Meal replacement shakes are the staples of busy people and athletes who want to enjoy a nutritious meal without the cooking and meal preps. Moreover, if you consume them correctly, they can help you lose weight. With hundreds of products out there, not to mention the exaggerated claims when promoted online, it can be confusing which one you should buy.
So, don't worry. We got you covered! Whether you want to lose weight or maintain your six-pack abs, we will walk you through this article on choosing a meal replacement shake, from what to look for on the nutritional label to health benefits and ingredients to avoid. There are also some helpful tips on how to use these shakes effectively for weight loss, so let's begin!
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Table of Contents
A meal replacement shake is available in powder and ready-to-drink forms, or you may also blend it with other liquids to replace your meal — breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It’s ideal for busy adults and weight watchers who want to get the most macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals without the meal preps, cooking, and food logging.
Meal replacement shakes are formulated mostly for weight management. People who drink them most likely want to lose weight, while others include them in their daily nutrition for a well-balanced diet. Furthermore, meal replacement shakes have nutrients, a good and healthy alternative to processed food and unhealthy snacks.
Whether you’re on the go, don’t have time to cook, or looking for a one-stop meal shake for weight loss, here are the things you should consider before buying one.
Macronutrients, referred to as “macros,” are nutritional compounds that your body needs to function properly every day. These are carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Whether you follow a SAD lifestyle or the Standard American Diet, low carb, paleo, vegan, pescatarian, or ketogenic lifestyle, you need to consume the right macros daily.
The percentage may differ from one person to another, depending on the lifestyle, diet, and goals. For example, if you are on a keto lifestyle, you can consume 20 to 30 grams of carbs per day. Otherwise, if you're following American Dietary Guidelines, the recommended daily value in a regular 2,000 calorie-diet is around 250 to 300 grams per day.
Consuming food with high protein helps curb your appetite and helps you reduce weight naturally. Fortunately, premium brands that sell meal replacement shakes have about 15 to 28 grams of protein per serving. For reference, 25g of protein is equivalent to three ounces of chicken breast, and that's packed in a single shake.
According to a study, consuming low-carb food helps you lose weight and is beneficial for people suffering from obesity, diabetes, and PCOS because it reduces insulin levels. So, ook for meal shakes with reduced carbohydrate content, ideally less than 10 grams per serving especially if you are on a keto and low-carb lifestyle.
Look for about 10 to 13 grams of fat per serving since the daily recommended 2,000 calorie-diet requires 25 to 35 percent of fat in your macros, which is around 44 to 77 grams of total fat per day.
Consume healthy fats that come from olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, to name a few, and be aware of processed meats and unhealthy fats like refined vegetable oils. Remember to check the ingredients list before purchasing the shake.
Ensure the shake has a good dose of fiber of at least three grams or more. Fiber not only helps in relieving constipation, but it is also good in building a healthy gut, helps you have regular bowel movements, and reduces the risk of chronic diseases.
Ideally, you should consume 25 grams of fiber per day, so consider a meal replacement shake with high fiber content or supplement it with vegetables and fruits during your lunch or dinner.
Check the micronutrients or essential vitamins and minerals on the nutritional facts. Some brands include 10 vitamins and minerals, whereas premium ones offer you more than 20, including vitamin A, C, E, potassium, and sodium to name a few.
Know the daily recommended dose of vitamins and minerals that you need for a healthy lifestyle. You can't get all the calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, and vitamin D that you need from a single meal. Still, some commercial shakes also include these per serving, which you can consume together with your supplements and other meals.
If you want to lose weight, one of the key elements is to have a calorie deficit. That said, your meal replacement shakes shouldn’t exceed 400 calories. The fewer the calories, the better. Science has proven that for weight loss to happen, regardless of how you play around with macros, cutting about 500 to 1,000 calories per day is a good range.
Avoid those with artificial flavors, added sugars, and food coloring. These are the unhealthiest as artificial flavors such as methyl cinnamate mimic the original flavor and smell of fruits like strawberries. These are not the real deal as they are cheaper compared to real strawberries and chocolates, for example.
Also, watch out for shakes with high fructose, corn syrup, and hydrogenated vegetable oil. Sugar must at least be only 10 grams per serving, as excess sugar forfeits weight loss goals, resulting in weight gain and may increase the risk for obesity-related diseases.
Check for sweeteners such as aspartame and maltitol as well as thickeners like maltodextrin, which are usually added in most shakers. They can spike up blood sugar because of their high glycemic index. If you have diabetes, you might want to steer away from them and look for natural sweeteners like stevia, erythritol, and monk fruit.
If you have a soy, nut, grain, or gluten allergy, to name a few, check the ingredients and labels before purchasing the shake to avoid allergic reactions. Premium brands are made of organic ingredients and will disclose how the product was manufactured.
Also, check if the shake is gluten-free, vegan, kosher, or plant-based to ensure that you don't spend your money on a product that doesn’t match your lifestyle and eating habits, whether you're a vegan, low-carb eater, or paleo dieter.
There are many weight loss and health supplements in the market, and sometimes it can be confusing which one to choose in terms of their effectiveness and health benefits. That said, check unbiased reviews of customers as well as third-party and clinical reports.
You may also watch reviews by fitness trainers, nutrition experts, and doctors on Youtube and other third-party sites that are not sponsored. Keep in mind that these meal replacement products are not formulated equally, and even if they are promoted for weight loss, it doesn’t mean that you can also get the exact same results.
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Formula 1 Nutritional Shake｜French Vanilla
A Low-Calorie, Great-Tasting Shake for Balanced Nutrition
Garden of Life
Raw Organic Fit Powder｜Vanilla
High-Protein Non-GMO and Vegan-Friendly Nutritional Shake
Organic All-in-One Nutritional Supplement Shake｜Decadent Chocolate
100% Plant-Based Shake Packed With 27 Fruits and Vegetables
Keto Meal Shake｜Fudge Brownie Batter Mix
Tasty Sugar-Free Meal Shake for Keto and Low-Carb Dieters
Organic Meal All-in-One Nutritional Powder｜Vanilla Bean
Premium Plant-Based Organic Meal Shake While On-the-Go
RSP Clean Active Nutrition
Made of Grass-Fed Whey With Beneficial Probiotics
Keto-Friendly and Low Carb Shake With Collagen Peptides
Original Milk Chocolate Nutrition Shake｜Pack of 8
A Complete Balanced Nutritional Shake for Weight Gain
Protein Shake Rich Chocolate｜Pack of 6
Meal Replacement Shake for Diabetics
Cookies & Cream Protein Shake
Excellent Source of Protein for Athletes and Active People
Herbalife is famous for its shakes and powders among fitness enthusiasts and weight watchers. The Formula 1 (F1) healthy nutritional shake is perfect for your daily meals, whether as a shake blended with other liquids like non-fat milk and the fruits of your choice or combined with another meal.
It's packed with vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, C, D, E, B6, B12, and more. If you're going to mix it with water alone, it is only 90 calories per serving. However, this value would be adjusted to 170 calories, assuming you mix it with eight-ounce non-fat milk.
You may consume this once or twice a day with your healthy meals. The carbs are only about 13 grams per serving, and if you subtract the fiber at 3 grams, you get total net carbs of 10 grams. This shake is for anyone who wants to get the most macronutrients and vitamins for the whole day for a well-balanced diet.
This is the Holy Grail of organic meal replacement shakes because not only does it taste good, but it's also low in carbs and high in protein, which helps curb hunger pangs and burn more fats while you build lean muscle.
It has natural sweeteners like stevia and erythritol that have a low glycemic index. If you're steering away from sugar, this shake has only less than 1g of sugar per serving, a guilt-free treat on top of the 28g of protein made of 13 raw sprouted proteins.
It has essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and interestingly, high dietary fiber with 8g, an excellent choice if you're on a low or restricted carb diet. You only consume 2g grams of total net carbs. If you're looking for a keto-friendly, vegan-friendly, and low-sugar meal replacement shake, this should be on your list.
Heads up to vegetarians and vegans! Here's an all-in-one meal replacement shake that's 100% vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, and it's packed with 27 fruits and vegetables. It has 20g of protein and is packed with 17 essential vitamins and minerals and soluble fiber made from inulin and flax.
You get vitamin A, D, E, B6, and B12, iron, biotin from this nutritional shake available in two flavors. Moreover, this is one of the few meal shakes that has 1 billion CFU probiotics that are shelf-stable, and you don't need to refrigerate it, which helps you maintain a healthy digestive system.
You can drink this on-the-go just by mixing it with water or milk or use a blender to add other fruits like bananas, berries, and more. The taste and texture can be a deal-breaker for some, but you can just add other ingredients to make a delicious smoothie.
This sugar-free keto-friendly meal replacement shake is blended with MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) oil, a healthy fatty acid that facilitates weight loss and improves energy and stamina. Moreover, this shake has natural sweeteners like stevia, erythritol, and monk fruit for a tasty, sweet treat without the guilt.
It's also formulated with other keto-compatible ingredients like grass-fed butter, whey, collagen protein and is also gluten-free. This low carb shake has only 9g of carbs, and if you subtract the 2g dietary fiber, you only consume 7g of total net carbs per serving. It's a great source of potassium, iron, calcium, biotin, and other essential vitamins and nutrients.
This plant-based meal replacement shake is made of organic protein blends, sprouts, fruits, and vegetables. It's blended with clean ingredients that are certified organic and vegan. This shake has 20g of protein, which is good to curb cravings, and it has low sugar with only 2g per serving.
It's available in two flavors, creamy chocolate fudge and vanilla bean, which you can mix with water or blend with other liquids and smoothies. It has 6g of dietary fiber, so that would make up for 19g of total net carbs.
The total carb is 27g, which is higher than other meal replacement shakes on this list. It has 230 calories per serving, which could be a dealbreaker for people who are cutting calories. All in all, if you like an organic, plant-based, and vegan-friendly meal replacement shake, this is a good choice.
This meal replacement shake with probiotics has high protein and low carb content formulated with grass-fed whey protein, fiber and superfoods, and MCT oil powder. It has keto-friendly ingredients, although there's a little bit of compromise with the 2g of sugar per serving.
The fiber and superfood blend includes organic fruits like raspberry, blueberry, and vegetables like broccoli sprouts, spinach, and kale. Moreover, it has essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, C, D, calcium, iron, sodium, and potassium. Whether you're a student, athlete, or parent who is always on the go, this will be enough to energize you.
This keto-friendly shake is made of hydrolyzed collagen, which is good for the hair, nails, and skin, and MCT oil for improved energy and focus. The latter also helps curb hunger. If you're doing a clean or targeted keto lifestyle, this is a life-saver for you because it only has 2g of carbs and 1g of dietary fiber, making it a total of 1g of net carbs.
This product swings between a slimming shake and a supplement because it has lesser minerals compared to other brands. Nonetheless, you can mix it with other drinks like coffee, smoothie, yogurt, and oatmeal, and according to customer reviews, this shake has helped them lose weight when coupled with exercise.
Ensure has been one of the popular nutritional shakes for adults and seniors. This one is formulated with complete balanced nutrition, including 27 vitamins like vitamin A, C, D, E, K, and minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, to name a few.
It has 220 calories per serving, and it's also a good source of protein. This nutritional shake will also benefit people who are experiencing involuntary weight loss and malnourishment, thanks to its high carbs and sugar content.
So, if you're into weight loss and caloric deficit, you might want to choose other options because this is formulated for people following a standard diet. Seniors will also benefit from this nutritional shake that they can drink with snacks or a hearty meal.
For those who are diabetic but also want to manage their weight, look no further than this product! This meal replacement shake has CARBSTEADY® technology, a unique blend of carbohydrates to minimize blood sugar spikes.
It only has 4g of sugar, 16 grams of carbohydrates, and 10 grams of protein. Plus, this gluten-free, halal, and kosher shake is also packed with 26 vitamins and minerals.
It's available in five flavors and is a good source of vitamin D for bone health and has other minerals like calcium, potassium, and iron. It is packed in bottles of six - consumers can drink it with or without snacks or meals. This drink a great treat if you chill it first in the fridge, especially during the summer.
Most commercial protein shakes don't include micronutrients. But this one is an exemption because it has high protein content and also has 24 vitamins like vitamin C and E as your antioxidants and minerals like zinc, iron, calcium, to name a few.
What's more is that it's only 160 calories per serving and has only 1g of sugar and 4g of carbohydrates. It's an excellent choice for weight watchers, keto dieters, and low-carb dieters who are restricting their carbs and sugar intake.
You can drink this while on-the-go to replace your snack or meal, or you can consume it at home after a satisfying workout by blending it with other liquids for a tasty smoothie.
Whether you want to lose weight or just maintain a healthy lifestyle, here are some of the products worth checking out that we have reviewed so far.
Author: Maria Krisette Capati
No. 1: Herbalife｜Formula 1 Nutritional Shake｜French Vanilla
No. 2: Garden of Life｜Raw Organic Fit Powder｜Vanilla
No. 3: Purely Inspired｜Organic All-in-One Nutritional Supplement Shake｜Decadent Chocolate
No. 4: SlimFast｜Keto Meal Shake｜Fudge Brownie Batter Mix
No. 5: Orgain｜Organic Meal All-in-One Nutritional Powder｜Vanilla Bean
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