9 Best Meal Replacement Supplements for Diabetics – How to Prepare Quick And Easy

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.

Best Meal Replacement Shakes

1. Huel Powder v3.0

huel powder v3.0

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Serving size: 2 scoops (100g)
  • Servings per containing: 17
  • Calories per serving: 400 kcal
  • Protein per serving: 30g
  • Carbs per serving: 45g
  • Sugars: 1g
  • Fat per serving: 13g
  • Flavors: 10 (cinnamon roll, vanilla, chocolate, berry, cafe latte, salted caramel, banana, peanut butter, original, unflavoured)
Pros
  • High protein content
  • High fiber content
  • Contains probiotics and prebiotics
Cons
  • High carbohydrate and fat content
  • One container size available
  • Contains artificial sweeteners

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.

2. PhenQ

PhenQ

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Serving size: 1 scoop (50.71g)
  • Servings per container: 9
  • Calories per serving: 254 kcal
  • Protein per serving: 15.2g
  • Carbs per serving: 5g
  • Sugars: 2.4g
  • Fat per serving: 16g
  • Flavors: 3 (chocolate, vanilla, strawberries & cream)
Pros
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Contains digestive enzymes
  • Keto-friendly
Cons
  • Limited flavors
  • High fat content
  • Contains artificial sweeteners

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.

3. Exante

Exante

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Serving size: 1 scoop (35g)
  • Servings per container: 7-28, depending on size
  • Calories per serving: 120 kcal
  • Protein per serving: 12g
  • Carbs per serving: 13g
  • Sugars: 3g
  • Fat per serving: 3g
  • Flavors: 10 (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, cookies & cream, mocha, birthday cake, salted caramel, chocolate mint, fruity milk cereal, and marshmallow milk cereal)
Pros
  • Multiple flavors to choose from
  • Low sugar content
  • Contains inulin, a prebiotic fiber
Cons
  • Relatively expensive
  • Low protein content
  • Not suitable for those allergic to milk or soy
[/su_column]

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 Meal Replacement Powder

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Serving size: 56.7g (1 full scoop)
  • Servings per container: 30
  • Calories per serving: 200
  • Protein per serving: 24g
  • Carbs per serving: 19g
  • Sugars: 7g
  • Fat per serving: 7g
  • Flavors: Chocolate and vanilla
Pros
  • High protein
  • Great taste
  • 5g fiber per serving
Cons
  • Slightly higher in sugar
  • Only two flavors available

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 All-In-One Essentials Shake

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Serving size: 33g (1 full scoop)
  • Servings per container: 24
  • Calories per serving: 110
  • Protein per serving: 18g
  • Carbs per serving: 6g
  • Sugars: 3g
  • Fat per serving: 2g
  • Flavors: Chocolate and vanilla
Pros
  • Vegan friendly
  • Contains 27 vitamins and minerals, plus probiotic
  • Sustainably sourced ingredients
Cons
  • Relatively expensive
  • Only two flavors available

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 Raw Organic Meal

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Serving size: 1 scoop (34.5g)
  • Servings per container: 14/28
  • Calories per serving: 130 kcal
  • Protein per serving: 20g
  • Carbs per serving: 12g
  • Sugars: <1g
  • Fat per serving: 2g
  • Flavors: 4 (chocolate cacao, vanilla, lightly sweet, vanilla spiced chai)
Pros
  • Low sugar, carbohydrate and fat content
  • High protein content
  • Organic ingredients
Cons
  • Limited flavor options
  • Low fiber content
  • Low vitamin and mineral content

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.

7. Ka’chava

Ka'chava

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Serving size: 2 scoops (60g)
  • Servings per container: 15Calories per serving: 240 kcal
  • Protein per serving: 25g
  • Carbs per serving: 24g
  • Sugars: 6g
  • Fat per serving: 7g
  • Flavors: 5 (vanilla, chocolate, coconut acai, chai, matcha)
Pros
  • High protein content
  • Low sugar content
  • Contains gut-friendly probiotics
Cons
  • Relatively expensive
  • Only one container size available

If you’re interested in supporting environmentally conscious brands, Ka’chava may be worth considering. The company is committed to preserving endangered species and rainforests, and a portion of every meal replacement shake purchase goes towards funding their projects. These shakes are considered premium due to the high quality of their ingredients. Each serving provides an impressive 25g of complete vegan protein, 6g of fiber, and just 6g of sugar. They also contain over 70 different nutrients, including antioxidants, omega-3, medium chain triglycerides, and adaptogens, which are plant extracts that can boost the body’s resistance to stress.

Ka’chava products are free from artificial additives and fillers. One downside, however, is the high cost. During a camping trip, we tried the chocolate flavor and found it to be deliciously rich, while the vanilla flavor was better suited for a smoothie. Some individuals may enjoy the matcha flavor, although it wasn’t our personal favorite.

8. GNC Lean Shake 25

GNC Lean Shake 25

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Serving size: 1 scoop (52g)
  • Servings per container: 16
  • Calories per serving: 180 kcal
  • Protein per serving: 25g
  • Carbs per serving: 18g
  • Sugars: 3g
  • Fat per serving: 3g
  • Flavors: 7 (French vanilla, mixed berry, orange cream, girl scout thin mints, girl scout coconut caramel, girl scout chocolate peanut butter, girl scout lemon)
Pros
  • Low calorie value
  • Low sugar and fat content
  • Relatively inexpensive
Cons
  • Contains artificial flavorings and sweeteners
  • Not suitable for people allergic to dairy products and nuts
  • Relatively low vitamin and mineral content

GNC is a well-known brand that offers a range of health and fitness products. Their meal replacement shake, Lean Shake 25, is aimed at people who want to lose weight and is reasonably priced. Each serving of Lean Shake 25 contains 180 calories, 3g of fat, 3g of sugar, 25g of whey protein, and 8g of dietary fiber. The product comes in various flavors, including girl scout lemon and girl scout thin mints.

However, Lean Shake 25 doesn’t provide as many vitamins and minerals as some of its competitors, with only 22 different nutrients in each serving. Also, the micronutrient content is relatively low, with most vitamins and minerals covering only 20% of your Daily Value in one serving. The company recommends using the shake alongside a healthy weight management program, which includes solid food, to ensure that you still receive micronutrients.

Overall, Lean Shake 25 is a decent meal replacement shake for weight loss. However, if you want to maintain your overall health and fitness, you may need to supplement your diet with additional nutrients.

9. Orgain organic meal

Orgain organic meal

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Serving size: 2 scoops (57g)
  • Servings per container: 16
  • Calories per serving: 230 kcal
  • Protein per serving: 20g
  • Carbs per serving: 25g
  • Sugars: 2g
  • Fat per serving: 5g
  • Flavors: 2 (creamy chocolate fudge, vanilla bean)
Pros
  • Low sugar and fat content
  • High protein content
  • Organic ingredients
Cons
  • Only two flavors to choose from
  • Lacks certain micronutrients
  • Low fiber content

Orgain prioritizes the power of clean eating and organic food, and actively supports efforts to reduce plastic pollution, positioning it as one of the most eco-friendly brands on our list. Their Organic Meal nutrition powder is a vegan product that features a blend of high-quality pea, brown rice, and chia seed protein, providing nearly 20g of protein per serving. Orgain prides itself on using clean, organic ingredients without artificial flavors or preservatives, and ensuring that the meal replacement shake is GMO- and gluten-free. With low sugar and fat content, Organic Meal can be a good option for those aiming to lose weight.

However, while Organic Meal has its pros, it has certain drawbacks as well. The shake provides only 2g of fiber per serving, and its micronutrient content is relatively low compared to other brands. Additionally, it lacks several vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D and some trace elements. Moreover, the product is relatively expensive and only comes in one container size.

What Should You Look for In Meal Replacement Supplements?

Choosing the best meal replacement shake among the multitude of products available can be a daunting task. The claims made by food manufacturers on their packaging can give an idea, but the nutritional information on the back of the package should be thoroughly examined. According to Dr. Brian Carson, an expert in physiology and innovation, it is important to check the nutritional value of meal replacement shakes, including sugar content, protein quality, additives, and natural superfoods in the formulation.

A good meal replacement shake should have at least 15g of high-quality protein per serving. Whey protein isolate, derived from cow’s milk, is a common animal-based protein source, while plant-based protein sources are suitable for vegans and people allergic to dairy products. Plant-based meal replacement shakes should include a combination of several protein sources to provide a complete amino acid profile.

The amount of sugar in a product should also be considered. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults limit their daily intake of added sugars to less than 10% of their total calories, which is around 25-35g per day. A serving of meal replacement shake should contain less than 10g of sugar. The USDA recommends consuming at least 28g of dietary fiber daily, but most meal replacement shakes don’t contain much fiber. Choosing a product with a higher fiber content is therefore a good idea.

Micronutrient content is also important, as vitamins and minerals are necessary for good health. A greater variety of micronutrients is better. If a meal replacement shake provides low amounts of Daily Values for vitamins and minerals, additional nutrients need to be consumed in other meals.

It is important to avoid meal replacement shakes that contain corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and unfamiliar ingredients. The best products may contain functional ingredients that aid digestion and provide additional health benefits, such as probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes.

What Are the Benefits

Protein Powder Supplements

Convenience

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

While meal replacement shakes can offer several benefits, it’s important to consider their limitations and safety concerns. Depending solely on these shakes may not be safe, as they may lack certain nutrients and compounds that are necessary for good health. It’s not advisable to follow a liquid diet as it can negatively impact our digestive system and lead to missing out on essential nutrients such as antioxidants and phytochemicals.

Therefore, most meal replacement shakes are designed to substitute only one to two meals a day and not an entire healthy diet. It’s important to consume a wide variety of food groups throughout the day to ensure that you’re getting all the necessary nutrients.

Some studies suggest that meal replacement shakes may not be suitable for older adults as liquid meal replacements may have a negative impact on appetite responses and insulin metabolism.

FAQs

Supplements for Diabetics

Are meal replacement shakes OK for diabetics?

Meal replacement shakes can be okay for people with diabetes, but it’s important to choose the right type and use them appropriately.

Some meal replacement shakes can be high in added sugars or carbohydrates, which can affect blood sugar levels. It’s important to choose a meal replacement shake that is specifically designed for people with diabetes and is low in added sugars and carbohydrates. Look for shakes that contain high-quality protein, fiber, and healthy fats, and avoid those that contain artificial sweeteners or other additives.

It’s also important to be mindful of portion sizes when using meal replacement shakes. It’s generally recommended to use them as a supplement to a healthy and balanced diet, rather than as a replacement for all meals. Meal replacement shakes can be a convenient option for on-the-go meals or as a post-workout snack, but should not be relied on as the sole source of nutrition.

Is protein powder okay for diabetics?

Protein powder can be okay for people with diabetes, but it’s important to choose the right type and use it appropriately.

Whey protein powder is a popular choice for many people, including those with diabetes, as it’s a complete protein source and is easily absorbed by the body. However, some whey protein powders can contain added sugars or carbohydrates, which can affect blood sugar levels. It’s important to choose a high-quality whey protein powder that is low in added sugars and carbohydrates, or to consider alternative protein sources such as plant-based protein powders like pea protein, soy protein, or hemp protein.

It’s also important to be mindful of portion sizes when using protein powder, as consuming too much protein at once can cause an insulin response and affect blood sugar levels. It’s generally recommended to consume no more than 20-30 grams of protein per serving, and to spread protein intake throughout the day rather than consuming it all at once

How can a diabetic gain weight and muscle?

For people with diabetes who are looking to gain weight and build muscle, it’s important to focus on a few key areas:

  • Diet: Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of protein and healthy fats can help support muscle growth. However, people with diabetes should work with a registered dietitian to develop a meal plan that takes into account their individual nutritional needs and blood sugar control goals.
  • Resistance training: Incorporating resistance training into a regular exercise routine can help build muscle and improve insulin sensitivity. Resistance training can include lifting weights, using resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises.
  • Consistency: Consistency is key when it comes to gaining weight and building muscle. Regular exercise and a consistent diet are important for seeing results over time.
  • Monitoring blood sugar levels: Gaining weight and building muscle can sometimes affect blood sugar levels, so it’s important for people with diabetes to monitor their levels closely and adjust their diabetes management plan as needed.
  • Medication adjustments: People with diabetes who are taking insulin or other medications may need to adjust their doses as they gain weight and build muscle to avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).

Which exercise best for diabetics?

There is no one “best” exercise for people with diabetes, as the most effective type of exercise can vary depending on an individual’s health status, physical abilities, and personal preferences. However, here are some exercises that can be beneficial for people with diabetes:

  • Aerobic exercise: Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming, can help improve cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, and control blood sugar levels.
  • Resistance training: Resistance training, such as weightlifting or using resistance bands, can help build muscle and improve insulin sensitivity, which can aid in controlling blood sugar levels.
  • Flexibility and balance exercises: Yoga, Pilates, or stretching exercises can improve flexibility, balance, and joint mobility, which can be especially helpful for people with diabetes who have nerve damage or other complications that affect mobility.
  • Low-impact exercises: Low-impact exercises such as walking, cycling, or water aerobics can be easier on the joints and reduce the risk of injury, which can be important for people with diabetes who may have circulation or nerve issues.

What exercises should diabetics avoid?

Here are some exercises that people with diabetes may need to be cautious about or avoid:

  • High-impact exercises: Exercises such as running, jumping, and other high-impact activities can put stress on the feet, which can be a concern for people with diabetes who have nerve damage or poor circulation in their feet.
  • Heavy weightlifting: Lifting heavy weights can cause a sudden increase in blood pressure, which can be dangerous for people with diabetes who have cardiovascular complications.
  • Exercise in extreme temperatures: Extreme heat or cold can affect blood sugar levels and put additional stress on the body, so people with diabetes should be cautious when exercising in these conditions.
  • Activities that require a lot of balance: Diabetes can cause nerve damage that affects balance, so activities that require a lot of balance, such as skiing or surfing, may not be suitable for some people with diabetes.