Food & Nutrition Science

What’s In Your Weight Loss Shake?

Television is full of commercials of celebrities and retired professional athletes that promote weight loss shakes and weight loss programs to “Crush Your CravingsTM”. The list of ingredients for these products reads like a who’s who of what not to put into your body.  

If your goal is to drop bodyweight it is important to recognize that your actual goal should be weight lost in terms of “fat weight”, not just water weight and lean body mass.  I am all for losing that extra “10 pound dumbbell” someone is carrying around, and for having a smaller waist circumference, as it carries with it many health benefits.

Losing unwanted weight can lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, improve insulin resistance, stabilize blood sugar, and increase your energy level. What’s not to like about these benefits? 

Caloric Restriction and Rapid Weight Loss

Oftentimes, when caloric intake is restricted, the body will not just use fat for daily activities, but more importantly, it will use lean body mass [muscle].  Also, depending on what real research you obtain from medical journals it is difficult to obtain the minimum daily intake of vitamins and minerals per day when you reduce your caloric intake below 1,400 calories/day. 

A pound of fat contains 3,500 calories of energy. To lose a pound of fat requires that you eat healthier and move more – like everyday more, and at least 30-45 minutes of physical activity, for seven days.  

You are not losing 5 pounds of fat weight the first week, as many television commercials and ads claim. You CAN lose 5 pounds of weight the first week [water, lean body mass and some fat thrown in for good measure], but not pure fat weight. The body was not designed to burn through fat quickly, it is a reservoir for energy to be used by the body in an emergency and when food is not readily available to consume.

Again, to put this into perspective, a pound of fat contains 3,500 calories of stored energy, waiting to be used at a later date. To lose 5 pounds of fat this week you would have to burn 17,500 calories from fat. Since a conditioned marathon runner only burns approximately 900 calories from fat during a race, you would be running 19.4 marathons for the next week in order to burn 17,500 calories. Good luck with that.

The Internet is full of testimonials regarding eating at or less than 1,000 calories a day and losing weight and feeling great.

Essential fatty acids and fiber intake always seems to suffer when calories are restricted. The recommendations are always to drink water; of course it is! The companies that promote low calorie intake and 1,000 calories a day realize that less food, with less fiber, typically tied to higher protein intake, equates to, you guessed it, constipation.  Talk about lower abdominal bloat!


Drink a Shake for Increased Energy & to Reduce Your Cravings

Lets examine the popular NutriSystems “NutriCrushTM” shake. A serving size is 40 grams equal to .16 of a cup.  A serving size contains 160 calories. For a point of reference, 1 cup is equal to 236 grams. This speaks to the philosophy of a low calorie 1,000 calorie/day regimes of eating pre-packaged ingredients.

This shake mixture is loaded with fructose, maltodextrin, cornstarch, monk fruit extract (sweetener), sodium and dairy products [calcium caseinate, sodium caseinate, milk calcium complex, Whey protein concentrate]. 

Will the cheap fillers, binders, sweeteners, along with poor quality proteins; poor quality synthetic vitamins, fats, saturated fats and high sodium satisfy your cravings? Not sure if it will satisfy your cravings or turn you off to wanting to eat in general.  

Here is the list of ingredients for the Nutrisystems NutriCrush Shake:  

Calcium Caseinate, Fructose, Maltodextrin, Sunflower Oil, Cocoa (Processed With Alkali), Resistant Maltodextrin (Dietary Fiber), Whey Protein Concentrate, Soy Protein Isolate, Natural Flavors, Milk Calcium Complex, Salt, Sodium Caseinate, Konjac, Cornstarch, Monk Fruit Extract (Sweetener), Tocopherols (to Protect Flavor), Mono And Diglycerides, Xanthan Gum, Soy Lecithin, Stevia Leaf Extract, Carrageenan, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol Acetate), Microcrystalline Cellulose, Selenium Glycinate Complex, Vitamin D3. Contains: Milk And Soy. 

Nutrition Facts:

Serving Size 40 G
Servings Per Container 7

Amount Per Serving



Calories From Fat


% Daily Value

Total Fat 3 G


Saturated Fat 0.5 G


Trans Fat 0 G


Cholesterol 5 Mg


Sodium 210 Mg


Total Carbohydrate 21 G


Dietary Fiber 3 G


Sugars 9 G


Protein 13 G


Vitamin A


Vitamin C




Vitamin D


Vitamin E




Healthy Nutrient Dense Shakes

There are so many other healthier “shakes” that are more effective in helping you lose the weight and “crush the cravings”.  The following recipes will help you satisfy your hunger, lose fat weight, and lose excess water resulting from a diet high in sodium. 

#1 Super Alkaline Shake

1 Cup Baby Spinach
4 Tablespoons of Pea Protein
2 Tablespoons Chia Seeds
1/2 Seedless Cucumber [peeled]
2-3 Stalks of Celery
1 “Nub—five slices of” of Ginger
1 Cup Kale
1 Lemon [peeled]
1 Lime  [peeled]
1 Orange [peeled]

Mix all ingredients in a blender and drink.

Total Calories:     372
Fat Grams:         10.86
Protein Grams:   24.72
CHO Grams:      51.58
Fiber Grams:      23.5
Potassium mgs: 1598
Sodium mgs:      433

#2 – Super Alkaline Shake

1 Cup Butterhead Lettuce
3 Tablespoons of Hemp Protein
2 Tablespoons Ground Flaxseed
1 Tablespoon of Almond Butter
1 “Finger” of Ginger
1 Cup Kale
1 Cup Blueberries
1 Medium Beet (add some top)

Mix all ingredients in a blender and drink.

Total Calories:     478
Fat Grams:          17.4
Protein Grams:    29.6
CHO Grams:       42.1
Fiber Grams:       19.2
Potassium mgs:  1381
Sodium mgs:       111

#3 – Super Alkaline Shake

4 Tablespoons of Pea Protein
2 Tablespoons Chia seeds ground
1 Tablespoon of Almond Butter
2 cups Almond Milk
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon

Mix all ingredients in a blender and drink.

Total Calories:      496
Fat Grams:             24
Protein Grams:    37.4
CHO Grams:          33
Fiber Grams:          12
Potassium mgs:     595
Sodium mgs:         686

You also may want to consider these Superfood Summer Smoothie Recipes and 7 Weight Loss Superfoods Nutritionists Can’t Get Enough Of!

Here’s to your health!


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