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. Welcome to the world of instant breakfast drinks, the fastest way to start your day.
How to Choose an Instant Breakfast Drink – Buying Guide
As we mentioned above, instant breakfast drinks differ in their nutritional value and can be a complementary replacement meal for your diet goals. Let’s break down the methodology behind choosing an instant breakfast drink.
How Many and What Kind of Nutrients Depends on Your Diet Goals
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.
High Protein for Fitness-Minded Individuals
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Don’t get us wrong. If you have time in the morning to cook, bacon and eggs are usually a classic option. It’s partially classic because, well, it tastes good, but also because it has lots of protein.
You should space out your protein intake throughout the day, and 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.
If you work out in the early morning before work, a protein-rich breakfast drink is a great way to make sure you maintain your muscle mass. When you work out, you’re essentially breaking muscle fibers apart. Protein is required to repair them. To maximize muscle protein synthesis, consume your breakfast drink within 30 minutes of working out.
Full Vitamin and Mineral Profile if You Don’t Have Time to Eat Breakfast
If you find yourself listless or snacking in the late morning hours before lunch, that’s because you’re not eating a healthy enough breakfast. It’s an important balance to strike. First off, 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 g of carbs. About 20 g 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.
High Fiber for Diets
Fiber is a complex carbohydrate that is found in most plant based foods. Since fiber can not be completely broken down by our bodies, it helps keep us full. As it passes through our bodies, it acts as somewhat of a scrub brush that cleans out your intestines. This promotes a healthy gut and even reduces your chance of getting cancer.
A diet high in fiber makes your food easier to digest. When you have a good amount of fiber in your breakfast drink, you’ll find it easier to focus for the rest of the day. According to the American Dietetic Association, it’s better to get your fiber from actual foods (including instant breakfast drinks) rather than pills or supplements.
The ADA recommends that males get at least 38 grams of fiber per day, and females 25 grams of fiber per day. A high fiber diet leads to “normal” and healthy bowel movements, too.
Powdered or Liquid? It’s a Question of Time
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.
Instant breakfast drinks come in powdered or liquid forms, and your decision will boil down to social factors and how much time you have.
Powdered Drinks Are Easily Shared and Applied to Other Foods
A powdered breakfast drink is not as instant as a liquid one, although we admit the difference is slim. Oftentimes, powdered drinks require 1-2 minutes of mixing with water (or milk), which can seem like forever if you seriously overslept, we guess.
Additionally, powdered foods can be added into other foods like soup, pasta, and even stir fries if you’re feeling bold. But you probably aren’t going to want to add a chocolatey powdered drink into a tomato soup. The meal replacement powders (like Huel and Ambronite) or smarter for this choice because they taste more basic.
If you like to eat breakfast with your family, think about getting a powdered drink. It might take more prep time, but you also get the ability to mix it in with others’ foods.
Liquid is Fastest
The idea behind “instant breakfast drinks” is that they’re instant. Well, this is as close to instant as you can get. If you’re trying to chug and go, then a liquid form is best. Literally just grab it out of your refrigerator and drink it while you walk or drive to work (but keep your eyes on the road!).
This is a fairly antisocial way to consume food, mind you (unless you’re a liquid family). The liquid breakfast drinks are meant to give you the nutrients you need to start your day in as little time as possible. If you’ve got other things on your mind and don’t want to mess with the prep work involved in powdered drinks, go liquid.
Do You Want a Drink That Tastes Good or Is Good for Your Body?
Why is it that medicine is bitter and poison is so sweet? Unfortunately, even with breakfast drinks, you’ll have to choose between flavor and nutrition as well–one just can’t have it all.
Choose Classic Brands Like Carnation for Flavor
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.
Choose Modern Meal Replacement Brands for Nutrition
On the other hand, newer, 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. More on that later. Ambronite has a similar nutritional and mineral spectrum to Huel, but is also non-GMO and minimally processed. It’s more expensive, though.
Top 10 Best Instant Breakfast Drinks to Buy Online
Instant breakfast drinks are great because they are a fast and nutritional way to get your most important meal of the day. The following are our recommendations of the best instant breakfast drinks to buy online. If you like them enough, don’t hesitate to eat them for lunch, too!
10. Ovaltine Malt Beverage Mix – 60 Count
Cheap, Sweet, Chocolatey Drink from Switzerland
Ovaltine was created in Switzerland in 1909, and is an old-timey chocolate malt breakfast beverage. Online, it exists mainly in powdered form. This is the European formula, which is pricier but has way less sugar and isn’t as overpoweringly sweet.
One serving has 80 calories, 2 grams of protein, and 8 grams of sugar, which is almost 25% of your daily allowance. However, Ovaltine contains good amounts of Vitamin A and Iron. It’s cheap: about $0.33 per serving. It is a powder though, and it’s recommended to add milk to get that frothy texture and hearty filling.
9. Carnation Breakfast Essentials Bottles – 24 Count
High Processed Ready to Drink Option
With chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry options, Carnation’s breakfast drink is maybe the most popular on the market today. It has 10g of protein, 21 vitamins and minerals, and twice the vitamin D of a cup of milk. It’s marketed as a meal substitute, but be advised it only has 240 calories, hardly enough for a full meal.
Since it comes in a 24 pack, you and your family members can each have one (or two) as you’re running out of the door. While it adds a lot of essential components to your diet, reviews suggest it’s fairly sweet (15g of sugar). This is a great choice for the budget-minded family. No refrigeration necessary.
8. Ensure Plus Nutrition Shake – 16 Count
Weight-Gaining Protein Drink
Primarily marketed as a weight-gainer shake, this offering from Ensure is their best breakfast replacement option because of the calories it packs. Where some powders require you to tailor the amount of scoops if you want a full meal, this product packs it all in one bottle. It has 13 grams of protein, 350 calories, and 26 vitamins and minerals.
If you have problem putting on weight, drink this. It’s delicious and filling. Be advised: it has somewhat of a synthetic waft when you crack the seal. It’s lactose free (vegan-friendly), and is packed with antioxidants to keep your immune system cranking.
7. Soylent Cacao Meal Replacement Shake – 12 Count
Versatile Soy-Based Option for the Health-Centric Individual
At 400 calories per bottle, here is a healthy instant breakfast option that’s hard to beat. For a healthy adult male and female, each bottle contains at least 20% of your daily nutritional requirements. There’s only 3g of fiber, though, and some have reported that it is difficult to digest.
Additionally, it contains artificial sweeteners and GMO products. However, this is a product with measurable nutritional results. It’ll keep you feeling full until lunchtime and beyond, and you’re getting essential nutrients from great sources: isolated soy, sunflower oil, and beets.
6. Orgain Chocolate Fudge Nutrition Shake – 12 Count
Non-GMO High Protein Ready to Drink Bottle
Here’s another relatively healthy, ready-to-drink bottle. Orgain sets itself apart because of the 16 grams of organic protein that come in this 240 calorie bottle. That’s a lot of protein for a small amount of calories. This product is great for individuals who like to work out early in the morning and need to eat something before.
It’s slightly less sweet (12g of sugar) than Carnation’s instant breakfast drink, yet only has 2 grams of fiber. Some recent reviews complain of spoiled batches, so hopefully Orgain has cleaned up their act because this is a cheap, high quality option for anyone looking to get their nutritional needs on-the-go.
5. Ambronite Meal Replacement Nutritional Shake – 10 Count
All-Natural Superfood Powder
Of all our breakfast drink options on this list, this one is the healthiest for you. It’s also the most expensive. Each pack has 165 calories, which is not nearly enough for a full serving; Ambronite recommends 2.5 scoops of powder for a 400 calorie-plus meal. If you’re looking to lose weight, this product will do it for you.
Just add water to the powder and you’re good. It contains 40 nutrients and minerals from 18 different superfoods, all of which are all natural, vegan, and soy-free. It contains real fruits (cranberry, black currant) and real veggies (apple, spinach), as well as healthy fats. The only downside is that it tastes fairly bland.
4. Huel Vanilla Food Powder – 28 Count
A Cheaper, Synthetic Superfood Option
A little older than Ambronite, Huel is a superfood powder company. An advantage of instant breakfast drinks is that you know exactly how many calories you’re getting. In this case, about 500 calories, and a whole range of essential vitamins and minerals.
Huel is not all natural, but has the roughly the same nutritional profile as Ambronite. It does, however, have slightly more fiber per serving (7.9g per 100g), and is considerably cheaper than Ambronite, which is what really sets it apart from the competition.
3. Soylent Cafe Coffiest Meal Replacement Drink – 12 Count
Breakfast Replacement Drink for Sustained Energy
Are you a coffee drinker? If so, here’s a way to get your morning fix and breakfast all in one bottle. Each bottle comes with the same ingredients we mentioned earlier: soy protein, beets, the whole 9 yards. It’s also animal, nut, and lactose free. This product is set apart by the 150 mg of caffeine inside, which is roughly the same amount a strong cup of coffee packs.
It also has an amino acid called I-theanine, which reduces the jittery effects associated with consuming lots of caffeine. There’s also no mental fatigue commonly associated with caffeine comedowns; instead, you can focus throughout the day. You’re saving money and time by combining breakfast and coffee for just over $3 a pop. What’s not to love?
2. CLICK Coffee and Protein Drink Mix – 14 Count
Caffeinated Protein Powder
Designed to “boost energy and curb appetite,” this instant breakfast powder has 23 essential vitamins and the strength of a double shot espresso in just 120 calories. There’s 16 grams of protein that are slow releasing, meaning you’ll stay full longer. It’s a great option as a protein shake or a breakfast replacement if you’re in a rush.
CLICK can be consumed hot, cold, or blended with milk or your preferred milk substitute. In every serving of CLICK, there’s a third of your daily nutrients, which is a fairly large amount. Reviews suggest that CLICK goes well in coffee or other breakfast options (like oatmeal) if you want a caloric and protein boost to your diet.
1. Boost Optimum Creamy Vanilla Drink – 16 Count
Advanced Nutrition Protein Dense Drink
Boost markets this bottle as supporting muscle and bone health, vision, energy, and “normal immune function.” It has 22 grams of protein, a good amount for a 220 calorie beverage. It comes with 26 vitamins and minerals, including 8 B vitamins, Zinc, and Riboflavin.
If you’re fairly sedentary, then this bottle can be your breakfast, or it can act as a great supplement to an active lifestyle. And the chocolate actually tastes creamy and thick and so, so good. If you have trouble getting protein and are okay having milk in your diet, this Boost is the way to go.
No matter how busy you are, you don’t have any excuse to skip breakfast in 2018. We’ve given you a bevy of powdered and liquid forms that can be added into your diet or replace your breakfast entirely.
Don’t be afraid to give the superfood options a go. Your future self may thank you for being ahead of your diet, and ahead of the trend!
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