The key to mass and strength gains is sustained nutrition throughout the day to prevent catabolic muscle loss. In the case of bodybuilders, that means six to eight small meals throughout the day. Now, unless you have a personal chef on hand, that's a tall order for most of us. And that's why meal replacements are so popular, you can ingest a full meal's dose of protein, carbs and fats in just minutes, and get on with your day.
All of the best meal replacements, including Labrada's Lean Body and EAS's Myoplex Original, as well as the one that started it all, Met-Rx Original, provide plenty of nutritional bang for your buck. Whey protein isolate is, of course, the most common form of protein found in most meal replacement formulas, thanks to its low lactose and fat content, fast-acting nature to quickly nourish muscles and its delivery of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). The carbohydrate blends included in these formulas consist of oats, barley, oat fiber and/or rice bran to help support energy levels and enhance satiety. The third piece of the equation, fats, can be derived from high-oleic sunflower oil, CLA, flaxseed, evening primrose oil or borage oil. Many formulas typically include a few extras, such as vitamins, minerals and even probiotics to help maintain normal intestinal microflora.
And the best news is that today's meal replacement shakes and meal replacement bars also taste great, so there's no need to choose between great taste and wide-spectrum nutrition.