Choosing the Best Meal Replacement Shake to Supplement Your Nutritional Goals
It is immensely important to find the best meal replacement shake to supplement your nutritional goals. The key element in any weight loss plan is the effective management of your caloric intake; however, all calories are not created equal as once thought. For instance, calories that have a high glycemic index are far more potentially detrimental to weight-loss efforts than calories from proteins or healthy fats. As you gain an understanding of your essential nutritional needs and the challenges with today’s diets to supplement everything that is needed, the demand for highly effective supplementation becomes evident.
Choosing the right meal replacement shake can have an immensely positive impact on your efforts to achieve your nutritional goals. Losing weight begins with the ability to place your body in a consistent and healthy caloric deficit and choosing the right meal replacement shake will not only help with calorie management but it can assist you in ensuring that you meet your macro-nutrient quotas. Meal replacement shakes have become a convenient method of nutritional management based on the ease of preparation. Whether you choose a ready-made version or a powder shake that you have to mix, the simplicity of preparation of these formulas will provide you will more time focus on other things.
The goal of this article is to provide you with some tips and insight that will help you choose the right meal replacement shake to get the most out of your nutritional work-up — subsequently maximizing your effort.
The Reason for Using Meal Replacement Shakes
One of the most obvious benefits of meal replacement shakes is that offer a convenient method for monitoring and maintaining your nutritional goals. Most shakes can be prepared in minutes. You can use them to replace a complete meal or as in-between meal snacks. Most of the formulas are designed to be highly satiating, which will reduce hunger cravings and overeating. Powdered meal replacement shakes allow you to mix your meal replacement shake in varied potencies depending on the time of day and intent of use. If you are using the shake as a pre-workout or post-workout supplement, the potency of the shake will be different than if you used it as a snack.
The Benefits of Meal Replacement Shakes
The benefits associated with using meal replacements shakes are multitudinous and far too comprehensive to every benefit here; however, I do want to introduce you to some benefits that illuminate the benefit of finding the right meal replacement shake for you. Some of the tops benefits include glucose (sugar) management, convenience, ease of preparation, caloric management, and nutritional control — just to name a few.
I should note that a meal replacement shake works better when you already have a nutritional plan in place. Your nutritional plan will identify the nutrients that you should focus on, and it will establish what nutritional needs are being met by your diet. Being aware of what is lacking in your diet will go a long way in helping you determine what you are looking for in a shake.
While every meal replacement shake will not be best for those who have weight loss as their primary goal, most of them are ideal for the burning of unwanted fat — some better than others. The reason that I say that some meal replacement shakes are not great for weight loss is that shakes that are high in protein will likely promote protein synthesis, leading to the development of lean muscle mass. Because lean muscle is more dense than fat, it weighs more than fat. So, while you will likely lose inches when you find the right balance of diet, exercise and rest, you will likely gain weight by way of lean muscle. Depending on your goal, gaining muscle may not be a bad thing, but you need to be aware of the possibilities.
According to a report by, meal replacement shakes can be effective in assisting calorie management. A Report by the suggests that while meal replacement shakes can be effective in aiding weight loss, they should not be used as a crutch. When setting up your nutritional regimen, it is important to understand the need for sustainability (the ability to sustain the plan over the long term).
The last 10 years have seen obesity in the United States reach epidemic proportions, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A key contributing factor to obesity is insulin insensitivity — a condition caused by constant insulin spikes as a result of high-glucose and high-carb diets. By choosing the right meal replacement shake, you can radically lower blood glucose levels and reduce insulin spikes, which will have to positive benefits — a reduction in weight and the reversal of Type 2 diabetes in those who have been diagnosed with the condition.
Additionally, a peer-reviewed study published in the National Institutes of Health suggests that using the right meal replacement shake can help to reduce inflammation in the body over time. The study also found that meal replacement shakes were beneficial in aiding weight loss efforts.
Distinctions and Similarities with Meal Replacement Shakes
The meal replacement shake industry has erupted into a multi-billion dollar industry. While all shake can fall under the meal replacement shake category, there are three primary sub-categories that you should be aware of. Understanding the similarities and differences between these sub-categories will go a long way in helping you determine which shake will be best for you as you move towards your health and fitness goals. You have general meal replacement shakes, weight-loss shakes, and protein shakes. While they all overlap in some way, the primary intent is what will set these shakes apart from one another.
What are some of the similarities associated with these different categories? They all assist you in monitoring your caloric intake. You will have a clear understanding of how many calories you are consuming with each serving. They support the burning of unwanted body fat. When you find the shake that is right for you, it will allow you to replace at least one meal per day — simplifying your day while streamlining your efforts to become leaner and fit.
The most vivid distinction between protein shakes and meal replacement shakes is that protein shakes focus on the development of lean muscle more than weight loss. In fact, if you are training heavily, especially through high-impact/high-intensity sessions, it is likely that you will gain weight by way of lean muscle mass, which is not a bad thing if that is what you are looking for. Protein is such a key building block that a report issued bysuggests that protein supplements are virtually a pre-requisite to the building of lean muscle mass and high athletic output. When choosing great protein shake, your focus should be on knowing the amount of protein contained in each serving and the bioavailability (how much of it is actually being absorbed and processed by the body) of that protein.
Your best meal replacement shakes will be designed to adequately replace a nutritional meal, meaning that the nutritional content will be more balanced based on what the body needs. While all humans a basically the same, we each have unique bio-makeups — meaning you will need to have an understanding of what your body is in need of most. Everyone does not need the exact same amount of protein, and this is true for every nutrient.
Conventional Diets vs Meal Replacement Shakes
Understanding your personal needs is at the core of creating an optimal nutrition plan and supplementing that plan. I am often asked which is better, a conventional diet or a diet that incorporates a meal replacement shake. First, a shake is not a diet, in and of itself. It is a dietary supplement; therefore, you can take a more conventional approach to achieve your nutritional goals and still incorporate shakes into the equation. In my opinion, it is almost impossible to get everything your body needs through conventional nutritional consumption. The amount of food you would have to consume in a day is just unrealistic.
One consideration when determining what route you will take is budget. A consistent inventory of a quality meal replacement shake can become costly, although there are some great affordable shakes out there. When you preparing your own foods, you will be able to enjoy great specificity as it relates to what you are attempting to accomplish. Find one shake that does everything you need is not likely, which is why choosing a meal replacement shake more as a supplement is much better.
Are There Risks?
Escaping the call for moderation can lead to some unwanted consequences in almost anything you do, so even a good shake can be misused and abused. With this being said, let’s visit some of the most common risk concerns associated with meal replacement shakes. We have enough empirical data to support the general safety of meal replacement shakes over the short-term; however, we are still collecting data, as the industry moves out of its infancy, to ascertain how safe these shakes are over the long-term.
We do know that protein, in large amounts, over time, can cause damage to the liver and kidneys, which can wreak havoc on your metabolism and overall health. This is why I recommend cycling off of shakes, especially those high in protein, allowing your body to detox and recover. The liver and kidneys are highly resilient, so when given a chance they will normally heal themselves — if there are no other underlying health issues.
Obviously, the more additives a shake contains the more potential complications it can produce. You want your diet to contain as much organic and natural ingredients as possible. There are some things our bodies were never meant to process.
Another risk factor is associated with inadequate fiber content and that is functional bower disruption, especially constipation. According to a recent report by SelfGrowth.com limiting meal replacement shakes to one per day can lower the risk of complications associated with the shake of your choice.
What Are the Criteria for Choosing the Best Meal Replacement Shake for You?
As I stated earlier, every person is different in their bio-makeup and that bio-makeup will go a long way in determining what you will be looking for in a shake. Your personal health and fitness goals will influence the type of shake that will be best suited for you as well. I always advise my clients to consider the potential risks and weigh them against the potential benefits. The potential benefits should far outway the potential risks or it simply is not worth it. For instance, if you have an existing kidney or liver condition, shakes high in protein will not be a good choice for you.
Many meal replacement shakes focus on reducing carbohydrate content; however, if you are not on a ketogenic diet and your physical demands require high energy, you will need to find shakes that have a reasonably high concentration of complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs will not break down as fast as simple carbs, reducing the risk of insulin spikes.
When choosing the right meal replacement shake, there are some ingredients that you should absolutely avoid, including:
- · Soy
- · Added Sugar
- · Natural sweetener (boosting glucose content to high)
- · Artificial Sweeteners (there are studies that suggest that artificial sweeteners can be as bad or worse than sugar)
- · Anything hydrogenated.
There is no real nutritional value added by these ingredients making them empty calories.
The Most Effective Use of Meal Replacement Shakes
Understanding that meal replacement shakes are designed to supplement an existing plan, you want to schedule your shake for the right time of day. All things being considered equal, the most practical time of day for a meal replacement shake is at lunch or mid-day. This is because lunch is the time that you are least likely to be home to prepare a complete meal. If you are a person who rushes out of the house early in the morning, using a replacement shake to replace a conventional breakfast is a possibility.
Depending on what you are using the shake for, you will need to test the dosage per serving. The recommendations on the package are highly general and serve as a good starting point, but because every person is different, it will be necessary to find your optimal point as for as the dosage per serving. If you-you is highly active or actively training in the gym, you will need to schedule your shake and dosage around your workout.
The Top Meal Replacement Shake Available on the Market
It is important to understand that while there are a lot of meal replacement shakes on the market, they are not all created equal and they don’t all serve the same purpose. I decided to list some of the top meal replacement and protein shakes currently available on the market. While I will make a final recommendation, the best shake for you will depend on what you are attempting to accomplish.
This meal replacement shake is balanced enough to serve as a complete meal replacement supplement, but it has a high enough protein content (25g) per serving to function as a legitimate protein shake to support muscle development and post-workout recovery. The extremely low carb content means that it should not produce insulin spikes and that it is ideal for supporting ketogenic diets.
- · Great of building muscle
- · Supports workout recovery
- · Low carb content
- · Only 160 calories per serving
- · Low Carb could result in low energy output
- · Low in fiber
This is a straightforward high-protein meal replacement shape that is ideal for the person who is looking to add lean muscle and trim down unwanted body fat. With 35g of protein per serving, it will pack a punch as a recovery or pre-workout shake. The shake is free of additives and does not have a lot of empty calories.
- · Great for workout recovery
- · High protein supports protein synthesis
- · Great tasting
- · All-in-one MRP — meet all of your meal replacement needs with this one compound
- · High-protein could pose risk to liver and kidney over extended use
- · Lacks balance to function as a full replacement
Okay, there is nothing to misunderstand here. Muscle is one of the best high-protein powder products on the market. The pro series is for the individual that is serious about their training and they are looking to achieve optimal results from their workouts. With 50g of protein, proper training and recovery will produce some remarkable results.
- · Gluten Free
- · Soy Free
- · High Protein performance
- · Supports Recovery
- · Great taste
- · Liver and Kidney concerns over long-term use (I recommend cycling on and off in equal intervals.)
- · Low fiber content
What I love about these ready-made shake is that they have zero grams of sugar, while delivering 25 grams of protein to support intense workout and ketogenic/low carb diets. This shake is great for everyday performance enhancement. At only 160 calories, it is great as a meal replacement supplement.
- · Read-made — no preparation needed
- · Great taste
- · Low calorie per serving ratio
- · Great pre and post-workout support
- · Great as a snack
- · Can’t customize dosage and delivery
- · Lacks balance to completely replace a meal
Not only does this low-carb formula serve to reduce the carb content in the shake, it organic approach supports the detoxification process necessary to create the optimal environment improve health and healing. This is a vegan-based protein shake that is great as a meal replacement supplement.
- · Supports Weight Loss
- · Great taste
- · Organic
- · Vegan-based
- · Easy preparation (just add water)
- · No Sugar
- · None worth mentioning
For the best overall shake, I would recommend the Clean Lean Low-Carb shake because of its natural approach to supplementing a natural diet. With none of the ingredients that tend to make the body’s metabolic process sluggish, it is a great meal replacement shake to support weight loss and body cleansing. If I were promoting a shake solely on its capacity to support protein synthesis and muscle development, I would recommend The Muscle Milk Pro Series.
Rick Wallace, Ph.D., Psy.D. is the founder of Master Fitness 21 & The Visionetics Institute, both of which are subsidiaries of Rick Wallace Enterprises. Dr. Wallace has dedicated his life to inspiring, preparing, and empowering people to live life at the level of their design. He is the author of 20 books, including his most recent, Critical Mass: The Phenomenon of Next Level Living.