Are Meal Replacement Shakes Safe? Kim Kardashian Seems To Think So, But Here's The Truth
Seeing your favorite celebs post ads on Instagram for companies they're sponsored by is a pretty common thing on social media now. And since pretty much everything the Kardashians do influences millions of impressionable followers, Kim's latest post in collaboration with Flat Tummy Co diet shakes was, well, thought-provoking, to say the least. Personally, it led me to wonder whether meal replacement shakes are actually safe or not. As with most wellness trends, I know there are definitely pros and cons to these types of products, but since meal replacement shakes are having a moment in the spotlight now, let's get down and dirty with a little more research on the subject.
In her Instagram post, Kim Kardashian talked about how she was so incredibly busy over the holidays that it was essentially impossible for her to eat healthy and keep up with her workout routine (relatable AF, amirite?). So, to help her find more balance, she started the Shake It Baby program from Flat Tummy Co to give her "a kick in the right direction" and help her stay on track with her wellness goals.
In her caption, Kardashian explained that, so far, she's felt absolutely amazing on the program, and she expressed that she's "excited for the next few weeks" to see how the results ultimately pan out. (Side note: I'm not really sure why the weird, industrial looking kitchen was her backdrop of choice, but I digress.)
So, if you're going solely off of Kim Kardashian's stamp of approval, then yes, these meal replacement shakes seem pretty good overall.
These meal replacement shakes are typically marketed to people who don't have time to really focus on what they're eating and putting into their bodies, and these shakes make it easy to simply grab and go as you please. These shakes are often marketed as "weight loss" tools, and intended to be consumed in place of a solid meal (as Kim K claims she's doing while on the program). But according to physician and wellness expert Dr. Axe, they can actually help you gain weight.
If you're wondering about what exactly is in many of these ominously thick and colorless meal replacement shakes, they're basically just processed beverages (with specific ingredients that vary depending on the manufacturer) that make it more convenient for you to get enough vitamins and minerals in your system without having to put much thought into the whole thing. This, of course, is the general finding by Dr. Axe for most meal replacement shakes, and not necessarily reflective of the ingredients in the specific shake that Kim Kardashian is promoting.
But when you take a closer look at what's actually in these shakes, the whole thing kind of loses its appeal.
For starters, if you look at the ingredients listed on the back of just one such popular shake examined by Dr. Axe's team, the vitamins and minerals contained in these bad boys don't come from whole foods, which means they're usually artificial and synthetic. Your body won't be able to absorb those "nutrients" long-term, and this could lead to health complications like vitamin deficiencies, inflammation, indigestion, and more.
And since these meal replacement shakes aren't really realistic for maintaining a healthy weight for an extended amount of time, this means that they're highly unsustainable. Constantly relying on these drinks to fuel your body can hurt your energy levels, and you'll probably struggle with really intense cravings for the foods you're no longer nourishing your body with.
Bottom line: Using meal replacement shakes as a long-term strategy isn't really that safe, nor is it very healthy.
There's no doubt that meal replacement shakes are convenient, and they may be relatively harmless if you're using them occasionally or for a short-term goal, but they're not going to do any good for your body (or your mental well-being, for that matter) in the long run.
And for the record, healthy looks different on everyone. Just because these shakes are what Kimmy K is into, doesn't mean they are necessarily right for you. Wellness is about becoming the best version of yourself, not holding yourself to ridiculous standards, or completely transforming your body into something you think it "should" be. Trust me, there's nothing you need to "fix" about yourself, no matter what our culture tries to tell you.