The Best Meal Replacement Shakes

The best meal replacement shakes provide a quick, convenient and nutritious alternative to a full meal. In many cases, they’re healthier than most classic meals in the standard American diet.  

However, not all meal replacement shakes are created equally. Some are actually incredibly bad for you and frequent consumption of these could even lead to health problems. That’s why it’s incredibly important to discover what brands provide the best meal replacement shakes and to consume these.

The problem is: with so many meal replacement shake brands claiming to be the best option for you, it can be incredibly difficult to separate the high-quality shakes from the fake unhealthy guff. 

Thankfully, we have called on our nutrition experts to do this research for you.

Below, you’ll see our expert guide to finding the best meal replacement shakes for your needs. We even make specialist recommendations for vegans, keto diets and those looking to lose weight  

You’ll discover what to look for in a meal replacement shake and be able to select from the best brands that provide these benefits. 

Ultimately, you’ll be given the information to make an intelligent purchase, instead of wasting your money on a low-quality product.  

What Is A Meal Replacement Shake?

A meal replacement shake is a drink designed to replace the nutritious content of a full meal. 

They can come pre-prepared or in powdered form. As with protein powder, you can then create the shake by mixing it with water or milk.

The key difference between protein shakes and meal replacement shakes is the nutritional content. Whereas protein shakes are mostly designed to increase the amount of protein in your diet, a meal replacement shake will have a bigger range of ingredients. After all, its goal is to replace all the nutrients you’d receive in a standard meal.   

Why Meal Replacement Shakes?


Many people use meal replacement shakes in an effort to lose weight. 

Most people are aware of the benefits of consuming a balanced nutritious diet. However, there are plenty of us who aren’t willing to dedicate the time to preparing several healthy meals every day.

Meal replacement shakes provide a time-efficient solution for this problem. 

Instead of opting for ‘fast food’ or snacks that are lacking in nutritious content to save time throughout the day, you can quickly chug a healthy meal replacement shake.  

These shakes are more portable than most meals and far quicker to prepare. They’re designed to be filling enough to keep you satisfied until your next meal. What’s more, you can be sure that the nutritious content will leave you feeling fantastic.   

Can Meal Replacement Shakes Help You Lose Weight?

As well as being more nutritious than most readily-available meals, meal replacement shakes tend to contain less calories too.

It is therefore common for people to try and lose weight by replacing one meal per day with one of these shakes. In fact, many meal replacement shakes are specifically marketed towards those who are trying to lose weight. 

The statistics suggest that this can be a successful strategy. For example, in this 40-week study, researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine concluded that overweight individuals are more likely to lose weight by following a meal replacement plan, as opposed to a low-calorie diet. 

These shakes are most effective for sparking weight loss when used as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. 

Do Meal Replacement Shakes Really Work?

There is no danger in replacing meals with meal replacement shakes. The best shakes contribute well to a healthy diet, and have been successfully used as part of many weight loss plans.

It is regularly suggested that it’s unsustainable to replace every meal with one of these shakes. Indeed, there are some essential nutrients that aren’t included within any of them. What’s more, it’s more difficult to feel full from consuming liquid calories. 

Nevertheless, there are plenty of people who have managed to sustain a diet containing one (or even occasionally two) meal replacement shakes per day.  

Ultimately though, provided they’re being consumed as part of a balanced diet with the right amount of calories, meal replacement shakes can provide a great alternative to breakfast, lunch or dinner.  

How To Find The Best Meal Replacement Shakes

Below, we have listed all the attributes you may want to look for when choosing your favored brand of meal replacement shake. 

Our list of the best meal replacement shakes are based on the brands that provide the most of these attributes.  

However, there are certain rules that every individual should follow to ensure they purchase a healthy and nutritious meal replacement shake.  

We recommend you opt for a shake which contains: 

  • Plenty of protein (at least 15g per serving);
  • Plenty of fiber (at least 3g per serving);
  • Plenty of vitamins and minerals (ideally at least 33% of your daily requirement per serving);
  • Not much sugar (no more than 10g per serving);
  • No more than 400 calories per serving;
  • No corn syrup;
  • No artificial flavors;
  • No hydrogenated vegetable oils.

With these basics covered, here are some of the attributes which separates the best meal replacement shakes from those to avoid. 

  • A great balance of nutritional content. The best shakes have at least a dozen vitamins and minerals listed within their ingredients. Ideally, the ingredients also include healthy fats and omega-3s, as well as protein and fiber.   
  • Fights hunger cravings. If weight loss is your goal, you want a shake full of satient ingredients. Protein and fiber are particularly useful.  
  • Organic shakes. The absence of pesticides and fertilizers within the ingredients of organic shakes tend to create a more nutritious, tasty and ethical product. 
  • Great taste. Some shakes manage to find the balance between being incredibly healthy  and very tasty. These shakes are more sustainable to add to your diet for a longer time, and should therefore definitely be considered when choosing your favored brand. 

8 Of The Best Meal Replacement Shakes

Below is our list of the 8 best meal replacement shakes, based on the attributes listed above. 

Best Meal Replacement Shake For Nutrition

Created by California-based health and fitness juggernaut BeachBody, Shakeology gives you an almighty hit of superfoods with every serving.

Among its various flavors, you can expect a healthy serving of kale, chlorella, pomegranates, and goji berries among other highly nutritious fruits and vegetables. 

Shakeology is free from artificial colors, oils or preservatives. There’s only 7g of sugar per serving. 

One serving only contains 160 calories, so it’s potentially a great choice for those looking to lose weight. Although you might struggle to stay full replacing a meal with this drink, the Beachbody website is stacked with suggestions of ingredients for you to add to make the shake most satient.  

Best Meal Replacement Shake For Weight Loss

There is a full 400 calories contained in a single Ample shake. That’s more than most of the shakes on this list.

So, why list it as the best shake for weight loss?

The reason is: it’s one of the most likely to leave you full until the next meal. A 200-calorie meal replacement shake is no good to you if you’re left craving snacks for hours afterwards.

Ample shakes are packed with enough natural proteins and healthy fats to stop that from happening.

There are no artificial ingredients in Ample’s range – which includes vegan-friendly and keto-friendly alternatives. 

All of its shakes are made from whole foods, which help to reduce inflammation, increase antioxidants, improve gut health, and minimize insulin spikes. 

Best Meal Replacement Shakes For Protein And Great Taste

The Labrada Whey Protein meal replacement shake contains a whopping 40g of protein plus 5g of fiber, making it incredibly filling despite containing just 280 calories. This was also a contender for best weight loss shake, for sure. 

It’s a sugar-free and lactose-free shake, and there are a ton of flavors to choose from. Among them are: Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cinnamon Bun, Molten Dark Chocolate and Salted Caramel. Our lips are frothing just at the thought of these…

Many online reviews praise Labrada for making these shakes taste so good, despite the lack of sugar. 

In fact, it has won the American Culinary Institute’s Gold Medal Taste Award five times over. 

A meal replacement shake that tastes incredible and improves your gains might sound too good to be true, but Labrada has turned this fantasy into reality. 

Best Value Meal Replacement Shakes

SlimFast has developed a reputation for delivering quality meal replacement products at a great price, and rightly so!

The SlimFast Advanced Energy Meal Replacement Shakes are a great choice for anyone on a budget. 

These caffeinated shakes have 20g of protein, 5g of fiber, as well as 24 vitamins and minerals. 

This drink has three flavors – Caramel Latte, Mocha Cappuccino and Rich Chocolate – and there are many online reviews praising the taste. 

With just 1g of sugar included within all these flavors, there really is little reason not to pack your shopping cart with this beverage.

Best Meal Replacement Shake For Low Calories

Low calorie shakes aren’t ideal for weight loss, as most of them leave you famished for hours before your next meal.

However, IdealShake claims that its unique hunger-blocking blend Slendesta prevents that from happening – and the customers leaving online reviews mostly agree.

There are just 120 calories in an IdealShake. The drink has 11g of protein, plus 18 vitamins and minerals. 

The magic ingredient hunger-blocking ingredient Slendesta is made from a potato protein extract, which releases cholecystokinin – the hormone signalling to the body that it’s full. 

There are four flavors to choose from – a vegan alternative – and the shakes are at the low end of the price scale. There’s not much to dislike. 

Women, children and the elderly don’t need as many calories per day to stay in shape, so this might particularly interest them. 

Best Organic Meal Replacement Shake

 

This meal replacement shake from Orgain is made mostly from organic cocoa, vanilla beans, plus 50 organic superfoods. One serving contains 21g of plant-based protein and 6g of fiber with no added sugar. 

What’s more, it’s gluten-free, soy-free, non-GMO and you’ll find no artificial colors.

Even the packaging is made completely from recycled material!

This powder is available in two flavors – Creamy Chocolate Fudge and Vanilla Bean. Plant-based proteins aren’t traditionally the most pleasant, but both flavors of this shake taste great.

There’s a ready-made alternative to this shake, and a vegan option too. 

In fact, if you’re determined to eat organic, any Orgain shake will serve you well. 

Best Meal Replacement Shakes For Vegans

 

You may have noticed that many of the shakes in this list have an alternative recipe suitable for vegans. 

Even so, we had to include this meal replacement shake in our list, due to its unique blend of ingredients. 

Garden Of Life’s Raw Organic Fit contains 28g of protein per serving. The protein is made from a mix of 13 sprouted grains, seeds and legumes. The mixture also includes 5g of branch-chain amino acids, green coffee bean extract and organic cinnamon, as well as being packed with plenty of live probiotic and enzymes. 

Perhaps the most noteworthy ingredient is Ashwagandha, a hunger-blocking tonic herb traditionally used in India. 

There are four flavors of this powder: original, chocolate, vanilla and coffee. With only one gram of sugar per serving, you can expect to burn fat efficiently. 

Best All-Round Meal Replacement Shake

 

We had to round off our list with Soylent’s Cafe Coffiest shake, as it does everything mentioned so far relatively well. 

There’s a great mix of ingredients, including 20g of plant-based protein, 21g of fats, 26 essential vitamins and minerals and plenty of slow-burning carbs. 

There’s enough caffeine for this meal to replace your morning cup of coffee. What’s more, with 400 calories contained overall, you’re likely to be full until lunch. 

It’s at the pricier end of this market, but you can consider this a premium product no matter which benefits you’re seeking from meal replacement shakes. 

Frequently Asked Questions

When Is The Best Time To Take Meal Replacement Shakes? 

Meal replacement shakes are no more or less effective when consumed during a certain time of day. 

It’s therefore up to you to decide which meal is most sustainable for you to replace. 

What time of day are you most pressed for time? What time of day do you struggle least with hunger pangs?  

The answer to this question will give you a great idea for the best time to consume your meal replacement shake. 

Are Meal Replacement Shakes Safe For Everyone?

The best meal replacement shakes are likely to be safe for most people. They have been given the green flag for pregnant women, and many are recommended for diabetics too.

Of course, there are always rare cases of bodies reacting strangely to certain foods – and some people have reported side-effects such as headaches, constipation, joint aches, headaches, stomach pains, fatigue, constipation or diarrhea. However, these people would appear to be in the minority.  

Can I Use Meal Replacement Shakes On The Keto Diet?

There are plenty of keto-friendly meal replacement shakes. In fact, there are some designed especially to assist with this low-carb, high-fat diet. 

Does Meal Replacement Shake Powder Expire?

Yes, so take note of the expiration date of the packaging. 

The bottom line

Meal replacement shakes can provide a fantastic aid to your dietary goals, provided you pick a great brand and consume it intelligently. 

This guide will set you well on your way to doing that.