We all know how tough sticking to a weight loss diet can be. Meal replacement drinks, though not a "be all-end all" solution in themselves for lifelong leanness, can nonetheless be a part of the solution. Even with the healthiest all natural ingredients, meal replacement drinks and powdered drink mixes can be made to provide great taste, nutrition and convenience, while providing just a few hundred calories.
The basic "do it yourself" diet shake recipe combines a naturally flavored, sugar free protein powder (soy, whey, rice, pea, hemp) supplying 10-15 gms of protein, an omega-3 source like powdered flaxseed, chia seed, or good tasting flavored flax or fish oil, and a high antioxidant fruit and vegetable powder drink mix, often called "greens" or "reds" drinks. The goal is to find the best tasting products or formulas you can find that, when mixed with 10-14 ounces of water or green tea (recommended), supplies about 150-200 calories, 14-20 gms of net carbohydrates, 7-10 gms of fiber and 2-3 gms of fat, mostly as omega-3 fatty acids.1 Such a "Superfood Diet Shake" can be made to fit with most popular current diets, like low carb, low glycemic (low sugar), low fat, and low calorie, as follows.
Low Carb Diet Shake: To the basic Superfood recipe above, consider adding one or more of the following:
1. Coconut milk (2 oz.-¼ cup). Coconut fat is rich special lipid (medium chain triglycerides) that are easily digested and sent directly to the liver where they are easily converted into energy, not stored.2
2. Plain soy milk (mixed with or instead of water or tea) adds protein with very little carbs.
3. Or a palm full of nuts and seeds can be eaten out of hand. The extra chewing and fiber will help you feel full.
Low Fat Diet Shake: To the basic Superfood recipe above, consider adding one or more of the following:
1. Fresh or frozen fruit, ¼ cup, rich in fiber, and alkalizing minerals. Or just enjoy an apple, as the chewing slows you down and sends signals to the brain, "I am eating a lot!"
2. Non-fat milk (dairy, rice or almond) or unsweetened non-fat yogurt to replace some of the water or green tea, and add protein, vitamins and minerals.
Low Calorie Diet Shake: To the basic Superfood recipe above, consider adding one or more of the following:
1. Mineral water, and/or lemon or lime juice, to add extra minerals, like sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium.
2. Herbal tea, like cinnamon tea, or any herbal tea according to taste, for variety or internal detoxification.
Low Glycemic Diet Shake (Low in sugar and refined carbs, with balanced fat, protein, carbohydrate diets: Zone, 40/30/30, South Beach)
To the basic Superfood recipe above, consider adding one or more of the following:
1. Fresh or frozen berries, ¼ cup, are the best fruits to add without eating too much fruit sugar.
2. Alternately, enjoy several apple slices on the side, or a palm full of seeds, or two prunes, both known to support weight loss.
3. Low fat milk and yogurt (plain) or plain soy milk to replace some or all of the water or green tea.
4. Add 1-2 heaping tablespoons toasted wheat germ, ground fine for extra vitamins and minerals.
1. Weight Loss: Following a low carb, low fat, low calorie or low glycemic plan, have two "Superfood Diet Shakes" a day, making breakfast one of them. Enjoy the other at the time of your choice unless otherwise directed. Eat two other meals in your plan, each of more or less equal size.
2. Weight Maintenance: Following a low carb, low fat, or low glycemic plan, have a "Superfood Diet Shake," usually for breakfast, the most important meal of the day.
1. Have a thorough physical check-up to rule out any nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances or other health problems that might limit your success.
2. Start your diet with a 24-36 hour detoxification fast with a high antioxidant fruit and vegetable powder drink mix, mineral water and an herbal "detox" tea.
3. Drink up to two quarts of green tea a day. Caffeinated is best, but green tea helps boost metabolism even without caffeine.3 Remember, a lot of "hunger" is really thirst, so at least drink water!
4. If your health professional says coffee is OK for you, it can help balance blood sugar, boost metabolism and lower appetite.4 You can make a "latte" with coffee, blending ½ scoop of vanilla flavored whey protein with warm milk (soy, dairy, rice or almond) and then blending with hot coffee. Add a ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon for extra taste and to help balance blood sugar.5
5. To obtain weight loss, you need to work up to exercising 250 to 400 minutes a week, depending on the type of exercise/physical activity and intensity.6 To maintain weight loss, you will need 75 to 150 minutes a week. Always speak to your health professional about the choices best suited for you before starting.
6. Generally speaking, men wishing to lose safe but rapid weight need to eat less then 1850 calories a day. For most women, 1350 calories is the target. Weight loss diets with less calories than these numbers need close supervision by a health professional.
7. Use stevia as a non-calorie natural sweetener.
8. The lower the calorie intake, the more likely that multivitamin and mineral supplementation will be needed. It is difficult to provide all of these in sufficient amounts in the recipe, itself, without negatively affecting the taste.
9. Say grace. Eat slowly. Chew your food very well. Put down your utensils between bites.
10. If you have been good all week, allow yourself one "cheat" as your reward, but only if you can "cheat" just once! Save it for the ball park, the wedding, the holiday party.
11. Remember, long term successful weight loss is a result of a commitment to lifelong lifestyle change, not simply a special "diet." The "Superfood Diet Shakes" are provided to you as simple additions to make keeping your commitment easier.
Dr. John H. Maher is co-founder of BioPharma Scientific and creator of "The SuperFood Solution™: Lifelong Wellness Made Easy" (www.superfoodsolution.com).
He can be reached by email at
1. Net carbohydrates describes total carbohydrates in grams (gm) minus fiber in grams, as fiber is by definition "indigestible carbohydrates."
2. Guo W, Choi JK, Kirkland JL, Corkey BE, Hamilton JA. Esterification of free fatty acids in adipocytes: a comparison between octanoate and oleate. Biochem J. 2000 July 15; 349(Pt 2): 463–471.
3. Dulloo AG, Duret C, Rohrer D, Girardier L, Mensi N, Fathi M, Chantre P, Vandermander J. Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Dec; 70(6):1040-5.
4. Greenberg JA, Boozer CN, Geliebter A. Coffee, diabetes, and weight control. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Oct;84(4):682-93.
5. Khan A, Safdar M, Ali Khan MM, Khattak KN, Anderson RA.Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2003 Dec; 26(12):3215-8.
6. Poirier P, Després JP. Exercise in weight management of obesity. Cardiol Clin. 2001 Aug;19(3):459-70.