What are the best meal replacement shakes?
Meal replacement shakes have become a popular phenomenon in recent years, and it’s easy to see why; they offer a convenient way to consume the macros your body needs, particularly if you’re pressed for time or on the go.
Though they are labeled as a meal replacement, these shakes don’t serve this purpose on their own – you should always aim to consume whole foods for your meals.
However, the best meal replacement shakes will help you reach your goals, and if you’re wondering which options are right for you, here are our top 10 meal replacement shakes.
Here’s our list of the 10 best meal replacement shakes:
Top 10 Meal Replacement Shakes Compared
Our supplement lists are created by researching the best-reviewed products from the most reputable companies and web sources.
In A Rush? Here’s Our Top Pick:
10. RSP Nutrition – TrueFit
As RSP’s flagship product, it’s no surprise to see this shake on the list.
First off, the protein included comes from cows that have been grass-fed on US farms, meaning there are no antibiotics or added hormones to be found, unlike other shakes.
With 25g of protein in each serving, this shake will also help with your recovery and fitness goals, but what makes it stand out is the focus on digestion and gut health.
Each serving contains a whopping 8g of prebiotic fiber as well as probiotics.
There are also 12 Non-GMO fruits and vegetables included in its superfood blend, meaning this shake is packed with goodness.
That being said, it is low on a few essential nutrients like potassium and calcium.
- High in protein
- No antibiotics or added hormones
- Very high in fiber and probiotics
- Superfood blend includes many important nutrients
- Very low in potassium and calcium
- No iron or zinc
9. Keto Science – Keto Meal Shake
In case the name doesn’t give it away, this shake is aimed at those following a keto lifestyle or who want a meal replacement shake that is going to help boost their metabolism and aid with weight loss.
Keto Science’s Keto Meal Shake doesn’t include as much protein as other shakes on this list, but it makes up for this in the functional fats it offers (18g) and the low-net carbs (3g).
While this makes the Keto Meal Shake an excellent lean option for those looking to lose weight or keep their body fat levels down.
It also means it’s not too effective at replacing energy levels due to its low carbohydrate content.
So, this shake is best consumed alongside a healthy and balanced diet with regular meals that complement the ketosis benefits this shake provides.
The shake comes in two different flavors (chocolate and vanilla) and tastes pretty good, making it a great option to supplement your workouts.
- Low net carbs
- Optimized for weight loss
- High in healthy fats
- Tastes good
- Provides less energy than other shakes
- Not as satiating as other shakes
8. Garden of Life – Raw Organic Meal
For those looking to get their meal replacement shakes purely from plants, this Garden of Life offering might just be your best bet.
It’s completely vegan as all of its ingredients are plant-based, though this doesn’t necessarily mean they are as “natural” as advertised.
There are a few added ingredients in there, like flavorings and sugars, but the amounts aren’t high enough to get too worried – most of what’s included in this shake comes from the ground.
In fact, it boasts a total of 44 superfoods and 21 vitamins and minerals, meaning it’s a lot more than just a protein shake. It’s also soy-free and doesn’t include other potentially harmful ingredients.
- Suitable for vegans
- Packed with vitamins and minerals
- High in protein
- Some flavors contain preservatives and added sugars
- Quite expensive
7. Blackstone Labs – Fast Food
Blackstone Labs’ mass-building shake is advertised as “plant-powered” – which is technically true – though it does also include
The focus of this product is to help you hit your caloric intake goals and put on mass.
Each serving has roughly 165 calories, 10g of protein, 20g of carbs, and 5g of fat, making it an excellent option for those seeking serious gains.
It gets its nutrients from organic pea protein isolate, organic brown rice protein, sweet potatoes, yams, oat powder, and other ingredients.
- High calories to help with gains
- Suitable for vegetarians
- Convenient for consuming macros
- Not entirely plant-based, so the packaging can be a little misleading
- Not as satiating as other shakes
6. Axe & Sledge – Home Made
The two main selling points of this shake are its great taste and the high-quality ingredients used to make it.
It comes in double chocolate brownie flavor and sweet potato pie flavor, and both are genuinely delicious, not just “tastes-good-for-a-meal-replacement-shake” delicious.
Some red flags might be raised by seeing beef as one of the protein sources for this shake.
However, it only accounts for roughly 1%, with the rest emanating from whey isolate, whey concentrate, egg, brown rice, and pea protein.
This meal replacement shake also packs a real punch, with 420 calories per serving (two scoops) and 48g of protein.
There are also 46g of carbs, but just 6g of fat, meaning this hits two of the three macros well but doesn’t quite have enough of those healthy fats.
- Great taste
- High-quality ingredients
- Packed with protein and carbs
- Low in healthy fats
- Not suitable for vegetarians or vegans
5. Redcon1 – MRE
This is easily one of the most unique meal replacement shakes on this list, and that’s because of the various sources of protein in it.
They include beef, chicken, salmon, pea protein, and more – but it is completely dairy-free, with no
However, it’s not made clear how much of each source is included in the total protein of the shake, plus these protein sources are harder for the body to absorb than
It’s worth noting that this is a pretty heavy shake, with 525 calories per recommended serving, making it one of the densest on this list.
Included are 47g of protein and an enormous 75g of carbs, though only 4g of fat.
This makes it excellent for muscle building and minimizing gains in fat, though does mean it compromises its nutritional value slightly.
The shake comes in a wide variety of flavors as well, from banana nut bread to strawberry shortcake.
- Whole ingredients from a variety of sources
- Variety of flavors
- Ideal for gains
- Not much clarity on protein makeup
- Missing some important nutrients, mainly healthy fats
4. Universal Nutrition – Animal Meal
With an ingredient list that includes pea protein, egg whites, beef, rolled oats, and sweet potato powder, this is one of the most nutrient-dense meal replacement shakes you can find.
Each serving contains approximately 505 calories with 46g of protein and 49g of carbs.
But here’s the kicker; it also contains 14g of fat, setting it apart from many other shakes that tend to avoid including this important macro.
So, the Animal Meal shake has more nutrients and macros in it than most other shakes, making it an excellent post-workout drink.
It’s also surprisingly easy to digest. With so much packed into it, you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking it might take your body a while to get used to consuming this shake, but it goes down smoothly and doesn’t cause any issues.
That being said, it doesn’t blend with water or milk as well as other shakes on the market and can sometimes end up a bit grainy.
- Excellent macro content, particularly fats
- Wide range of whole-food ingredients
- No added sugars or flavorings
- Doesn’t mix particularly well
- High calories mean it’s not suitable for weight loss
3. All Max – Meal Prep
This is another shake that is packed with whole foods, and the protein predominantly comes from egg whites and beef isolate.
The shake includes a superfood complex that features broccoli, spinach, blueberry, and turmeric, and kale, all of which are full of important micronutrients.
These ingredients are also high in antioxidants, making this shake particularly good for recovery and reducing inflammation of muscles.
The recommended serving size is 4 scoops, which yields 550 calories, 50g of protein, and 67g of carbohydrates. Its fat content weighs in at 9g per 4-scoop serving.
When mixed with milk, this meal replacement powder creates a satisfyingly thick shake that helps make you feel full.
Indeed, this is one of the most satiating meal replacement shakes on this list and can help minimize cravings for snacks in between meals.
- Filled with nutrients and whole foods
- Fills you up and has a high caloric content when 4 scoops are used
- Antioxidants help reduce inflammation in muscles
- Fairly average taste across all flavors
- Quite expensive
2. Jacked Factory – Authentic MRP
If you’re looking for an all-rounder that blows most other meal replacement powder and shakes out the water, then Jacked Factory’s Authentic MRP might just be the one.
It contains 26g of protein in each serving as well as 20g of carbs, but only clocks in at 230 calories.
This makes it excellent for building and maintaining lean muscle without having to worry about gaining too much excess weight.
Its protein comes from whey isolate, which is bioavailable; this means it is absorbed and digested by the body much easier than other forms of protein, and includes all the essential amino acids your system needs.
Another factor that makes this one of the best meal replacement powder options out there is how easily it mixes with water while maintaining good taste and viscosity.
Plus, Jacked Factory has set this at a reasonable price point, meaning you’re really getting value for money.
- Fairly low calorie
- High in protein and carbs
- Whole-food ingredients
- Focuses on lean muscle development rather than large gains
- Limited flavor options
1. Kaged Muscle – Clean Meal
So, here it is, our top meal replacement shake.
Kaged Muscle’s Clean Meal beats out the competition for a variety of reasons, though one of the most important is the high-quality, whole-food makeup of its list of ingredients.
The shake contains a total of 21 organic vitamins and minerals and, rather than just relying on rolled oats, also includes organic quinoa to give an added protein and superfood boost.
It uses a cutting-edge
In each serving, you’re getting 28g of protein and 16g of carbs.
While these quantities aren’t as high as other shakes on this list, the quality of the Clean Meal macros is undeniable.
Kaged Muscle also uses coconut MCT oil, rather than non-dairy creamers, to create a silkier, smoother texture to the shake that is absolutely noticeable.
The company is also one of the best for third-party testing and ingredient-sourcing, ensuring that their product is as good as it can be.
You also don’t need to add loads of scoops of powder to your shake to get all the nutrients and goodness advertised, making the Clean Meal shake excellent value for money as well.
- High-quality ingredients
- Unique ingredients that enhance texture and nutritional value
- Value for money
- Easily absorbed and digested
- Limited flavor options
- Relatively low in healthy fats
FAQs About Meal Replacement Shakes
Q: What Are Meal Replacement Shakes?
Meal replacement shakes are pretty much what they say on the tin; shakes you can drink instead of eating a meal.
They tend to include decent levels of macros (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) as well as sufficient calorie levels to make them comparable to a meal.
They come as a powder in a tub, which will also usually come with a scooper.
The label will indicate how many scoops of powder you should use for one drink, as well as the nutritional value of this amount of powder.
All you do is mix the powder with some water or milk until it’s smooth. You can also use meal replacement powder in a homemade smoothie if you wish.
Q: What Are The Benefits of Meal Replacement Shakes?
The key benefit of these shakes is convenience.
It doesn’t take long to mix some powder with some water or milk, and then you’ve got a ready-made drink with high levels of protein and carbs that you can consume on the go.
This is particularly useful for those leading busy lives, who maybe don’t have enough time to prepare several nutrient-dense meals throughout the day.
Instead, they can prepare a meal replacement shake in under a minute and still be able to consume their macros.
Some meal replacement shakes also focus on specific targets and goals, the main two being building muscle and losing weight.
The first batch, sometimes referred to as ‘gainers,’ will have higher caloric content and usually higher levels of protein and carbs.
This is to help promote muscle growth but to also keep energy levels up so that you can complete workouts consistently and effectively.
Meal replacement shakes that are geared toward weight loss tend to have fewer calories, but may still have decent levels of protein, as this is the most satiating macro (i.e., the one that leaves you feeling full the longest).
The theory behind these shakes is that they can be drunk instead of a full meal, meaning you’re consuming fewer calories throughout the day, thus aiding weight loss.
Many meal replacement shakes will also include vitamins, minerals, and probiotics from the various whole-food ingredients they use.
They’re also typically high in fiber, which is key to effective digestion and gut health.
Q: What Are The Side Effects of Meal Replacement Shakes?
First off, you should always check the label for allergens and make sure the shake doesn’t include anything you’re allergic to or intolerant of.
Allergens will always be bolded up on the label, so they’re easy to spot.
Likewise, some shakes will have additives and preservatives to give them a longer shelf-life, and some will also include sugars and artificial flavorings.
Again, these will be listed on the label. Many of these can be harmful to your body, especially over time, so it’s worth paying attention to.
Every person’s body is different, and so will react to meal replacement shakes in different ways, so bear that in mind.
The high fiber content can upset some people’s digestive systems and produce irregular bowel movements.
Arguably the most prominent side effect of meal replacement shakes is nutrient deficiency.
Those most shakes will be fortified with vitamins and minerals, they will not be as nutritious as a full, balanced meal.
So, if you were to replace a lot of meals with one of these drinks, you might not be providing your body with all the nutrients it needs to perform at its best.
This can lead to fatigue and other side effects.
It’s also important to keep an eye on the number of calories you’re consuming each day.
As most meal replacement shakes will have fewer calories than a balanced meal, you’ll be taking in less overall.
While this might seem like good news to those looking to lose weight, your body still needs a certain amount of calories to carry out its daily tasks, as well as any extra exercise you might be performing.
Q: Which Meal Replacement Shake Should I Choose?
The simple answer is; the right one for you.
While we’ve listed our top 10 above, this doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be suitable for you.
For example, if you’re vegan or vegetarian, then you need to make sure the meal replacement shake you choose doesn’t have any ingredients that would compromise your lifestyle.
Likewise, you should ensure the shake doesn’t have any allergens or ingredients that you know your body doesn’t tolerate well.
Once you’ve navigated those factors, it then comes down to your goals.
If you’re looking to build muscle and increase mass, then you’ll want a shake with a lot of calories, protein, and carbs per serving.
If you’re using meal replacement shakes to lose weight, then opt for ones with less calories and lower fat content.
In general, the best meal replacement shakes have high levels of fiber (at least 4g per serving) but also plenty of healthy fats.
So, when making your choice, always take a close look at the label.
As you’ll see from the list above, it’s also important that a shake is made from as many whole-food ingredients as possible, preferably from sustainable sources.
Not only does this mean it’s high-quality, but it also improves its value for money.
Lastly, there is, of course taste. Meal replacement shakes and protein shakes can be notoriously difficult to stomach, so try and find one that you at least find palatable.
If you’re going to be drinking it every day, you don’t want to have to pinch your nose and gulp it down every time.
Sometimes, it takes a bit of trial and error to find the right shake for you.
If you’ve been consuming a particular one for several months alongside a healthy diet and consistent exercise program, and you’re not seeing results, then try a different product.
Q: What Should I Mix Meal Replacement Powder With?
Most people tend to mix their powder with water, as it has no calories or nutritional value that will alter that of the powder itself, making it easier to track things like calories and macros.
Another popular choice is milk, as this can add some more flavor to the shake and give it a more palatable texture.
Choices can range from whole milk, skimmed milk, and non-dairy milk like oat or almond.
In terms of quantity, the label of your meal replacement shake will indicate how much liquid you need, but this can also depend on personal preference; more liquid will lead to a thinner shake while less creates a thicker substance.
You can also include meal replacement powder in a homemade smoothie that you make in a blender or smoothie maker.
As well as some form of liquid like water or milk, common ingredients include fruit, ice, oats, nut butter, and more.
The benefit here is that you can tailor the smoothie to your taste, plus you’re adding nutrient-dense ingredients to make it a more complete meal replacement.
However, you’ll also need to keep track of the calories and nutritional value of the ingredients you add.
Q: How Many Meals Should I Replace With A Shake?
This is because they can’t reach the nutrition levels of a balanced meal, and so if you were to use them to replace meals, you would be hampering your own progression.
That being said, if you do plan on replacing meals with shakes such as these, aim for one or two meals per day, as you want to ensure you’re still consuming whole, nutritious foods.
The ideal would be to use these shakes in conjunction with nutritious meals.
So, instead of replacing an entire meal with a shake, you could have a smaller portion, or less calorie-dense foods, as well as a shake.
This way, you are still monitoring your calories, but you’re not compromising on the important nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that you get from food.
Q: Are Meal Replacement Shakes Filling?
As the aim of these shakes is to replace a meal, they are usually designed to fill you up, but their effectiveness can vary.
This tends to come down to the ingredients used; the more whole foods included, the more satiating the shake will be.
As mentioned above, protein is the most filling macro of the three, so if a shake has high levels of it then it has more chance of satisfying your hunger.
Some even have extra nutrients that add to this feeling of fullness.
It can also depend on what you mix the powder with. If it’s just water, it’s going to be less filling, while milk will leave you a little fuller.
A smoothie with other ingredients like fruit and oats will take this even further.
However, it’s unlikely that a shake will fill you up as much as a balanced meal, as the former will typically not have as high a quality of nutrients as the latter.
Q: Are Meal Replacement Shakes Dangerous?
Meal replacement shakes aren’t inherently dangerous, but there are a few caveats.
First, as outlined above, many of them might include allergens and ingredients you need to avoid, so it’s always wise to check the label.
Regulations for these shakes can vary across different territories, but on the whole, they are closely monitored and those produced by reputable brands will not be dangerous.
Like with any product, you should always do your research before purchasing.
Q: Do I Need To Drink Meal Replacement Shakes To Build Muscle?
No, but they can certainly help.
A healthy and balanced diet with sufficient levels of protein will help you build muscle, provided you are also doing the right training and exercise.
While meal replacement shakes are a handy way of getting a hefty dose of protein and carbs, they aren’t a necessity.
They are, however, useful when you’re short on time or need to consume calories on the go.
The best results tend to be seen when shakes such as these are used to supplement a healthy and balanced diet.
In order to build muscle, you need to be consuming more calories than you burn, so replacing entire meals with a shake is unlikely to help.
Instead, they can be consumed as well as balanced meals to help boost your calorie intake and, importantly, the amount of protein you’re getting.
Q: Can Meal Replacement Shakes Make You Fat?
This depends on the product you’re using and how often you consume it.
On their own, meal replacement shakes are unlikely to make you gain body fat as their nutritional value is not geared toward that.
However, there are instances where they could cause gains in fat.
For instance, if you are regularly drinking a ‘gainer’ shake that is high in calories, as well as eating most meals, without doing any exercise, then you’re likely to gain weight and fat.
All shakes will include fats, as these are essential to your diet, but they are usually in fairly low quantities and they tend to be healthier fats as well, so meal replacement shakes aren’t inherently ‘fattening’.
If you are concerned about fat levels and your weight, it’s best to pay attention to how many calories you consume per day compared to how many you typically burn, as well as the nutritional value of the food you eat.
Changes in weight are very rarely down to just one element of a person’s lifestyle, such as the consumption of meal replacement shakes, so a more holistic view is more effective when trying to lose fat.
With so many meal replacement shakes available on the market, it can be difficult to know which are the best ones to go for.
In our list, we’ve selected those with high-quality ingredients and sufficient macro and nutrient levels.
The most important thing is to find the right shake for you, and you might need to try a few different products before you find the best fit.
This depends on a variety of factors including your goals and dietary requirements.
So, if you’re looking for a great meal replacement shake, then hopefully this list has helped.
Here’s a quick recap of the 10 best meal replacement shakes:
- Kaged Muscle – Clean Meal
- Jacked Factory – Authentic MRP
- All Max – Meal Prep
- Universal Nutrition – Animal Meal
- Redcon1 – MRE
- Axe & Sledge – Home Made
- Blackstone Labs – Fast Food
- Garden of Life – Raw Organic Meal
- Keto Science – Keto Meal Shake
- RSP Nutrition – TrueFit