-Being in Moderate to Highly-Stressed Subjects. Agro FOOD Industry Hi-Tech 21:21-24.
A 12-week randomized, parallel, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of a daily dose of 500mg of MicrobiomeX® on gut microbiome composition.