Milk shakes might be delicious; generally, though, they’re not the healthiest choices. Many are made with a base of high-fat, calorie-rich ice cream, and they typically contain plenty of added sugar and few nutrient-rich fruits or dairy foods. However, you may be able to steadily lose weight if you use healthier-than-average milk shakes as occasional meal replacements.
A 16-ounce chocolate milk shake contains about 550 calories, 14 grams of protein, 12.5 grams of fat, 96 grams of carbs and sugars and less than 2 grams of fiber, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A 16-ounce chocolate fast food shake is comparable, with about 480 calories, 14 grams of fat and 70 grams of sugar. In contrast, one envelope of a dry milk shake mix has just 70 calories, 0.5 grams of fat and 11 grams of sugar, and one scoop of whey protein powder has 110 calories, 2 grams of fat and 23 grams of protein.
At its simplest, weight loss is just a matter of burning more calories than you take in. If you drink a milk shake every day in addition to your normal meals, you’re likely to gain weight, but if you drink one with a moderate number of calories as a meal replacement, you may slim down over time. In 2010, University of Ulm researchers published a study in the journal, “Diabetes/Metabolism Research & Reviews,” and found that subjects who used high-protein, nutrient-dense meal replacements as part of a low-calorie diet, lost more weight and body fat over the course of a year, than those who only reduced calories.
You’ll have the greatest chance of shedding a few pounds with milk shakes if you make your own and use them as occasional meal replacements. Making drinks that are more like protein shakes than creamy, sugary milk shakes is a smart move, if you want to feel full on fewer calories and reap the benefits of healthy ingredients. For example, replace one meal per day with a shake that contains 1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup fat-free milk, one small ripe banana, 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder and a handful of crushed ice. You’ll get close to 20 grams of filling protein, no added sugar and just about 225 total calories.
Keep It Off
Losing weight with milk shakes as meal replacements can be a successful temporary strategy. To keep that weight off in the long term, though, it’s important to have a healthy diet plan and fitness routine that you can stick with through time. A well-rounded diet can make room for the occasional milk shake – even if it’s the decadent type with ice cream – as long as you stay active and eat mostly whole, natural foods. Before you make any significant changes to your current diet, get approval from your doctor.
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- USDA National Nutrient Database: Milk Shakes, Thick Chocolate
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Shake, Fast Food, Chocolate
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Beverage, Milkshake Mix, Dry, Not Chocolate
- MyPlate: Body Fortress Whey Protein Powder Nutritional Facts
- PubMed.gov: Diabetes/Metabolism Research & Reviews: Enhanced Weight Loss with Protein-Enriched Meal Replacements in Subjects with the Metabolic Syndrome
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Milk, Nonfat, Fluid, with Added Vitamin A and Vitamin D
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Bananas, Raw
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Cocoa, Dry Powder, Unsweetened
Carly Schuna has been freelance writing and editing for more than a decade. In the lifestyle sector, her specialty areas are wellness, food/drink, and entertaining. With hundreds of recipes and nutrition-focused articles in her portfolio, Carly loves helping readers put a healthy spin on classics in the kitchen without sacrificing taste.