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Nutrition

Ranking the best meal replacement shakes of 2021

Do you find yourself resorting to fast food and unhealthy snacks when you’re on the go? If so, you might want to try a meal replacement shake instead.

Whether you’re too “on-the-go” for a real lunch or are looking for a one-stop solution to weight loss, a meal replacement shake is a great alternative to unhealthy foods. Instead of worrying about how to create a balanced meal without overdoing calories, you can just down a shake and be sure it’s going to fuel your body, and help you stay (or get) lean.

Our research team ranked the best meal replacement shakes below:

Rankings

IMAGE PRODUCT

Best Overall

  • Delicious
  • High in protein and multivitamins
  • Allows you to control your hunger and build muscle
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Best for Women

complete protein

2. ORGANIFI Complete Protein

  • Improves digestion
  • Controls cravings
  • Powers you with protein
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Best for Men

ample

  • Creamy and frothy balanced drink
  • Combines protein, fats, fiber, organic greens, and probiotics
  • Healthiest on the list
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for Weight Loss

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  • 100% vegan pea and hemp protein
  • Plant-based
  • Meets 50% of the recommended intake of many vitamins and minerals from food powders
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5. Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal

  • Vegan
  • Certified organic
  • Packed with 100% of your B12 needs
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for Weight Gain

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6. Orgain Organic Protein

  • Derived from peas and hemp
  • Tastes sweet but it’s low in sugar
  • Thick, creamy texture
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7. Nature’s Bounty Complete Protein and Vitamin

  • 100% of your needs for many vitamins
  • Provides digestive health support & immune health support
  • Contains a nutrient blend that address the key nutritional needs of women
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  • Meal replacement solution
  • Targeted for the fitness enthusiast
  • Fiber content is pretty good
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  • Provides more potassium and fiber
  • All natural ingredients
  • Boosts metabolism
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  • Food replacement
  • Scientifically constructed
  • Helps you get full and stay full
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1. Exante

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Exante has created the best meal replacement shake for most people because its delicious, high in protein and multivitamins, and will leave you feeling “full” for hours.

Simple and convenient weight-loss, Exante includes slendesta for 3+ hours hunger blocking, 26 vitamins & minerals, and they’re high in protein.

The result: A high protein meal that will boost your metabolism and give you more energy.

(It’s also got the perfect ratio of proteins, carbs, fiber and fats)

This allows you to control your hunger and build muscle.

Like eating a really healthy meal stacked with multivitamins, but on-the-go.

(Plus its a delicious, creamy drink…so no “deprivation” feelings)

Bodynutrition.org’s #1-rated meal replacement shake.

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2. ORGANIFI Complete Protein

complete protein

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Note: we reached out to Organifi and they were nice enough to hook us up with an exclusive coupon for our readers: use coupon code BN15 at checkout to get an additional 15% off your total purchase.

Organifi complete protein is a fully balanced organic meal replacement designed to improve digestion, control cravings, and power you with protein all in one supplement.

It’s made with organic pea protein, so it’s an ideal choice for vegetarians, vegans, and meat-eaters alike. It has Quinoa for flavonoids and added protein.  Pumpkin seeds and coconut are added to act as an appetite suppressant and provide magnesium, amino acids, iron, and fiber. Whole food vitamins and digestion enzymes to ensure that you not only get the best ingredients but that your body can make the most of everything.

It has only 2 grams of sugar, it’s instead sweetened naturally with monk fruit and vanilla bean. It’s organic, gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, keto-friendly, and vegan-friendly.

It’s a great meal replacement that will keep your body running at peak performance all day to help you either lose weight or simply get in a quick meal.

3. Ample Meal

ample

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Ample is a creamy (and delightfully frothy) balanced drink for the healthy on-the-goers.

Ample combines protein, fats, fiber, organic greens, and probiotics for an all-in-one meal replacement shake.

Its a bit earthy, but if you’re all right with that, it’s probably the healthiest on the list.

Made from real foods. 25 g of protein per serving, and only 4 grams of sugar.

A top 3 recommendation, for sure.

4. Vega One All-In-One

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With 100% vegan pea and hemp protein and a blend of green superfood powders, Vega One is the ultimate plant-based, clean-ingredient choice.

It provides 20 grams of various plant proteins and 6 grams of fiber, including the prebiotic-rich fiber chicory root inulin…and only 1 gram of sugar.

It’s got a little probiotic action with 1 billion CFU’s of bacillus coagulans and papain, a digestive enzyme from papaya.

It also meets 50% of the recommended intake of many vitamins and minerals from food powders, not from added or synthetic sources. Vega One is a solid choice.

5. Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal

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Garden of Life offers a raw, vegan, certified organic meal replacement shake with its hallmark 44-superfood blends mixed in. Each 115-calorie serving is packed with 100% of your B12 needs, making it a perfect choice for vegetarians and vegans.

The protein content is excellent at 20 grams per scoop, and the 7 grams of fiber exceeds most other meal replacement shakes on the market. As for sweeteners, the only one included is the natural sweetener Stevia.

6. Orgain Organic Protein

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More on the side of a healthy protein shake, Orgain is a good option if your normal go-to meals are weak in the fiber or protein. With chia seeds, inulin, and rosemary extract, Orgain pumps in some plant power to boost your overall health.

The protein in the shake is derived from peas and hemp and the thick, creamy texture comes from the potentially gut flora-improving emulsifier acacia gum – without any dairy. It tastes sweet but it’s low in sugar–that’s thanks to the Stevia sweetener.

7. Nature’s Bounty Complete Protein and Vitamin

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The title about says it all with Nature’s Bounty Complete Protein and Vitamin. Just about all you get is proteins and vitamins–this shake is another in the “protein powder plus a multivitamin” genre, meeting 100% of your needs for many vitamins; however, the ingredients don’t go above and beyond just checking boxes on the nutrition label.

There’s a little bit in the way of probiotics, collagen, enzymes and flaxseed, but they seem more like an afterthought than an integral part of the shake’s design due to low concentrations. Unlike many other meal replacement shakes, this product does contain soy protein. 

8. Labrada Lean Body

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Labrada is a meal replacement solution that’s targeted for the fitness enthusiast. The company is careful to balance the amino acids and to deliver some of the most effective protein sources (whey protein isolate and concentrate and milk protein isolate). The fiber content is pretty good, with 7 grams per serving, but it’s a little disappointing to see “corn syrup solids” (read: sugar!) high up in the ingredients list.

9. Fit & Lean

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Fit & Lean has everything from superfood powders to weight loss supplements like garcinia cambogia, plus a protein blend from multiple different protein sources in each two scoop, 140 calorie serving. This meal replacement’s vegetable and fruit powders provide more potassium and fiber than most, but it contains concerning ingredients like carrageenan, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium. 

10. Soylent

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Soylent promises not just meal replacement, but food replacement. The shake is the child of a Silicon Valley dream of a scientifically constructed replacement for all your dietary needs in one place. That said, there are some concerns if used as long-term sustenance.

For weight loss, it’s a bit carb- and sugar-heavy with sugar-spiking maltodextrin and others. Soylent is higher in calories than other meal replacements (at 400 calories per bottle), lacks any fruit and vegetable ingredients and is far too light on the fiber content at only 3 grams per serving.

Category winners

Best meal replacement shake overall: Exante

Idealshake is high in protein, low in sugar, and packed with micronutrients. On top of that, it tastes great. For an all-purpose meal replacement shake, it’s a clear winner. 

Best meal replacement shake for weight loss: Vega One

If you are swapping out a low-quality lunch or breakfast with a meal replacement shake to lose weight, Vega One is a great choice thanks to its high fiber content and its near-zero sugar content. With plenty of vitamins and minerals, you won’t be lacking when it comes to micronutrients, either.

Best meal replacement shake for weight gain: Orgain Organic Protein

If you are trying to gain weight, you want high-quality protein that’s both healthy and palatable. Orgain wins in both departments, delivering high-quality plant-based protein from multiple sources, while using Stevia instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners to avoid the chalky taste you get from lower-quality meal replacement shakes.  

Best meal replacement shake for women: Organifi

Organifi is vegan-friendly, low in sugar, and a great source of both vitamins and minerals. It’s a great choice for women who want to replace a meal, but don’t want to skimp on nutritional quality.

Best meal replacement shake for men: Ample Meal

Men are prone to snacking on unhealthy foods if they skip meals, which is why Ample Meal is such a great meal replacement shake for men—it delivers a high dose of protein alongside organic greens and probiotics to boost the overall quality of your diet. 

Best meal replacement shake with protein: Organifi

Organifi’s plant-based protein is a great fit for just about everyone, and thanks to its ultra-low sugar content and use of all-natural ingredients for flavoring, it’s our favorite pick for protein-focused meal replacement shakes. 

Who should buy a meal replacement shake?

Meal replacement shakes are great choices for two categories of people. First, if you are trying to lose weight and have a hard time with healthy food choices, a meal replacement shake is the perfect solution.

By providing a balanced source of macronutrients as well as micronutrients, you can just swap out a meal every day that you have a hard time eating healthy food at for a meal replacement shake.

Breakfast and lunch are prime examples—work schedules can make it difficult to get a high-quality breakfast or lunch, so many people resort to processed foods, which are high in sugar, low in fiber, and typically have lots of refined carbohydrates. Needless to say, this is a bad combination when it comes to losing weight.

The other category of people who can benefit a lot from a meal replacement shake is people who need a transportable and convenient way to get in a healthy meal while they’re on the go.

Travel can make healthy eating a real pain, so packing a meal replacement shake can be a real lifesaver.

Thanks to the fact that meal replacement shakes have the necessary micronutrients to keep you healthy and enough protein content to fill you up and keep you energized throughout the day, they are the perfect solution to people who can’t find the time to eat a healthy meal during a busy day—even if they aren’t necessarily trying to lose weight.

How we ranked

When ranking the best meal replacement shakes, we had several criteria. First and foremost, our meal replacement shakes had to be a true meal replacement, not just a sugary drink.

We discounted anything that was too high in sugar and too low in more sophisticated ingredients like high-quality protein and fiber.

Meal replacement shakes like SlimFast Original didn’t make the cut for this reason: way too much sugar, and almost no protein or fiber.

After culling the products with too much sugar and not enough other sources of macronutrients, we also eliminated products that didn’t provide enough substance for a real meal replacement.

Options like Cute Meal Replacement Shakes, which have very low caloric content, won’t be filling enough to act as a true meal replacement. While low caloric intake is clearly a goal for weight loss, you won’t be able to skate by with a lunch of only a hundred calories or so—chances are you’ll end up overeating at your next meal, or snacking between meals.

After this, we cut products that relied too heavily on artificial flavoring and coloring. Given how many top-notch products there are on the market that rely primarily on natural ingredients, there’s no real excuse anymore, other than cutting corners, for heavy reliance on synthetic ingredients. For this reasons, FitMiss Delight didn’t make the final cut, despite its popularity.

Finally, we ranked the remaining meal replacement shakes according to our most important criteria for a good meal replacement.

First among these criteria was protein content: protein has been scientifically proven to be a far more effective appetite suppressant, calorie for calorie, than fat or carbohydrates.

That means that eating 100 calories of protein will make you feel more full, and less inclined to overeat at your next meal, compared to eating 100 calories of carbs or fat.

Moreover, protein also has a stronger thermogenic effect than carbs or fat: because of the more complex molecular structure of the amino acids that make up protein, your body has to burn more energy to break down protein than carbs or fat.

These two properties make protein ideal for weight loss and for suppressing hunger. We followed specific recommendations from nutrition research on ideal protein intake for optimal weight loss and appetite control.

Additionally, we looked for meal replacement shakes that had solid fiber content. Fiber also has a satiety (fullness) inducing effect, so products rated higher if they had more fiber content.

Lastly, we made sure our top-ranked meal replacement shakes provided all the essential micronutrients as well. These vitamins and minerals should not be overlooked if you are swapping out a standard meal (which might be a third of your daily intake of micronutrients) for a meal replacement shake.

Benefits

Liquid meal replacements are easier to consume than solid meal replacements. There are two different types of food replacements available—solid and liquid, like in the case of pre-packaged meals or bars vs. shakes. The most important factor to note is usability. 

While liquid meal replacement shakes are easier to consume and digest, solid meal replacements provide more satiety and resemble normal eating patterns, which is why they’re included in many weight loss programs.

The study mentioned above compares same calorie intake but in different forms – bars vs. shakes – and found those who drank their calories ate 13% more food later.  The bottom line is that in this highly competitive market place you have many options and should choose the meal replacement option that suits your tastes, schedule, and body the best. Or just opt for protein bars if you need more of a snack, less of a meal. 

Liquid shakes alone may be less satiating than a solid meal replacement if the protein and fiber content isn’t high enough.  Because of a long-standing belief that liquid and solid food replacements differed in effectiveness, a study set out to determine if this were true (1).

The study measured liquid vs solid food replacements regarding hunger in adults, and the results confirmed what had previously been assumed. Researchers found that liquid food replacements didn’t do as much to curb hunger in older adults, leading them to eat more

Meal replacements work better than deprivation-style diets. There appear to be more benefits than just losing weight for those who wish to use a meal-replacement dietary approach (2).

A recent study measured how at risk participants were for developing metabolic disorders, comparing those who used 2 meal replacements a day with those who used more traditional fat-restricted, low-calorie diets.

And, while we may think of low-calorie, low-fat diets as the standard, the study found that meal replacement helps promote healthier levels of insulin and leptin, as well as reduce other risk factors for metabolic disorders.

In short, meal-replacement diets may provide fat loss, especially in the mid-section, and keep your hormones balanced. Solid win-win.

High protein meal replacements seem to burn more fat. Another study measured the effects on weight loss from those who had high protein foods in their diet with those who ate a more conventional diet (3).

All subjects in the study used partial meal replacement as a form of weight loss. Though both groups did report a reduction in body weight and belly fat, there was no appreciable difference between the two in this category.

However, high-protein diets did result in the reduction of more total body fat when compared to conventional diet plans, so if you’re looking for a reliable meal replacement, stick with one that has high levels of protein to help keep you full.

Meal replacement shakes can keep you lean and fit in high-stress environments. Research has found that workers in high-stress environments (think law enforcement, doctors, firefighters, etc.), 2 liquid meal replacements a day has proven to be an effective way to lose weight.

This is important for those individuals who work jobs that require them to be nimble and good on their feet. And it is also a good way to maintain overall health. High-stress environments often take a great toll on the human body—and may result in excess fat around your midsection.

This is because of your not so friendly friend, cortisol. Cortisol is known for being released during long-term stress and correlated with weight gain in the midsection (13).  This means that meal replacements have potential weight-related advantages that should not be taken for granted.

Instead, meal replacements should be considered for those individuals who work in environments that cause higher-than-average levels of stress and duress.

Basically, if it helps men and women who work around the clock in high pressure environments saving lives, catching criminals, and fighting fires, they may also be valuable for others who feel chronically stressed.

Meal replacements can help you stay fit. Another study noted that participants who used meal replacements were more likely to weigh less after 5 years of follow up (23) than controls.  Maintaining your new weight is essential in your weight loss journey to avoid any rebound weight gain.

It must be noted that several other variables could have led to these outcomes, so this correlation cannot be treated as causation. However, the notion that meal replacement can help maintain a healthy weight is one that deserves further research and attention—especially when meal replacement is an effective and easy means of shedding excess weight in the first place.

Meal replacements may be more effective if they contain multiple kinds of protein. Two of the most common products in meal replacement are two different types of protein: soy and whey. The two have a similar effectiveness, but they differ in taste (5). In general, the taste of whey protein is considered more vanilla in flavor, while soy protein has a stronger nutty flavor.

In addition, whey protein was found to be smoother and more of a cohesive product than soy, which was deemed more grainy. It may come as no surprise, then, that this same study found that whey protein was more favorable among consumers (5). Because whey protein offers a smoother and sweeter choice, it appeals to a wider range of tastes.

The taste of soy can be seen as nutty or gritty, all while having a dense and tough texture that may make it off-putting to the taste buds and mouth-feel. This makes whey protein a popular meal replacement choice in both solid and liquid forms—in addition to being widely used as a workout supplement.

Meal replacements are often more nutritious than what you would’ve eaten without one. Another study compared meal replacement to conventional diet means and came to a surprising conclusion (6).

Though we’ve seen several studies that assert meal replacement as a more-effective means of weight loss, this study found that it was comparable to traditional means of weight loss and didn’t show significant reduction in weight for most participants.

However, this study did conclude that meal replacement participants were more well-nourished than traditional diet participants due to their lack of meal and diet balance while reducing calories. 

This adds extra benefits to those who are seeking to lose weight, as meal replacements can provide a healthier dietary option that allows for greater personal health.

Meal replacements can save you money. One study notes another important part of a meal-replacement plan: its cost (7). When dieting, it can be difficult to find the right foods, as healthier foods usually come at a heftier price tag.

In fact, it’s so easy nowadays to purchase unhealthy fast food and junk food, that buying food that is not only more expensive but takes more time and effort to cook encourages many people to forsake their own health for convenience ( and we wonder why our obesity rates are greater than 30%).

This makes meal replacements great alternatives because they provide all the health benefits that you could want from a lower-calorie diet plan while cutting unnecessary costs and extra effort associated with healthy eating.

Meal replacements support healthy blood sugar levels. Because solid and liquid food replacements have been shown to differ in some regards, another study was conducted to measure how they may differ in affecting blood glucose (sugar) levels (8).

While the study did reach the same conclusion that liquid food replacement diets were not as beneficial to older adults who are trying to lose weight, it did offer other important information: between the two alternatives, neither offers a clear benefit in terms of maintaining healthy glucose levels. That’s not to say that these meal replacements are not good for glucose levels—it’s quite the opposite.

Instead, both liquid and solid meal replacement options provide an effective means of positively influencing glucose levels.  Keeping blood sugar levels healthy means you have a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and will have less weight gain with time, it’s a win-win.

Casein protein may reduce body fat. Recent studies have shown that casein replacement shakes result in slightly more weight loss and an additional 2% decrease in body fat compared with soy (10).  

Casein is a more slowly digested protein, which may be beneficial for weight losers desiring longer satiety, but possibly problematic in older individuals that have slowed or impaired gastrointestinal function. It is for this reason that whey, a combination of proteins, and/or hydrolyzed casein (a more quickly absorbed form of casein) may be better protein choices for some (24).

Soy meal replacements can work better than a milk-based replacement. Studies have shown soy meal replacements are better than milk meal replacements in some regards (11). This is because soy naturally contains a wide variety of nutrients that are beneficial to the human body, like isoflavones, a family of anti-cancer compounds (25).

While milk and milk-based proteins are loved by many, it lacks many of the valuable vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that make soy a valuable food and protein supplement for your health. Dairy-based foods and supplements also have to be excluded by those with milk allergies, and dairy or lactose intolerance. In those that can tolerate dairy, a blend of both whey and soy proteins, verses whey or soy alone, yielded a slightly longer amino acid availability after exercise for muscle recovery (26).

Though you might be a little unfamiliar with the taste at first, you will find that it has many positive benefits to your overall health. Furthermore, most who make the switch from milk to soy meal replacements find that they actually grow to love the taste of soy more after they grow accustomed to its unique flavor.

Soy meal replacements reduce blood triglycerides. One of the greatest benefits of soy meal replacements is that they reduce triglycerides more than milk-based meal replacements (11). Though other forms of meal replacement are also beneficial to your overall health, only soy has been proven to greatly improve triglyceride count and improve metabolic health.

This means that soy meal replacement can play a crucial role in the prevention of diabetes, weight gain and heart disease. Because of this, soy meal replacement should be strongly considered by those individuals who wish to improve their metabolic health.

 Watch out for dangerous herbal additions in meal replacements. Certain meal replacements, especially ones with claims of energy or with a list of herbal ingredients may be dangerous. 

While there are some top-notch brands, others contain herbal supplements that can interfere with medications or interact with other foods you commonly eat.  For example, bitter orange peel can increase the stimulating effects of caffeine, leading to higher blood pressure and cardiovascular events due to a greater strain on your cardiovascular system (16). 

Some meal replacements jump over into dangerous territory to sacrifice your health in order to shed a few pounds.  Always be sure to know what you’re putting in your body to make sure you stay safe.

Some meal replacement nutrition labels can be misleading. Some meal replacement shakes and bars actually contain multiple servings.  If you check the label, your massive 20 gram protein bar might be ideal for a romantic post workout treat for two instead of just for you. 

Aside from accidentally overeating double or triple the calories, you might be overeating the rest of the day too.

Researchers examine how portion size affects appetite in older adults and discovered that smaller portion sizes (as well as liquid vs. solid meals) lead to greater hunger and lower satiety (17).

That all translates into you being hungrier and likely to eat more later in the day if you stick with energy-dense foods or liquids that have small portion sizes.

The right meal replacement shake might depend on your fitness and health goals. Protein shakes and bars, regularly used as meal replacements, are often consumed in the hope of building up lean body mass and/or reducing body fat. Without a smart exercise routine in place, your muscles will have no reason to use up the extra protein you’ve eaten and turn it into hard muscle, so muscle gain is unlikely (31).

Some studies reveal that protein supplementation is less important than total dietary protein and the quality of strength-training (29, 30). That said, protein-enriched meal replacements can help retain muscle mass in some even with a lack of exercise (28).

With weight-lifting or body-weight exercises on board, meal replacements can be excellent aids in reducing your body fat as you build more lean muscle mass, as long as the meal replacements provide at least moderate protein intake (19). In addition, for the weight-lifter, several studies reveal whey is superior to soy for lean muscle gains (20).

Side effects

Meal replacement shakes are pretty safe from a side effect perspective. They don’t carry the risk of jitters and anxiety that you might get from diet pills that are high in caffeine-containing compounds, although their weight loss effects tend to be slower to get started.

The only issues you should watch out for in a meal replacement shake are intolerances, allergies, and sensitivities to specific ingredients. Chief among these is dairy-based proteins, which are quite common in meal replacement shakes.

Whey protein and milk protein are very popular bases for the protein content in a meal replacement shake, but these dairy-derived products can cause digestive problems in people who are sensitive to dairy. A better option would be to seek out a meal replacement shake that uses vegan protein instead.

Recommended dose

For most people, starting off by replacing one meal per day with a meal replacement shake is good practice. If you rely too heavily on meal replacement shakes all at once, your body may not adapt well.

Pick the meal you tend to eat the most poorly at—for almost everyone, that’s breakfast or lunch. Some more aggressive weight loss programs use a two or three-week period where you replace two meals per day with a meal replacement shake, but unless you know how your body responds to a specific meal replacement product, at least beginning with only one is probably a better strategy.

FAQ

Q: Can a meal replacement shake help you lose weight?

A: Yes, a meal replacement shake is a great way to lose weight, especially if the biggest barrier to weight loss is avoiding unhealthy, processed foods.

Instead of pastries or processed snack food, a meal replacements shake can provide a way to control your caloric intake and suppress your appetite at future meals.

Q: What is the best meal replacement shake at Walmart?

A: Among our top-ranked choices for meal replacement shakes, the best you can get at Walmart is IdealShake, which happens to be our number one pick.

We like the 1:1 ratio of carbs to protein, as well as the high content of vitamins and minerals in IdealShake; this combination makes it an excellent choice for swapping out for your usual breakfast or lunch.

You’ll often be able to find some of our other top-ranked meal replacement shakes at Walmart as well, but since they regularly stock our number one pick, IdealShake is an easy choice.

Q: How do you make a good meal replacement shake at home?

A: While there are plenty of high-quality meal replacement shakes on the market, even the best ones may not fit your specific needs. Fortunately, it’s easy to make a custom meal replacement shake at home.

The first thing to start with is a high quality source of protein, like a low carb protein powder or an organic protein powder. It’s not a bad idea to add a small amount of fiber from something like psyllium husk to increase the satiety-inducing effects of your meal replacement shake.

The dual combination of fiber and protein makes for a very healthy and filling meal replacement. For micronutrient content, get a green superfood drink powder and add that to your homemade meal replacement shake to ensure you are getting high-quality vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients as well.

These can be mixed up with water, or blended into a smoothie for an easy and healthy do-it-yourself meal replacement shake.

Q: What should you look for in a good meal replacement shake?

A: There are a few primary components that make a high-quality meal replacement shake. The first is its protein content. Is it high enough?

Scientific research has found that supplementing your standard diet with at least 30 grams of additional protein is an effective way to prevent regaining weight after a weight loss program.

While your meal replacement shake does not need to contain quite this much, it should provide at least ten grams or so of protein. Beyond the protein content, you should also check how much added sugar is in the shake.

Older and cheaper meal replacement shakes are little more than a multivitamin in a milkshake,with loads of sugar and very little else in the way of caloric content.

These will likely lead to weight gain, not weight loss. Keep the sugar content below ten grams. An additional but often-overlooked ingredient is dietary fiber—you’ll notice that many of our top ranked meal replacement shakes have at least a few grams of fiber added to improve their satiety-inducing effects and slow the rate at which your body absorbs the caloric content of the meal replacement shake.

Finally, make sure your meal replacement shake has a solid amount of micronutrients like B vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. If you are replacing a meal, you need to make sure you still get the essential nutrients you would have gotten from regular food.

Q: How many calories are in a meal replacement shake?

A: Among our top picks, the caloric content of a meal replacement shake ranges from 115 to 200 calories per serving. Since most meal replacement shakes are powder-based, a serving is generally one scoop (provided by the manufacturer) of powder.

So, you can scale up to a 230 or 400 calorie meal replacement with ease if you need a more filling or higher-calorie meal.

A lower calorie meal replacement shake obviously helps cut calories in the short term, but if you end up overeating at your next meal, the benefits will get washed away. For this reason, keeping the caloric content of a meal replacement shake at more like 200 to 300 calories at a minimum might be more prudent than an ultra-low calorie shake.

Q: What is the best meal replacement shake for diabetics?

A: For diabetics, the sugar and carbohydrate content are going to be critical components. To keep your blood sugar levels under control, you want a meal replacement shake with a very limited amount of sugar.

Vega One and IdealShake both shine in this regard. Both of these meal replacement shakes have two grams of sugar or less per serving.

Of course, if you are prescription medication for diabetes (or anything else, for that matter), it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor first to make sure there aren’t any potential medicine-supplement interactions you should watch out for first.

Q: What is the best meal replacement shake for a woman?

A: Women may want a slightly lower caloric content in their meal replacement shakes, and a focus on nutrients that are important for women’s health, like folate and other B-vitamins, as well as calcium and vitamin D. In this respect,

IdealShake, our top pick, is a great choice for women thanks to its high calcium, vitamin D, and B6 and B12 content. If you are looking for more folate content, check out Nature’s Bounty Complete Protein & Vitamin—its high folate content makes it a strong choice for women who need a meal replacement shake.

Q: What is the healthiest meal replacement shake?

A: From a raw nutrition perspective, we love Garden of Life’s Raw Organic Meal. The vast majority of the ingredients are organic, and moreover, all of the micronutrients that are included come directly from fruit and vegetable extracts.

So, instead of synthetic vitamins and minerals, you get an organic blend of spinach, beet, broccoli, carrot, and much more.

These ingredients are balanced so that you’re still getting just the right amount (circa 50-100%) of the recommended daily intake, without too much or too little of any specific micronutrient. For these reasons, we think it’s arguably the healthiest meal replacement shake.

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Recap

The best strategy for using meal replacement shakes for weight loss is to replace one meal per day with a meal replacement shake, and choose the one you tend to eat most poorly at: it’s probably going to be either breakfast or lunch.

Choose one of our top-ranked meal replacement shakes, which provide a solid amount of protein and fiber, without overloading you on sugar.

These types of formulations will have the strongest effects on suppressing appetite and increasing energy expenditure, and with a product that has adequate micronutrient content, you won’t be missing out on any essential components of overall daily nutrition.

For BodyNutrition’s #1-rated meal replacement shake, click here.

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