Sugar/Artificial Sweeteners including Maltodextrin, Sucralose and Acesulfame Potassium – All May Lead to Weight Gain
Moving onto sugar and artificial sweetener content, this is another area where this shake really misses the mark! With 15g of sugar per shake serving, that amount is far, far too high. If you’re using this drink as a meal replacement shake, you are going to drink it 1-2 times per day, meaning that you will consume 15g-30g of sugar just from this shake –which on the high end is already close to or more than the recommended amount!
Sugar, in general, stimulates the secretion of insulin, a fat storage hormone in your body and causes you to gain weight.
Also concerning is that the second and third ingredients listed on the label (after water) are corn maltodextrin (an artificial sugar), and sugar. The fact that they are so high up on the list means that there is a good amount of them used, and that is not good news.
A little more about maltodextrin…studies show that consuming this ingredient can result in side effects similar to many food additives including allergic reactions, possible weight gain, bloating and flatulence. Studies also show that sugary maltodextrin may promote the growth of unhealthy bacteria which can damage the intestine and increase the risk of inflammatory disease.5
The shake also contains liquid sucralose (Splenda), an artificial sweetener which studies show may lead to negative health consequences including weight gain, GI problems, migraines, blurred vision and even seizures.6
Finally, the shake also contains acesulfame potassium (also known as acesulfame K or Ace-K, which is basically a calorie-free sweetener that is 200 times sweeter than table sugar, with a not so favorable reputation. Though it’s considered safe by the FDA, other sources disagree.
According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) there is evidence that acetoacetamide (created in the body when it breaks down Ace-K) can result in thyroid damage in lab animals.7
Not exactly a winning combination of ingredients! Also, we have to pose the question, with the sugar content already so high at 15g per serving, why even the need for the artificial sweeteners? Either way, this is a potentially toxic mess of ingredients that could wreak potential havoc on your health.
Harmful ingredient: Carageenan
A thickening agent derived from red algae or seaweed. Though this ingredient is currently found in many different types of foods including some yogurt, dairy alternatives (like almond milk) and protein powders, it is highly controversial, especially as of late.
Carrageenan can cause gastrointestinal inflammation, higher rates of intestinal lesions, ulcerations and even malignant tumors. Research also shows that many individuals that have any type of GI symptom, from bloating to severe bowel disease found relief after eliminating carrageenan from their diets.8
Though other sources still state that carrageenan is a safe food-grade agent, the research is enough for us to at least insist that you use caution when cosuming anything with this ingredient (especially when it’s a shake you’ll be using every day).
Ensure shakes cannot be purchased on the Ensure website but they can be purchased online from retailers including Amazon, Target and Walmart. You can also purchase them in stores including Walgreens, Costco and some local grocery stores.
On Amazon, the ready-to-drink shakes go for about $35.00 for a pack of 24 ($1.46 per shake serving). This is on the lower cost end for meal replacement shakes, however, 24 shakes will not last you a whole month, so you would have to buy two packs in order to replace one meal a day with an Ensure Shake.
Although Ensure products serve as a convenient drink for weight loss or weight gain, Ensure may not be for everyone. The drink is sweet, which may not suit everyone’s taste — and for some — it may be expensive. It’s also not a good source of fiber, and you should not use it as your only source of nutrition. It also may not make a good meal replacement choice for people who have diabetes, because of its sugar content.