I could never have a shake every morning for breakfast... or could I?

“I can’t do what you’re doing. I like food too much.”

“I couldn’t possibly drink shakes the rest of my life.”

“Don’t you get bored?”

I hear comments like this all the time. And, 4 1/2 years ago, I was the one making them. At that time, my typical breakfast was a bowl of cereal. Well, until I got bored with that. Then I’d switch to peanut butter toast for a couple of weeks. And if I didn’t have time for that, there was always the breakfast burrito waiting for me at the McDonald’s on my way to work.

So how could I possibly give that up? Breakfast was a highlight of my day.

Wait, no it wasn’t. It was something I grabbed and shoved down in two minutes, and then a couple hours later, the carbs and sugars would burn off and I’d hit a mid-morning slump.

Sound familiar?

According to a recent ABC News report, four in 10 adults skip the most important meal of the day. Among those who do eat in the morning, a third say they have to wolf it down – rising to half of those under age 45, likely because this age group is more apt be juggling jobs and kids. And what are we most likely to be wolfing down? Cold cereal was cited by 31 percent of those who eat breakfast.

A nutrition expert I recently heard speak referred to cereal as “dead flakes in a cardboard coffin.” One of the earliest convenience foods, processed cereals are a marketing, packaging and profits triumph. They are the epitome of a cheap commodity converted by manufacturing to higher value goods and agricultural surplus turned into profitable export. Confusedly, we believe them to be healthy when, for the most part, they are degraded foods that have to have any goodness artificially restored.

I was one of the confused. So my first response to hearing about a nutrition program that would replace my breakfast with a meal replacement shake was there was absolutely no way I would do that for more than 30 days. How could I give up my Raisin Bran, or when I was feeling decadent, Reece’s Peanut Butter Puffs?

Well, then a funny thing happened. I got up one morning and made my first shake. And, it tasted really good. This was not the Slim Fast shake I’d bought once at Walgreen’s on a whim and nearly spit out as I drove home. And it filled me up. By the fourth morning, I was literally craving the darn thing... I couldn’t wait to get downstairs and get the blender going. At the end of the first week, not only had that mid-morning slump disappeared, but so had pushing snooze fives times and the afternoon nap at my desk. And, I wasn’t craving my usual mid-afternoon candy bar or soda.

Our first instinct can be to consider a meal replacement shakes as goofy quick fix, but I began to see them as something I couldn’t go without. I mean, even my pants were fitting looser. Simpler and way more portable than cereal, and it was actually lighting me up instead of making me crash. I was even yelling at my kids less. What was in this thing?

A huge benefit of meal replacement shakes in our busy lives is that they are simple and convenient. However, they are not all created equal. Many products touted as “meal-replacements” are designed to control calories, but don’t deliver adequate nutrition or the right amount of protein to stave off hunger and the muscle loss that often can accompany weight loss. Or some are pure protein, meant to help you get more protein in your diet without having to add extra carbs and fats. These support lean muscle growth and some can even support fat burn. But a pure protein shake doesn’t contain the right balance of nutrients to replace a meal and keep you healthy.

I lucked out. I happened to start with a nutrition program that, in my opinion, cannot be surpassed when it comes to quality and the results it delivers. The company actually has clinical science backing this up. It is the perfect balance of high-quality protein, healthy fats and energizing carbohydrates along with a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals and enzymes to maximize absorption of key nutrients. And it tastes delicious as is, so adding mix-ins, in which the calories can add up, is not necessary.

Protein is a vital component to your diet because it helps rebuild and restore the body, from building bone and muscle tissue to making sure your cells are in top condition.

Fiber is another healthy essential because it moves slowly through your intestines allowing vitamins and minerals you’re consuming to be absorbed more efficiently. It also aids in weight loss by helping to regulate bowel movements and reduce bloat.

Keep in mind, a shake in the morning is not a “get out of eating healthy the rest of the day” card. What you do the rest of the day is also key to feeling and looking your best. The program I choose to incorporate into my daily healthy lifestyle helps me with mapping out the rest of my day. I still savor my table food, but my choices are cleaner and healthier. And, a lot of the time, because I choose to and it’s easy, I have a second shake as lunch or a post-workout snack.

So for those desiring the real "breakfast of champions", maybe it's time to Shake things up.

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