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Best Meal Replacement Shakes: Recommended Options for 2024

Meal replacement shakes have gained popularity as a practical and nutritious alternative to traditional meals. It's Packed with essential proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals, these shakes could offer a great help balancing daily nutritional intake.

Typically lower in calories than a standard meal, they may be helpful to those who aim for a calorie deficit or modest weight loss. In this article, we explore some of the best meal replacement shakes on the market to help you choose the top one for your dietary needs and lifestyle.

Best meal replacement shakes: a shortlist

  1. Future Kind — Best third-party tested vegan shake
  2. Huel — Best ready-to-drink shake with a range of distinctive flavors
  3. Garden of Life — Best budget friendly organic zero sugar choice
  4. Ka’Chava — Best meal replacement powder option high in protein and superfoods
  5. Soylent — Best tasting vegan chocolate meal replacement shake

How we compiled our list of the best meal replacement shakes

To provide a comprehensive overview of our top meal replacement shakes, we utilized a set of criteria to evaluate each product thoroughly. We looked through these criteria to assist you in making an informed decision to choose the best-tasting, healthiest, most nutritional, and highest-quality meal replacement shakes.

Nutritional contentTaste, flavor and textureDietary compatibilityQuality certificationsUser reviewsPrice
Evaluation of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and mineral content per servingAssessment is based on user feedback and product descriptionsVegetarian, vegan, keto, kosherVerification of quality certifications and adherence to manufacturing standardsAnalysis and summary of positive and negative customer feedbackComparison of cost per serving and overall value for the price
  • Nutritional content. We evaluated the macro- and micronutrient content of each meal replacement shake, focusing on the balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals, to ensure that each product offers a comprehensive nutritional profile to meet daily dietary needs.
  • Taste, flavor, and texture. Taste and flavor were assessed based on user feedback and product descriptions. This includes the overall taste experience, texture, and any noted aftertastes. We evaluated products based on their capacity to deliver a pleasant and enjoyable consumption experience.
  • Dietary compatibility. We made a list that is suitable for various diet options.
  • Quality certifications. Verification of quality certifications, such as USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, and NSF Certified Gluten-Free, was conducted. Adherence to high manufacturing standards, including Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), was also considered to ensure product safety and quality.
  • User reviews. Customer feedback was analyzed from various platforms to gather insights into product satisfaction and concerns. Both positive and negative feedback were summarized to provide a balanced view of each product’s performance in real-world use.
  • Price and value. The cost per serving of each meal replacement shake was compared to assess the overall value of the price. This criterion helps determine if the product offers good value for money based on its nutritional content, quality, and user satisfaction.

Best meal replacement shakes: an overview

Whether you are seeking a convenient meal option for weight management, fitness goals, or simply a busy lifestyle, this guide will help you choose the best meal replacement shake to suit your needs. Our goal is to provide you with a well-rounded evaluation of each product, considering factors such as nutritional content, taste, cost, and customer reviews. Let's delve into our top picks and what makes each one stand out.

1. Future Kind — best third-party tested vegan shake

Future Kind+ Plant-Powered Meal Shake

Future Kind's Plant-Based Meal Replacement Shake is a high-quality, vegan-friendly product designed to complement nutrition. It combines organic protein powders with a fiber mix, probiotics, digestive enzymes, and a super-greens blend, including spinach, kale, blueberries, and broccoli.

Future kind+ suggests that this shake helps promote fullness and sustain energy. It helps with weight management and acts as an addition to muscle maintenance. Manufactured in an FDA-registered facility, it adheres to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and undergoes third-party lab testing. It also comes in a compostable pouch, aligning with eco-friendly values.

What customers like:

Customers rave about the smooth texture and pleasant taste, noting that it mixes well without leaving a gritty residue. Many appreciate the clean ingredient list, without allergens or artificial additives. Users have also highlighted the shake's ability to keep them full, making it a reliable option for busy days or as part of weight management. Enzymes and probiotics are also frequently praised for supporting digestion.

What customers don’t like:

Some find the price higher than other shakes. Limited flavor options and occasional minor digestive discomfort are also noted.

A container of 14 servings costs $49.00 ($3.50 per serving).

2. Huel — best ready-to-drink shake

Huel Ready-to-drink

Huel Ready-to-Drink is a nutritious meal in a bottle, offering a convenient on-the-go solution. Each bottle contains 22 g of protein, omega-3 and 6, slow-release complex carbs, and 27 essential vitamins and minerals, providing a balanced intake of carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, and phytonutrients.

This product is plant-based, vegan, and free from animal byproducts, GMOs, artificial flavors, gluten, and dairy. Huel's commitment to sustainability is evident in the packaging, which comes in recyclable bottles made from 51% recycled plastic.

What customers like:

Many people emphasize the product's capacity to provide energy and fullness. People frequently praise the product's vegan and eco-friendly packaging, as well as its carbon-neutral shipping. Additionally, the variety of flavors and the smooth, non-chalky texture are well-received.

What customers don’t like:

Some customers feel that it is relatively expensive compared to other meal replacements. A few reviews mention that certain flavors can be too sweet or artificial-tasting. Despite the product's suggested easy digestion formula, a few users have reported minor digestive issues.

A box of 12 bottles (24 servings) costs $53.00 ($2.20 per serving).

3. Garden of Life — best budget-friendly zero sugar organic choice

Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal Replacement Shakes

Garden of Life's Raw Organic Meal is a meal replacement shake that offers 20 g of plant-based protein per serving. It combines organic peas, sprouted grains, seeds, legumes, and 44 superfoods with whole-food vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and digestive enzymes. It is certified USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, vegan, gluten-free, and kosher. Raw Organic Meal is designed to be easily digestible and has a smooth texture.

What customers like:

Customers appreciate the taste and smooth texture, noting it mixes well with water or plant-based drinks. The inclusion of superfoods, probiotics, and digestive enzymes for gut health is highly praised.

What customers don’t like:

Few users mentioned that certain flavors might be too strong for their taste.

A package of 28 servings costs $55.19 ($1.97 per serving).

4. Ka’Chava — best meal replacement powder high in protein and superfoods

Ka’Chava All-In-One Nutrition Shake Blend

Ka'Chava All-in-One Nutrition Shake meal replacement blend features over 85 superfoods and nutrients. This powder includes plant-based ingredients such as complete proteins, vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, adaptogens, superfruits, berries, omegas, greens, vegetables, digestive enzymes, probiotics, prebiotic fiber, and functional mushrooms.

Ka’Chava is formulated to keep you full without excessive calorie intake, and it is done by optimizing levels of protein, fiber, and healthy fats — three key macronutrients that help control hunger.

Ka'Chava is free from soy, gluten, GMOs, artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners. Additionally, the product holds certifications for its high-quality standards, such as USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, and NSF Certified Gluten-Free.

What customers like:

Customers praise Ka'Chava for its rich, creamy texture and pleasant taste, even when mixed with just water. Many highlight the shake’s nutritional profile. Users appreciate its ability to keep them full and energized throughout the day.

What customers don’t like:

Some customers find Ka'Chava to be on the expensive side compared to other meal replacements. A few reviews indicate that certain flavors may not appeal to everyone’s taste. Additionally, some users reported experiencing minor digestive issues, though these instances are relatively rare.

A package of 15 servings costs $72.99–79.99 ($4.80–5.33 per serving).

5. Soylent — best-tasting vegan chocolate meal replacement shake

Soylent Creamy Chocolate Meal Replacement

Soylent Creamy Chocolate is a ready-to-drink meal replacement shake offering plant-based protein, 28 essential vitamins and minerals, and only 1 g of sugar per serving. Formulated with sustainable vegan protein that contains all nine essential amino acids, Soylent is designed to provide balanced nutrition.

Each serving contains 400 calories, making it a suitable meal replacement option. Soylent shakes are vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, kosher, and have a low glycemic index. The product is known for its rich, creamy chocolate flavor and is shelf-stable, providing a convenient on-the-go nutrition solution.

What customers like:

Customers appreciate Soylent Creamy Chocolate for its smooth texture and satisfying taste, which many find superior to other meal replacement shakes. Many frequently praise the comprehensive nutritional profile, which includes low sugar content and high protein, for supporting various dietary needs.

Users also value the convenience of the ready-to-drink format and the product's ability to keep them full and energized.

What customers don’t like:

Some customers find the flavor to be too sweet or artificial. There are occasional reports of minor digestive discomfort.

A box of 12 servings costs $48.00–50.00 ($3.50–4.17 per serving).

Comparing the best meal replacement shakes

BrandCalories per serving
Protein per serving (g)
Total Fat per serving (g)Total carbohydrate per serving (g)Sugar per serving gDietary compatibilityFlavorThird-party testingServings per packagePrice*Price per serving*
Future Kind12016391Vegetarian, Vegan, KetoVanillaYes~14 scoops (1 scoop/serving)$49$3.50
Huel20010-119-1019-201Vegan, KosherChocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry, Cinammon Roll, Salted caramel, Berry, Banana, Iced Coffee, CaramelUnspecified2 servings/bottle$53 /box of 12 bottles$2.20
Garden of Life150202.5120Vegan, KosherChocolate, Lightly Sweet, Vanilla, Vanilla ChaiUnspecified~28 scoops (1 scoop/serving)$55.19$1.97
Ka’Chava240257246VeganCoconut Acai, Matcha, Chai, Chocolate, VanillaYes15 (2 scoops/serving)$72.99–79.99$4.80–5.33
Soylent4002024361Vegan, Kosher
Mint chocolate, Banana, Strawberry, Creamy chocolate, Original, VanillaUnspecified1 serving/bottle$48–50/box of 12 bottles$3.50–4.17

*the price may vary between different sellers

What are meal replacement shakes?

In recent years, there has been a trend towards reducing meat consumption and increasing plant-based diets. There are plenty of diets that focus on plants, fruits, or even mushrooms. People are always looking for tasty, nourishing, and nutritious food alternatives, especially when illness occurs.

Meal replacement shakes are another interesting solution. They are usually available as ready-to-drink liquids or powders that can be easily mixed with water, milk, a plant-based drink, or any other beverage of your choice.

The primary purpose of meal replacement shakes is to provide the essential nutrients we could receive from a healthy diet to maintain our calorie needs. It can also be a convenient and efficient way to manage weight.

These shakes are usually high in protein and dietary fiber but low in fat, making them a helpful tool for weight loss. They are often fortified with vitamins, minerals, and superfoods to address common dietary deficiencies.

Meal replacement shakes come in various forms, including pre-made drinks and powdered mixes, catering to different dietary needs such as vegan, keto, kosher, and gluten-free options. Despite their potential benefits, some concerns exist regarding the long-term nutritional balance they provide, highlighting the importance of choosing high-quality, certified products.

How meal replacement shakes differ from protein shakes?

Based on various studies, scientific insights reveal the primary differences in purpose, nutritional content, and usage of both meal replacement shakes and protein shakes.

Meal replacement shakes:

  • Purpose: Meal replacement shakes are designed to help replace a full meal, providing a balanced mix of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).
  • Nutritional Content: They can contain a higher number of calories and a more balanced ratio of nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, to mimic the nutritional content of a regular meal.
  • Usage: Typically used for weight management purposes, convenience, and ensuring adequate nutrient intake if regular meals are skipped.
  • Components: In addition to protein, they contain significant amounts of carbohydrates, fats, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. They may also include other functional ingredients, such as probiotics, digestive enzymes, and superfoods.

Protein shakes

  • Purpose: Protein shakes are primarily designed to supplement protein intake, which is essential for muscle repair, growth, and maintenance.
  • Nutritional Content: They are usually high in protein but typically lower in other macronutrients like carbohydrates and fats. They may not contain significant amounts of vitamins and minerals.
  • Usage: Often used by athletes and individuals looking to increase their protein intake, preserve lean body mass, and support weight loss.
  • Components: Mainly composed of protein sources such as whey, casein, soy, or plant-based proteins. They might also contain small amounts of carbohydrates and fats, but their primary focus is on protein content.

Nutritional benefits and considerations of meal replacement shakes

Nutritionally balanced, these shakes offer a blend of macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates) along with essential vitamins and minerals. This could ensure that, while reducing calorie intake, individuals still receive adequate nutrition to support overall health. Meal replacement shakes often include fiber and healthy fats, crucial for digestive health and maintaining energy levels.

Now, let's explore the potential nutritional benefits of meal replacement shakes, which offer a unique combination of advantages, including weight management, an addition to nutritious and balanced diet, convenience, and time-saving benefits.

Macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates)

Macronutrients are essential nutrients required in large amounts to provide energy for our organism's functions. Proteins are vital for tissue repair and enzyme production. They are composed of amino acids, which are crucial for muscle growth and immune function.

Fats provide energy, support cell growth, and protect organs. They are also important for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins. Carbohydrates are the body's primary energy source, broken down into glucose for immediate energy or stored as glycogen in muscles and the liver. Consuming a balanced diet with appropriate amounts of each macronutrient is essential for overall health.

Vitamins and minerals

Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients crucial for various biochemical processes in our body. Vitamins such as A, C, D, E, and K, along with B-complex vitamins, support immune function, vision, skin health, and energy metabolism. Minerals like calcium, potassium, and iron are crucial for bone health, fluid balance, and oxygen transport. Deficiencies can lead to health issues, including anemia, osteoporosis, and immune system dysfunction.

Fibers

Dietary fiber, found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, is essential for digestive health. It is categorized into soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, forming a gel-like substance that helps manage blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Insoluble fiber aids in moving material through the digestive system and increases stool bulk, preventing constipation.

Probiotics and enzymes

Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide potential health benefits, particularly for gut health. They can support digestive function, immune system, and may help prevent and treat diarrhea caused by certain infections or antibiotics.

Common probiotic strains include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Digestive enzymes, on the other hand, help break down food into nutrients the body can absorb. They are crucial for the digestion of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

Superfoods

Superfoods are nutrient-dense foods believed to offer exceptional health benefits. Examples include goji, chia seeds, flaxseeds, blueberries, kale, salmon, and many more.

These foods are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, which may help reduce inflammation, help lower the risk of chronic diseases, and contribute to overall health improvement. For instance, blueberries contain anthocyanins that may support brain function, while salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids that support heart health.

Weight management

Excessive weight is one of the major contributors and a risk factor for increased health problems. Studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of meal replacement shakes as a weight management tool. According to a study from 2022 with night-shift workers, a loss of 5–10% of initial body weight could be effective in the treatment of many of the complications associated with obesity, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia.

Also, studies with overweight and obese people have demonstrated that the amount of weight loss is greater with meal replacement products than with conventional dietary advice. These shakes provide a controlled number of calories while delivering essential nutrients, which can help individuals maintain the calorie deficit necessary for weight loss.

A review of various obesity management studies also demonstrates that meal replacement diets can result in significant short-term and long-term weight loss and help sustain long-term weight management when used correctly.

However, many of the beneficial effects of weight loss disappear with weight regain. A comparison study of meal replacements and medication in weight maintenance after weight loss suggests that 12 to 30 months after treatment, 50% of people who lose weight at first gain back more than 45 to 75% of the weight they lost. This study wanted to highlight that meal replacement shakes can also be helpful in maintaining weight after weight loss.

Conveniece

One of the biggest advantages of meal replacement shakes is their convenience. They are quick to prepare and consume, making them a helpful option for busy individuals who might not have the time to cook balanced meals. These shakes offer a controlled portion size, which can help manage portion control in regular meals. This is beneficial for individuals who struggle with portion sizes and calorie counting.

The time-saving aspect could be helpful in maintaining dietary goals without compromising on nutritional quality. Additionally, the portability of these shakes allows for easy consumption on the go, reducing the reliance on unhealthy fast food options during hectic schedules.

How to incorporate meal replacement shakes into your routine

Integrating meal replacement shakes into your routine can be easy with these practical tips. Combine them with a healthy diet, exercise, and lifestyle for optimal wellness.

Use them as a meal replacement

Dietary guidelines for Americans have recommendations about calorie intake, which is about 1,600 to 2,400 in females and 2,400 to 3,000 in males. We also need to recognizze that calorie intake can vary according to physical activity, age, height, and weight.

People who are very active or have certain health conditions may require different amounts of calories. When we want to manage and modify our weight, we need to lessen our calorie intake and use low-energy diets to create a calorie deficit.

Meal replacement shakes provide us with an average of 250 calories per serving, so using them as a meal replacement can help you get a lower calorie intake while still benefiting from the convenience and nutrition they offer.

Incorporating meal replacement shakes into a low-energy diet can help manage hunger and reduce the temptation to overeat, making it easier to stick to a calorie deficit and help achieve weight loss goals. By substituting one or two meals a day with a low-calorie shake, it is possible to reduce overall calorie intake, which is crucial for weight loss.

On the other hand, when trying to gain weight or when there is a lack of calories in the diet, meal replacements can also be beneficial. They can be used to supplement meals rather than replace them entirely; otherwise, there is a risk of developing nutritional deficiencies.

Also, the study in diabetic people highlights that meal replacements may reduce fasting plasma glucose levels and aid in weight management when used to supplement meals rather than replace them entirely.

Plan for busy days

Meal replacement shakes can be particularly useful on busy days when preparing a full meal isn't available. Researches indicate that occasional consumption of meal replacement products can simplify dietary routines and help maintain calorie control.

Post-workout recovery

After a workout, meal replacement shakes can provide essential nutrients for recovery. For example, meal replacement shakes typically contain high-quality protein that provides the necessary amino acids to support muscle recovery, so consuming shakes containing proteins about two hours post-exercise may be optimal for muscle protein synthesis.

Also, after a workout, it is important to restock carbohydrates so we do not reduce glycogen synthesis rates. According to a review study, consuming carbohydrates two hours after exercise can help with glycogen recovery. Meal replacement shakes often include carbohydrates, which can help restore energy levels. This helps reduce fatigue and prepare your body for the next workout session.

In addition, some meal replacement shakes include electrolytes, which help maintain hydration levels post-workout. Proper hydration is critical for muscle function and recovery; it prevents cramps and aids in faster recovery.

Use as a substitute for unhealthy snacks

Replacing unhealthy snacks with meal replacement shakes can help control calorie intake. As we know, unhealthy snacks like chips, cookies, and candy often provide "empty" calories, high in sugar and fats but low in essential nutrients.

Snacking on high-calorie, low-micronutrient foods can lead to excessive calorie intake and weight gain over the long term. Unlike sugary snacks that can lead to quick spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, meal replacement shakes often contain protein and fiber, which promote a feeling of fullness and may help monitor blood sugar levels.

Precautions and considerations for using meal replacement shakes

While meal replacement shakes can be a useful tool for weight loss and weight management, it's crucial to be aware of the potential risks and side effects associated with their use. Here are some important factors to consider:

  • Nutrient deficiencies: Meal replacement shakes do not always offer all the required nutrients included in whole foods. They could lack the diversity of nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, even if they are fortified with vitamins and minerals. Meal replacement shakes should not be relied upon too much since nutrient shortages could result over time. Make sure the meal replacement shakes you select have adequate macronutrients, vitamins, and mineral balance and quality. Steer clear of those heavy in artificial sweeteners and additives.
  • Digestive issues: Some individuals may experience digestive issues, such as bloating or constipation, when consuming meal replacement shakes. This may be due to the high protein content, which can be challenging to digest for some, or the use of certain sweeteners and fibers that may cause discomfort.
  • Long-term sustainability: You shouldn't rely on meal replacement shakes as a long-term nutritional solution. To ensure comprehensive nutrient intake, use them in conjunction with whole foods as a supplement to a balanced diet.
  • Psychological and social considerations: Eating is not just about nutrition. It's also a social and psychological experience. Over-reliance on meal replacement shakes can interfere with social eating habits and food enjoyment. It's important to maintain balance and not let meal replacements disrupt normal eating patterns.

Special precautions:

Pregnancy and nursing: these are critical periods that require careful consideration of nutritional intake to support both the mother and the baby. Before incorporating meal replacement shakes into their diet, pregnant and nursing women should consult with their healthcare provider.

It is very important to pay attention to how your body responds to meal replacement shakes. If you experience digestive issues, try adjusting the type or amount of shakes you consume and ensuring you are drinking enough water.

Do not forget to use meal replacement shakes as part of an overall healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity and a healthy, balanced diet. This combination can help you achieve and maintain your health goals more effectively.

Best meal replacement shakes — conclusion

Meal replacement shakes can be a valuable tool for weight management, convenience, and ensuring daily nutritional intake. You can optimize the benefits of using them as supplements or complete meal replacements, planning for busy days, incorporating them post-workout, and substituting them for unhealthy snacks.

However, it's essential to be mindful of potential nutrient deficiencies long-term, digestive issues, and the need for a balanced diet. Integrating meal replacement shakes wisely into a healthy lifestyle can effectively support your wellness goals.


Further reading

If you are interested in weight loss, look through the list of the best CBD products for weight loss.

Check out some of the best-tasting protein powders.

Explore the best muscle growth supplements that could help you maintain a great physique.

Take care of your immunity and skin using the best black seed oil supplements.


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