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In a world of fast food and fad diets, finding the time, money and knowledge to eat healthy every day can be difficult. Originally invented as a way for people to easily absorb nutrients, meal replacement shakes are a convenient option to traditional dieting and are designed to provide the same nutrition as a full meal.
Meal replacement shakes can make weight loss easier, especially for busy adults and overweight kids. A dieter will generally consume one of these shakes to replace breakfast or lunch, and then have one or two normal healthy meals throughout the day. Unlike diet programs, which are often restrictive, meal replacement shakes can help cut calories without sacrificing your gastronomic freedom.
What are the best meal replacement shakes for weight loss?
With so many options on the market, choosing the best healthy meal replacement for you can be a tricky process. To find the best meal replacement shakes, we compared nutritional values, flavors available and cost.
Do meal replacement shakes work?
Replacing a meal or two with a healthy meal replacement shake can be a convenient way to drop weight quickly, though generally long-term weight loss will require a lifestyle adjustment, and meal replacement shakes might not be a viable solution for you in the long term.
Not all meal replacement shakes are created equal—some are actually packed with unhealthy ingredients like corn syrup and chemical preservatives. The best meal replacement shakes come with fortified vitamins and minerals and contain essential nutrients, carbs, fats and protein, meaning you will feel fuller longer while receiving the benefits of a healthy meal. There are many brands of these shakes, and even recipes to make your own, so it can be confusing to narrow down your choices to decide which shake is right for you.
What to look for when buying weight loss shakes
When purchasing a meal replacement shake, there are a few things you should look for. By simply reading the nutrition label, you can easily distinguish between a good and a bad meal replacement shake. Look for a balance of carbs, fats and protein. A meal replacement shake should come in convenient packaging and contain 15–25 grams of protein, at least 18 vitamins and minerals, 10–13 grams of healthy fat and a good dose of fiber per serving. Avoid meal replacement shakes with more than 400 calories per serving, artificial flavors or added sugars.
It’s also possible to supplement your protein powder or meal replacement shake with added ingredients for more flavor and benefit. You can add spinach, which will boost your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and is full of vitamin C. Greek yogurt will add creaminess and extra calcium, potassium, protein, zinc, and vitamins B6 and B12. Adding a dash of cinnamon can lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation and even have antioxidant benefits—plus extra flavor.
All in all, meal replacement shakes can be a convenient, and powerful, addition to your weight-loss routine. But in order for them to be successful, it’s important to research your options before making a purchasing decision. These shakes should be high in protein, vitamins and minerals, and low in artificial flavorings and sugars. Just like a healthy diet, your meal replacement shake should be full of real ingredients that taste like real flavors—not artificial or chalky.
|What to look for||What to avoid|
|15–25g of protein per serving||High calorie count (more than 400 calories per serving)|
|18+ vitamins and minerals||No fiber|
|Healthy fats (10–13 grams)||Artificial flavors|
|Convenient packaging and preparation||Added sugar|
Our pick for high-nutrition meal replacement shake
Beachbody’s Shakeology weight loss shakes are filled with protein, fiber, antioxidants, adaptogens, prebiotics, probiotics and digestive enzymes and specially created to help reduce junk food cravings and support your digestion and regularity. Meal replacement shakes should be full of vitamins and minerals, not fake added sugars. Beachbody’s Shakeology delivers seven grams of sugar per serving, which comes from organic cane sugar and fruit powders. Compare that to a banana, which has 14 grams of sugar, or the 19 grams of sugar in a medium apple.
Our pick for great-tasting meal replacement shake
Herbalife’s Formula 1
With its wide variety of flavors, including café latte, mint chocolate, wild berry and dulce de leche, Herbalife’s Formula 1 Healthy Meal Nutritional Shake Mixes do not disappoint—reviewers state that each flavor tastes exactly as promised. All Formula 1 shakes contain protein, fiber and essential nutrients to help support metabolic function. Simply blend 2 scoops of the shake mix into 8 ounces of nonfat or non-dairy milk and add fresh fruit and ice. Note: not suggested for managing the weight of children.
Our pick for organic meal replacement shake
Orgain Clean Nutrition
Orgain’s line of nutritional products includes healthy shakes, protein powders, and bars to aid with weight loss and muscle gain. Shakes and bars can be used as nutritional supplements or as meal replacements. Orgain organic protein options include plant- or dairy-based options as well as collagen peptides. Orgain kids protein shakes and bars are also available.
Orgain specially designed its products for people with active lifestyles who need healthy meals while on the go. All bottles are BPA free, and the Tetra Pak packaging is made from recycled material. Shakes should be consumed within two hours of opening or 7 days with refrigeration.
Our pick for vegan meal replacement shake
Garden of Life’s Raw Organic Fit
With 28 grams of organic plant-based protein and less than one gram of sugar, Garden Life’s vegan weight loss shake keeps you not-hungry for hours. Instead of whey or soy, protein comes from sprouted grains, legumes and seeds. This vegan protein powder also contains Ashwagandha, a tonic herb traditionally used in India, plus green coffee bean extract, organic cinnamon, natural fiber, live probiotics and enzymes. Garden of Life suggests blending one scoop with 10 ounces of water or (sweetened or unsweetened) almond milk. Flavor options include Original, Chocolate, Vanilla and Coffee.
Our pick for high-protein meal replacement shake
Nutrisystem’s TurboShakes come in chocolate and vanilla flavors. They work and they taste like a treat—what more can you ask for? Each serving is filled with 15 grams of protein, plus dietary fiber and 22 vitamins and minerals and are made with a proprietary probiotic blend that supports gut health and can help encourage a loss of belly fat. You can add Nutrisystem TurboBoosters to your shake to increase metabolism and energy. To make TurboShakes, simply add 1 cup of water and ½ cup of ice into a shaker bottle with 2 rounded scoopfuls of powder and shake vigorously.
Our pick for meal replacement shake for women's weight loss
Because women require fewer calories per day than men, meal replacement shakes for women should include low amounts of sugar. Medifast’s nutrient-dense meals are fortified with 24 vitamins and minerals and are great for women looking to lose pounds quickly without sacrificing muscle tissue. Flavors include Dutch chocolate, French vanilla, chocolate peanut butter, cookies and cream, orange cream and strawberry. Get them in ready-to-drink containers by the case or powder to mix the shakes yourself—simply pour a cup of water into a shaker jar or blender with a packet of mix and ice (if desired).
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