Liquid meals are either do-it-yourselves prepositions, made by blending the ingredients or prepared using ready to use commercial supplements, or picked up directly from supermarket shelves or restaurants. The best liquid meals are shakes, smoothies, malt, and fruit mix.
The best liquid meals depend on the intended purpose of the meal.
Some liquid meals serve to supplement regular meals or replace a few regular meals. Such meals primarily serve to help the busy executive who does not have time to eat a proper meal, the sportsmen who cannot consume solid foods immediately before or after a performance, travelers on the move who find consumption of regular meals inconvenient, and other similar purposes.
Another major use of liquid meals are in regular diet plans, for patents undergoing surgery, people experiencing extreme nausea who are unable to eat or digest food, and for people undergoing chemotherapy or radiation. Consumption of such liquid meals is part of medically supervised diet plans, and usually available only through medical stores or hospitals.
Yet another major reason for consumption of liquid foods is to fight obesity. Such liquid meals remain low in calories and fat, and usually remain lactose free as well. A typical 8-oz liquid meal has about 250 to 350 calories.
Other liquid diets claim to ‘detoxify’ the system by cleansing the body of impurities, but such claims remain unsubstantiated.
Regardless of the purpose, the best liquid meals need to provide a balance of key nutrients, including reasonable calories. The average daily recommended intake of calories for a normal person is 2,000 calories, and liquid meals with very low calories can lead to the body unable to maintain its basic functions properly. The weight loss achieved by increased metabolism and burning of fat tissues through consumption of reduced calories is temporary, and weight gain invariably sets in after stopping the liquid meal. A diet plan that includes both food and liquids works best to attain sustainable weight loss.
Two key ingredients required in good liquid meals are fiber and protein. In a normal diet, fruits and vegetables provide the body with adequate sources of fiber, and prevent ailments such as constipation. Meat foods provide the body with protein to maintain body mass. The liquid meal needs to ensure adequate fiber and protein to compensate for the loss of such nutrients brought about by forsaking regular meals. Lack of other essential nutrients in the liquid meal can lead to side effects such as dizziness, electrolyte imbalance, fatigue, gallstones, hair loss and even heart damage.
Most liquid diets generally serve their intended purpose, and some liquid diets work better than others.
Among commercial products, GNC ranks as a popular option. GNC Lean Shakes provide about 180 calories and make for an excellent low calorie shake.
GNC Nature’s Plus Vegetarian Fruitein High Protein Energy Shake is a blend of many natural fruits and other foods, and provides complete proteins, antioxidants and complex carbohydrates. It claims herbal base and enhancement with a patented enzyme activation system, besides providing all essential vitamins, minerals and enzymes. A scoop provides 110 calories, 15 grams of carbs, 13 grams of protein and 192 milligrams of sodium.
Among commercial mixes, Boost and Ensure ranks as the most popular. An 8 ounce serving of Boost provides 360 calories, 14 grams of fat, 45 grams of carbs and 14 grams of protein. A similar serving of Ensure provides only 250 calories, 6 grams of fat, 42 grams of carbs and 9 grams of protein, but also provides 3 grams of fiber. A high protein variant of Ensure provides 230 calories, 1 gram of fiber and 12 grams of protein.
Good homemade liquid food recipes are many. One good option for a high calorie homemade shake is to mix a cup of whole milk, 2 cups of ice cream and 2 tablespoons of each vanilla extract and any fruit syrup; all together providing about 450 calories. Add yogurt, cottage cheese, custard or whipping cream to add to the calories. Replace whole milk with fortified milk, and ice cream with low-fat yogurt to reduce the calorie count of this mix to about 350 calories.
The best liquid meals provide an effective substitute to regular meals and adds to the convenience.
- WebMD. “Liquid Diets.” Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/diet/liquid-diets?page=1 on April 17, 2011.
- Iowa State University. “Nutrition in a Can: Liquid Supplements.” Retrieved from https://www.extension.iastate.edu/publications/pm1762.pdf on April 17, 2011.