Guest Post: The History and Significance of Meal Replacements in Fitness and Beyond

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Everyone enjoys a delicious mouthful of food, but not everyone has the time to fully appreciate it. We are talking, of course, about bodybuilders, fitness enthusiasts, and people who follow strict diet plans in general. Not only that, but being able to cook food on a daily basis has become wishful thinking nowadays, as the fast-paced way of life makes it difficult to find the time to enjoy a hearty home-cooked meal.

You might think that this is a modern trend, but the reality is that people have been searching for a way to make nutrition more efficient for centuries. Concretely, there has always been a need and a desire to reduce the time it takes to prep a wholesome mealwithout skipping on the nutritious goodness. From unsavory high-energy fruit-and-meat blends all the way to today’s “healthy” meal replacements, the history of these foods and products is long and quite interesting. Let’s take a look at how it began, and where it has led us so far.

It all began with Pemmican

You might not have heard of it, but if you were a European settler roaming the unexplored lands of North America in the 18thcentury, you might very well have owed your life to Pemmican. This unique concoction of savory ingredients was first invented by the native Indians, and later passed on to the settlers as an excellent meal replacement. Well, it wasn’t so much a replacement as it was a meal in itself, a mixture of elk or bison, fruit, mixed with melted fat.

It doesn’t sound like a tasty dish, and it most likely wasn’t, but what it lacked in flavor it made up in its nutritious goodness. Pemmican had everything you would need to survive harsh outdoor conditions, especially on long exploratory excursions, as the stuff wouldn’t go bad for years at a time.

The rise of the meal replacement pill

The idea that you could get all of your calories and macronutrients from a pill is a pretty old one, yet the world is still dreaming of a day when people can just “pop a pill” and get on with their day without having to slave over the stove or devote half an hour to prepping and eating breakfast every morning. It would certainly make a bodybuilder’s life way easier, and would help you make your morning appointment with your personal trainer.

Indeed, synthetic foods have risen in popularity to such an extent that scientists are hard at work to inventing a meal pill as we speak, but what’s interesting is that this concept traces back all the way to the 1920s. Even though there was no scientific method to produce a meal replacement pill at the time, that doesn’t mean that mass media wasn’t raving about the idea, and what it could do to help humanity thrive as a whole.

Nutrition slowly takes on a liquid form

The 1960s was, what we now call, the space age. Experiencing a scientific and technological boom across every industry, the world was quickly producing and adopting innovative forms of medicine, food, anabolic steroids (lest we forget when anabolic steroids became popular), and other. Interestingly, all of this was tied into the concept of space exploration. With the space program thriving, astronauts needed a sustainable and balanced way to meet their daily requirements in space. And so, the liquid meal replacements were born.

The fitness industry was, of course, thriving at the time, and was quick to adopt any liquid form of food including the best weight loss shakesin order to make the lives of fitness enthusiasts and professional athletes a little easier. Naturally, the idea was to popularize meal replacement shakes primarily, in order to capitalize on the constant struggle of athletes to maintain their optimal caloric intake on a daily basis. This trend would persevere to this very day, and meal replacement would assume the moniker of a healthy supplement.

Meal replacement products become highly regulated

During the 1990s, the fitness industry as well as the global consumer market were so saturated with supplement and meal replacement products, that the European Union had to step in, in an attempt to regulate the market and protect the consumers. Products intended for weight loss in particular were highly regulated.

No more than 30% of all calories in a weight loss product could come from fats, while the product itself could only boast between 200 and 400 calories per serving. Unfortunately, no such legislation exists in the US, so brands are allowed to advertise their products as they see fit.

The dawn of “healthy” meal replacements

In the 21stcentury, the health food industry is stronger than ever before. While there is a desperate need to reeducate the public about healthy nutrition in order to reduce obesity rates in the countryand beyond, the problem with the industry is that it’s filled to the brim with brands with dubious claims and products that should not be constituted as meal replacements.

If modern lifters and healthy eaters in general are to maximize their health and performance potential, they will still need to stick to balanced home-cooked meals, with an additional supplement or meal replacement to make their routine easier and more sustainable. However, it is essential to do your research and find the brands that build their products on the pillars of healthy nutrition.

In closing

Eating healthy day after day can be an arduous task, especially if your schedule is hectic as is. Athletes on a massing phase have an even more difficult time getting the nutrients and calories into their system without a supplement or a liquid meal. With that in mind, meal replacements are not only here to stay, but are destined to one day take over as the primary source of healthy eating in a world where cooking at home is reserved for seldom moments of peace and tranquility over the weekends.

Author Bio

I’m a fitness and health blogger at Ripped.me, and a great fan of the gym and a healthy diet. I follow all the trends in fitness, gym and healthy life, and l love to share my knowledge in this field through useful and informative articles.

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