We all know that eating real food is necessary for optimal health. However I still like the idea of having all my meals in containers that I can just dump into a blender bottle. Let's face it; in today's world, a lot of us get so caught up in our busy lifestyles that we miss meals all the time, and fail to get all of the necessary nutrients in our daily diet even more often than that! If we could carry around a can or two of powder everywhere and simply mix doses with water all day, that would be more beneficial than missing meals.
I also don't think it is right to assume that just because someone consumes mainly meal replacement shakes, that their diet is automatically unhealthy. Pressing on are some of my thoughts on meal replacement shakes. I am wondering about the efficiency of certain supplementation protocols when combined together into one cohesive shake.
I understand that there are plenty on the market, but they all have things in them that I don't want (coloring, preservatives and artificial sweeteners I cannot even pronounce) and don't have complete control over vitamin, mineral and macronutrient content either. This is for those that want to control all those variables by putting together their own meal replacement shake. Let's use each other's knowledge to get a good thing going here.
For optimal nutrition, we need to have:
1. Protein (all essential and non essential amino acids)
5. Dietary fiber
1. BCAAs+EAAs+ Protein Powder (OR) BCAAs+EAAs+NEAAs
These definitely do work efficiently, since they don't have to be broken down from protein in the liver. The use of these supplements mainly has to do with keeping the body as far away from a catabolic state as possible. Another consideration would be to have a slower digesting amino acid (actual protein powder) when you know you will be without the amino acids. For me, this would be mainly before bed.
2. Oils pretty easy to get into a shake, since most are liquid at room temperature. However, not all fats are created equal. It looks like coconut has a lot of benefits over other types of oil. Unfortunately it is solid at room temperature (at least in the colder months, where I am), but there are ways to gently heat this oil (without a microwave). I will leave this one up to you guys though. Needless to say, this issue is of relatively little importance.
3. Carbs are really easy to get in a shake too, since most people will naturally want to add a sweetener to whatever they are sipping on. I like Molasses or agave nectar. For some more complex carbs, I use powdered oats. Maltodextrin is a pretty chap alternative. For the health freaks, there is stevia extract as well. There are so many options out there that I'm just going to leave this one alone, after suggesting that you stay away from traditional table sugar, and combine some simple and complex carbs so you don't get tired between shakes.
4. I'm assuming if you have the means to buy individual supplements, then you have access to running water. Of course filtered water is a nice convenience, but I'm not a rich person, nor a water snob (not to hate on any water snobs out there. To each their own.)
5. Dietary fiber is also pretty easy to get into a shake. Most vegan folks would never need to worry about this one, as long as some of their meals were still real food. Anyone who juices their own raw fruit and veggies should be able to throw some pulp in a shake. Smoothies automatically have the pulp in them. If you don't do either of these on a liquid diet, you can actually buy pulp. Some pulps have vitamins and minerals in them too. I like beet pulp, because it is high in nitrates. I would use lots of fiber to help me stay full for longer.
6. This is where you have to eat your fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, kids. Of course, there are still ways around eating them. Most of the studies on vitamin supplementation are inconclusive. Some would say multivitamins are one of the biggest hoaxes in the history of nutrition. I still take a multi everyday though...
You can drink smoothies and juices, as stated above. You can also buy green food powder to throw in to your diet. I would take several more servings daily on a liquid diet, and make sure to buy one with a very wide range of fruit and veggies. I'm not selling anything, but Juice Plus is a company selling such products, and they actually have some studies done by reputable sources to back up their products. They are probably overpriced, and there are other companies out there doing the same thing for cheaper. Most importantly to this thread, their capsules are not vegan; only their chewable supplements. However, the point is that one can still gain most of the benefits of eating fruit and veggies without actually eating them.
7. The same argument for vitamin absorption applies to minerals as well. The notable exception seems to be iron, which has a hard time combining with other vitamins and minerals. I would tend to take my iron supplement first thing in the morning with lemon water to enhance absorption and this seems to work fine. I like molasses a lot too, and use it as my primary sweetener.
8. This is where things get difficult. Making sure the PH of you meal replacement is more alkaline is a must for optimal nutrition, and enhances muscle growth during sleep. This is where the green food powder and beet pulp would really come in handy if you are taking a purely powder approach, but adding some vegetable juices that don't change your macronutrients too much is an even better way to do this. Remember that this is more about how the body's PH changes than the alkalinity of the food itself. Lemon and tea are the most tasty and common ways to make a beverage alkaline, but we are dealing with a lot of ingredients here, and that may not be enough to do the job. Stevia becomes the clear winner in the sweetener section, olive oil wins in the fat section, grains are acidic, and amino acids are obviously acidic. Is it safe to assume we should try to have more grams of alkaline ingredients that amino acids? This is where my oats become an issue in the equation, as I tend to add at least a cup of oats to my meal replacement shakes. I'll be referring to this list to find a way to improvise in an economical manner: http://www.rense.com/1.mpicons/acidalka.htm
My full meal replacement would have be split up into 6 shakes with:
-1/6 or more of the RDA for all vitamins, minerals and fiber
-1/7 of macronutrient ratios, which I could tweak pretty easily.
-A high fat and fiber shake before bed so I can sleep like a baby.
If I'm missing something, please let me know.
Remember, the goal here is to cut out real food as much as possible. It sounds silly but I think it can certainly be done.