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Meal Replacement VS Real Food

Real food or meal replacement? There are of course pros and cons to either approach and it’s worth running through them as actually meal replacement may be a feasible and sensible option for you.

I’ll use my current macros whilst on competition prep to make the comparison easier to quantify. So, currently my meals are as follows:

Meal 1: 50g oats, 150g soya yoghurt, 15g peanut butter, 15g CNP whey

Meal 2: 150g gnocchi, 150g home-made Bolognese (lean beef mince)

Meal 3: 30g rice, 125g chicken, 70g mango

Meal 4: 150g root veg mash, 125g chicken, 50g peas

Meal 5: 60g COR, 20g dark chocolate

Macros sit around 190C 140P 40F around 1730kcal

(Remember I’m 5ft 1 and these are specific to me! )

A weekly shop to prepare all of this sits around £40 for me, that’s £1.15 per meal on average (40/(5×7)).

CNP Meal Replacement shakes (ProMR) macros are 18C 42P 2F 255kcal per 72g serving as well as a multitude of vitamins and minerals (see the information on the Pro MR page).

If we were going entirely food free, to hit my calorie target I would need to have 6.8 servings. This would give me 122C 285P 14F.

The cost here would be £95/week, but you have to consider the vitamins and minerals added too, as I haven’t counted in my supplements in my weekly shop.

There are multiple reasons why going completely food free is not a good idea and clearly this wouldn’t be optimal for me. I know I perform best with higher carbohydrates and I would not be okay with only 14g of fat a day!

However, I could consider swapping out meals 2, 3 or 4 for one of the shakes and this wouldn’t change things drastically. I could even swap two out and include the extra macros in my other meals.

The main benefit to using meal replacement is the convenience. With my job, my meal spacing is terrible and I know that. It’s not unusual for me to eat Meal 1 at 7am and then not eat again until 3/4pm. If I replaced meal 2 with a MR shake, I could easily fit this in between then, avoiding such a long time between protein spikes. This would also be better for my concentration and mood no doubt!

The volume of food I eat is small just now, but peak off season, especially for someone who is not as tiny as me, it can be tough to get food in. Here, the MR shakes come into their own with their ease to use, lower volume, ease of digestion. Swapping out one or two meals could mean you hit your targets no problem. If you need to add in fats and even some carbs then mixing with some peanut butter, coconut milk, or oat milk are always options – yum!

Author: Stephanie Hill