Many of us lead busy lives and don’t have time to prepare breakfast in the morning. Enter instant breakfast. They come in either liquid or powdered forms, and in a range of dietary variations to suit your needs. Some drinks double as meal replacements, others as simply snacks to jumpstart your morning!
To save you even more of your valuable time, we've compiled a list of our 10 favorite instant breakfast drinks. For instance, Boost Optimum's Creamy Vanilla Drinks are practically bursting with protein, nutrition, and flavor. See what else made the list, and read our buying guide reviewed by a registered dietitian that outlines how you can find a great breakfast drink on your own!
Points to Consider:
We often consider breakfast drinks to be chocolatey, fatty beverages like Nesquik that fill your tummy up and only that. That’s simply not the case. There are high protein, nutrient-rich, and--yes--very sweet options to choose from. Let’s examine them.
You should space out your protein intake throughout the day. Taking some in early, as breakfast, is a good way to make sure you do that. Our bodies can’t metabolize large sums of protein at once, anyways. For individuals who exert lots of physical strength, you need to ingest between 25-35 grams of protein in a meal.
Extra protein doesn't equal extra muscle mass. If you consume more than what your body needs at one time, the extra protein will either be excreted or moved to other areas in the body.
Incorporating snacks and breakfast can help spread your protein intake throughout the day. Breakfast shakes can be great options for substantial snacks as well. The combination of carbohydrates and protein is perfect post-workout and to maintain energy throughout the day.
In order to be satisfactorily full for the next 5-6 hours, you’re going to need to choose a breakfast drink that has 600-800 calories. That sometimes might mean adding milk or drinking two at once.
Also, ensuring you get enough protein, fiber-rich carbohydrates, and fats will help keep you full until lunch. How much is enough? Well, if you’ve got no dietary restrictions, go for about 70 grams of carbs. About 20 grams of protein has been shown to fend off sudden cravings.
And, there’s no minimum amount of fat, per se–just get some in so both your mood and energy levels stay high. Instant breakfast drinks are designed to get you the necessary macro (carbs, proteins, fats) and micronutrients. Check the nutritional chart on the back to make sure you’re getting enough calcium, iron, Vitamins A, C, and B.
If you're not used to eating a big breakfast, it can be beneficial to add a snack before lunch. This prevents that starving feeling that often leads to overeating. If you're a new breakfast eater and don't have much of an appetite in the morning, getting your nutrients from a liquid can make that a little bit easier.
Shakes tend to give more concentrated calories and protein. Fats are important for satiety and so your body can absorb appropriate amounts of vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins are fat-soluble.
The ADA recommends that males get at least 38 grams of fiber per day and females ingest 25 grams of fiber per day. A high fiber diet leads to “normal” and healthy bowel movements, too.
A food-first approach is helpful when trying to improve nutrition. You may have several micronutrients and a couple of macronutrients in the same food item. Complex carbohydrates tend to be from plant-based sources meaning they can be packaged with plenty of extra micronutrients.
Carbohydrates get a bad rap, but they are absolutely necessary for your brain and the rest of your body to function properly. It's best to incorporate them at all meals, including breakfast.
So, you opted for a breakfast drink because you don’t have time to cook breakfast. We don’t blame you. It can be hard to factor in that extra 15-30 precious minutes in the morning to make breakfast. You’d rather be sleeping, and so would we.
Breakfast drinks can make a great base for a smoothie. You can be creative with the flavors and it doesn't take much more effort to include all the nutrients that will fuel your day. Some awesome add-ins are fruits, vegetables, and peanut butter. The best part is that you can still take this on the go if you'd like.
Carnation is probably the most well-known instant breakfast drink brand, and their liquid forms come in three flavors: rich chocolate, french vanilla, and strawberry. Their powdered forms add dark chocolate, chocolate malt, and café mocha to the menu. Ensure has even more variation: chocolates, vanilla, strawberry, butter pecan, and coffee latte.
If you want liquid deliciousness, then, by all means, go for these big brands. They’ve even got variety packs, if you’re looking to shake things up. But, they’re fairly high on sugar and use synthetic nutrients as opposed to natural ones.
When you look at the list of ingredients on a Carnation bottle, for example, corn syrup and sugar are listed second and third. Ingredients in food are listed in descending order of predominance, meaning the first listed ingredient is the most plentiful. That’s a lot of sugar.
On the other hand, newer or lesser-known companies like Ambronite, Huel, and even Soylent focus more on the nutritional component rather than the flavor. Their brands are targeted more towards simply getting the nutrients you need rather than crafting a delicious drink.
Now, taste is all a matter of opinion, so you might enjoy the chalky, “oatmealey” taste of the aforementioned brands. Huel, for example, touts itself as having at least “100% of the FDA’s Daily Values of all 27 essential vitamins and minerals.”
If you buy enough of it, each breakfast will set you back 2 bucks, and the powder is good for a year! Ambronite has a similar nutritional and mineral spectrum to Huel, but is also non-GMO and minimally processed. It’s more expensive, though.
※These rankings were decided based on user reviews and popular rank lists from Amazon gathered on July 16th. Please note that these products were chosen after extensive research by mybest writers. The choices are not necessarily affiliated with or recommended by Rachel Binkley.
High Protein Balanced Nutritional Drink with Fiber
Coffee and Protein Drink Mix
Nutritionally Completed Food
Drinkable Supermeal Smoothie Mix
All-in-One Nutritional Shake
Grass Fed Protein Drink
Breakfast Essentials Nutritional Drink
Our Best Pick! Advanced Nutrition Protein-Dense Drink
Caffeinated Protein Powder to Jolt You Awake
Breakfast Replacement Drink for Sustained Energy
A Cheaper, Synthetic Superfood Option
An All-Natural Superfood Powder in Smoothie Form
Non-GMO, High-Protein, Ready-to-Drink Breakfast Carton
A Low-Calorie, Low-Carb Drink Without GMO Ingredients
A Protein-Rich Breakfast Drink for Weight Gain
A Highly-Processed but Ready-to-Drink Option
A Cheap, Sweet, Chocolatey Drink from Switzerland
|Amount||8 fl. oz. per bottle||15.8 oz.||14 fl. oz. per bottle||3.85 lbs. per bag||13.3 oz. per bag||11 fl. oz. per carton||11.5 fl. oz. per bottle||8 fl. oz. per bottle||8 fl. oz. per bottle||12 oz. per tub|
|Formulated with||Milk protein concentrate, sugar, vegetable oil, soy protein isolate||Calcium caseinate, spray-dried coffee, cocoa, nonfat milk||Soy protein isolate, maltodextrin, natural coffee flavor, high oleic sunflower oil||Pea and rice protein, oats, flaxseed, brown rice protein||Oat protein, almonds, apples||Grass fed organic milk protein concentrate, organic whey protein concentrate, organic brown rice syrup||Grass fed milk protein isolate, organic blue agave, chicory root inulin, cocoa powder||Milk protein concentrate, soy protein isolate, sugar, corn maltodextrin||Glucose syrup, sugar, milk protein concentrate||Sugar, malt extract, whey|
|Nutrition facts||Sodium: 230mg; Carbs: 29g; Fiber: 3g; Protein: 20g||Sodium: 120mg; Carbs: 11g; Fiber: less than 1g; Protein: 16g||Sodium 300mg; Carbs: 37g; Fiber: 3g; Protein 20g||Sodium: 410mg; Carbs: 47g; Fiber: 9g; Protein: 37g||Fiber: 3g; Protein: 10g||Sodium: 260mg; Carbs: 32g; Fiber: 2g; Protein: 16g||Sodium: 220mg; Carbs: 8g; Fiber: 4g; Protein: 20g||Sodium: 210mg; Carbs: 50g; Fiber: less than 1g; Protein: 13g||Sodium: 160mg; Carbs: 41g; Fiber: 0g; Protein: 10g||Sodium: 70mg; Carbs: 9g; Fiber: 0g; Protein: 0g|
|Calories per serving||240||120||400||500||160||250||130||350||240||40|
Very Vanilla, 24 pack
|Amount||8 fl. oz. per bottle|
|Formulated with||Milk protein concentrate, sugar, vegetable oil, soy protein isolate|
|Nutrition facts||Sodium: 230mg; Carbs: 29g; Fiber: 3g; Protein: 20g|
|Calories per serving||240|
|Formulated with||Calcium caseinate, spray-dried coffee, cocoa, nonfat milk|
|Nutrition facts||Sodium: 120mg; Carbs: 11g; Fiber: less than 1g; Protein: 16g|
|Calories per serving||120|
Cafe Mocha, 12 pack
|Amount||14 fl. oz. per bottle|
|Formulated with||Soy protein isolate, maltodextrin, natural coffee flavor, high oleic sunflower oil|
|Nutrition facts||Sodium 300mg; Carbs: 37g; Fiber: 3g; Protein 20g|
|Calories per serving||400|
|Amount||3.85 lbs. per bag|
|Formulated with||Pea and rice protein, oats, flaxseed, brown rice protein|
|Nutrition facts||Sodium: 410mg; Carbs: 47g; Fiber: 9g; Protein: 37g|
|Calories per serving||500|
|Amount||13.3 oz. per bag|
|Formulated with||Oat protein, almonds, apples|
|Nutrition facts||Fiber: 3g; Protein: 10g|
|Calories per serving||160|
Creamy Chocolate Fudge, 12 pack
|Amount||11 fl. oz. per carton|
|Formulated with||Grass fed organic milk protein concentrate, organic whey protein concentrate, organic brown rice syrup|
|Nutrition facts||Sodium: 260mg; Carbs: 32g; Fiber: 2g; Protein: 16g|
|Calories per serving||250|
Chocolate Truffle, 12 pack
|Amount||11.5 fl. oz. per bottle|
|Formulated with||Grass fed milk protein isolate, organic blue agave, chicory root inulin, cocoa powder|
|Nutrition facts||Sodium: 220mg; Carbs: 8g; Fiber: 4g; Protein: 20g|
|Calories per serving||130|
Vanilla, 16 pack
|Amount||8 fl. oz. per bottle|
|Formulated with||Milk protein concentrate, soy protein isolate, sugar, corn maltodextrin|
|Nutrition facts||Sodium: 210mg; Carbs: 50g; Fiber: less than 1g; Protein: 13g|
|Calories per serving||350|
|Amount||8 fl. oz. per bottle|
|Formulated with||Glucose syrup, sugar, milk protein concentrate|
|Nutrition facts||Sodium: 160mg; Carbs: 41g; Fiber: 0g; Protein: 10g|
|Calories per serving||240|
Chocolate Malt, 6 pack
|Amount||12 oz. per tub|
|Formulated with||Sugar, malt extract, whey|
|Nutrition facts||Sodium: 70mg; Carbs: 9g; Fiber: 0g; Protein: 0g|
|Calories per serving||40|
Even though you may have decided on an instant breakfast drink, you may be wondering if it's worth it in the first place. Rachel is here to answer the question that will hopefully help you make your decision!
Rachel says, "It depends on the drink! If you aren't used to eating breakfast, a breakfast drink is a whole lot better than nothing. If you make a perfectly balanced breakfast every morning, it probably isn't necessary for you.
Breakfast drinks are a great way to get nutrients fast. Eating in the morning will give you the energy to start your day and likely prevent you from overeating at lunch."
Here are some delicious options to consume when you do have the time to enjoy a full meal.
This expert reviewed the contents of the buying guide for accuracy and provided factual corrections when necessary. They did not participate in the product selection process, nor are they affiliated with any of our choices unless explicitly stated so.
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