Making use of a supplement or even a meal-replacement shake is becoming more and more popular. Mopani Pharmacy consulted one of our favourite dieticians, Liesbet Delport. She shared her expertise on how you can shake up your diet to get the maximum benefit.

 Q: Who would benefit from using supplement or meal-replacement shakes the most?

A: There are many who would benefit from a shake;

  • Those who are sickly or elderly and struggle to eat solid food
  • People who are extremely underweight and/or struggle to pick up weight need something extra between meals
  • People who do not have time to prepare and eat regular, balanced meals
  • Those who cannot have dairy products or other protein rich foods like fish, meat, chicken, eggs, etc.
  • Athletes who wish to supplement their protein intake

Q: Are there any risks to using these shakes?

A: Yes, if you are using it to supplement or to replace meals in order to lose weight. Real food generally fills you up better than a shake. If you are replacing meals with a shake, you might get hungry well before you are due to eat again and then end up snacking on food anyway. Supplementing or replacing meals with shakes, and then eating anyway, will result in weight gain.

Q: What should people look for on packaging to know if they are using the correct supplement shake?

A: There are a few things you should look out for:

  • A meal replacement shake should be a balanced meal. A good example of this is the instant porridges that contain maize and/or sorghum, as well as soya or another legume flour such as pea flour. It can be mixed with more fluid than when it is eaten as a porridge. They contain enough protein, slow or low GI carbs for sustained energy and not too much fat.
  • Pure protein shakes or low carb shakes are not good meal replacements. As they are low in carbs or don’t contain carbs, you will get hungry more quickly and start craving high GI or fast carb products that are also high in detrimental fat such as chocolates, cake, crisps, etc.
  • Athletes can use high GI energy drinks during endurance exercise and a recovery drink that contains high GI or fast carbs and protein (like most sports recovery drinks do) after exercise. This is because your muscles that work hard during exercise lose carbohydrates or glycogen during the exercise, which needs to be replaced and high GI carbs replenish the lost glycogen the fastest. You also need some protein immediately after exercise, as there is a building up and breaking down of muscle in the body every day and when you exercise, the overall balance tends to be negative. Consuming a recovery drink that contains fast carbs and protein will prevent this negative balance. It also helps to prevent soreness in the muscles.
  • Please refer to our sports book, Eat Smart for Sport by Liesbet Delport and Dr Paula Volschenk for a list of recovery drinks. (will hyperlink to amazon)

Q: Any myths you would like to bust?

A: It is a myth that it is better to drink a shake than eat a meal or that you will lose more weight more quickly, if you drink a shake instead of a meal. It is always better to eat a balanced meal. You will feel fuller for longer. Your dietitian can coach you in training yourself to live a healthier lifestyle with better eating habits over time that will last for the rest of your life, rather than opting for a crash course like most fad, unhealthy diets every now and then. I once consulted a patient who was losing weight steadily but surely, but then she wanted to speed up her weight loss, so she opted to drink a shake twice per day instead of eating a meal. That week, she hardly lost any weight. In my professional opinion, eating a balanced kJ-controlled meal stimulates your metabolism better than a shake.

To remember:

If you would like to make use of a supplement or meal-replacement shake, consult a dietician like Liesbet Delport, your doctor, our staff at Mopani. They will assist in choosing the correct product that will suit your age, general diet, health condition and general lifestyle.

You can reach Liesbet for an appointment on or call 013-752-3540/972. Liesbet and Elizabeth Combrink’s office is based at 11 Ehmke Street, Nelspruit ( .

If you are already making use of meal replacements or you are interested in what is available, shop in-store or browse our online shop here!

Read more: How to optimise your plant-based OR animal protein diet