We’ve tested the best meal replacement supplements to see how they weigh up for taste, nutrition and ingredients.
The finest meal replacement shakes can be a true game changer when it comes to obtaining all the essential nutrients your body requires on the go, without having to pause your day for cooking or preparing a full meal. These convenient shakes can be easily prepared by combining a scoop of powder with milk or water, allowing you to enjoy them while you carry on with your daily activities.
You might assume that meal replacement shakes and protein shakes are identical, but protein shakes often lack some vital nutrients. In contrast, meal replacement shakes are specifically formulated with all the necessary proteins, fats, carbs, and essential vitamins and minerals your body needs. Unlike the best protein powder, meal replacement shakes offer a variety of additional nutrients and functional ingredients designed to keep you satisfied and energized when a full meal isn’t an option.
While obtaining all your essential nutrients from whole foods is always the ideal scenario, it’s not always feasible for everyone. In these cases, the best meal replacement shakes can help fill the gap between good nutrition and practicality. If you’re pressed for time or have high-calorie needs, they provide a quick solution to reach your daily calorie requirements.
For individuals aiming to lose weight or maintain a calorie deficit, meal replacement shakes can be a useful tool for ensuring you receive sufficient nutrients without exceeding your calorie limits. In fact, most of the shakes we’ve evaluated contain at least 50% of your daily value for various essential nutrients in a single serving. Conversely, for those looking to gain weight, meal replacement shakes offer an effortless way to supplement your diet and maintain a calorie surplus.
It’s important to note that some brands have significantly low-calorie counts and are better suited as snacks rather than complete meal replacements. Additionally, all the products in this guide are designed to be consumed 1-2 times per day alongside a whole food diet. If you’re considering incorporating a meal replacement shake into your routine, it’s best to consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian first.
With that said, continue reading to discover our selection of the best meal replacement shakes available, including plant-based and budget-friendly options.
- 1 Best Meal Replacement Shakes
- 1.1 1. Huel Powder v3.0
- 1.2 2. PhenQ
- 1.3 3. Exante
- 1.4 4. Transparent Labs Meal Replacement Powder
- 1.5 5. Lyfefuel All-In-One Essentials Shake
- 1.6 6. Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal
- 1.7 7. Ka’chava
- 1.8 8. GNC Lean Shake 25
- 1.9 9. Orgain organic meal
- 2 What Should You Look for In Meal Replacement Supplements?
- 3 What Are the Benefits
- 4 When Should You Use
- 5 FAQs
Best Meal Replacement Shakes
1. Huel Powder v3.0
Huel Powder v3.0 is a plant-based meal replacement shake available in 10 distinct flavors, offering a generous calorie content. With a single serving containing around 30g of complete protein from pea, flaxseed, and brown rice, it also provides 45g of complex carbohydrates for sustained energy release.
Additionally, Huel Powder v3.0 contains 27 different vitamins and minerals, probiotics, kombucha, medium-chain triglycerides, and almost 8g of prebiotic fiber, all while maintaining a low sugar content of just 1g per serving. Given its nutrient-rich composition, this meal replacement shake might not be ideal for those looking to lose weight.
However, it could be a great option for active individuals, athletes, and those with demanding lifestyles seeking a nutritious and satiating meal in a convenient liquid form.
On the downside, Huel Powder v3.0 does not include digestive enzymes and uses artificial sweeteners. It’s also relatively pricey, requiring customers to purchase a minimum of two containers in a single order.
PhenQ’s meal replacement shake is tailored to assist with weight loss. Each serving offers 254 calories, 17g of fat, around 16g of whey protein, a mere 5g of carbohydrates, and less than 3g of sugar, making it an ideal option for those on a low-carb diet.
This shake is also enhanced with Innoslim®, a combination of Panax notoginseng and Astragalus membranaceous extracts. Both of these herbs are promoted as weight loss supplements. However, it’s important to note that evidence supporting these claims is still inconclusive, as detailed in a review of dietary supplements published in the Nutrients journal.
PhenQ shakes also include some medium-chain triglycerides and two adaptogens (ashwagandha and Reishi mushroom extract), but their levels are somewhat lower compared to other brands. The price is certainly appealing, as it ranks among the most affordable options in this guide.
Nevertheless, PhenQ meal replacement shakes have a few drawbacks. The product contains only 13 vitamins and minerals, making it the least nutrient-dense option on our list. Additionally, it is sweetened with artificial sweeteners and lacks probiotics or digestive enzymes.
Exante, a well-known meal replacement shake brand worldwide, has earned endorsements from the UK’s National Health Service and is often prescribed for diabetes and obesity prevention programs.
Intended to replace one or two meals per day, Exante Meal Replacement Shake is low in fats, carbohydrates, and sugars, providing a mere 120 calories per serving. Each portion includes nearly 5g of inulin, a fiber with potent prebiotic properties. The shake also features a unique ingredient called Slendesta®, which the manufacturer claims can suppress hunger and curb food cravings for at least three hours after consumption. However, it’s important to note that the EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition, and Allergies has found no established link between Slendesta® intake and weight loss.
Exante shakes are an excellent option for those on a calorie-restricted diet, but they aren’t exclusively designed for weight loss. People can also enjoy the wide range of flavors, a rich combination of digestive enzymes, and nearly 26 different vitamins and minerals.
On the downside, Exante’s protein content is relatively low at 12g per serving, potentially making it unsuitable for highly active individuals.
4. Transparent Labs Meal Replacement Powder
Transparent Labs is a company committed to providing “scientifically-backed formulas” with their MRP (meal replacement powder) designed to “assist you in maintaining your diet when a full meal isn’t an option.” For those aiming to build lean muscle or feel satisfied for longer, one scoop contains an impressive 24g of protein from a blend of whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate, which are typically gentle on the stomach.
The MRP also offers a balanced mix of slow-digesting complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, including 5g of fiber. With 220 calories per serving, it is suitable for individuals with weight loss goals, as well as those looking to consume extra calories for weight gain. Transparent Labs ensures their products are free of artificial sweeteners, colors, and preservatives, and the MRP is also gluten-free.
Transparent Labs states that their MRP tastes good when “mixed with water or milk” and “blends smoothly in a shaker bottle.” We tested this claim and found that the powder indeed mixed well in our preferred shaker bottle, without any clumps or grittiness. Flavor-wise, the MRP is among the best meal replacement shakes we have tried. The chocolate flavor is rich without being overly sweet, and we appreciated the absence of a synthetic aftertaste often found in other meal replacement powders.
The main drawback is the price, as nearly $60 per container is not the most budget-friendly option. However, the quality of ingredients, mixability, and taste justify the cost.
5. Lyfefuel All-In-One Essentials Shake
Lyfefuel claims to be “more than just an ordinary ‘meal replacement’.” Instead of merely concentrating on calories, carbs, and protein, it offers a comprehensive range of essential nutrients. In fact, a single serving contains 27 distinct vitamins and minerals, such as 500mcg of vitamin B12 (20,833% DV), 1,200 IU of vitamin D3 (150% DV), and 75mcg of iodine (50% DV). Overall, this is one of the most nutritionally complete meal replacement shakes we have evaluated. Moreover, it includes a probiotic blend (960 million CFU per serving) and five different digestive enzymes to aid absorption.
Lyfefuel also prioritizes quality. The All-In-One Essentials Shake is produced in an FDA-registered facility and undergoes third-party testing for heavy metals, pesticides, and microbials. The powder is gently dried and minimally processed to preserve as many nutrients as possible, and it is vegan-friendly.
We tasted both the chocolate and vanilla flavors. Chocolate performed well when mixed with plant-based milk but truly shined when blended with ice and banana for a heartier breakfast smoothie. Using an electric mixer helped eliminate any smaller clumps that a ball-whisk shaker couldn’t break apart.
What are the downsides? Firstly, it has only 110 calories per serving. While this might be beneficial for those aiming for weight loss, it felt more like a snack or supplement rather than a ‘meal.’ However, Lyfefuel does suggest that “you can experiment with more scoops and different liquid types and quantities that all impact the taste, texture, and total nutrients for the right balance that fills you up and suits your palate.” Therefore, if you plan to use the shake as a meal replacement rather than a snack, you might want to double the serving.
It is also one of the pricier meal replacement shakes we’ve tried, retailing at $70 for 24 servings. However, given that it provides at least 50% of your daily value for various nutrients, it could be a cost-effective alternative to dietary supplements.
6. Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal
Garden of Life is committed to using only authentic, clean ingredients, primarily certified USDA Organic and non-GMO verified. The company strongly advocates for healthy, clean eating, which is evident in its Raw Organic Meal line.
This product is filled with nutritious ingredients and is free from gluten, soy, dairy, and tree nuts, as well as artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. One serving offers nearly 20g of vegan protein, derived from a high-quality blend of 13 different sprouted grains and seeds. Simultaneously, it contains only 130 calories and less than 1g of sugar, making it an excellent option for those looking to maintain their weight.
Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal also includes a rich organic fruit and vegetable blend, along with a generous amount of probiotics and digestive enzymes. It is the only item on our list that is created without heat processing to preserve the delicate proteins and more volatile components.
However, there are some downsides. While Raw Organic Meal provides around 21 different vitamins and minerals, the quantities are not as high as those found in some competitor products. Additionally, a single serving contains only 3g of dietary fiber.
What Are the Benefits
In today’s fast-paced world, meal replacement shakes offer a convenient solution for people who don’t have time to cook or sit down for a meal. They are portable and easy to consume on-the-go, making them a popular option for those with busy lifestyles.
Weight loss aid
Meal replacement shakes are designed to provide complete nutrition, containing a balanced mix of macronutrients, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. They can help prevent nutrient deficiencies and ensure that you’re getting all the necessary nutrients your body needs.
One of the main benefits of meal replacement shakes is their potential for aiding in weight loss. Many shakes are low in calories and contain protein and fiber, which can help regulate appetite and reduce snacking. Some products even contain ingredients that may promote fat burning, such as green tea extract. Studies have shown that using meal replacement shakes can be effective for weight loss, particularly when combined with a low-calorie diet. They have been found to reduce food cravings and promote better weight loss outcomes compared to regular diets.
When Should You Use
Theodore is a prolific author at Fischer Institute, known for his insightful articles on health and nutrition. His expertise spans a wide range of topics, from the benefits of traditional foods to the latest in health trends, always aiming to educate and empower readers towards better wellbeing.