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Is Meal Replacement Shake Safe for Breastfeeding?

With the more and more of meal replacement shakes and low calorie shakes hitting the market, new moms are reaching for these shakes in a bid to get rid of the post-pregnancy weight, now more than ever. However, the question that arises with this is, how safe is it really?

What exactly is a meal replacement shake and what does it do?

The role of a meal replacement is to help replace a meal that you find to be too heavy in terms of calories or simply replace a meal because you don’t have the time to eat it.

Normally, a standard Indian meal would range anywhere between 300-500 kcals while a meal replacement shake is supposed to give you the same benefits of a balanced meal but at fewer calories per serving.

So how does this work for nursing women?

Ideally, the nutritional requirements of nursing women are increased during the post-pregnancy period especially so, if they are breastfeeding the baby. And because of this, most women may find that losing weight on quickly is nearly impossible. The first and foremost choice for nursing women should be focusing on getting ample amounts of nutrients from wholesome foods, at least in the first few months of the baby’s development. As it goes without saying, the nutrition and energy needs for nursing women may go higher during this period but it is equally important to practice portion control and eat healthy while exercising on a regular basis.

For those women who find it absolutely hectic to fix healthy meals or snacks for themselves, they can try meal replacement shakes 6-12 months down the line.

A few pointers to keep in mind while choosing a meal replacement:

  • Choose low caloric, preferably low but good quality carb containing product. A low calorie shake can be an excellent replacement of a mid-day or early evening snack in place of sugary or high fat containing foods you might opt for. If you are planning to replace a snack, then you can have the shake by itself since it will give you maximum 125-130 kcals per serving.  However, if you wish to replace an entire meal, I would recommend adding some healthy food options like fruits, nuts, oats,  etc to it to help it bulk up.

 

  • Always focus on getting enough protein. Whether you get it from your other meals or the shake, ensure you get enough amount of protein per day. A good high protein shake should provide no less than 20 gm. protein per serving, which is good enough for maintaining your stamina as well as keeping you fuller for longer.

 

  • Avoid high sugar containing shakes. High sugar intakes will amount to sugar hikes in the blood that drastically go low in an hour’s time thereby again making you hungry and reaching for more food. Settle for a product with less than 5-10 gm. sugar per serving.

 

  • One very imported thing that you might want to take into consideration is the additional ingredients in a meal replacement shake. If the product has certain ingredients like a particular protein type or herbs that you may be allergic to, it can pose as a problem for you as well as the baby. Although, no product will contain any component that should be a threat to you, but since you will be breastfeeding a baby, you need to be extra cautious as the baby also gets affected by the mother’s nutrition status.

Takeaway note:

While there is no harm in trying to get back in shape after pregnancy, stick to doing it in a holistic and a healthy way rather than making drastic changes to your diet. Eating healthy in moderation and regular exercise is the best way to approach weight loss in this phase. If you do intend on including a meal replacement in your diet, do so only after a thorough consultation with a clinical dietitian.

 

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