Why spend the time making a home-cooked meal for yourself or struggling to piece together leftovers for a sad work lunch when you can just sip on one of the best meal replacement shakes and call it a day?
Not only are there currently seemingly endless options for healthy, drinkable meals, but MarketWatch reports that the meal replacement shake market is only expected to grow even more over the next several years. That growth, according to a recent report, is driven by factors such as busy lifestyles, rapid urbanization, increasing healthy food consumption habits, and convenience foods. In other words, consumers are becoming more health-conscious and seeking food products that are convenient and more nutritious. Enter: meal replacement shakes.
You can find two varieties of meal replacement shakes:
What are meal replacement shakes and what are their benefits?
These shakes are appealing to many and have multiple benefits:
If you’re looking to try a meal replacement shake, you have dozens of options to choose from. However, it’s important to keep in mind that not all meal replacement shakes are the same, and there are some that should be avoided. We consulted experts to determine what ingredients to consume and avoid when determining the best and worst meal replacement shakes.
The best varieties emulate a well-balanced meal and contain a more balanced macronutrient profile than your average protein shake—which typically focuses on that one key nutrient and little else. “The most important purpose of a meal replacement shake is, as stated, to replace your meal,” says Daniel Wong, RD, CDN, CDE. “By saying that, you would want a shake that contains all the macronutrients—carbohydrates, protein, fat and wide range of vitamins and minerals—to provide a well-balanced meal.”
How do you choose the best meal replacement shake?
The best meal replacement shakes will also have very little of certain substances, such as added sugar and sodium. “I try to steer clear of artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners,” says Lindsay Gnant, manager of scientific content, registered dietitian and nutritionist at Isagenix. “I find that products that rely on artificial colors and flavors tend to use lower-quality ingredients overall.”
The following meal replacement shakes are nutritionist-approved brands you should stock in your home.
The 8 best meal replacement shakes you can buy.
Jim White, RD, ACSM, a registered dietitian and owner of Jim White Fitness Nutrition Studios, calls this meal replacement shake the “best option.” Made from pea protein, this offering boasts a whopping 24 vitamins and minerals each at 35 percent of the recommended daily value. It also has 5 g of fiber and 16 g of protein per serving and is made without artificial colors or flavors.
White also likes this meal replacement shake from Garden of Life because it is “light in calories” and has no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners. Wong is also a fan of this shake because it delivers 20 grams of clean protein per scoop from 13 raw sprouted ingredients, along with greens, healthy fat, 7 g of organic fiber, probiotics and enzymes, plus 21 vitamins and minerals. What’s more? This option also features a robust amino acid profile.
This meal powder, which Lisa Richards, a nutritionist and author of The Candida Diet, recommends, is completely vegan and serves up 20 g of plant-based protein and 8 g of fiber in every serving, making it one of her go-to choices. It also has only 1 g of sugar in each serving and is a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, riboflavin, thiamine, iron, and pantothenic acid.
According to Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, author of The First Time Mom’s Pregnancy Cookbook and Fueling Male Fertility, the Orro Pineapple Upside Down Cake Shake is a deliciously healthy treat. “This drink has a creamy cake batter base with tasting notes of sweet pineapple and a pop of cherry. Formulated with 16 grams of non-GMO pea protein, a 23 vitamin and mineral blend, and zero gluten, lactose, soy, allergens, or artificial sweeteners, Orro is the perfect beverage to grab when you’re on-the-go and need some fuel. No refrigeration needed either,” says Manaker.
According to Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook and member of our Expert Medical Board, Natreve is a great option for a whey protein powder.
“If you are looking for a protein powder with more than just collagen, Natreve Whey Protein Powder might be an option for you. Made with collagen, inulin (aka fiber), organic veggies powders (broccoli stem powder, kale leaf powder and spinach leaf powder), and a probiotic blend, this protein powder provides you with high-quality protein as well as fiber and probiotics for gut health,” says Goodson.