5 Best Meal Replacement Shakes

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Meal replacement shakes are a popular approach for those trying to lose weight, although there are some benefits and side effects of which you’re not aware.

What are Meal Replacement Shakes?

Meal replacement shakes are typically processed and bottled products that contain certain key nutrients you need, and can be enjoyed on the go. These shakes have grown in popularity in recent years, along with meal replacement snacks and health bars, for several reasons.

  • Some people use these shakes because they simply don’t have time to prepare an entire meal for themselves, and are constantly on the go.
  • These shakes are also preferred by people who want to reduce their caloric intake since these shakes are often high in nutrients, but relatively low in calories. [1]
Woman in gym clothes drinking a shake.

Make sure your shakes are also delicious. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

  • Finally, these shakes are good for people who don’t have much of an appetite and therefore can’t eat enough food throughout the day to get the nutrients they need.
  • These shakes can be healthy if you choose the right brand and avoid those with a lot of additives and huge amounts of extra sugar.
  • More natural forms of replacement shakes can also be made at home, and these are often recommended for commercial products.
  • While these shakes can help you lose weight, it is important to remember that eating whole foods is a means of establishing better eating habits for long-term dietary improvement. [2]
  • One of the other benefits of these shakes is that they can replace breakfast, lunch or dinner, providing the flexibility that many people need.

Best Meal Replacement Shakes

The best meal replacement shakes include plant-based protein powders, high-calorie shakes, healthy soups, and homemade green smoothies, among others. Both men and women can benefit from these shakes in various ways. [3]

  • Green smoothies
  • Healthy soups
  • Protein powder from bone broth
  • Plant-based protein powders
  • High-calorie shakes for muscle growth


The many benefits of meal replacement shakes include aiding in weight loss, providing essential nutrients, and boosting protein intake, to name a few.

Unhealthy Meals

When you are on the go, it can sometimes feel natural to grab some fast food or eat a bag of potato chips to tide you over. However, these shakes can fill you up and deliver the nutrients you need, without the trans fats and saturated fats you’ll find in a fast-food burger. [4]

Weight Loss

Many of these shakes – both the products and those you can make at home – have a low-calorie count, relative to how much protein and other nutrients it contains. This can prevent overeating and snacking, but can also improve your caloric deficit for the day, leading to gradual, healthy weight loss. [5]

Essential Nutrients

Most meal replacement shakes provide high concentrations of all essential minerals and vitamins – often 100% of your daily requirement. For people who struggle to eat enough fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains and lean protein, these shakes can fill in the nutritional gaps. [6]

High in Protein

One of the main reasons people drink these shakes is for the protein content, particularly if they are an athlete or bodybuilder looking to build their muscle mass. However, protein is also important for normal growth, development, and repair in everyone, not just athletes. [7]

Side Effects

Unfortunately, there are also some side effects and drawbacks of meal replacement shake, including consuming too much sugar, worsening inflammation, and not fixing poor dietary habits.

  • Unhealthy ingredients (additives, fillers, and difficult-to-digest compounds)
  • Excessive amounts of added sugar (increases risk of weight gain)
  • Worsening inflammation and indigestion (depending on your particular gastrointestinal health)
  • Short-term solution
  • Does not fix unhealthy eating habits
  • Fatigue and mood swings
  • Effects on satiety
  • Nutrient intake could be compromised
  • Weight gain (after going back to a normal diet, the lost weight can quickly return)
  • Hunger throughout the day due to a low caloric intake
DMCA.com Protection Status
About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

Rate this article
Average rating 2.1 out of 5.0 based on 8 user(s).