They come in yummy vanilla, chocolate and strawberry flavors. They're easy to prepare, too. Just open the pack, pour the powder in a shaker cup, add water and voila! You've got a complete and delicious meal ready to be gulped down in minutes. Welcome to the world of meal replacement shakes.

From bodybuilders to diabetics to individuals looking to lose or gain a little weight, meal replacement shakes have become the nourishing meal replacement of choice. For starters, they're packed in easy-open containers that you can take with you wherever you go. They're cheap and require no calorie-counting or portion-observance. Choose a flavor, mix with water and you're good to go! It's virtually a no-brainer way to preparing a nutrient-packed meal in minutes. All you need to do is choose a flavor.

Despite the huge benefits it offers, the question remains: Are meal replacement shakes for you? The following considerations should help you come to a sound decision:

* Meal replacement shakes are ideal for those who hate calorie-counting and food-measuring while on any weight loss program. If you don't have time to determine whether you had ingested enough calories for the day or find this practice too regimented for your taste, then meal replacement shakes free you from such activities.

* Meal replacement shakes are ideal for those who wish to build muscle or lose weight but are operating on a shoestring budget. Healthy food choices for these activities can become expensive compared to meal replacement shakes that only cost a little less than two dollars per serving for a nutritionally complete meal.

* For diabetics who wish to control their carbohydrate and calorie intakes, meal replacement shakes can be extremely helpful, especially during breakfast to stabilize blood glucose levels.

* Meal replacement shakes can also fill the nutritional requirements of individuals who are recuperating from illness or just had surgery and have difficulty ingesting solid food. Cancer patients on chemotherapy typically have poor appetites and have a difficult time swallowing food which leads to nutritional deficits. Meal replacement shakes are ideal for them.

* For the overweight or obese, medically-prescribed meal replacement shakes are part of an overall treatment regimen that must be complied with stringently under the guidance of a physician. These shakes are different from the over-the-counter versions that are widely available for general consumption.

On the other end of the spectrum, meal replacement shakes are not for you if:

* You can't stand monotony in your meals. Chocolate, vanilla and strawberry are pretty much the only flavors you'll have to work with. It can get boring after a while.

* You love to cook and don't want to be limited by a liquid diet. If you savor tastes and textures, guzzling down food is certainly not for you.

* If you want long-term healthy solutions to your eating habits and not just for the sake of weight loss, meal replacement shakes may not be the best alternative for you. You need a change in behavior regarding the kinds of food to eat, how often and in what amounts.

Looking for the leading meal replacement shake? Check out this Shakeology review and this post called "Shakeology recipes".

Author's Bio: 

Health and nutrition fanatic, mountain biking enthusiast, and proud father of 4.