It’s no secret that summer months are slow months in our fitness and health routines– and for good reason, too. We would rather be out in the beautiful weather, enjoying great food, family and friends.

Now that the weather is cooling, summer vacations are ending and school is starting, many of us are determined to eat healthier and exercise more. In fact, there’s a huge increase in gym memberships in the Fall.

A common and simple weight-loss strategy: Replace one or more of your meals every day with a protein shake. Scientific research shows that if using protein shakes as meal replacements lowers the total number of calories you eat in a day, you will lose weight over time - and likely improve your body composition as well.

Regardless of why you may want to start replacing some meals with shakes, it’s important to get your doctor’s approval before you begin, especially if you have an existing medical condition. To get the healthiest balance of nutrients while using meal replacements, supplement each shake with fresh fruits and veggies.

If you choose to drink a shake instead of eat a meal, keep balance in mind. A typical healthy meal will contain protein, carbohydrates and fats as well as enough calories to keep you full for several hours. Since most shakes contain significantly fewer calories than full meals, drinking them as occasional meal replacements can aid weight loss.