When you’re too busy to sit down and eat, a meal replacement shake can be a real lifesaver. That’s why we decided to look into the healthiest meal replacement shakes and figure out what you should look for.
In our research, we found that the best shakes are made from mostly whole foods ingredients, feature a balanced macro- and micronutrient profile, and work with many of your dietary restrictions. Meal replacement shakes come either ready-made or in powder form, so we rounded up our favorites of each.
Top 5 Best Healthy Meal Replacement Shakes to Buy Online
For those low on time or looking for convenience, ready-made meal replacement shakes are the way to go.
1. Naturgel Meal Replacement Smoothie (10 Count)
Best Whole Foods-Based Protein Smoothie
These vegan meal replacement smoothies are fruit-based and contain 22 micronutrients as well as a blend of 18 different plant powders and extracts for added nutrition.
Reviewers write that this is one of the most palatable meal replacement smoothies available. While it still doesn’t taste quite like a smoothie bar drink, it’s tasty and makes for a great protein-filled, on-the-go meal.
|Major Ingredients||Banana puree, fruit juice, pea protein, brown rice protein, high oleic sunflower oil|
|Free from||Dairy, gluten, soy, and artificial flavors, sweeteners, preservatives, and dyes|
|Per Serving||Calories: 220, Carbs: 22g, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 11g, Protein: 13g, Fat: 8g|
|# of Micronutrients||22|
2. Orgain Organic Nutritional Shake, Vanilla Bean (12 Count)
Best Meal Replacement Shake with USDA Organic Ingredients
Orgain’s All-in-One Nutritional Shakes are USDA organic and free of most common allergens, as well as artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. They also contain a plethora of vitamins, minerals, and protein derived from whey and grass-fed milk. That makes it non-vegan, but if you’ve got a soy allergy, then you’re in luck; it’s soy free!
Reviewers say this shake is absolutely delicious and has a texture similar to almond milk. They also say it fills them up as much as a meal. This is the perfect shake for those who want a meal replacement shake with a generous helping of natural and organic ingredients.
|Major Ingredients||Organic protein blend (milk protein concentrate and whey protein concentrate), organic cane sugar, organic brown rice syrup, organic rice dextrins, organice high oleic sunflower oil|
|Free from||Gluten, soy, carrageenan, antibiotics, hormones, artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial preservatives, vegetarian, non GMO, kosher|
|Per Serving||Calories: 250, Carbs: 32g, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 12g, Protein: 16g, Fat: 7g|
|# of Micronutrients||21|
3. OWYN Vegan Meal Replacement Shake, Chai (4 Count)
Best Allergy-Friendly Meal Replacement Shake
These meal replacement shakes are vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free, and low FODMAP certified, making it suitable for most dietary restrictions. It has a full amino acid profile and includes 20% of your daily value requirements for 23 nutrients.
Reviewers love both the lightly spiced chai flavor and texture and write that these shakes do keep you full enough to serve as a full meal replacement.
|Major Ingredients||Protein blend (pea, flaxseed, oat, pumpkin seed), tapioca dextrin, sunflower oil, organic cane sugar|
|Free from||Gluten, dairy, soy, peanut and tree nut, and artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives|
|Per Serving||Calories: 300, Carbs: 31g, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 5g, Protein: 20g, Fat: 10g|
|# of Micronutrients||23|
4. Kate Farms 1.0 Calorie/mL Meal Replacement, Vanilla (12 Count)
Best Balanced Nutrient Profile
This meal replacement shake has been carefully formulated to truly provide you with all the nutrients you should be getting from a meal–in fact, five cartons provides an adult with all of the nutrients they need for an entire day.
Reviewers appreciate that this shake includes fruit and vegetable extracts along with isolated vitamins and write that it’s quite filling. Do note, however, that the sugar content is quite high, so this may not be suitable for those watching their sugar intake.
|Major Ingredients||Agave syrup, pea protein, brown rice syrup, high linoleic sunflower oil, coconut oil|
|Free from||Dairy, lactose, soy, gluten, corn, and nuts|
|Per Serving||Calories: 325, Carbs: 38g, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 18g, Protein: 16g, Fat: 12g|
|# of Micronutrients||31|
5. Soylent Meal Replacement Shake, Cacao (12 Count)
Best Shake for Staying Full
Soylent Meal Replacement Shakes come packed with flavor, nutrients, and a whopping 20 grams of plant protein. Each shake contains disaccharide derived from beets, an ingredient that your body metabolizes slowly for a longer-lasting energy spike and full feeling.
Many reviewers say that no matter the type, this shake is delicious without its added flavor (such as cocoa) being too sweet or overpowering. Some even compare the flavor to milk leftover from chocolate-flavored cereal.
Its calorie count and fat content are on the high end of the meal replacement shake scale, but it also provides 20% of 26 vitamins and minerals your body requires daily.
|Major Ingredients||High oleic sunflower oil, soy protein isolate|
|Free from||Gluten, nuts, dairy, vegan|
|Per Serving||Calories: 400, Carbs: 37g, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 9g, Protein: 20g, Fat: 21g|
|# of Micronutrients||26|
Top 5 Best Healthy Powdered Meal Replacement Shakes to Buy Online
If you have a bit more time or want some customization ability, go with a powdered shake.
1. Pure Food Real Meal Replacement Powder (10 Servings)
Best High-Protein, All Whole Foods Powder
This meal replacement powder is packed with 26 grams of protein per serving and boasts an ingredient list consisting purely of whole food ingredients.
Reviewers rave about the flavor (it tastes good shaken with room temperature water and great when mixed with a chilled, plant-based milk) and appreciate that it’s super filling without feeling heavy.
|Major Ingredients||Pea protein, MCT powder, pumpkin seed protein, green banana powder, chia seed powder|
|Free from||Gluten, dairy, soy, artificial ingredients|
|Per Serving||Calories: 205, Carbs: 16g, Fiber: 7g, Sugar: 0g, Protein: 26g, Fat: 7g|
|# of Micronutrients||—|
2. Ka’Chava Meal Replacement Shake (15 Servings)
Best Plant-Based Nutrient-Rich Meal Replacement Powder
This meal replacement powder prides itself in being “nutrient-dense, calorie-light.” Its 26 micronutrients come largely from plant extracts and powders and not from lab-isolated components.
Reviewers appreciate the nutritional value and notice a difference in digestive function. They write that its taste is just decent but is improved when mixed with a plant-based milk or blended into a smoothie.
|Major Ingredients||Plant-based protein blend, fiber blend, super-fruit blend, adaptogen herb blend, super greens blend, probiotic blend, digestive enzyme blend|
|Free from||Gluten, soy, dairy, artificial ingredients|
|Per Serving||Calories: 250, Carbs: 27g, Fiber: 9g, Sugar: 9g, Protein: 24g, Fat: 7g|
|# of Micronutrients||26|
3. SP TrueFit Grass-Fed Lean Meal Replacement Protein Shake, Churro (20 Servings)
Best Tasting High-Quality, Whey-Based Shake
For those who prefer whey protein-based shakes, this powder has 25 grams of whey protein sourced from pasture-raised cows in California and Wisconsin. It also includes a mixture of pro- and pre-biotics to aid gut and digestive health.
Reviewers absolutely love the cinnamony churro flavor and write that it’s best when mixed with a plant-based milk. It mixes smoothly with just a shaker and it really does keep you as full as a regular meal.
|Major Ingredients||Grass-fed whey protein concentrate, probiotic soluble fiber, vitaberry fruit blend, vitaveggie blend, probiotics|
|Free from||Gluten, GMOs, artificial ingredients|
|Per Serving||Calories: 160, Carbs: 13g, Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 3g, Protein: 25g, Fat: 3g|
|# of Micronutrients||7|
4. Best Fats High-Fat Nutritional Shake (14 Servings)
Best Keto-Friendly Shake
For those following a low-carb or ketogenic diet, this high-fat shake will keep you full and give you energy without spiking insulin levels. It features a mix of some of the most healthful oils, so you’re not just getting any old fat.
Reviewers write that it’s thick and creamy, and it keeps you satiated for hours. It’s easily mixed with just water but blends up nicely with heavy cream, nut butter, or even an egg.
|Major Ingredients||Sweet cream, whey protein concentrate, oil blend (MCT, coconut, olive, macadamia, avocado)|
|Per Serving||Calories: 360, Carbs: 12g, Fiber: 7g, Sugar: 3g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 28g|
|# of Micronutrients||4|
5. Oxyfresh Vibe Vegan Pea Protein Powder (15 Servings)
Best Balance of Greens and Amino Acids
This powder is formulated to fill you up and improve digestive health. Each serving contains a full serving of greens as well as probiotics, heart-healthy omega 3s, and a full probiotic profile.
Reviewers love the chocolatey flavor–with water or mixed into a smoothie–but note that the texture can be a little gritty. They write that it keeps you full for several hours and doesn’t cause sudden energy spikes.
|Major Ingredients||Pea protein, organic cane syrup, MCT, greens blend, probiotics|
|Free from||Gluten, dairy, soy, artificial ingredients, GMOs|
|Per Serving||Calories: 180, Carbs: 12g, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 6g, Protein: 20g, Fat: 6g|
|# of Micronutrients||13|
How to Choose a Healthy Meal Replacement Shake – Buying Guide
It’s important to find a good, healthy meal replacement shake since you’ll be relying on it for your nutrition. So keep the following factors in mind.
Ensure Your Shake Contains (Mostly) Whole Food Ingredients and is Free from Undesirable Ingredients
It’s important that your meal replacement shake contains only good-for-you ingredients, especially since it’s taking the place of actual food. Look for shakes that include vegetables, fruits, seeds, or dairy as their main ingredients.
Unlike some other health foods, however, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find a meal replacement shake that only has whole food ingredients (though they do exist). That’s because these shakes often include vitamin mixes and protein powders to make them more balanced. When it comes to meal replacement shakes, it’s best not to be too afraid of some scientific-sounding ingredients like potassium chloride, which is used to prevent low levels of potassium in your blood, or ferric orthophosphate, an iron supplement.
As many of these shakes contain a large number of ingredients, it can sometimes be easier to figure out what you want by looking at what it doesn’t have. A lot of shakes take great pride in listing ingredients that aren’t included. Some particular ingredients to avoid include added sugar, artificial flavors or dyes, and preservatives. Of course, if you have any dietary restrictions look out for those ingredients as well.
Keep Energy Levels Up with a Balanced Nutrient Profile
Pay attention to both the macronutrients and micronutrients when looking for a meal replacement shake.
A Good Balance of Fat, Fiber, and Protein will Keep You Feeling Full
Perhaps the one thing that will make or break a meal replacement shake is how well it maintains your energy levels and keeps you feeling satiated. The best shakes will have lots of fiber (5 grams or more), a good amount of protein (10 grams or more), and some healthy fats (about 10 grams).
When it comes to figuring out what kind of calorie count you’re looking for, you also want to consider your goals. While higher calorie shakes might keep you full longer, if weight loss is your goal there are also lower calorie shakes to choose from. Meal replacement shakes generally range from 100-400 calories per serving, so decide where you want yours to fall in that range.
Micronutrients Keep Your Body up and Running
Your body needs vitamins and minerals to function. For example, Vitamin C is necessary for a healthy immune system; vitamin B-12 contributes to metabolism and the synthesis of DNA; vitamin D is necessary for bone health; and vitamin A contributes to healthy eyes.
An iron deficiency can result in various auto-immune disorders; magnesium keeps your nerves and muscles strong and healthy; zinc supports your immune system and helps convert food to energy; and folate combats inflammation and helps to regulate your mood.
If possible, find a shake with a solid balance and range of these vitamins and minerals. 12 is a good number to aim for—and make sure you check that you’re meeting your daily requirements; the nutrition facts should list the percentage of DV the shake will help you meet.
Liquid vs. Powder – Find the Right Fit for Your Lifestyle
There are two main ways that you’ll find meal replacement shakes: liquid and powder. Liquid shakes are all ready for you to drink, and all you have to do is open it up. These are great for those who want to just grab and go. Powdered shakes, on the other hand, require you to add your own water or milk and mix it up yourself. These save space, require less packaging, and are often cheaper.
Finding a healthy meal replacement shake that works for you can help you fill in gaps where you may not have time to properly eat. While it isn’t ideal for every meal, having a healthy shake will ensure that your health remains in top notch.
By Jacqueline Oshiro
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