Are meal replacement shakes a healthy option for us?
By Delina Rahmate- Clinical Nutritionist
Often when we struggle with our weight we look for quick fix options on how to lose weight. Meal replacement shakes come at a high price and promise great results so are they worth the price we pay? In today’s article we’ll delve into the ingredients added to meal replacement shakes that may be doing your body more harm than good.
Meal replacement shakes are usually processed products that people drink in place of eating one of their main meals. Dieters, the elderly, busy people on the go with little time to cook or those with digestive complaints are most likely to use meal replacement shakes. In the short term people often get weight loss results by replacing 1, 2 or even 3 meals with a meal replacement shake due to the drastic reduction in daily calories, however over the longer term we may start to see nutrient deficiencies, a lack of fibre, effects on digestion and a drop in metabolic rate.
Some of the cons associated with meal replacement products is that they’re high in sugar, sodium, artificial ingredients and synthetic vitamins/minerals.
The following is a list of some meal replacement ingredients that may be harmful to your health:
- Soy Lecithin: While lecithin is naturally found in foods that we eat, such as eggs, soy lecithin is a highly processed soy product that is added to products to serve as an emulsifier. Soy lecithin is often made from genetically modified soy, and unfermented soy has been connected to several health risks including immune system malfunction, digestive upset, fertility problems, and loss of libido.
- Vitamin and Minerals over the Recommended Amount: Some meal replacement products contain important vitamins and minerals that are needed on a daily basis, although food-sourced vitamins are always more readily-absorbed by the body. However, it should be noted that if some “weight loss” protocols are followed to exactly, consumers will receive an overdose of several vitamins including B12, Vitamin C, selenium, and zinc. Vitamin and mineral overdose, especially when it occurs on a regular basis such as with a meal replacement program, can cause a whole host of symptoms including digestive upset, nerve damage, brain fog, fatigue, and hair loss. Again, check the ingredient list to determine if you are receiving the right amount of vitamins and minerals for your size.
- Synthetic Vitamins: Meal replacement shakes love to brag about how many vitamins and minerals are in their products. What they don’t tell you is the kind of vitamins they contain. The vitamins in meal replacement shakes don’t come from a food source so your body doesn’t recognise them. These lab-created synthetics can cause inflammation, allergies, digestive disturbances, and autoimmune dysfunction.
- Fructose: Processed sugar, such as in the form of fructose, can greatly affect health. Excess fructose can lead to obesity, liver toxicity, insulin resistance, hypertension, and pancreatitis. The standard western diet already contains an excess of sugar, and it seems that when replacing a meal, sugar, in the form of fructose, maltodextrin or any other type of sugar should not be an included ingredient especially when it appears as one of the first ingredients on the list. It is being discovered that more and more health issues are connected with a high sugar diet and that lowering one’s sugar intake can improve gut health and enhance immune system function.
- Canola Oil: Canola oil is an extremely unhealthy choice, yet is often added to “natural” products. Canola oil is used as a cheap cost-cutting alternative oil, it is partially hydrogenated, and sometimes genetically modified product that is reported to cause inflammation, neurological health issues, and kidney problems. It is best to avoid using any partially hydrogenated oils in the diet.
- Maltodextrin (1400): Maltodextrin is an affordable, low-quality sweetener made from corn, rice, or potato starch that often sneaks and creeps its way into processed foods. Maltodextrin is often made from made from genetically-modified corn. Genetically-modified corn contains pesticides that do damage to your digestive, endocrine, neurological, and immune system. This sweetener depletes your body of natural vitamins and minerals while causing side effects such as weight gain, bloating, flatulence, and breathing difficulties. Check ingredient lists carefully – a lot of alternative sweeteners are combined with maltodextrin.
- Tricalcium Phosphate (E341(iii)): One of the synthetic ingredients utilised in many meal replacement products, ingesting tricalcium phosphate on a regular basis, such as in a protein shake, can cause issues. Tricalcium phosphate has been linked to nervous system dysfunction, skin irritation, abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, nausea, constipation, and intestinal obstruction. These are not things to mess around with!
- Natural Flavours: Unfortunately, the label “natural flavours” provides a great deal of wiggle room. The only requirement is that the ingredient must be extracted from natural plant or animal matter. However, this leaves the door wide open. You have no idea the level of processing said plant or animal matter has undergone, or any indication of quality and actual ingredients.
- Aspartame (E951): Aspartame is one of the deadliest sugar lies on the planet. It is often an additive in diet foods and drinks to replace table sugar. Aspartame is a deadly neurotoxin that has been linked to the development of muscle twitches, spasms, cognitive impairment, migraine headaches, irritability, mood swings, and more. This happens because aspartame interferes with the proper function of your hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is a region of the forebrain that connects to the pituitary, endocrine system, hippocampus, striatum, and brain stem. Scientific studies have shown that aspartame causes lesions on the hypothalamus, which interferes with proper brain and endocrine function.
- Acesulfame Potassium (E950): As if aspartame wasn’t bad enough, drink manufacturers have been slowly replaced with a new and more dangerous sweetener, Acesulfame Potassium or “Ace K”. This calorie-free sweetener is not only neurotoxic, it also “turns off” the part of your brain that tells you when you’ve had enough to eat. This means each time you drink a meal replacement shake or eat anything that contains this sweetener, you’re drinking something that encourages you to eat more!
- Concentrated Milk Product: Concentrated milk product may seem harmless enough but it can cause problems with your health. This is because the concentrated milk product contained in meal replacement shakes contain hormones, steroids, antibiotics, and pesticides that interfere with proper digestion and assimilation of nutrients. These growth hormones and pesticides fuel the development of cancer.
- Cellulose Gel (E460i): This thickening agent is used to keep synthetic sugar from crystallizing and “freezing” in the can. It has been linked to digestive distress and allergic reaction.
- Soy Fibre: It is estimated that 90% of soy is genetically-modified. Any genetically-modified food or product contains pesticides. When you ingest pesticides, you interfere with the proper functioning of your nervous, digestive, and immune system.
- Xanthan Gum (451): Xanthan gum is a thickening agent made from bacteria and has been linked to gas, bloating, and allergic reaction.
- Carrageenan (E407): Carrageenan is often listed as a natural ingredient in meal replacement shakes and some yogurts. This sneaky little additive has been quietly causing chronic health problems for forty years. It has been linked to colon cancer, chronic inflammation, and digestive disorders.
- Sodium Phosphate (E339): Sodium phosphate is a popular diet food additive because it acts as a laxative. If you’re going more often than usual or are suffering from diarrhoea, this is your culprit. Too much of this additive could cause permanent damage to the lower intestine, leading to uncontrollable bowel movements.
Healthy alternatives to meal replacement shakes are making homemade smoothies, natural protein powders with no added nasties and preparing healthy meals in advance.
If you are busy and on the run or just love a delicious smoothie for breakfast here are some ingredients you can consider to create a nutritious and well balanced smoothie.
- A healthy protein: you can obtain this from raw nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts, almonds, almond meal or a protein powder – my key tip when choosing a protein powder is to make sure it is a clean as possible with limited added ingredients such as a 100% protein powder (you can then add natural flavouring as you wish)
- A healthy fat: Such as coconut milk, almond milk, dairy (if tolerated), yoghurt, avocado, coconut oil, chia seeds, hemps seeds, flaxseeds or the nuts and seeds mentioned above
- A healthy carbohydrate: this will generally come from the fruit you add which can include banana, berries of any kind, pineapple, mango (whatever combinations you like really). Don’t overdo the fruit limit it to one healthy serve for example ½ frozen banana with ½ cup of frozen berries.
Once these have been chosen it’s always great to add a little extra nutritional punch:
- A handful of leafy greens such as baby spinach or kale (kale is best pre-blanched), you can start small and as you become accustomed to the flavour you can increase
- A sprinkle of cinnamon – great anti-inflammatory and also supports blood sugar balance
- A spoon of mineral rich cacao for that chocolatey flavour – if you like chocolate.
- You can also use greens powders or other “super foods” if you have them.
The 2 recipes I’m giving you today are real crowd pleasers – they are super tasty and nutritious!
1- The Coco Berry Smoothie (by Natural Vitality Nutrition)
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 tablespoon blueberries frozen or fresh
- 3 large or 4 small strawberries frozen or fresh
- 1 large tablespoon of coconut or natural dairy yoghurt
- 1 handful of baby spinach
- 1 tbsp raw cashews
- 1 tbsp pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- ½ cup coconut milk
- ½ cup coconut water
Instructions: Simply add all ingredients to the blender and blend on high until all fully blended, serve and best of all ENJOY!!
2- Green Smoothie (great for thyroid hormones as well as other autoimmune conditions) Serves 2
- 1 cup leafy greens of choice
- 2 large carrots
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 stick of celery
- 1 cucumber
- 1 bunch of basil leaves
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1-2 scoops Vegan Protein (30g per person)
- Sea salt
- Extra water or ice (to taste)
- Optional: you can add other things to give you a boost such as Camu powder -vitamin -C; Maca powder – increase body temp and stabilises hormones; Turmeric- anti-inflammatory: Green powders – omega 3’s, energy, blood oxygenation
Directions: Blend together in a blender and enjoy as low glycaemic breakfast, lunch or snack.
Tim Rigby answers some good questions in this Q & A about our new bike fit program: RPM Cycling Injury and Performance Program!!
1. Why would someone come to see a physiotherapist to have their bike fitted and not the bike shop?
The interaction between to body and the bike is very complex , and includes many individual variables. To achieve the perfect bike fit , we need to take into account these variables.
The major difference is that physiotherapists have the skill to perform a detailed body screening prior to actually fitting them people on the bike to flag these individual variations. These can include;
- Spinal mobility
- Neural mobility
- Lower limb flexibility
- Muscular strength / control
- Pedal efficiency
We use this information in conjunction with optimal biomechanical, geometry and sizing to ensure the perfect fit for YOU. Essentially – We are really looking at not just the bike .. but the body and the bike in the one picture.
2. Do I need to be injured to get a bike fit by a physio?
No. A Physio bike fit can also be used to make sure you are;
- Getting the best out of their body / pedal stroke
- Confident in your set up
- Performing at your peak
We will ask carefully what your goals on initial consultation to clarify this, from there we will tailor the program / consult to meet your goals.
3. How long will it take to achieve to “fix” my bike set up and make sure Im performing at the best or out of injury?
Bike fitting with a physio is a dynamic process and requires adjustment and adaptions to new positions. For this reason it may take a sometime and over some sessions to fine tune any set up issues to ensure the perfect fit for YOU. Also the interaction between the body and the bikes takes into A LOT of individual factors- we may identify areas of weakness / mobility which you may have exercises to work on.
These are important to reduce your pain , minimize injury risk, or maximize performance . We have different treatment \packages available , also a more accurate time frame will be given to you on initial consult to give you an idea of you path to injury free cycling of optimal performance.
4. What do I receive after an initial consult for a bike fit?
After you initial bike fit and screening process you will be given the following;
- individual summary of results including pictures / videos
- a detailed pathway of treatment needed to achieve your goals
- immediate things to work on / address
- summary of your overall fit
- the ability to email any bike fit Q during the week
5. Which program is right for me?
We offer a number of packages to suit everyone’s cycling goals. These packages will range from a single bike fit and follow up results session, to a comprehensive 6- week program that will include:
- Bike fit consult and follow up session
- Physiotherapy sessions
- Physical screening assessment
- Individualized cycling strength and conditioning program
Each of these packages will be recommended depending on the results of the initial consult and the patients goals.
Click here to view our package options
Injuries and poor efficiency in cyclists have led to 2 key questions
1. Does your bike fit your body?
Most people who ride a bike will have had the basic “bike fit” where adjustments to the bike are made based on the way your body stacks up -unfortunately this is only half of the equation!! Most people will go out ride their bike and get used to some changes that sometimes aren’t correct or worse still – will cause injury. In this case the second key question is;
2. Does your body fit your bike?
What most people don’t realise is that engine room of cycling (your body) can often be hugely improved and make massive gains in efficiency, injury risk, and overall performance. Key fundamentals like flexibility, posture, technique and stability can all be improved by a program designed and tailored to your key physical faults.
It is astounding to consider that people will spend upwards of $5000 dollars on a bike when the single biggest factor (the body) in ensuring they get maximal enjoyment is often neglected. Consider our increasing sedentary habits and the decline in our physical health generally and its no wonder we lack the resilience to take up or increase our load in a new sport like cycling.
Our ‘RPM Cycling injury and performance program’ is a combination of expert bike fitting and physical assessment / prescription specific to cycling.
We have programs for everyone (professionals, amateur, recreational and weekend warriors) and you will walk away with a program / advice tailored to your needs.
For more information – click here
RPM CYCLING INJURY AND PERFORMANCE PROGRAM – coming soon!
Food and supplements to speed up healing
By Delina Rahmate, Clinical Nutritionist
Are you injured and need to heal quickly? Aid the healing process with these powerful tips on nutrition for injury recovery. Put the right eating and supplement strategies to work for you.
Injuries happen. The question is – after they happen, how can you help the body heal?
For most athletes and the everyday person the idea that nutrition can play a powerful role in injury recovery makes perfect sense. Yet when injury strikes, very few of us know exactly how to use nutrition to improve healing.
Here are some best practices for using nutrition to dramatically speed up the injury recovery process for anyone whether we exercise or not.
Injury recovery: How the body works
When tissue is damaged in the body there are 3 steps to the recovery process;
- Stage 1: Inflammation- the area is swollen, red, painful and hot. Healing chemicals are attracted to the injured area.
- Stage 2: Proliferation- damaged tissues are removed; new blood supply and temporary tissue is built.
- Stage 3: Remodelling – Stronger more permanent tissue replaces temporary tissue.
Nutrition is important in all 3 stages.
Nutrition for Stage 1
In STAGE 1: Inflammation is critical as it triggers the repair process. Too much, however, can cause additional damage. These strategies help produce the right amount:
- Eat more anti-inflammatory fats such as cold pressed oils, avocado, fish oil, fish, nuts and seeds, flax oil or ground flax.
- Eat less pro-inflammatory foods such as: processed foods, take away foods, foods with trans fats, vegetable oils like canola, sunflower and soybean
- Include inflammation managing herbs and spices such as:
– Turmeric fresh/dried (up to 7 teaspoons a day: have with a little black pepper to help absorption) or curcumin/turmeric supplement- as directed by a professional.
– Garlic: 2-4 cloves per day
– Bromelain from pineapple: 2 cups per day or a supplement taken as directed by a professional
– Cacao, tea & berries: eat daily or supplement with blueberry or grape extracts, green tea extracts, citrus extracts and bioflavonoids
Nutrition for Stage 2 & 3
Energy intake is your first priority, even though you may not be able to train your metabolism can increase by 15-50% more than when you are sedentary.
- Eat adequate protein- legumes, eggs, plant-based protein, meat and fish (not processed meats). 1-1.2 gram/kg of body weight
- Balance dietary fats from different sources such as cold pressed oils, avocado, nuts and fish oils
- Eat the rainbow – include a variety of fruits and vegetables
- Eat enough carbohydrates – you will need fewer than when you are training but enough to support your recovery – choose minimally processed carbs such as whole oats, quinoa, wholegrain rice & sprouted breads.
- Supplements that may be considered for 2-4 weeks post injury (use under the direction of a professional) – Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Copper and Zinc.
1 in 3 women who have ever had a baby wet themselves. Lets talk Urinary Incontinence!
A lot of advice is shared about motherhood, but something few people talk about is bladder and bowel problems both during pregnancy and after birth.
A range of factors, including pregnancy or childbirth, can cause a weak pelvic floor.
If you experience any of the following you may have weak pelvic floor muscles that contribute to bladder or bowel problems:
- Leak urine when you cough, sneeze, lift, laugh or do exercise
- Not be able to control passing wind
- Feel an urgent need to empty your bladder or bowel
- Leak bowel motion after you have been to the toilet
- Have trouble cleaning yourself after a bowel motion
- Find it hard to pass a bowel motion unless you change position or use your finger to help, or
- Feel a lump in your vagina or a sensation of dragging (mostly at the end of the day), which could mean that one or more of your pelvic organs might be sagging down into your vagina (also known as prolapse)
The birth of your baby might have stretched your pelvic floor muscles and any ‘pushing down’ action in the first weeks after the baby’s birth might stretch the pelvic floor again.
Regular pelvic floor muscle training kept up over the long term, as well as the right advice will help. It can often be difficult to know what the pelvic floor is or how to use it correctly.
Having the right guidance and advice from a Physiotherapist can have huge benefits both in the short-term and long-term aspects of daily living.
Your Physiotherapist can assist in pelvic floor, bladder or bowel problems in various ways:
- Education on the anatomy & function of the pelvic floor
- How to turn on & use the pelvic floor
- Advice to reduce leakage & control urges
- How to incorporate the pelvic floor into daily activities & improve exercise
- Information on further investigations or specialists
No mum wants to put up with wetting themselves, you’ve got enough on your plate!
Call now to book a consultation with Kelly – 55787155
by Kelly Meddings, Women’s Health Physiotherapist
With summer here, a lot more of us will choose to jump in the pool for some exercise. Swimming is a great form of low impact exercise to help increase strength, endurance and overall cardiovascular fitness.
‘Swimmer’s shoulder’ is a general term given to a range of overuse shoulder injuries that develop from swimming. Shoulder pain may develop due to a range of issues including poor technique or weak and tight muscles.
A common culprit is a stiff thoracic spine or mid back. Our thoracic spine plays a vital role in shoulder mechanics (the way our shoulder moves and functions), especially during an activity with a repetitive shoulder action such as swimming. If your thoracic spine is stiff, you may be overloading or irritating certain muscles around your shoulder which could develop into pain and an injury. Those who spend long periods during the day in a seated position (ie office workers, students, long drives etc) are more prone to stiffness developing in the thoracic spine.
An easy way to improve the mobility in your thoracic spine is by using a foam roller.
- Place the foam roller horizontally across your back and lay with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Ensure your head and neck are supported by placing your hands behind your head.
- Aim to keep your butt on the floor while attempting to move your shoulders closer to the floor, arching over the foam roller in the process.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds, remembering to breathe.
- Repeat this same process at 3-4 points across your mid back and aim to use this stretch before jumping in the pool!
by Jessica Norton, Senior Physiotherapist.