Most of us do not have time to cook every meal. If you find yourself ordering fast food more than you’d like, you may want to try meal replacement shakes instead.
Meal replacement shakes are designed to replace a meal. They’re full of many of the vitamins and nutrients we would typically get from a meal without any of the additives and fillers that are common in fast food.
Of course, not all meal replacement shakes are created equal. Some are healthier than others, so it is essential to do your research before making a purchase.
Below, you’ll find our reviews of some of the best meal replacement shakes on the market. We’ll also dive into the benefits of meal replacement shakes and review whether or not you should include them in your routine.
If you want as healthy of a meal replacement shake as possible, Idealshake is the way to go. It is relatively high in protein and multivitamins, which is precisely what you need to stay full until your next meal. It can provide you with plenty of energy to keep you going for the rest of the day.
We loved that this shake has a perfect ration of proteins, carbs, and fats. It even includes quite a bit of fiber, which can help keep you fuller for longer. For these reasons, it is FitBug’s #1 meal replacement shake choice.
2. ORGANIFI Complete Protein
ORGANIFI Complete Protein is another balanced meal replacement shake that will keep you full. It is made with organic pea protein, which makes it the right choice for vegetarians. With a variety of superfoods like quinoa and coconut, this shake provides plenty of vitamins and minerals.
Plus, it also only included 2 grams of sugar, as it is sweetened using natural ingredients like monk fruit.
3. Premier Protein Shake
While this shake is mostly designed to provide protein, it can also replace a meal in a pinch. It is low in sugar and fat while providing all the essential amino acids necessary. There are quite a few flavors available, so you can easily find one you like.
You can also use these shakes as a post-workout snack.
4. RSP TRUEFIT
This meal replacement includes grass-fed whey protein, prebiotic fiber, and a good mix of probiotics. It is designed to be a lean meal replacement shake for those who are trying to lose weight, though just about anyone could drink it if they wanted to.
It also includes 12 different non-GMO veggies and fruits.
5. SlimFast Original Rich Chocolate Meal Replacement
This is a standard meal replacement shake. It includes a nice mix of vitamins and minerals. However, it is lower in protein than most, which is why it is only rated at number five. We did like how cheap it was, and most users seem to like the taste.
The main point of this shake is to help you lose weight.
6. Fit & Lean Fat Burning Meal Replacement
As you might expect from the name, this meal replacement is also designed to help you lose fat. It contains 20 grams of protein, which is lactose-free. It also includes all of vitamins and minerals, as well as 250% of your daily vitamin D needs.
To help you lose weight, it includes things like green coffee tea and garcinia Cambogia. If you’re also on a weight loss pill, be sure it doesn’t include these same ingredients.
7. FitMiss Delight Protein Powder
This protein shake is explicitly marketed at women. However, it does not have anything in it that is bad for men. It is designed to control your appetite and help you lose weight so that it may be less useful as an all-around meal replacement shake.
If you’re trying to lose weight, though, this is a shake that may be perfect for you, however.
8. Orgain Organic Plant-Based Meal Replacement Powder
While this is a protein shake, technically, it can also be used as a meal replacement. It includes 20 grams of protein and is free from dairy and gluten. It is also non-GMO and completely organic.
There are a few different flavors available, though all of them seem to taste quite good.
9. Ka’Chave Meal Replacement Shake
This meal replacement shake is made with 70 different ingredients – many of them are superfoods. It is designed to be nutrient-dense, so it can truly replace a balanced meal. It includes all the essential nutrients your body needs.
It is also very clean, without any soy or dairy. However, it is costly.
10. Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal Replacement Powder
This powder includes 20 grams of protein and 22 different superfoods. It is organic and designed to be as clean as possible. It also includes quite a few probiotics to support your digestion.
It is also completely vegan and kosher.
How We Ranked
Choosing a meal replacement might seem simple, but there is quite a bit that goes into it. Firstly, we checked to make sure that the shake or powder was designed to replace a meal. Some are labeled as “meal replacements” but are missing many of the key ingredients you need to thrive.
We ranked shakes higher the more complete they were. For example, our top pick, Idealshake, includes pretty much everything your body needs to function. There were many we left off the list because they didn’t include all the necessary vitamins and minerals.
Secondly, we considered how clean each shake was. Some included low-quality ingredients, such as GMOs and factory-raised dairy. We always ranked clean supplements higher. In many cases, we didn’t even include GMO-inclusive shakes. They just aren’t worth it!
Thirdly, we considered the cost of each shake. Some are not very high at all, while others can cost over $70. Your budget depends on your particular financial situation, so we can’t tell you exactly which shake to get. However, for those that were more expensive, we did ensure that they were worth the extra cost. If they weren’t, we rated them lower.
For example, the Ka’Chave Meal Replacement Shake is extremely expensive. It does include some superfoods, but we didn’t feel that the added value was there. You can get superfoods from other, cheaper shakes and powders.
Fourthly, we considered how much sugar each drink contains. This is one of the reasons that Slimfast Original was listed much lower on the list, despite being one of the most popular options on the market. It is just too sugary with too little protein for us to rate it very high.
After that, we considered how versatile the shake was. Some are designed specifically for weight loss. This is great if you’re trying to lose weight, but not so great if you’re just looking for a meal replacement. Because of this, we rated these shakes lower. They may be helpful to some people, but not everyone.
Furthermore, these shakes sometimes contain weight loss supplements. The Fit & Lean Fat Burning Meal Replacement is an excellent example of this since it contains green tea extract. If you’re taking a weight loss pill, this can be a problem. Many of these weight loss ingredients are harmful in large amounts. Because of this, you do not want to take a weight loss pill and then turn around and take a meal replacement with the same ingredients.
Meal replacement shakes may help you avoid unhealthy meals. Even if you plan your meals out, you may find yourself tempted by processed, unhealthy food options every once in a while. Whether you’re stuck at the office later than usual or miss your alarm clock in the morning, many situations can throw us into the grasp of processed foods.
When you’re rushed and hungry, it can be easy to grab fast food or refined on-the-go meals.
This can seriously derail your attempts to lose weight, however. Most processed foods are high in the very things you don’t want to eat, like sugar and refined carbohydrates. Many are not nutritionally complete either, which truly does make them a replacement for a well-balanced meal.
Eating these processed foods can also trigger the pleasure centers in your brain, which can cause overeating (1, 2). This is the last thing you want when you’re trying to lose weight.
Meal replacement shakes are a convenient alternative to other processed foods. They are often significantly healthier than fast food, on top of being cheaper as well. They can also be drunk on-the-go, which can’t always be said for other fast food options.
Meal replacement shakes provide nutrients that you may otherwise miss. No one’s diet is perfect, even if you try your best to eat healthily. It can be challenging to consume all of the nutrients your body needs if you’re cutting back on carbohydrates as well.
Luckily, meal replacement shakes are fortified with plenty of nutrients, so you can fill any nutritional gaps you may currently have in your diet. Most meal replacement shakes that are high-quality contain everything from essential vitamins to plenty of fiber – all things you may be missing out on in your regular diet.
Meal replacement shakes may help you lose weight. While some meal replacement shakes are designed to facilitate weight loss, all meal replacement shakes may help you lose weight. This is because they often replace unhealthy alternatives. Furthermore, many of them can help you feel full on fewer calories thanks to their high fiber and protein content (3).
If you’re used to eating a bowl of cereal in the morning, choosing a meal replacement instead will make you feel fuller for longer, which will only decrease the number of carbohydrates you eat.
Several studies have found that replacing a meal or two a day with a healthy meal replacement may help you lose more weight faster (4, 5).
One review that looked at a wide range of studies found that four out of seven studies reported more significant weight loss with meal replacement shakes than with traditional diets. However, other studies found no difference. It seems like the type of “diet” the control group was following matters.
For example, one study found that those consuming a meal replacement shake lost the same amount of weight as those who ate a low-calorie, low-fat diet (6).
Meal replacement shakes may be incredibly helpful for those with diabetes. Diabetes and obesity are linked. However, it can be difficult for those who are diabetic to lose weight – though they are often encouraged to control their type 2 diabetes.
One study found that those who consumed liquid meal replacements lost 1-2% more weight than obese subjects with diabetes who followed traditional diet plans (7). Furthermore, those who drank the meal replacements had lower fasting blood sugars than those on traditional diets.
Another study answered the findings of this one. It discovered that meal replacement shakes led to more significant weight loss in adults with diabetes when compared to conventional diets (8). Some studies have also found that continuing meal replacement shakes may help participants maintain weight loss after they have lost it (9).
Meal replacement shakes are high in protein. Most people who eat a western diet consume many, many carbohydrates, but not enough protein. Protein is essential for your body to function, but a high-protein diet is also helpful in other ways.
For example, higher protein causes you to feel fuller for longer. This can make you consume fewer calories throughout the day, simply because you aren’t as hungry as you would be otherwise (10, 11, 12). For example, one study found that those who ate a high-protein diet had fewer late-night cravings than those who did not (13).
On top of that, a high-protein diet also leads to increased lean body mass, reduced body fat, and less belly fat. Those who eat a high-protein diet tend to be of a healthier weight than those who do not (14, 15, 16, 17).
Meal replacement shakes may help increase your lean muscle mass. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or not, meal replacement shakes may improve your lean muscle mass. This is because they are high in protein.
Shakes that are high in protein have been shown to promote muscle growth and enhance physical performance (18, 19). Of course, the shakes need to be combined with the resistance training of some sort for the improvement to be considerable.
Many shakes also include amino acids that are easily absorbed in your digestive system. This means your body can more easily use them to build your muscles, which may trigger your body to build your muscles faster (20, 21).
If you’re trying to lose weight, meal replacement shakes that are high in protein may help you keep your lean muscle mass, which will lead to higher amounts of fat loss (22).
Meal replacement shakes can contain less-than-healthy ingredients. Not all meal replacement shakes are healthy. Some are full of sugar, corn syrup, vegetable oils, and artificial flavors. May contain GMO ingredients, which may include trace amounts of pesticides. As you can see, not ALL meal replacement shakes are healthy.
Many meal replacement shakes also function on diet fads, which have no basis in science. For example, while we were writing our reviews, we found a meal replacement shake full of flaxseed, which the description advertised as a “superfood to help with weight loss.” However, this meal replacement had very little protein in it – a macronutrient that is scientifically proven to help you lose weight.
It is crucial to choose a healthy meal replacement shake to ensure you’re avoiding these unhealthy ingredients. You want one that includes high amounts of protein and fiber.
Meal replacement shakes are not a long-term solution. These shakes are not designed to be your only source of sustenance. They do not replace a healthy diet and need to be paired with other healthy foods. You cannot just live off of meal replacement shakes.
Whole foods include many things that meal replacement shakes do not. For example, no meal replacement shake will provide for all of your dietary needs. Only a balanced, varied diet can do that. Furthermore, whole foods contain things like antioxidants, which are essential for your health but often left out of shakes.
Many shakes do contain fiber, but it is not nearly as much fiber as fruits and veggies.
Furthermore, meal replacement shakes can be socially-isolating. Many social events take place around food. When you don’t eat food, it is easy to feel left out.
Meal replacement shakes cannot change your unhealthy eating habits. Many people who are overweight or obese have unhealthy eating habits. While shakes may be able to replace one or two meals a day, they cannot change those unhealthy habits throughout the rest of the day.
They will not help you lose weight if you continue to make unhealthy choices during the other meals. Those who continue to snack on processed food in between their meal replacement shakes are likely not going to lose much weight or feel healthier.
Furthermore, even if you do lose the weight, you will likely gain most of it back as soon as you stop the shakes. Because shakes are not a long-term solution, you will need to stop drinking them at some point.
Meal replacement shakes can be suitable for those looking to eat healthier or lose weight. However, they are not a miracle pill and need to be paired with long-term lifestyle changes.
How often you drink meal replacement shakes depends on your goal and current lifestyle.
Many people keep these shakes handy for the morning they wake up late, or the nights they get home too late to cook dinner. They’re a healthy fix to those situations where you just don’t have time to cook a healthy meal. This is likely the healthiest option since you’ll still be eating whole foods most of the time.
However, many people decide to switch out some meals with meal replacement shakes permanently. This is not necessarily unhealthy, especially if you choose a healthy meal replacement shake to use. Many diets follow this plan, and studies have shown that it is successful, as we discussed earlier.
If you decide to replace some of your meals regularly for weight loss purposes, you should start with one meal a day. You will likely see some benefits and weight loss by just switching out one meal. If your body tolerates that for a few weeks, then you can move on to two meals a day.
While there are no side effects associated with drinking meal replacement shakes for all three meals, this is likely not practical. Furthermore, you will probably miss out on some vitamins and minerals, since no meal replacement shake is designed to sustain you ultimately. Many studies show plenty of benefits with just one or two meals, so there is little reason to replace all three meals.
Whenever you decide to stop drinking shakes, cut back slowly, and replace them with healthy meals. Otherwise, you may gain your lost weight back quickly.
Are meal replacement shakes good for weight loss?
Yes. Meal replacement shakes often contain high amounts of protein and fiber, which can help you stay fuller for longer. Naturally, this leads to fewer cravings and causes you to consume fewer calories throughout the day.
Meal replacement shakes can also replace unhealthy food choices, like fast food and processed food. If you commonly grab lunch at a fast-food restaurant, a meal replacement shake is a healthier alternative. Most meal replacement shakes also have fewer calories than these fast food options, which will cause you to lose weight naturally.
However, meal replacement shakes cannot be used in isolation. They work best when paired with other healthy choices, such as proper portion sizes at other meals.
Can I just drink meal replacement shakes?
Meal replacement shakes can encourage weight loss and may reduce the number of calories you eat in a day. They can bring about other health benefits, like an increase in lean muscle. However, it is not recommended to live solely or even primarily on meal replacement shakes.
This is because it takes a varied diet to get all the nutrients and vitamins you need. You cannot get all the nutrients you need from a single food source, including meal replacement shakes. Furthermore, a varied diet can promote weight maintenance, according to one 2015 study (23).
Furthermore, if the meal replacement shake you choose is high in protein, you may damage your kidneys and bones by only drinking them. This includes an increased risk of cancer in these areas (24).
What is the best shake to lose weight?
If you’re focused solely on losing weight, we recommend Idealshake. This shake is high in protein and fiber, which will help you stay full for longer. Furthermore, this shake includes practically all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to stay healthy and strong.
These shakes aren’t expensive either, making them a decent choice for most people.
Will I lose weight if I only drink Slim-Fast meal replacement shakes?
Yes. You would lose weight if you only drank Slim-Fast meal replacement shakes. However, it would not be a healthy way to lose weight, and you would likely gain it all back after you return to your regular diet. To lose weight and keep it off, you need to make long-term changes to your diet. Meal replacement shakes can be a part of this. However, you cannot only live on them forever. You need other health, whole foods as well.
Furthermore, Slim Fast is not one of the best meal replacement shakes out there. They are low in protein and relatively high in sugar, especially when you compare them to other options on the market. You’re better off choosing a higher quality meal replacement shake.
How much weight can you lose in a week on shakes?
It depends on your current weight and your lifestyle. Someone who exercises regularly is going to lose more than someone who doesn’t.
Experts recommend only losing two pounds of weight a week max. Losing weight any faster can have adverse health effects. Furthermore, you are more likely to gain your weight back if you lose it too quickly. Lifestyle changes that lead to you losing more than two pounds a week are likely to be unsustainable. When you revert to your previous lifestyle choices, you will likely regain your weight back rather quickly.
“Yoyo” dieting is also rather unhealthy, so it should be avoided. The easiest way to avoid it is to make sustainable lifestyle changes – instead of trying to lose weight as quickly as possible.
What happens if your drink meal replacement shakes without working out?
You will likely lose some weight, depending on what your usual meal looks like. However, you will not lose as much weight as you could if you were exercising. If you can work out, it is worth it if you’re looking for healthy, sustainable weight loss.
On top of helping you burn fat faster, exercise can also help you keep the weight off. When you do stop drinking the meal replacement shakes, exercising regularly can keep your calorie intake at a healthy level.
Will meal replacement shakes make me lose weight overnight?
No. Nothing is going to make you lose weight overnight. The only way to decrease your weight overnight is to shed water weight. However, this isn’t actual fat and will be gained back rapidly. It is just stored water that your body has gotten rid of.
Meal replacement shakes can encourage your body to lose weight pretty fast. However, they will not make you shed weight overnight. As we have previously discussed, you should only plan on losing about two pounds a week for health reasons. Losing weight any faster will likely cause you to gain it all back in a short period.
Is the meal replacement shake diet healthy?
It depends on how you do it. Meal replacement shakes can be relatively healthy, especially if you’re losing them to replace less-than-staller meals like fast food and processed food. However, you can’t only live on meal replacement shakes. You need other food too. A healthy diet is a varied diet.
To put it short: it is healthy as long as you aren’t just drinking meal replacement shakes. Generally, it is recommended not to replace more than two meals a day with meal replacement shakes. Any more than that and you may not get all the nutrients you need.
Do meal replacement shakes work?
It depends on what you mean by “work.” Many do have enough calories to replace a meal. If you choose a high-quality meal replacement shake, they may even be a healthier option than things like fast food. Because of this, they do work very well as a meal replacement.
Many people drink meal replacement shakes to lose weight. If this is your goal, the shake you choose matters. You want one that is high in protein and fiber while being low in calories and sugar. Head to our rankings section for a variety of shakes that fit into this category.
Meal replacement shakes are a reliable way to eat healthy on the go. They can be used to replace fast food and other convenience food options, which are often unhealthy and lacking in nutrients. Meal replacement shakes are brimming with vitamins and nutrients of all sorts, as well as being high in protein. They are also a solid way to lose weight since they are often lower-calorie than other food options.
For FitBug’s #1 meal replacement shake, click here.