Choosing the Best Meal Replacement Shakes – Top 10 Brands

Best Meal Replacement Shake Brands

Diet and exercise are key to a healthy lifestyle. While exercise can be made portable and we can pushups or burpee’s pretty much anywhere, eating a nutritious meal is not always as convenient.

More often than not, we may find ourselves in a rush with only fast food as an option for a meal. That is where meal replacement shakes come in handy, and can be an excellent and nutritious alternative to fast food and quick meals.

Meal replacement shakes are specially formulated drinks or shakes that contain a variety of ingredients that replace or simulate the nutritional profile of a traditional meal, often times without the extra fat, sugar or cholesterol that may be found in less nutritious options.

In this guide, we’ll break down what meal replacement shakes are, who they are best for, and the best meal replacement shake options on the market today.

What Are Meal Replacement Shakes?

Meal replacement shakes are essentially drinks or shakes that contain nutrients to mimic or simulate an actual meal. They usually contain a number of macronutrients, as well as a high number of micronutrients. While this does not make them a true replacement for an actual full meal, it can replicate the macro and micronutrients of a meal and serve to either help supplement our normal diet for added nutrition, or replace a meal in the event we cannot get to it.

The frst key point to look at is the macronutrient breakdown of a meal replacement shake. Macronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. The combination of these three primary nutrients is what makes up the general nutritional profile of a meal, and by extension a meal replacement shake.

For example, for athletes and those looking to put on lean muscle, a meal or meal replacement shake with more protein than carbs or fats is ideal. Conversely, if you are looking to put on weight, you may want a meal or shake with more carbohydrates.

Secondly, most meal replacement shakes will also contain micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. While the food we eat contains macronutrients and we use those for energy, it also contains micronutrients, which is vital for a variety of physiological functions. When choosing a meal replacement shake, it is important to not only check the macronutrient ratios, but also what micronutrients may also be included.

Are Meal Replacement Shakes Right for You?

Meal replacement shakes are an excellent option for a variety of users, though they are not appropriate for everyone. First and foremost, for those prioritizing a healthy diet they are an ideal choice to have on hand in situations where healthy food may not be available.

In addition, those looking to put on more muscle or mass can use meal replacement shakes as a supplement to their diet to pack on more macronutrients. This can include athletes needing to put on more muscle mass as well as those who may be underweight and need to add more macronutrients to their diet.

It is not an ideal choice for those looking to lose weight; as these shakes should not permanently replace normal meals and consuming them in addition to normal meals can result in weight gain.

Please Note: These products are not meant to be a substitute for actual food or proper daily nutrition.

Side Effects

The side effects of meal replacement shakes are rarely an issue if you follow the basic recommended dosage from a given product. However, if you increase the dosage you may experience some side effects. In addition, many meal replacement products come with additional ingredients or may be paired with other compounds for additional effects, thus side effects related to those ingredients can come up as well.

When in doubt or if you are new to meal replacement shakes, make sure to consult with your medical professional for advice on the best product. Most meal replacement shake products when taken in moderation and properly, however, will have minimal to no side effects at all.

How to Pick a Good Meal Replacement Shake

When choosing a meal replacement shake, there are a variety of factors to take into account. Your personal preferences will play a major part in finding the right selection for you, for example if you prefer a powdered option you can mix with a drink or you may prefer a capsule instead.

Some meal replacement shakes will skew towards a specific demographic or training goal, such as gaining mass or losing weight; your personal goals will need to align with the stated purpose of the product in order to see the best results. For example, if you are an athlete you may want to look for an option with more protein, whereas if you are more interested in losing fat than you’ll want a low-calorie option.

Flavor is of course important and not all meal replacement shakes are particularly tasty, you’ll want to search for an option with a flavor you generally like to make the supplement more palatable and easier to use.

Finally, price and budget are a factor as well. When cross-referenced with your other needs, the best option will need to fit into your budget, and while you generally may get what you pay for, there are some very effective meal replacement shakes that won’t break the bank.

Top 10 Meal Replacement Shake Brands

We have put together a list of our top 10 recommended meal replacement shakes. Each one has a short breakdown of its highlights, primary ingredients and usages, as well as a brief profile for the company who makes the product.

Check out all 10, and look for the best option that not only comes highly recommended but fits your individual needs and desires for a meal replacement shake. We hope you enjoy and find the best product for you!

1. Garden of Life Meal Replacement

Garden Of Life Meal Replacement

Garden of Life Meal Replacement is one of the most comprehensive and potent meal replacement shakes on the market. It comes from one of the top brands for organic foods and supplements, and includes 44 different superfoods, which combined with 20 grams of plant-based protein makes it a nutritional powerhouse. Those attributes, plus the many vitamins, minerals and probiotics make this one of the best meal replacement options on the market.

Product Highlights:

  • Uses plant-based protein
  • Includes ingredients from 44 different superfoods.
  • Has added vitamins, minerals, and probiotics.
  • Excellent brand reputation

Key Ingredients: (per 1 serving)

  • 20g plant based protein blend
  • 8g carbohydrates
  • 7g raw organic fiber blend: tapioca fiber, chia seed, flax meal
  • Raw organic fruit and vegetable blend, featuring spinach, apple, beet and carrot
  • Organic flavor blend, with organic vanilla flavors, stevia extract and sea salt.
  • Raw organic greens blend, including alfalfa, spirulina, and barley.
  • Raw priobiotic and enzyme blend, with lipase, protease, bromelain and more.

Company Profile:

Garden of Life, the maker of this meal replacement shake and many other fine products, is a popular manufacturer of health and fitness supplements, along with health foods and related products. They have been a leader in the health supplement industry and specialize in utilizing raw whole foods and organic sources for their products.

Why We Recommend It:

Garden of Life is one of the most reputable brands for organic, all natural health foods and supplements, and this product delivers on that. It is a great choice for those looking for a meal replacement option that is low in calories, high in nutrients and all-natural. It has the best of both worlds with a solid macronutrient profile as well as a plethora of micronutrients.

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2. Slim Fast Original

Slim Fast Original

One of the original and veteran meal replacement shake options on the market, Slim Fast Original is nonetheless still one of the most effective meal replacement options for a low calorie, high nutrient shake. It is usually best mixed with low fat or fat free milk and delivers 24 different vitamins and minerals for a tasty and nutritious meal replacement option.

Product Highlights:

  • One of the more affordable options
  • Low calorie
  • Has quite a few vitamins and minerals
  • Also includes a serving of fiber for improved digestion.

Key Ingredients: (per serving)

  • 14g carbohydrates, with dextrose, buttermilk powder and more.
  • 4g fats such as high oleic sunflower oil
  • 4g fiber, including soy fiber, cellulose gel, guar gum and more.
  • 2g protein
  • Additional vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D, E, K, zinc and potassium, among others.

Company Profile:

Slim Fast is one of the original weight loss and meal replacement brands. They provide their 5 well-known Slim Fast products to promote weight loss and help their customers improve their health. Their trademark plan, which involves 6 times a day to speed up metabolism supplemented by Slim Fast shakes has strong research and evidence showing it to be effective for weight loss.

Why We Recommend It:

Slim Fast is one of the classic meal replacement shakes, and it continues to be one of the most effective. It is one of the most affordable options on the market and still offers an excellent blend of quality nutrition with low calories, making it an excellent value and a premier option for those looking for assistance with weight loss.

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3. Amazing Grass Amazing Meal

Amazing Grass Amazing Meal

Amazing Grass Amazing Meal is one of the best all-natural meal replacement options available, as it is all-natural, gluten free, vegan, non-GMO, raw and kosher. It comes in seven different flavors and supplies macronutrients, micronutrients, probiotics and more. Even with all of those nutritional bonuses, it is a low-calorie option per serving, but can support those who are more active by increasing the servings per day, making it a versatile and effective meal replacement option!

Product Highlights:

  • Gluten free, vegan, non-GMO, and kosher
  • Very nutrient dense and includes a healthy dose of macro and micronutrients
  • Low calorie
  • Added probiotics and fiber
  • Several sources of additional greens for improved health benefits

Key Ingredients: (per serving, exact ingredient amounts not specified)

  • 14g carbohydrates
  • 8g antioxidant fruit and vegetable blend
  • 5g fat
  • 4g fiber
  • 500mg organic flaxseed powder
  • 3g protein blend
  • 218mg organic enzyme blend and active culture probiotic blend
  • 1g greens blend
  • 25mg chlorophyll

Company Profile:

Amazing Grass is a specialty health food and supplement brand that specializes in products using green superfoods. They were founded in 2002, and take pride in using raw, whole foods that are certified organic, non-GMO, kosher, gluten-free and vegan. They are also one of the more active companies in charitable work as well.

Why We Recommend It:

Amazing Meal from Amazing Grass is one of the purest and all-natural meal replacement options available. Their specialization in products based on green superfoods makes them excellent choices for vegans and vegetarians, as well as those who need more greens in their everyday diet.

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4. Atkins Ready to Drink Shake

Atkins Ready To Drink Shake

Based on the popular diet that has helped many people lose weight, the Atkins Ready to Drink Shake is a meal replacement shake that is high in protein and low in sugar and carbohydrates. It is an excellent choice for those on low-carb or low-sugar diets, as well as for athletes or those looking to add more protein to their diet.

Product Highlights:

  • Has 15g of protein per serving
  • Only 1g of sugar and 5g carbs
  • Comes from a well-respected brand based on a successful diet plan
  • Has several flavors, though some are more expensive
  • Also includes fiber and calcium

Key Ingredients: (per serving)

  • 15g protein blend
  • 5g carbohydrates
  • 3g of fiber
  • A variety of vitamins and minerals

Company Profile:

Atkins is a health and nutrition product company based on the incredibly popular Atkins diet, one of the first low-carb diet plans on the market. They offer a variety of products based on their original low-carb principles while maintaining their affordability, making them one of the most stable companies in the industry.

Why We Recommend It:

Atkins meal replacement shake is the ideal option for those looking for a meal replacement option that has a high protein to carb ratio, in this case 3:1. It is an affordable option and has quality ingredients, an excellent option for low-carb diets as the brand name Atkins would suggest.

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5. Vega One All-In-One

Vega One All In One

Vega One All-In-One is one of the better meal replacement options available that is primarily plant based. It delivers 20 grams of plant-based proteins, as well as fruit and vegetable components, omega-3’s and a host of vitamins, minerals, probiotics and other key micronutrients, making it one of the best mixes on the market for low-calorie meal replacement shake options.

Product Highlights:

  • Plant-based option, with plant-based proteins
  • Nutrient dense while simultaneously low-calorie
  • Gluten free, non-GMO, and no added sugar
  • Includes a plethora of micronutrients including probiotics, antioxidants and vitamins.

Key Ingredients: (per serving)

  • 20g protein (plant based from pea and hemp, among others)
  • 10g carbohydrates
  • 6g fiber
  • 5g fats (omega-3 ALA fatty acid)
  • Probiotics such as bacillus coagulans
  • Veggies like broccoli, kale and spirulina
  • Antioxidants from grape seed extract, goji, pomegranate and more
  • Vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, C, and D, calcium iron and so on.

Company Profile:

Vega is a health and supplement company that specializes in products based on clean plant nutrition. Founded in 2001, they were created by the same founder of Sequel Naturals, a triathlon athlete with a vested interest in health and nutrition. After acquiring WhiteWave in 2015, they have continued to expand their company profile and brand as a leader in the plant based nutritional supplement market.

Why We Recommend It:

This meal replacement powder and shake from Vega is one of the best options for an all-natural meal replacement shake. It has every aspect of nutrition both from a macronutrient and micronutrient perspective, while maintain a low-calorie count for optimum meal replacement without excess calories.

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6. MET-Rx Original Meal Replacement

Met Rx Original Meal Replacement

This meal replacement option from MET-Rx is an ideal choice for athletes and those looking to put on muscle and mass. It is unique in that it offers a high amount of protein and branched chain amino acids, as well as glutamine, all of which are critical ingredients for improving recovery and muscle growth.

Product Highlights:

  • One of the higher protein amounts on the market
  • Also includes both BCAA’s and glutamine
  • Excellent choice for athletes and those looking for muscle mass
  • Gluten free

Key Ingredients: (per serving, exact quantities not listed)

  • 39g METAMYOSYN Protein Blend, which includes whey protein, egg whites, L-glutamine and more
  • 17g carbohydrates
  • 3g fat from sunflower oil
  • 3g fiber from cellulose gum and guar gum, among others.
  • Vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, D, and K, zinc, chromium etc.

Company Profile:

MET-Rx is one of the largest and most recognizable brands in the supplement and fitness industry. They were founded in 1991 and in over 20 years of operation have developed into one of the biggest brands in the market, manufacturing a wealth of supplement products.

Why We Recommend It:

This meal replacement shake from MET-Rx is one of the most potent available, delivering a very high amount of proteins as well as BCAA’s and glutamine. It is not ideal for those looking for weight loss but is ideal for athletes and those looking to put on muscle and lean mass.

7. ONLY PROTIEN Chocolate Meal Replacement Jug

Only Protein Chocolate Meal Replacement Jug

As the name might suggest, this is a high-protein and low-calorie meal replacement option that also includes a variety of amino acids with minimal extras. It is an excellent choice for improved muscle growth and performance, though it is not ideal for those looking for a more balanced macronutrient profile.

Product Highlights:

  • High protein content
  • Low calorie
  • Also includes digestive enzymes
  • Has zero added sugar, gluten or soy ingredients
  • High in choplesterol

Key Ingredients: (per serving, exact amounts for all ingredients not listed)

  • 26g protein blend, from New Zealand
  • 5g carboydrates
  • 200mg protease
  • 200mg lactase
  • 1g fat
  • 1g fiber
  • Several essential amino acids such as lysine, tryptophan, and valine
  • Also has multiple non-essential amino acids like arginine, alanine, and glutamic acid

Company Profile:

Based out of New Zealand, Only Protein is a protein and nutritional supplement brand that specializes in providing products that only use protein based off grass fed cows from their home base of New Zealand.  This makes their products all natural and hormone free for a clean and sustainable brand.

Why We Recommend It:

This meal replacement shake is ideal for athletes and those looking to put on lean muscle mass or mainly use protein as their primary macronutrient in their meals. It is not an ideal choice for a balanced macronutrient profile, but is an all-natural protein source and a great choice for athletes.

8. Champion Performance Ultramet Low Carb

Champion Performance Ultramet Low Carb

Champion Performance Ultramet Low Carb is another great meal replacement option for a low carb, high protein meal replacement. It offers a high amount of protein with a relatively low-calorie count and low carbs, along with many vitamins and minerals. One of its primary characteristics is its high fiber content, a key addition for low-carb options.

Product Highlights:

  • High in protein and low in carbs
  • 230 calories
  • Includes a variety of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
  • High in cholesterol
  • More expensive than most

Key Ingredients: (per serving)

  • 35g protein
  • 6g crabohydrates
  • 5g fiber
  • 4g fat from canola oil, borage oil and more
  • Vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, C, D, and E, plus calcium, iron and more.

Company Profile:

Founded in 1986, Champion Performance is a sports nutrition and supplement brand that specializes in products that are effective, of high quality, and backed by current research. They are a smaller component of their parent company, Nature’s Products Incorporated, one of the largest supplement manufacturers in the world.

Why We Recommend It:

This is a good option for a high protein, low carb meal replacement but is not the best. It is more expensive than many competitors, and it uses lower quality fat sources as compared to more natural or pure products. That being said, it is still an effective source of protein with a low calorie and carb count.

9. Core Nutritionals MRP Full Spectrum Meal Supplement

Core Nutritionals Mrp Full Spectrum Meal Supplement

Core Nutritionals MRP Full Spectrum Meal Supplement is one of the most potent meal replacement options available and a great option for those needing a high number of macronutrients, particularly in carbs and proteins simultaneously. It provides a great deal of nutritional content while maintaining a low-calorie count, making it an ideal choice to replace a solid meal.

Product Highlights:

  • Has a high amount of both carbs and proteins
  • Great choice for athletes
  • One of the more expensive options available
  • High in cholesterol

Key Ingredients: (per serving)

  • 27g protein from whey, casein, milk and more.
  • 27g carbs
  • 5g fiber
  • 4g fats
  • Vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, C, and D along with calcium, iron and more.

Company Profile:

Core Nutritionals was founded by pro athletes and couple Doug and Stephanie Miller. As pro athletes, they take pride in developing sport nutrition products that improve performance and help athletes reach their peak potential and optimal performance.

Why We Recommend It:

Core Nutritionals meal replacement shake is one of the most potent options on the market in terms of its macronutrient breakdown and high protein and carb content. It is high in cholesterol unfortunately, and high in price as compared to competitors, but is a solid product developed by athletes and thus ideal for athletes.

10. Labrada Nutrition Lean Body

Labrada Nutrition Lean Body

Labrada Nutrition Lean Body is one of the strongest meal replacement options available, including protein, BCAA’s, glutamine, fiber and essential fatty acids for a nutritional powerhouse. It is best suited for athletes or those looking for a strong meal replacement option as opposed to those looking for more weight loss.

Product Highlights:

  • Has a great balance of all the key macronutrients
  • Gluten free
  • Ideal for athletes and muscle performance and recovery
  • Expensive as compared to competitors
  • High calorie count

Key Ingredients: (per serving)

  • 20g LeanPro protein, from whey and milk proteins.
  • 8g Fiber Plex, with oat flour, rice bran, cellulose gum and more.
  • 8g carbohydrates
  • 5g EFA Plex, with sunflower oil, soy lecithin, and flaxseed oil.
  • Various vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C and D, as well ascalcium, magnesium, and zinc.

Company Profile:

Labrada Nutrition is one of the more well-known nutrition and supplement companies on the market. They specialize in products designed for bodybuilders and athletes, but their products apply for anyone looking to improve their performance. Founded in 1995, they have continued to grow into a top brand for shakes, bars, powders and more.

Why We Recommend It:

This is one of the best options available, especially for a full macronutrient dose of proteins, carbs and fats. It is certainly not ideal for weight loss, but more suited for athletes, bodybuilders or those looking to put on muscle mass.

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Carl Putman

Written by Carl Putman

Carl Putman is a strength and conditioning coach at the collegiate level and writer on fitness, health and supplements. Over the past decade, he has worked with a wide variety of clients ranging from professional athletes and world champions to youth and general population, as well as tactical practitioners. He is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Organizational Leadership. Based in Florida, he continues to train and coach as well as write with a passion for making a positive impact for his clients and readers.