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How Long Can You Last on Diet Shakes?

Let's say you're losing a safe amount of weight with two diet shakes, two snacks, and a modest dinner every day. How long can you stay on this eating plan? Nonas says many people use the beverages for the bulk of their meals for about three months, then maintain their weight loss for years by substituting a meal replacement shake for one meal on most days.

Research bears that out. In a Journal of the American Dietetic Association study published in 2001, women who lost weight on a reduced-calorie plan that included meal replacement beverages maintained their losses after a year by drinking at least one diet shake a day in place of a regular meal. Their counterparts in the study, who lost weight on a conventional low-fat diet that did not use meal replacement beverages, regained most of their initial weight.

The Bottom Line on Diet Shakes

Diet shakes are not the magic bullet in the battle of the bulge. Used judiciously, they can help you get started on weight loss or help you maintain a healthier weight. "To lose weight or even to eat well while maintaining a healthy weight, you must be a vigilante and defend against the many temptations out there. Meal replacements shakes are easy, but they are also a lot healthier than most other choices you could make," Nonas says.

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