I was recently speaking with someone who needed to gain weight. Of course, her doctor recommended Ensure meal replacement shakes. At first glance, Ensure sounds like a great option.
According to Ensure’s website:
“Each bottle of #1 doctor recommended Ensure is a source of complete, balanced nutrition. Every shake is packed with 24 essential vitamins and minerals, including antioxidants. Enjoy Ensure for breakfast, lunch, or a delicious between-meal snack.” It also contains “Omega-3s to support heart health”.
Sounds great doesn’t it? Well, until you look at the ingredients list:
WATER, CORN MALTODEXTRIN, SUGAR (SUCROSE), CORN SYRUP, MILK PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, COCOA POWDER (PROCESSED WITH ALKALI), SOY OIL, SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, CANOLA OIL;LESS THAN 0.5% OF: CORN OIL, CALCIUM PHOSPHATE, POTASSIUM CITRATE, SOY LECITHIN, MAGNESIUM PHOSPHATE, MAGNESIUM CHLORIDE, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, SALT (SODIUM CHLORIDE), SODIUM CITRATE, CARRAGEENAN, CHOLINE CHLORIDE, ASCORBIC ACID, POTASSIUM CHLORIDE, DL-ALPHA-TOCOPHERYL ACETATE, ZINC SULFATE, NIACINAMIDE, FERROUS SULFATE, CALCIUM PANTOTHENATE, COPPER SULFATE, MANGANESE SULFATE, CHROMIUM CHLORIDE, FD&C RED #3, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, THIAMINE CHLORIDE HYDROCHLORIDE, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID, BIOTIN, SODIUM SELENATE, POTASSIUM IODIDE, SODIUM MOLYBDATE, PHYLLOQUINONE, CYANOCOBALAMIN, AND VITAMIN D3.
Sugar is the third ingredient, followed by corn syrup! Then of course there are all the genetically modified, pro-inflammatory oils like soy, canola, and corn oil. And you can’t forget the artificial flavours and colours. Yum!
And when you read the fine print, you find out that the antioxidants it contains vitamins C, E and Selenium which are all made in a lab and present in quantities lower than the RDA (which are vastly underestimated as is). The Omega-3s Ensure brags about is a small amount of plant based ALA, hardly enough to have any effect on heart health, especially when you take into consideration all of the other unhealthy oils you are consuming when you drink Ensure.
So if you are looking for a healthy, easy snack or meal replacement, the best option is……to eat food. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, healthy protein bars are all better options than drinking a bottle of Ensure (and they will have WAY more natural antioxidants and healthy oils). You can also make your own healthy shake at home or at work, it just takes a little planning ahead. If you are in pinch, go to Booster Juice.
Easy Recipe for homemade smoothie:
• ½ cup fruit (frozen berries, banana, pineapple, whatever you have on hand)
• 1 cup liquid (water, almond milk, rice milk, etc.)
• 1 scoop good quality protein powder (I like SunWarrior)
• 1 TBS good fat (flax, chia, hemp seeds or the oils of these)
• Ice cubes (optional)
Blend and enjoy!
Note: If you need to gain weight it’s best to consult with a Nutritionist. There are usually other factors involved other than simply the number of calories consumed.