Q. Are protein shakes a good meal substitute when you are trying to lose weight?
A. HFG nutritionist Claire Turnbull responds:
If you exercise in the morning, a protein shake along with a piece of fresh fruit might be an option if you need something quick and easy. Or you may want to make a smoothie with some protein powder. It is, however, important to add variety with other breakfast options which are higher in fibre, too.
When it comes to replacing your lunch or dinner meal a protein shake is certainly not an ideal everyday option. If you are watching your waistline, a large salad or half a plate of vegetables with some protein, a little healthy fat and a little healthy carbohydrate is much better.
There is a wide variety of protein shakes on the market, all with varying nutritional value.
In general, however, a lot of the protein shakes aimed at women for weight-loss are lower in energy (kJ) per serve than we would recommend is suitable for a whole meal, even if you are trying to lose weight.
Although many will have added vitamins and minerals, these shakes are often very low in carbohydrate and fibre and they are not as satisfying as eating real food. In my experience, people often end up feeling they need something else to eat within an hour or so after having a shake.
Overall, real food is always best and a better long term solution for losing weight and keeping it off.