I am surrounded by people who want to lose weight. I watch as they get excited about a new shake or bar that will magically melt the fat away.
I know that there there will be no happy ending to this story.
Invariably, these people start with a strong resolve, having faith in shakes, bars, powders, pills or other expensive meal replacements. These fad products and programs lure us with their convenience and the promise of success produced by short term hard work.
What we usually see in real life is a short period of weight loss, along with a lot of hunger and diligent suffering, and then rebellion and abandonment of the program.
Fat loss is not easy. However, the hard work should be in making tough decisions while eating real food. It’s not about willpower, but about making decisions based on your values.
If you value your health, you will choose the replenishment of a meal made from real food, rather than the convenience of meal replacements. The most commonly accepted meal replacements are the protein shake and the protein bar.
The main reason I prefer real food over protein shakes is that protein powders are quite processed, usually involving extremely high heat. Protein powders are also categorized as supplements, and as such are not closely regulated for content and purity.
Often what we envision going into the shake is very different from what we actually get. Most of them are full of preservatives, sugars and traces of toxins. Secondly, because liquids require less processing and digestion, shakes can produce a significant insulin response, which is not what we are going for when trying to lean out.
At first glance, the protein bars might seem to be a better option, having the appearance of solid food, but upon closer observation we notice the exorbitant amount of sugar or artificial sweetener required to keep the bar from tasting like cardboard. Protein bars are often made with the same processed protein powders or extracts as the shakes.
Most importantly, it is too easy to become reliant on meal replacements. Before you know it, you are barely eating any real food. Granted, there are situations where a meal replacement may have its place, but for the general population practising yoga, jogging, or lifting weights real food is always the best choice.
Eating healthy and staying lean often involves sourcing out local, healthy food sources and lengthy decision-making at restaurants. It’s often difficult and time consuming, but worth every second.
There are no conveniently packaged one-size-fits-all solutions for fat loss, only an extended period of trial and error to discover what works best for you.
Tania Tetrault Vrga is owner and head trainer at CrossFit Winnipeg. Send questions to her at www.crossfitwinnipeg.com.