Meal replacement shakes are a convenient form of nourishment. Whether you’re in a hurry or losing weight, meal replacement shakes help you stay on track.
However, there are thousands of meal replacement shakes products available today – and not all are made equal.
Some protein powders label themselves as meal replacement shakes, for example. Other superfood powders claim to be meal replacement shakes.
A meal replacement shake should contain many of the same nutrients you get from a meal. It should contain calories, carbs, fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and other compounds. It should leave you feeling full – not hungry.
With so many meal replacement shakes available, it’s hard to choose the right one. Today, we’re listing the best meal replacement shakes of 2021.
After much deliberation and testing, here’s how our editorial team ranked the best meal replacement shakes available today.
Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal
Garden of Life’s Raw Organic Meal is one of the best meal replacement powders available today. It’s also one of Amazon’s best-selling meal replacement products, frequently ranking as the #1 best-seller site.
Like other Garden of Life products, Raw Organic Meal contains USDA Organic certified ingredients and 100% vegan sources. Instead of using whey or other animal-derived protein sources, Raw Organic Meal uses plant-based protein sources.
Each serving of Raw Organic Meal contains 20g of plant-based protein powder along with superfoods, greens, vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and enzymes. It has everything you like to see in a meal replacement formula – not just the basic protein and vitamins you see in other formulas.
You can buy Raw Organic Meal for $30 to $40 per tub, with each tub containing 20 servings. The formula comes in Chocolate, Lightly Sweet, Vanilla, and Vanilla Chai. With 44 superfoods, 6g of fiber, and 1.5 billion CFUs of probiotics, this vegan meal replacement powder is one of the best meal replacement shake formulas available today.
Vega One All-in-One Shake
Vega One, along with Garden of Life, is one of the best-known vegan supplement companies available today. The company’s All-in-One Shake is a popular and best-selling meal replacement formula. It’s more expensive than the Raw Organic Meal powder from Garden of Life, although it delivers a powerful blend of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients while still being vegan friendly.
Each serving of All-in-One Shake contains 20g of plant-based protein (from hemp, pea, sacha inchi, and flax), delivering a complete amino acid profile. The formula also contains 50% of your daily recommended intake of vitamins and minerals, using ingredients like broccoli, kale, and spinach to deliver these ingredients.
At $50 for 20 servings, Vega One’s All-in-One Shake isn’t the cheapest meal replacement powder on the market. However, if you’re looking for a high-quality vegan protein powder that can easily replace a meal, then the Vega One All-in-One Shake is an excellent option. It’s available in nine flavors, including berry chocolate mint, coconut almond, and unsweetened.
Orgain Organic Meal All-in-One Nutrition Powder
Orgain’s Organic Meal All-in-One Nutrition Powder is the third vegan meal replacement formula on our list. Like the Garden of Life and Vega One formulas above, Orgain’s Organic Meal uses plant-based sources of protein mixed with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
Each serving contains 20g of protein sourced from brown rice, pea, and chia seeds. The formula also contains a range of vitamins and minerals and 8g of fiber per serving.
Orgain’s formula is USDA Organic certified. It’s also free of artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. The label lists dozens of plants and plant extracts, including everything from garbanzo bean sprout to oat grass to beets, kale, bananas, and blueberries. Orgain sweetens the formula with organic stevia and organic amla fruit extract.
One of the biggest advantages of Orgain is that the formula is cheaper than the Vega One and Garden of Life options above. At $31 for 16 servings, the formula is one of the most affordable meal replacement powders on this list.
NatureFuel Keto Meal Replacement
NatureFuel is not the best-known supplement company on this list. However, NatureFuel’s Keto Meal Replacement is a popular option for its value, ingredient profile, and macronutrients. Priced at $23 for 14 servings, NatureFuel’s Keto Meal Replacement contains 15g of fat per serving – much higher than most other meal replacement powders on this list. The formula also contains a range of vitamins and minerals, with roughly 10% to 90% of your recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of most micronutrients.
What makes NatureFuel’s Keto Meal Replacement different, however, is the low protein dose. The formula contains just 8g of protein in each 2 scoop serving. That’s much lower than any ordinary protein powder. That’s not good for people looking to maximize protein intake – but it is good for those who want a high-fat, low-protein diet (like keto dieters).
True to the keto diet, there’s just 9g of carbohydrates in each 2 scoop serving of NatureFuel Keto Meal Replacement.
Key ingredients in NatureFuel’s Keto Meal Replacement include an MCT oil blend (with palm, coconut, and grass-fed butter MCT oils) and a protein blend (with whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, and grass-fed collagen peptides).
If you’re looking for a meal replacement shake with unique, keto-friendly macros, then the NatureFuel Keto Meal Replacement is tough to beat.
Organifi Complete Protein All-in-One Mix
Organifi’s Complete Protein All-in-One Mix is similar to most other meal replacement powders on this list, although it’s priced significantly higher ($80 for 30 servings).
The meal replacement powder uses 100% organic, plant-based protein sources, and all ingredients are USDA Organic certified (just like the top three vegan meal replacement powders on our list). The Organifi Complete Protein All-in-One Mix is also keto-friendly, dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free.
Each scoop of Complete Protein All-in-One Mix contains 20g of protein along with a significant dose of many vitamins, minerals, and other macronutrients. And, like other top-rated meal replacement powders, Complete Protein All-in-One Mix contains a protein and digestive enzyme blend, making it easier for your stomach to digest everything.
Organifi’s Complete Protein All-in-One Mix is also one of the densest powders on this list. Other formulas require 2 scoops and 60g of powder in each serving, while Complete Protein All-in-One Mix requires just one large scoop (38g per scoop) in each serving.
Overall, Organifi advertises their Complete Protein All-in-One Mix as a balanced organic meal in a glass, delivered in the form of a delicious, easy-to-shake mix.
Fit & Lean Meal Shake Fat Burning Meal Replacement
Most meal replacement formulas above are built with protein and lean muscle mass in mind. Fit & Lean, however, is the first on this list to advertise itself as a fat-burning meal replacement specifically.
Each 2 scoop serving contains 20g of protein sourced from whey protein isolate, pea protein isolate, micellar casein, milk protein isolate, and sodium caseinate. The formula also contains a fiber blend, a fat blend, vitamins and minerals, digestive enzymes, probiotics, and fruit and vegetable extracts, similar to the formulas above.
What makes Fit & Lean’s MealShake a fat burning meal replacement? The formula contains a fat-burning complex with green coffee bean extract, green tea leaf extract, and garcinia cambogia fruit extract. These ingredients should provide your body with polyphenols, a small amount of caffeine, EGCG, and other fat-burning ingredients.
Although the powder seems more affordable than other options here, please note that there are just 10 servings per tub, making it one of the more expensive options in terms of cost per serving. It also has dozens of more ingredients than other formulas listed here, is sweetened with sucralose, and uses natural and artificial flavors.
RSP TrueFit looks like an ultra-premium meal replacement powder, although it’s priced much more reasonably than you would expect, given the fancy packaging.
Each serving of RSP TrueFit contains 25g of grass-fed protein, 12 fruits and vegetables, 8g of prebiotic fiber, 3.5g of quality fat, and 1 billion CFUs of probiotics. It’s cheaper at $37 for 20 servings than many of the worse-rated meal replacement powders above.
You can buy RSP TrueFit in chocolate, cinnamon, coffee, and vanilla flavors. There are no artificial ingredients, no gluten, and no preservatives. If you want a high-quality meal replacement powder and you’re not concerned about whether or not it’s vegan, then RSP TrueFit is one of the best options available today.
Ka’Chava Tribal Superfood
Ka’Chava calls its meal replacement shake Tribal Superfood. The company claims their formula is the “ultimate all-in-one whole body meal,” delivering everything you need to replace a healthy meal effectively.
Like other top-rated meal replacement shakes here, Ka’Chava Tribal Superfood contains calories, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, probiotics, plant extracts, and more.
What makes Ka’Chava Tribal Superfood superior, however, is its use of additional ingredients like omega-3 fatty acids (from chia and flax), antioxidant fruit extracts, 1,000mg of adaptogens, 17+ greens and vegetables, and other valuable ingredients. It also has slightly higher dosages than other top-rated meal replacements, delivering 240 calories, 9g of fiber, and 25g of protein per serving.
If you don’t mind the premium price tag (over $5 per serving), then Ka’Chava Tribal Superfood is one of the best meal replacement powders you can buy today, delivering 70+ plant-based superfoods and nutrients in each package.
Who Should Use a Meal Replacement Shake?
People use meal replacement shakes for all different purposes. Some people take meal replacement powders to lose weight. Others use them because they have a busy lifestyle and don’t have time to make proper meals.
Meal replacement shakes can be extremely effective for weight loss. Replacing a single meal with a shake per day can lower your caloric intake, making it easier to lose weight. Instead of having a 700 calorie lunch, for example, you might have a 200 calorie meal replacement shake. The shake and meal have similar nutritional value – but with fewer calories in the shake, making it easy to lose weight.
Some meal replacement shakes contain additional ingredients for weight loss, like caffeine or green tea extract. Some also contain fiber and other ingredients to inhibit your appetite, helping you naturally eat less.
Some people are so busy they don’t have time to make proper meals. Maybe you skip breakfast or lunch, for example, because you’re on the go throughout the day. A good meal replacement shakes lets you enjoy the nutritional value of a meal with a fraction of the preparation time.
Some people make a meal replacement shake in the morning and carry it with them throughout the day. Others place the meal replacement powder in a water bottle, then add water and drink it on-the-go when they get hungry.
Students, programmers, executives, and other busy individuals all enjoy meal replacement shakes.
Many keto dieters take meal replacement shakes. Meal replacement shakes are low in carbs, making them ideal for those tracking their macronutrients for the keto diet. Some meal replacement powders are specifically designed for keto dieters, delivering a high dose of fat, a medium dose of protein, and a low dose of carbs.
Athletes may take meal replacement powders for post-workout recovery. As an athlete, you might need extra meals throughout the day to support all that calorie burning. Athletes, bodybuilders, and other active individuals might take a meal replacement shake as a convenient way to get the 4th meal during the day.
Some older adults and elderly people take meal replacements. Some older adults no longer like to cook, for example, or have difficulty cooking. Meal replacements allow people of any age to get effective nutrition with minimal effort.
Others take meal replacement powders to save money. At $1 to $2 per serving, meal replacement shakes are one of the most affordable and nutritionally complete meals you can buy.
How We Ranked
All meal replacement shakes make similar promises. They all claim to support an active lifestyle in various ways, delivering meal-like benefits in the form of a protein shake. To separate good and bad meal replacement shakes, we considered all of the following:
Protein Sources: We were not biased towards vegan or animal protein sources. However, we were biased towards high-quality protein sources. We preferred meal replacement shakes with USDA Organic plant-based protein sources, grass-fed animal protein sources, and similar high-quality sources of protein.
Protein Dosage: Some meal replacement powders above had just 8g of protein per serving. Others had 15g to 25g. Generally, you want a decent dose of protein in your meal replacement shake.
Fiber Dosage: One of the easiest ways to spot a bad meal replacement shake is to check the fiber dosage. If a shake does not have at least 4g of fiber, then it’s not a good meal replacement shake. Your body needs fiber, and it’s one ingredient that traditional protein powders lack. The best meal replacements above had 4g to 9g of fiber per serving.
Macronutrient Balance: Some protein powders are high in carbs and calories while low in fat and protein, which isn’t ideal for most diets. We preferred meal replacements with effective macronutrient balance, including a good balance of carbs, fats, calories, and protein.
Natural Ingredients: Some cheaper meal replacement powders use preservatives, artificial colors, and artificial flavors. Others use USDA Organic sweeteners and flavors and have no preservatives. We always prefer natural meal replacement powders over artificial formulas.
Taste, Texture, and Mixability: Some meal replacement shakes contain all of the right ingredients – but they taste horrendous and form clumps in your beverage. Others have the perfect balance of flavor, texture, and mixability.
Other Active Ingredients: Meal replacement shakes are loaded with other active ingredients, including plant extracts, fruit extracts, vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and digestive enzymes. All of the meal replacements above were loaded with extra ingredients to enhance the meal replacement effectiveness.
Benefits of Meal Replacement Shakes
Proven scientific benefits back meal replacement shakes. Researchers have tested top meal replacement powders. The best meal replacement shakes, as you might expect, have been verified by science to be effective meal replacements.
Meal replacement shakes could boost energy. As this 2020 study explained, vitamins and minerals are essential to humans for numerous reasons. If you aren’t getting enough vitamins and minerals, then you could feel lethargic. All meal replacement formulas above are loaded with vitamins and minerals to provide a range of physical and cognitive benefits.
Similarly, many meal replacements are rich with antioxidants, which are linked with powerful health and wellness benefits throughout the body. The top-rated meal replacement formulas above are rich with polyphenols and other plant-based antioxidants, which could support healthy inflammation throughout the body. If you have an active lifestyle, then your body is under considerable oxidative stress. Antioxidants help your body support healthy inflammation against this oxidative stress.
There are also real weight loss benefits linked to meal replacement shakes. Multiple studies have shown that high-protein, low-carb shakes can support an active lifestyle and help with weight loss.
Of course, it’s no secret that replacing a meal with a lower-calorie alternative can lead to weight loss. The best way to lose weight is to maintain a healthy caloric deficit over time, and meal replacement shakes help you do that.
Another crucial benefit of meal replacement shakes is that they’re often vegan friendly. Some of the top-rated meal replacement shakes above provide the same dose of protein (20g to 25g) as leading protein powders, but they do it using plant-based protein sources. Some people prefer plant-based protein because they’re vegan or vegetarian. However, many non-vegans take plant-based protein because they find it easier to digest.
Others take meal replacement shakes because they’re keto-friendly. It can be tough to stick to the keto diet, and you need to track macronutrient intake carefully. A good meal replacement shake lets you control at least one meal per day, helping you stick to your plan.
Your body needs fiber for weight loss and digestion. However, standard protein powders contain no fiber. If you’re replacing a meal with an ordinary protein shake, then you could encounter issues due to low fiber content. Meal replacement formulas give your body the fiber it needs to push waste out of your system, helping with weight loss.
FAQs About Meal Replacement Shakes
Q: What is a meal replacement shake?
A: A meal replacement shake is a nutritional supplement that contains similar calories, nutrients, and vitamins to an ordinary meal. Meal replacement formulas typically have more calories, fiber, and other ingredients than an ordinary protein powder.
Q: What’s in a meal replacement shake?
A: Meal replacement shakes have similar base ingredients to any protein powder, typically using animal protein sources (like whey) or plant protein sources (like pea or chia). Meal replacement shakes could also have digestive enzymes, plant extracts, probiotics, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other ingredients.
Q: Can I survive on meal replacement shakes alone?
A: Most meal replacement shakes are designed to replace one meal during the day – not every meal forever. Unless you’re taking a formula that specifically advertises itself as a “complete” nutrition source (like Soylent), you should not use meal replacement shakes to replace every meal.
Q: Are meal replacement shakes good for weight loss?
A: The best way to lose weight is to maintain a caloric deficit. If you swap out a 600 calorie lunch with a 200 calorie meal replacement shake, then it can help you lose weight. Many shakes also contain ingredients like fiber or protein that are linked with effective weight loss results.
Q: Who should use a meal replacement shake?
A: Anyone can benefit from a meal replacement shake – including busy professionals, students, older adults, people on a tight budget, and active athletes.
Q: Can I take a meal replacement shake if I’m lactose intolerant?
A: Most plant-based meal replacement shakes contain no lactose or dairy products. Check if your formula is vegan or vegetarian friendly to verify.
Q: How do I take my meal replacement shake?
A: You take a meal replacement shake by mixing the powder with cold water, milk, or the beverage of your choice.
Some people take meal replacement shakes because they’re convenient. Others like them because they’re affordable. Some are trying to lose weight or gain lean muscle mass, while others are simply looking for a healthier lifestyle.
Whatever your reason may be, consider buying one of the meal replacement shakes above to enjoy a range of powerful benefits.
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