- 1 Benefits of Meal Replacement Drinks
- 2 What A Meal Replacement Cannot Do
- 3 How to Choose the Best Meal Replacement Shake
- 4 Reviews of the Best Meal Replacement Shakes in 2021
- 4.1 1. Garden of Life Meal Replacement Powder – Best To Buy In 2021
- 4.2 2. Garden of Life Raw Organic Fit – Best Meal Replacement for Weight Loss
- 4.3 3. Ancient Nutrition Keto Feast Powder – Best Keto Meal Replacement
- 4.4 4. Healthy Skoop All-in-One Breakfast – Best Meal Replacement Shake For Men
- 4.5 5. Vegan Smart All-In-One Nutritional Shake – Best Meal Replacement for Vegans
- 5 Top-rated Best Meal Replacements Shake Comparison Table
- 6 Conclusion
A hearty breakfast is the best way to start your day. A lot of people, however, don’t have time in the mornings, or skip meals during the day. Others struggle to prepare healthy, balanced meals all the time. If you’ve never thought about it, a meal replacement supplement drink might be the way to go. The best meal replacement shake for you depends on your needs or goals. Meal replacement powders can be used to supplement nutritional needs, aid digestion, and there are meal replacements for weight loss as well as weight gain.
Benefits of Meal Replacement Drinks
If you’re uncertain whether a meal replacement (MR) is the right thing for you, here are five ways in which MRs can benefit people.
1. Meal Replacements for Weight Loss
Unbalanced diets are a major cause of being overweight, but undernourished. If you’re missing vital nutrients, you never feel properly satiated. A meal replacement, especially with enough protein and fibre, will keep you feeling full for longer and reduce food cravings. Also, the full spectrum of essential vitamins and minerals helps to rebalance your body.
2. Meal Replacements for Weight Gain
Protein based MRs high in calories, but low in sugars are the best for weight gain. Weight gain and muscle gain go hand in hand and protein is essential for maintaining muscle bulk. MRs can be very healthy when properly formulated, and you can also boost your shake with healthy options like avocado, banana, peanut butter and/or coconut milk.
3. Meal Replacements for Busy People
Instead of skipping breakfast or eating something insubstantial, the better choice would be a quick meal replacement drink. A well-balanced MR could keep you energized and satiated all the way to lunch. If you have to work through lunch, or make do with a sandwich or some fast food, a convenient meal replacement in a sachet will see you through the day much easier.
4. Meal Replacements for Balanced Nutrition
Some people don’t have the time, or aren’t so skilled at meal planning. The average person understands they should get enough protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables—and lay off too many carbs and sugars. For many, however, it’s a pretty hit and miss strategy, and figures show 31% of the US population lack in one or more vital nutrients. A good quality meal replacement once a day, especially for breakfast, will give you at least a third of DV or RDA daily requirements.
5. Meal Replacements for Recovering Health
Studies over the years confirm that weight loss programs using one meal replacement per day for type 2 diabetes and obesity are more than twice as effective as those programs that do not. If you have a chronic health condition or are in recovery, always consult your health provider before taking any kind of dietary supplementation.
What A Meal Replacement Cannot Do
Meal replacements cannot provide all the enzymes, antioxidants, fibre and good fats you get from regular meals. Chewing food with stimulating flavors, and mixing in saliva is all part of a natural, holistic body process which doesn’t compare to downing a meal replacement. A meal replacement is what it is—a replacement for just one meal.
How to Choose the Best Meal Replacement Shake
- What a meal replacement should contain
- Checking nutritional values
- Checking the ingredients
- Added flavors
1. Definition of a Meal Replacement
In the US at least, there are no regulatory restrictions as to what can be sold as a meal replacement. There are various opinions, but our guideline is:
- 200-400 calories (1/3 from protein)
- At least 15g of protein
- 6 or more grams of fiber
- 6-15g mono-unsaturated or saturated fat
- All 9 essential aminos plus added BCAAs
- 25-33% (or more) of DV vitamins and minerals
- Keep you fully satiated for at least 3 hours
At the top of any label are the supplement facts with the serving information. Servings per container are how many times you can use the product which is usually a number up to 30 (once a day for a month). The serving size is the basis of the nutritional values.
For drink powders, one serving is measured in scoops (scoop spoon included), as well as grams. Always double check the serving size (1 or 2 scoops) because it can differ from product to product and it’s easy to make a mistake.
All the percentages you see are the baseline Daily Values (DV) set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The label percentages shows what percent of each nutrient you are getting with one serving. These are always based on a standard requirement of 2000 calories per day.
“The % DVs are based on the Daily Values for key nutrients, which are the amounts (in grams, milligrams, or micrograms) of nutrients recommended per day for Americans 4 years of age and older.” – you can access the official FDA label explanation PDF here.
This is a general low average and the safest one size fits all recommendation. For a better understanding of your daily nutritional requirements, it’s always useful to look at your daily nutrient recommendations based on Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs).
By entering your height, weight, age, and activity level, you can generate a report on your estimated daily calorie needs, in addition to the recommended intakes of macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
For example, the basic macronutrients for the average American female—32yrs, 5ft 3in, 168.5lbs and who is low active—are 2 237kcal, 364g carbohydrates, 25g fiber, 61g protein, 87g fat and 2.7 L (11 cups) of water. So, putting a little extra meal replacement powder into your drink is quite safe and probably the better thing to do.
3. Ingredients: Labeling and Sources
According to guidelines, the ingredients are all the substances such as binders, colors, excipients, fillers, flavors, and sweeteners that the powder is made from. The source of the nutrients is sometimes listed with the supplement facts, or separately on the ingredients list. Ingredients are listed from the highest to the lowest weight value.
Notice how a product deals with ingredients. For example, if a whey protein is sourced from organic, grass fed cows—and not antibiotic, growth hormone injected, corn-fed cows—the latter will list ingredient sources more prominently as a key marketing point.
If you have special dietary requirements, you probably know how to check for these. A lot of people require products that are vegan or plant based, lactose free, gluten free, soy free, or GMO free etc. These are usually key marketing points as well, so they tend to be labeled quite clearly.
4. Flavors: Natural and Artificial
A good-tasting meal replacement can be a major deciding factor for continuing with a product. Understandably, some people want completely natural flavoring, but this can be limiting and sometimes misunderstood.
According to strict FDA labeling codes, natural, non-artificial flavoring must be derived from spices, roots, leaves, produce or animal products, and must match the label description. So, a natural strawberry flavor must be an extract from real strawberries.
Anything else is ‘artificial flavoring’ even if it’s an imitation vanilla derived from wood pulp, or a harmless maple flavor derived from fenugreek seeds. The point is, artificial doesn’t necessarily mean chemically synthesized.
5. Sweeteners: Natural and Artificial
Protein and vegetable powders may not always be appetizing by themselves and adding a sweet flavor is one way to overcome this. It’s better to avoid all high-intensity non-nutritive sweeteners even if they are approved by the FDA. Alcohol derived sugars such as xylitol or any ‘—itol’ sometimes cause bloating, cramps or even diarrhea, though erythritol appears to be the best choice with the least side effects.
There are also issues with certain types of stevia, so make sure the product you choose is 95 percent steviol glycoside to avoid counterfeit ingredients. It’s also best to avoid maltodextrin with shakes and drinks because it may cause sudden spikes in blood sugar and insulin.
You can add natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, coconut palm sugar, stevia or monk fruit; or you can add fruits, avocado, peanut butter, coconut milk—whatever you see fit.
Reviews of the Best Meal Replacement Shakes in 2021
Here are our reviews of carefully selected products. We thought these categories would be useful in helping you make the best decision. They are all healthy, quality choices and we explain their merits clearly. . The final choice is yours, and after reading our reviews, we’d love to hear your comments or suggestions too.
- Garden of Life Organic Meal Replacement Shake – Best To Buy In 2021
- Garden of Life Raw Organic Fit Meal Replacement – Best For Weight Loss
- Ancient Nutrition Keto Feast Powder – Best Keto Meal Replacement
- Healthy Skoop All-In-One Breakfast – Best Meal Replacement For Men
- Vegan Smart All-In-One Nutritional Shake – Best Vegan Meal Replacement
1. Garden of Life Meal Replacement Powder – Best To Buy In 2021
Garden Of Life is the brand we recommended in our other review of the Best Protein Shakes in 2021. Here’s why we fell in love with the brand:
Garden of Life really meets the definition of ‘natural meal replacement’ because their ingredients come from 100% organic, clean, non-GMO plants cultivated on their own farms. Also, they are one of the few manufacturers that use green energy to make their products, and we happen to be big fans of green energy.
While taking a look on their website, we spotted Garden Of Life’s Meal Replacement.
Made from 44 superfoods, this product contains no artificial sweeteners, flavors or chemicals. What also caught our attention is the balance of 20 grams of protein to only 1.5 grams of fat, and 7 out of 8 grams of carbs are fibers. Sugar is less than 1g. This product is great for people wanting to either maintain a healthy figure, or to lose some weight– both of which are the main reasons for investing in meal replacements.
Because it’s a blend of organic plants with no additives or artificial flavor, some people might find the texture and taste to be a little unpleasant. We advise you to blend this with a fruit smoothie to enhance the flavor if you find this to be the case.
It has a more than sufficient nutritional profile and the most essential vitamins are 50% DV, which is really good because Daily Value is the lowest, safest baseline and most people need more than that.
With B12 at 100% DV, this product is an excellent choice for vegans and vegetarians. It also has an impressive enzyme and probiotic blend, so your gut is well taken care of too. Above all, this is a high-trust brand.
Garden Life Raw Organic Meal Replacement comes in 4 flavors: chocolate, vanilla, vanilla chai and lightly sweet. It also comes in one meal convenient sachets for people on the go.
2. Garden of Life Raw Organic Fit – Best Meal Replacement for Weight Loss
In the broadest sense, there are four key factors to easier weight loss: calorie control, good protein intake, enough fiber and key nutrients, and of course don’t forget to exercise! It would be great if one product could do all these, but Raw Organic Fit takes a few steps for you in the right direction.
The first key to weight loss is to lower your calorie, or energy intake. It’s important to realize where calories come from.
- 1g of fat gives 9 calories
- 1g of protein gives 4 calories
- 1g of carbs gives 4 calories
It’s better to get your calorie count from a balance of protein, quality, fibrous carbohydrates and fat rather than from simple carbohydrates and sugar. Protein burns a lot of calories while being metabolized, so it’s also essential for weight control. Additionally, protein triggers the brain to make you feel satiated, or not hungry anymore.
Why Raw Organic Fit?
There are a number of other key reasons why we chose Raw Organic Fit. It has a relatively low calorie count (170), fats only 2g, and there is 0g added sugar. Two key macronutrients that help keep you satiated, protein and fiber, are nicely balanced at 28g (38% DV) and 8g (29% DV) respectively. It also has a blend of probiotics and enzymes.
In terms of micronutrients that are important for weight loss, vitamin E is 15mg (100% DV):
A recent study suggests that people with metabolic syndrome face a complex problem with vitamin E. They need more because their weight and other problems are causing increased oxidative stress, but at the same time, these problems inhibit the effective use of vitamin E, one of the body’s main antioxidants – read the full report here.
Although micronutrients are all plant-based and come from natural sources, this product lacks enough micronutrients for a true meal replacement. For better weight loss and control, it needs more B-vitamins, magnesium and iron, in correct amounts and from beneficial sources. Vitamin D, however, has a sufficient value of 125% DV.
If you are doing weight control or weight loss through alternative means such as a Keto diet, the next product will interest you.
Raw Organic Fit Meal Replacement Shake also comes in handy sachets if you need to take a few to work, for a lunch replacement or a road trip.
3. Ancient Nutrition Keto Feast Powder – Best Keto Meal Replacement
Essentially, a Keto diet is a weight loss or weight control diet and is also used to manage certain diseases. The main aim is to limit the intake of carbohydrates and sugars and to get necessary calories via proteins, but primarily fats. Deprived of simple, easy carbs, your body will start to break down stored and dietary fats and this process is called ketosis.
For Keto diets, protein should be about 20% of calorie intake. Because the energy you consume is used up quickly, this kind of diet also results in low insulin secretion.
The Keto diet is not without its merits, but a lot more research is needed. The increasingly popular paleo diet is similar, except it allows carbs from whole foods such as fruits, vegetables and unrefined sweeteners.
For our product selection we have chosen Ancient Nutrition Keto Feast Powder.
In order to get non-carbohydrate nutrients, foods such as meat, fish, poultry and dairy is a key component to Keto diets. The companion supplement are the increasingly popular bone broth powders.
Why Keto Feast Power?
Keto Feast uses chicken broth powder, with other fats and proteins coming from egg, chia, tiger nuts and coconut milk.
All its ingredients are organic including flavors, sweeteners (monk fruit) with added probiotics and enzymes. The Calorie count is 270, fat 20g (31% DV), cholesterol 105mg (35% DV), but protein is only 17g (34% DV). Micronutrients are not as high as other products, but Vitamin D and B12 are 100% DV.
While Keto Feast is the best comprehensive bone broth product on the market in terms of being a ‘meal replacement’, some people find the taste a little difficult to handle. If you would like a Keto supplement that is tastier, we highly recommend Garden of Life Keto Meal Shake. The protein (16g) and fat (22g) come from organically derived butter and whey.
4. Healthy Skoop All-in-One Breakfast – Best Meal Replacement Shake For Men
A protein rich breakfast is the way to go– regardless if you’re following an intermittent fasting regimen and waiting a few hours. If you’re a busy man on the go, you might want to get out the door a little faster. If you like to sleep a little later than your man, or, if you’re just as busy and ‘breakfast handicapped’, Healthy Skoop might just be for you (both).
This product is USDA Organic approved, so it’s as natural as it gets with no artificial or synthesized ingredients. The label say Breakfast Protein, but in actual fact it’s a good meal replacement shake with 20g of protein– what you should expect from a good meal replacement anytime of the day.
The nutritional profile, derived from organic ingredients and freeze-dried processing, covers all the essential vitamins at 50% DV– except for calcium (derived from seaweed) at 20% DV. This ensures that most essential vitamins needed by men (and women) are well taken care of.
Why else did we choose Healthy Skoop?
Perhaps this is more important for men because, although it seems obvious enough, research indicates that men’s food preferences have a bias towards meat and poultry and women towards vegetables and fruits. With Healthy Skoop, busy men, or just men being men, can rest assured that a good part of their nutritional mission will be done by breakfast time.
The mineral profile is iron (45% DV) for energy and focus, zinc (50% DV) for reproductive health and immunity, magnesium (15% DV) for bone and heart health, and chromium (50% DV) for synthesis of fats and sugar– all a plus for men. This product also has a blend of digestive enzymes with added and a whopping 10g (36% DV) of dietary fiber. Many people reviewing the product say that it keeps them feeling full with energy and focus all the way up until lunch time.
5. Vegan Smart All-In-One Nutritional Shake – Best Meal Replacement for Vegans
Although two out of five products previously reviewed are plant-based, we still decided to include Vegan Smart All-In-One because of its protein blend and excellent amino acid profile.
Meat, eggs, fish and dairy are the best sources of complete proteins. These proteins contain all 9 of the essential amino acids out of the 21 amino acids found in the human body. Not many plants have complete amino profiles and therefore need to be combined effectively.
Why Vegan Smart?
Vegan Smart, however, provides 4 plant proteins which have a complete essential amino acid profile: green pea protein, quinoa protein, chlorella protein and potato protein. This blend ensures a completely balanced profile because, while green pea protein is very low in one essential amino acid, quinoa and chia make up for this. Chia seeds actually contain 18 out of 21 proteins.
Apart from the excellent protein profile, Vegan Smart also has an impressive micronutrient profile equal to our top contended recommendation. Garden Life Organic Meal Replacement, however, has a much better and more diverse blend of vegetables, fruits, leaves and roots– which is why it is the top nomination.
Vegan Smart is higher in calories, fats and natural sugars compared to Garden of Life. It is also comparatively much higher in vitamin B12 (especially important for vegans!) and vitamin C (one of the body’s main antioxidants). Even though it is higher in calories—the total count is only 170—if you take this shake in the mornings, you should supplemented it with other foods to increase the calories.
It comes in chocolate, vanilla, chai and wild berry flavors.
Top-rated Best Meal Replacements Shake Comparison Table
|Product||Ingredient Source||Dietary Profile||Organic|
|Garden of Life Organic||Plant||No gluten, soy or dairy. No cholesterol.||YES|
|Raw Organic Fit||Plant||No gluten, soy or dairy.||YES|
|Ancient Nutrition Keto||Plant & Animal||No gluten, soy or dairy.||YES|
|Healthy Scoop||Plant||No gluten, soy or dairy.||YES|
|VeganSmart All-In-One||Plant||No gluten, soy or dairy. No cholesterol.||YES|
Our selection of the best meal replacement shakes are mostly plant based powders. They include the best meal replacement for weight loss, as well as the best Keto bone broth meal replacement. They are all organically sourced and contain no harmful ingredients. If you have anything to add, or wish to ask a question, please use the comment feature below. We are always here for you.