Best Meal Replacement Shakes

Cindy Wilson Thumb by Cindy Wilson
BS, Nutrition & Food Science

You must admit, searching for the best meal replacement shakes is not an easy job, right?

Supplementation is becoming very hyped among people, especially among health-conscious people.

Various vitamin and mineral supplements, protein shakes, fat burners, and meal replacement shakes are used more and more.

But should you use them also? Are they dangerous to your health? ​Can meal replacement shakes help you lose weight and sustain your diet?

To make the right choices of supplements that benefit your goals and health, it is essential to be well-informed about meal replacement shakes.

Top Meal Replacement Shakes in 2021

Here is the list of top meal replacement shakes for 2021 that was good enough to take their place. Compare them from the table below:

I will do a very long and thorough overview of the best meal replacement shakes for weight loss to inform people better. Hopefully, it is going to be interesting and informative for you.

To make things easier here, let’s divide all meal replacement shakes into the most popular groups or categories:

By type:

By consumer:

What is Meal Replacement Shake?

Meal replacement shakes are intended to substitute solid meals, and they have controlled quantities of nutrients and calories.

​According to the European Union regulations, a lunch replacement must provide 200-400 calories of energy, with no more than 30% of the calories from fat and no less than the specified amount of nutrients and minerals.

Meal replacement shakes, and other products can be regulated as functional or conventional foods.

How To Choose Best Meal Replacement Shake for Weight Loss?

Lately, I am seeing many negative reviews and critics about meal replacement shakes—all coming from not even close nutrition experts.

​While arguing about replacement shakes, those same experts recommend juices, smoothies, or even protein powders instead?! Kidding me. Are they brilliant enough to give subjective advice on this very weight loss-sensitive topic?

Let’s clear this now forever. Meal replacement shakes will help ensure your body is getting enough and the right nutrients to fuel energy. Period. They will provide a healthy nutritional balance and help prevent cravings between meals.

Shakes are perfect for:​

  • People that are looking to lose weight. Shakes will help you cut your calorie intake. Calorie overtake, which happens all the time, is the #1 guilty for obesity.
  • Busy people that don’t have enough time to prepare all the meals. By replacing one meal daily, you will save a lot of time, but you will also get a healthy meal.
  • People looking to save a bit by buying them. Yes, you read this well. There are meal replacement shakes (high quality at the same time) in the market that you can buy for much less money than you would spend on your thin grocery list.
  • People looking for protein powders to increase muscle gains. There are meal replacement shakes on the market which has a high protein ingredient ratio.

The real questions people should ask and look for while research meal shakes are:

  • Are meal replacement shakes safe? Before buying any shake, you should do good research because not all shakes are the same, and not all shakes provide the same value.
  • What are best, in terms of value and quality for the money, meal replacement shakes?
  • Do they help in weight loss?
  • Which meal replacement shake is right for you? Looking closer to the ingredients list is a must.

I’ve created this website to help people like you get the right answer to this and many more questions about meal replacement shake.

Below, I will be listing each meal replacement shake I try. I will explain each of them in a detailed review format so you could compare them easily and choose the right one for you.

Before going deeply into reading, please also read what should you be aware of the prior start of using them regularly:​

  • The first question you should address is, what is your main reason for shake replacement consumption? Is it because you want to lose weight, or are you having difficulties intake high-quality nutrients into your body for a healthy and balanced diet?
  • If you need them to replace your full meal, you should look for balanced nutrient ingredients. Make sure they contain all your macro-nutrients to compensate for your not absorbed full meal. On the opposite side, you should look for a high protein – low carbohydrate option for dieting.
  • Don’t be bored to take a closer look at the ingredients list and nutritional levels. You should compare your first picks closely in detail, side by side. Always look for premium quality ingredients, natural flavors, minimal sweeteners (nothing more than 10 grams), and quality protein sources. Priorities are calories, protein, carbs/sugar, and fiber.
  • Never take more than one meal replacement shake per day.
  • Meal replacement shakes should always be combined with a healthy eating plan.
  • Calculation of price per serving will always give you the right overview of the price for a shake.
  • Last but not least, the taste. Taste could be significant for you and your final decision. For me, it is not that important, but I know some people that couldn’t drink some shakes because of their terrible taste.

Here is additional information about each of the best meal replacement shakes:

Idealshake by Idealshape Meal Replacement Shake

Idealshake by Idealshape Review

Idealshake By Idealshape

More about Idealshape:

Shakeology Meal Replacement Shake

Shakeology Review

Shakeology Review

More about Shakeology:

Compare: Vega One vs. Shakeology | Idealshake VS. Shakeology

Isagenix Meal Replacement Shake

​Isalean by Isagenix Review

Isalean By Isagenix

More about Isagenix:

Herbalife Formula 1 Meal Replacement Shake

Herbalife Formula 1 Review

Herbalife Formula 1 Shake

Compare: Isalean by Isagenix VS Herbalife Formula 1

Advocare Meal Replacement Shake

Advocare Review

Advocare

More about Advocare:

GNC Total Meal Replacement Shake

GNC Total Meal Review

Gnc Lean Shake

Compare: Advocare VS. GNC Total Meal

Meal Replacement Shake Benefits

  • Meal replacement shakes and natural and regular foods should provide the needed nutrient amounts by the body. The mineral and vitamin content meet 50%-100% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDA) requirements. When purchasing shakes for increasing the number of nutrients in the body, then check what minerals and vitamins they exactly contain to ensure you get the nutrients you need.
  • Another reason for using them is to increase weight, especially muscle mass. They can be added to regular meals to increase the calorie and protein needs for weight gain. Ectomorphs, who are naturally skinny, need more calories to obtain weight than endomorphs or mesomorphs, for example.
  • Another benefit of these shakes is weight loss, especially low-calorie, low-fat, and high-protein shakes.
  • Due to the low simple sugar content, they also stabilize insulin release and do not slow down or negatively affect the metabolism. However, many supplements that people use contain loads of pure sugar that are very unhealthy.
  • So choose meal replacement shakes that contain complex sugars that keep the blood sugar levels stable and, therefore, the insulin spike small.
  • Due to their low to moderate carbohydrate content, these shakes are also suitable as a breakfast substitute for people with diabetes. Of course, it is important to check the ingredients and recommendations on the package before using them for diabetics.
  • Male replacements are also relatively cheap and can be consumed on the go. Each person, of course, can make their homemade shakes as well, according to their needs and preferences.

What to Look In Meal Replacement Shake?

​This is something that each person should think through very carefully. There are all kinds of products for various purposes and needs that people have.

If you are a busy person, for example, and want to get as many nutrients out of it, you should choose shakes with the most “meal-like” nutrition.

A meal replacement for on-the-go purposes should contain a proper mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, as well as micronutrients, to replace what you would otherwise receive from a well-balanced meal.

Choosing Right Shake
Choosing the right Shake – Image source
  • On-the-go shakes should keep you feeling full for the next meal that might be hours away. Regular juices or smoothies don’t often achieve this.
  • If you have a health problem and want to buy a meal replacement shake to help you with this health issue, you must select a product that fits your needs.
  • People with diabetes should look for high protein and nutrients but low in carbohydrates, straightforward sugars.
  • People with diabetes can use them for replacing meals to cut back on carbs and calories or for snacking purposes for keeping their blood sugar stable.
  • There are also products on the market now that promote satiety and gastrointestinal health.
  • If you are suffering from these issues, you can choose high probiotics and fiber products.
  • If you are underweight, you can choose something high in calories to add to your daily meals.
  • Since these shakes don’t leave you as full as when eating a substantial meal, you can consume more calories and gain weight quicker.
  • If you are an athlete or just training hard then certain, meal replacement shakes can also be of great benefit.
  • Athletes that train hard need more calories, proteins, and essential nutrients. Real good shakes contain lots of energies, plenty of proteins, and nutrients to help you recover.
  • The best time to take a shake that is high in proteins and carbohydrates is within an hour after your workout.
  • When choosing a meal replacement shake for weight loss purposes, choose something low in fat but still have enough calories to give you some energy.
  • A shake that only contains 100 calories is not sufficient to replace a meal.
  • Ideally, the calories should be around 300 calories with some healthy fats, plenty of proteins, and carbohydrates. You don’t want to pick something high in refined carbs and sugar for weight loss.

Meal Replacement Shake Ingredients

Meal replacement and weight loss shake come in a variety of types. This includes low-calorie, low-fat, low-carbohydrate, and high-protein.

Some of the more popular shakes for weight loss are Slim-fast and Atkins chocolate shake.

There are lots of brands and types of products with varied ingredients to focus on these two shakes now.

CARBOHYDRATES in meal replacement shakes

The carbohydrate content of the low-carbohydrate Atkins shake is only 5 grams. The vast majority of it comes from dairy protein blend and cocoa powder. Slim-Fast has 25 grams of carbohydrates that mostly come from simple sugars such as high fructose sugar.

​This is not a good source of carbs because simple sugars get absorbed quickly and give a huge blood sugar spike. Medifast has 13 grams of carbs per serving, from oat fiber, fructose, maltodextrin, corn syrup solids, and sweet dairy whey. In the Medifast and

Atkins shakes there is also acesulfame potassium as an ingredient, and Slim-Fast has acesulfame potassium, and sucralose added.

MINERALS AND VITAMINS in meal replacement shakes

All of these brands are fortified with minerals and vitamins in relatively similar amounts. Every shake offers vitamin E, C, A, and K, as well as B-complex vitamins. Medifast and Slim-Fast are also fortified with vitamin D. All brands also contain essential minerals like manganese, zinc, iron, iodine, copper, selenium, calcium, and chromium.

A couple of minerals are naturally present in your body and are essential to living healthily, including magnesium and zinc. However, these minerals are hard to come by in our modern diet. Other important nutrients missing in today’s diets include vitamins B, C, E, and A. Of these four, only Vitamin B12 is naturally produced by the body.

Foods that rich in Vitamin B12 include eggs, spinach, salmon, nuts, and fortified cereals. Thus, you can also get Vitamin B12 from eating foods, but if you want to get all of the nutrients that the body needs to be healthy, you’ll need to take a supplement. This is where the positive effects of meal replacement shakes, such as whey protein, come in. This is perfect to have your needed vitamins and minerals, especially when it’s hard for you to source them from your meals.

Calcium, most specifically, is commonly missing in most diets. Calcium is important to our skeletal system and the structural tissues in the bones. The absence of calcium in our diets may contribute to the development of osteoporosis.

Another important nutrient that’s not well-consumed in most diets is iron. Anemia is often a precursor to serious medical conditions and other disorders associated with low levels of the iron-binding mineral. Furthermore, iron is used for many functions, including maintaining healthy red blood cells, making hemoglobin more efficient, and regulating the production of hemoglobin. Without iron in your body, you won’t be able to make these and other molecules.

With the right meal replacement shake, you’ll be able to supply these nutrients your body lacks.

FAT in meal replacement shakes

Medifast has only 1 gram of fat with no saturated or trans fat. Foods with high levels of these fats have been linked to heart disease and stroke. So, stay away from these types of foods as much as possible.

The Atkins shake includes 10 grams of fat, from which 3.5 grams are saturated fats. This is due to the sunflower and cream that are the ingredients in the Atkins shake.

Slim-Fast has 6 grams of fat per serving, with 2 grams coming from saturated fats. The fats in the product are hydrogenated soybean oil and canola oil.

PROTEIN in meal replacement shakes

The most amount of protein, a total of 15 grams per serving, is included in the Atkins shake. This is compared to the 10 grams of protein in Slim-Fast and 11 grams in Medifast.

​The types of proteins in all three brands are milk protein concentrate and soy protein concentrate.

The protein compounds in Medifast include milk protein isolate and whey protein isolate. Atkins consists of calcium caseinate, whey protein concentrate, and milk protein concentrate.

Meal Replacement Shakes For Weight Loss

The weight loss supplements business is huge because countless millions of people want to lose weight. People often turn to supplements for help, and they can certainly help in many ways. Meal replacement shakes are beneficial for weight loss, but it is crucial to use them smartly and efficiently.

The key to successful weight loss is controlling calorie intake, and these shakes help us do that very well. You generally would want to replace two meals – breakfast and lunch – with either a bar, soup, or shake for weight loss. In the evening, you would have a substantial meal, and for most people, this approach works quite well.

The vast majority of these diet plans also allow 2-3 100-calorie snacks to be consumed during the day. It is recommended to drink 6-8 ounces of water or low-calorie beverages.

The main thing you must pay attention to if you want to lose weight successfully is how many calories you need to lose weight and how many calories you get from the meal replacing shakes.

If your calorie intake, for 1-2 pounds per week of weight loss, is 1700 calories, for example, and you consume two shakes per day of 400 calories, then it adds up to 800 calories.

Let’s say for snacking, you leave 300 calories, which leaves you with a proper 600 calorie meal in the evening. This seems like a pretty good plan to me. You always have to keep the calories in mind.

Studies have shown that meal replacement shakes are just as effective for weight loss as traditional calorie-counted diets in the short term. More recent studies are also busting the myth that these shakes and products only work in short. New evidence reveals that these products help people maintain their new lower weight very efficiently.

People who prefer to use these shakes for weight loss do so because of convenience and because it makes calorie counting easier. Anything that makes weight loss easier and more convenient is always a big plus.​

Meal Replacement Shakes vs. Protein Shakes

Protein and Meal replacement shakes can both aid your athletic performance, health, and body composition. However, there is a difference regarding the benefits and nutritional profile. Shakes that are meant to replace meals are higher in calories, and they are also more filling.

Proteins

Protein shakes provide around 25 grams of protein per serving, and the protein content in meal replacing shakes can differ quite a bit. General health shakes might only have 10 grams of protein per serving, while those shakes meant for building muscle can be as high as 40 grams per serving.

High protein diets are beneficial for weight loss because they keep a person feeling full longer; digesting proteins burns more calories than digesting fats or carbohydrates, and proteins also help to maintain muscle mass while dieting. If your goal is weight loss, then choose meal replacement shakes that are higher in proteins.

Fats

Protein shakes are also low in fats, averaging around 3 grams per serving. The fat content in meal replacing products varies quite a bit. If you like low-carbohydrate diets, for example, then you can choose products that are lower in carbohydrates and higher in fats. Ideally, you would want to buy a high in healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids.

Carbohydrates

The fair protein shake has around 5 grams of carbs only. So they are not meant to replace a well-balanced meal. Shakes that are meant for replacing meals, on the other hand, contain more carbohydrates and are, therefore, closer to a real meal.

You should also make sure that the shakes you consume also provide fiber, especially if wanting to lose weight. Fiber helps digestion, makes you feel fuller, and helps consume fewer calories during the day.

Shake Ingredients

Calories

The reason meal replacing shakes are beneficial for weight loss is because they contain significantly fewer calories than ordinary meals. Whey protein isolates have about 100 calories per serving, while other types include 120 calories per serving. Meal replacing shakes are generally around 250-400 calories.

Vitamins and minerals

Another drawback of your general protein shake is the lack of added minerals and vitamins. Of course, there are some already present in the protein, but nothing is added to them.

Whey protein that is made out of dairy contains calcium, for example. Some meal replacing shakes do not contain added minerals and vitamins, while others do. So this is something you need to pay attention to as well.

Meal Replacement Shakes Side Effects

One potential side effect is fatigue from not getting enough calories. If a shake or drink gives you 250 calories per serving, for example, and you replace two solid meals with these drinks and consume one substantial meal of 500 calories, then it would add up to 1000 calories for the day.

If your caloric maintenance level is 2500 calories and you would drastically reduce that to 1000 calories per day, it would leave you fatigued and tired throughout the day.

This amount of calories is not enough to sustain an active and functional day. It happens when people cut their calories way too low, which is a problem. When using these shakes, then watch your caloric intake and reduce calories slowly according to your needs.

Another side-effect is an adverse impact on your digestive health. If you replace 1-2 solid meals with shakes, then you might not get enough fiber, depending on the product you are using.

A man can need up to 38 grams of fiber per day and a woman up to 26 grams of fiber. Most of these types of drinks do not contain enough fiber, if any. A person needs both soluble and insoluble fiber.

Not getting enough fiber can lead to constipation, diarrhea, and irregularity. Make sure you either choose products that contain fiber or that you get enough fiber from your solid meals.

One of the major benefits of male replacement shakes is that they do contain vital minerals and vitamins. You can also know exactly how many certain vitamins and minerals you are getting.

This means you can get the nutrients you need without having to consume added vegetables or fruits. However, natural and robust foods also contain thousands of other beneficial compounds that work together for optimum health.

Meal replacing shakes don’t contain most of these compounds. A well-balanced diet full of solid meals is unprocessed and natural as well. So make sure that the substantial meals you do consume are balanced, healthy, and nutritious.​

Meal Shake Timing and Dosage Instructions

When you take a meal replacing shakes and how much you take is a crucial aspect. People do not think this part through correctly and thus do not get the results they expected. If your goal is weight loss, you have to decide what meals you want to replace with the shakes. Like I mentioned before, people replace breakfast and lunch with shakes.

​But you can also replace dinner with a shake as well. If you pick breakfast and lunch, for example, then try to stick to this routine. Sometimes people replace breakfast with a shake, other times they replace dinner, and some other times lunch. This kind of irregularity is not okay.

Dosage is also a critical factor for weight loss and weight gain as well. To lose weight, you need to get your calories right. You need to know how many calories per serving and how many calories you need during the day to lose weight. The dosage depends on many factors: how many times you plan to use shakes during the day, what is your total calorie intake, how much of the shake you want to drink at once, and so on.​

Some people like to consume smaller dosages or shakes during the day and then have a bigger meal in the evening. At the same time, others consume larger quantities of shakes and eat less later in the day. This is entirely up to you and your preferences.​

Meal Replacement Shakes Alternatives

Of course, you can also make the shakes yourself. A lot of the products on the market are expensive, tasteless, and high in simple sugars. If you have a blender, for example, then you can create your shakes. For example, you can create a 300-calorie shake if you combine half a banana, four frozen strawberries, one ¼ cup of water, one tablespoon of non-fat milk powder, and one scoop of protein powder.

If you don’t have protein powder or don’t want to use it, you can also use yogurt. It has plenty of protein, probiotics, and healthy bacteria. For example, you can mix 2 cups of frozen strawberries, 2 cups of reduced-calorie lemonade, half a cup of ice, and 1 cup of low-fat strawberry yogurt. Blend the mix and serve. This adds up to around 300 calories. So there are easy-to-make homemade alternatives as well.

Final Notes​

In conclusion, I would like to say that male replacement shakes do have their place, and they are beneficial and useful. The problem often is that people don’t think through why they need these shakes, what type they require, how to use them correctly, and so on. You have to analyze your needs and lifestyle and then figure out what kind of a shake would be best for you. There are all sorts of shakes for all types of purposes.​

  • If your goal is to gain muscle mass, choose a high in calories and proteins.
  • If your goal is to get more nutrients to boost your health, then choose a product loaded with the right mix of macronutrients, micronutrients, and fiber.
  • If you want to lose weight, then pick something lower in calories and simple sugars but high proteins.
  • The results can come very fast if supplements are used in the right manner. Many people say that all supplements are a waste of money, and none of them work. That is true in many cases because people don’t do their homework.
  • If you have properly analyzed what supplement you need to take to help reach your goal, what benefits you get from a particular product, and what are the right dosages to get results, then you will find supplements very useful. I strongly suggest you get a meal replacement shake but before you buy, make sure you have done your homework. Otherwise, it is money down the drain.

About Author

Cindy Wilson Thumb
BS, Nutrition & Food Science
Cindy Wilson

Hello, I am Cindy, and this a website where I inspect everything related to nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. I have a BS in Nutrition and Food Science (Colorado State University) and have completed a dozen specialty courses related to nutrition, biochemistry, and food science. I am open to learning more, but foremost I would like to share all my knowledge with you.

1 thought on “Best Meal Replacement Shakes”

  1. Hi there, wondering if you could give me a bit of advice please, i have put on a lots weight, really have and dont work out due to health problems, but i really want and need to lose this weight for my health.
    I have read up on all theses shakes and are just as confessed as before.
    my question for what i have mentioned what would be the best shake you might recomend for me? with GOOD AND FAST WEIGHT LOSE
    would be much appricated for you in – put. thankyou
    Angie

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