Choosing the right meal replacement to help you lose weight can be incredibly difficult. There are many scams and ineffective products online, and many of these companies use their marketing to trick people into buying their products. Customers will often purchase a shake not knowing what standards are needed to make sure they’re buying a truly effective brand.
We’ve reviewed over 500 meal replacements all over the world to make sure you know what the best is.
The Very Best Meal Replacement Shakes
During your weight loss journey you can get to a point where it’s difficult coordinating meals, making sure to track your caloric intake for the day. Deciding whether or not you have enough calories to give you the energy you need for the day and your workouts, while still not overdoing it and potentially stalling your weight loss efforts. The reason why meal replacements have increased in great popularity is that they are an efficient, easy to use, often tasty, and effective way to achieve weight loss.
The simplicity of a meal replacement shake can make the difference between steady weight loss and lagging results. With many options to choose from it can be difficult deciding what kind of shake will best suit your needs. To help give insights our guide will go over what options are available, and what to look for in a shake.
Diet Shakes or Meal replacement shakes?
There are major differences between diet and meal replacement shakes especially when it comes to weight loss. The main differences include:
|Meal Replacement Shakes||Diet shakes|
|Often contains a full range of vitamins and minerals||May or may not have a full vitamin and mineral profile|
|Typically lower in calories||Can have upwards of 200 calories or more|
|Made specifically to target sustained appetite suppression||May not have enough fiber to suppress appetite|
|Used as a way to help one lose weight||Often intended more as a snack, and as a source of calories|
|Usually can be mixed with other ingredients||Rarely made to be mixed with other ingredients|
|Typically made specifically for those who are looking to lose weight||Marketed more towards the average consumer who’s main sought after benefit maybe only taste|
|Often there is an emphasis on providing only wholesome ingredients that can nourish the body||The quality of ingredients may not be as good as they focus more on cheap recipes and mass production of their additives and formulas|
|Made specifically to help with weight loss or weight gain depending on the brand||Though sold as a diet shake, it is more often than not a basic shake that does not actually help one replace any meals|
Advantages of Meal Replacement Shakes
Meal replacement shakes are better overall as they are meant to substitute a full meal which can be caloric, making it harder for you to lose weight. Instead they are formulated to help maintain steady weight loss when used as directed.
It’s also meant to help prevent hunger, so users can continue on with their day without having constant hunger pains. This is why they are used to replace meals, to prevent hunger for a few hours.
They are also made to be eaten up to twice a day. This makes it easy to simplify dieting so there’s less of a need to prep meals or deal with carefully selecting the amount of food to eat. Instead users can enjoy a shake with ease, and some shakes can even be mixed with water without the use of a blender. You know exactly what you’re getting which makes it easier to enjoy regular meals, as your calorie intake will likely be much lower.
A study by the Obesity Research Institute AT Colombia University College found that when comparing a low calorie diet to a meal replacement shake, the shake was able to:
“safely and effectively produce significant sustainable weight loss”
Those who underwent the study also showed:
“No reported adverse effects”
This means meal replacement shakes can be just as effective for weight loss as those that carefully select foods, measure them, and making sure one is on track for their caloric needs. You can simplify your weight loss success by simply using a shake which has the full nutrition facts outlined and easy to read. This can be used in the long term as a way to keep weight off instead of having it return and causing the dreaded yo-yo effect.
It can be made to easily help support weight loss results instead of having users conform an often tedious, and potentially difficult to maintain diet plan.
Best Meal Replacement Shakes for Weight Loss
There are many key things to look for when purchasing a meal replacement shake and it includes:
- Making sure it has a high amount of fiber: This not only helps with keeping bowel movements regular, but it can also help support appetite suppression. Somewhere in the range of 5 grams per serving would be optimal to ensure the maintenance of digestive health and to stave off hunger.
- Not using a shake that has artificial ingredients: Not only are they unnecessary and only added to substitute ingredients which are better for you, but certain additives can have a risk for side effects. Artificial additives like food coloring, preservatives, artificial sweeteners like sucralose, and others are only added to preserve or enhance flavor but they are not necessary.
- Ensuring there is a full range of vitamins and minerals: When you’re replacing meals it’s highly important you’re giving the body what it needs to thrive and stay healthy. Not only do vitamins and minerals help with the maintenance of many important body processes, but they can ensure you feel your best, which is especially needed when cutting calories which can sometimes lead to fatigue.
Brands which offer a full range of nutrients will often say so as it’s a major part of marketing. Giving your body the nutrients it needs can ensure the body remains healthy.
- Limiting sugar content: While it does provide a pleasantly sweet taste, sugar has been linked to metabolic disorders and overall weight gain. This is why it’s best to seek out an alternative or low calorie sweetener such as stevia. This plant based sweetener has been shown to not have an effect on diabetics, so as to not negatively affect blood sugar levels.
Sugar can actually increase hunger and it may make it harder for you to lose weight. It’s also not a necessary ingredient since the body does not need sugar to be healthy. This is why eating stevia is such as great substitute as it can be used in fewer amounts than standard table sugar, without any of the unwanted changes regular sugar can have.
By stabilizing blood sugar it can ensure there aren’t sudden dips in mood and energy levels. Worse yet increased sugar intake has also been linked to weight gain. This is why limiting sugar in all forms is best, especially when purchasing a meal replacement shake. Some brands contain only 1 gram of sugar per serving which is a healthy amount that can still provide a great taste.
- Containing around 100 calories per serving: The easiest way to lose weight is by restricting calories as much as possible. Meal replacements work well due to the fact that with limited calories it’s able to replace a full meal which can average to hundreds and hundreds of additional calories.
There are brands available which have around 100 calories with each serving that still have enough nutrients, protein, fiber, and which also have been touted for their ability to satisfy appetite. This is a significant decrease when you compare it to something like a meal which may have many more calories and which potentially may not have enough nutrients.
- Healthy source of protein: This is a major addition to all meal replacement shakes as protein is one of the macronutrients which most suppress appetite. It is also important when introducing exercise as it can help with rebuilding muscle tissue, making it easier to recover from workouts.
Not all brands are equal however, as some fail to provide a nutritious source of protein which is rich in amino acids. Whey protein is considered the best protein source since it has all the amino acids the body needs, and it is bioavailable and easy to absorb. So it can be used much more efficiently by the body to maximize the nutritional value. This has also been linked to lean muscle growth.
Buying the Best Meal Replacement Shake
With many options it’s important to follow the guidelines for what makes a healthy shake by looking at the attributes listed above.
Many brands will often claim to provide the best option but it’s important to make sure that when researching a brand, they specify important attributes. This includes providing the amino acid content, stating that it’s all-natural, and checking the nutrition facts to make sure the calories and sugar is low, while the protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals are high.
Yet another thing to look out for is that the first ingredients on the shake are the actual protein, since the FDA makes it that the first additives in a product mentioned are the one’s which are included in their highest amounts.
Other things to look for are:
- Make sure the shake in question is made in a GMP certified facility. This guarantees that the ingredients are produced in a facility that the FDA oversees.
- Keep carbohydrate levels low as too many carbohydrates can lead to an increase of water weight which can make the body look puffy and bloated.
- There are some added fats. Fats provide a quick energy source and the brain specially needs fats to ensure it’s operating at a fast rate. Fat does not create body fat unless one has an excess of calories.
- Ensure that it can be mixed to suit your needs. Some brands require a blender while others can be mixed alongside a shaker cup.
- Look at the allergens section to see if it contains things like nuts or soy which you may be allergic to.
- Avoid GMO protein such as soy. Soy is often GMO unless otherwise stated as it is one of the most genetically modified crops in existence.
- Reading the company website to see if they specifically market it for weight loss, and that they provide resources for you to lose weight. Not all meal replacement shakes are touted for their ability to help one with weight loss, which is why it’s important to not use a brand that fails to mention this as a benefit.
A way to verify that the brand will actually help is by making sure to read any testimonials and consumer reviews provided by the company. This helps to ensure that other dieters were able to lose weight successfully and for a sustained period.
Meal Replacement Shake Recipes
Once you buy the brand that suits you needs it’s important to prevent boredom to keep trying different flavor combinations. There are many options to choose from but it’s important not to add too much of an ingredient as it can lead to an increase in calories if selecting a lot of calorie dense foods including nut butters or even fruits.
For the following it’s also advised to add a serving of the meal replacement used. It’s also important to make sure one is mixing a shake flavor that suits the following, since some may not mesh well if it’s too strong of a flavor. For example, mixing chocolate flavor with cocoa powder may be too overwhelming. Some great flavor combinations can include:
|High Protein||A banana, a handful of ice, a tablespoon of but butter, and ¾ cup of milk.|
|Green Nutrients||½ cup of raw spinach, 1 cup of raw kale, 1/2 banana, 1 cup of milk of your preference, 1 tablespoon of nut butter and 2 tablespoons of rolled oats.|
|Chocolate Banana||½ a banana, 1 cup of liquid or milk, 1 tablespoon of raw cacao powder, a teaspoon of cinnamon, and a tablespoon of nut butter.|
|Berry Rich||5 strawberries, a handful of blueberries, ½ cup of yogurt, 2-3 ice cubes, and a ½ cup of milk.|
|Green Blend||2 cups of raw spinach, 2 cups of pineapple, ½ a skinless cucumber, and 1 cup of water.|
|Avocado Berry Smoothie||1 peeled avocado, 5 ice cubes, 4 strawberries, 1 teaspoon of honey, 1 teaspoon of flax seed meal (optional), and a full cup of liquid.|
|Purple Smoothie||1 banana, 1 cup of blueberries, ¼ cup of oats, ½ a cup of yogurt, a handful of almonds, a handful of raspberries, and a cup of liquid.|
These recipes can be done with fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. You can also replace milk with a liquid of your choice including water, since the consistency of a shake depends on what kinds of solid foods you add to it. By using water you can also reduce the amount of calories provided, while also staying hydrated.
The best part of these recipes is that there are countless flavor combinations that you can add to suit your needs. Whether you like more or less of something it can be changed to satisfy your taste buds. So it’s advised to adapt and take away or add more of what it is you like.
Contrary to popular belief if you add a balanced amount of greens you can also add important without there being an overly vegetable taste. So you can keep can the body healthy while still enjoying a shake and not feeling as though you have to force it down.
You can also decide to up your caloric intake by maybe adding some more fruit, adding whole milk, nut butter, and maybe even ice cream if you engaged in particularly strenuous exercise and physical exertion. Keeping it fresh and mixing it to your liking can make it easier to sustain your meal replacement weight loss plan.
Best Meal Replacement Shakes for Men
There actually isn’t much of a difference for meal replacement shakes for men and women which is why most shakes are sold as unisex products. Unless of course there is an addition of hormone stimulating additives there won’t be a difference. This might be best avoided however since when you start manipulating hormones there is a potential for side effects.
There is a different demand for caloric intake for men and women, but a low calorie meal replacement shake would be suitable for weight loss to both genders. Typically men might require more calories, but when overweight it would be best to limit calories to a level where it can sustain steady weight loss.
A standard typical to both men and women is to get around .6 gram of protein per pound.
One major difference between men and women is that fat accumulates more in the stomach for men, and for women this transfers most commonly to the butt and legs. However, when supplementing with meal replacement shakes there isn’t much of a difference in what the best way is to lose weight.