Meal replacement shakes are a must-have tool in your arsenal when real food isn’t feasible. They provide adequate nutrition where protein, carbs, fats, vitamins, and minerals are concerned. But, the time it takes to prepare them is literally cut in half…
So, you don’t want to get just any meal replacement because quality varies like any other nutritional supplement.
And whether you’re trying to shed some pounds, put on some muscle, or just fuel your activities; it’s important to consider the quality of the meal replacement. And the most important reason is that you should be able to fill in any meal with a shake and not worry about being deficient in any nutrients.
Check out our top picks:
Our Top 10 Best Meal Replacements Picks for 2019
Note: Check products for different product sizing and pricing. We provided purchase information for products with a reasonable serving size and price range.
Ample Meal Replacement Shake in a Bottle
Ample meal replacement shakes in a bottle are the epitome of on-the-go nutrition.
Not only are they convenient but each bottle contains a nutritious meal made with all-natural ingredients as are all of their products.
Each bottle has 400 calories, 26g of protein 24g of carbs, 22g of fat, 30mg cholesterol, 10g fiber, and 4g of sugar.
Ample protein is made from grass-fed whey, hydrolyzed collagen protein, and pea protein. But the carb sources are from whole grain oat powder, organic sweet potato, acacia fiber, and other natural, organic ingredients.
And you also get probiotics which are important for gut health and restoring healthy gut bacteria. Ample is sweetened with monk fruit extract, and stevia with a little cinnamon added for a delicious shake. (10)
Options: 400 and 600 calorie bottles
Pricing: $39 for 6 bottles (400 calories) and $46 for 6 bottles (600 calories)
Ample K Replacement Shake in a Bottle
Ample K is for the people who follow a ketogenic diet.
Keto is when you use fat as the main source of energy rather than carbs. So, instead of glycogen being stored, fat stores create ketones in the blood which utilizes fat during physical activity.
The nutritional ratio for keto is usually about 55% to 60% fat, 30% to 35% protein and 5% to 10% carbohydrates. And the benefits for keto range from increase weight loss, to improved blood sugar levels, and reduced risk for heart disease. (11)
There are 400 calories, 13g of protein, 13g of carbs, 34g of fat, 10mg cholesterol, 10g of fiber, and 2g of sugar.
The protein consists of grass-fed whey, egg whites, and pea protein. But, the low protein content is important for ketosis because too much is counterproductive for ketosis. And the fat comes from quality coconut oil, sunflower oil, medium-chain triglycerides, and macadamia nut oil.
And, of course, you get the same great nutty, cinnamon flavor that is very pleasing to the taste buds.
Options: 400 and 600 calorie bottles
Pricing: $91.20 for 12 bottles (400 calories) and $114 for 12 bottles (600 calories)
Ample V Replacement Shake in a Bottle
Ample V is the vegan version of the product line and so it’s made from plant-based protein (Pea protein and brown rice protein), unlike the other products.
With 400 calories, 20g of protein, 23g of carbs, 26g of fat, 0 g of cholesterol, 11g of fiber, and 4g of sugar, Ample V is a great meal replacement option. Oat powder and acacia fiber are ideal carb sources to keep you fueled up, while coconut oil, sunflower oil, and macadamia nut oil supply healthy fat sources.
But like all Ample products, there are awesome superfoods added for overall health and probiotics for healthy gut flora. And taste is always backed by a 30-day guarantee.
Options: 400 and 600 calorie bottles
Pricing: $42 for 6 bottles (400 calories) and $97 for 12 bottles (600 calories)
Boost Original Meal Replacement
Boost nutritional drinks are a Nestle product which supplies a good source of nutrients and are perfect for in between your meals, or on-the-go.
Each bottle contains 240 calories, 10g of protein, 41g of carbs, 4g of fat, 3g of fiber, and 20g of sugar. Boost also supplies 26 vitamins and minerals to keep your health in check.
But, the 20g of sugar may be excessive for some people, however; the nutrition is still pretty good for a meal replacement.
Pricing: $34 for 24 bottles
With only 90 calories per serving, Visalus Vi-Shape is an easy choice for a meal replacement when weight loss is the goal.
Now, a meal provides 12 g of whey protein concentrate and hydrolysate for synergistic benefits where maintaining muscle mass is concerned. But, there’s only 7g of carbs, only 1g of fat, 5g of fiber, and less than a gram of sugar.
So, this shake is actually an effective meal replacement for people who suffer from diabetes. And there’s about 30% of the daily recommendation of all vitamins included as well.
But you’ll love the taste (Brittney Spears does) and if you’re trying to shed the pounds there’s nothing better!
Pricing: $45 for 24 meals
Tsogo Meal Replacement
You have to admit, “Tsogo” is a pretty cool name… but we think quality nutritional supplements are even cooler!
With 410 calories, 17g of protein, 42g of carbs, 19g of fat, 3g of fiber, and 12g of sugar; Tsogo wasn’t messing around when they set out to supply a sufficient amount of nutrition in every serving. Now, most vitamins and minerals provide 20% of the recommended daily amounts except for Riboflavin, B6, B12, Thiamine, and Niacin which supply 100%.
But rice protein and oat powder make up the protein and carb contents and honey powder is added as an antioxidant and natural sweetener.
Now, there aren’t many servings in one container so you can either do 5 servings of 400 calories each or 10 servings of 200 calories per shake.
But, the products are made to have a 15-year shelf life and Tsogo offers a 180-day money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with the product.
Pricing: $13.24 for vanilla (5 pack) and $13.79 for chocolate (5 pack)
Nature’s Bounty Optimal Solutions Complete Protein and Vitamin Shake Mix
This meal replacement was created with women’s health and beauty in mind.
Each serving has 100 calories, 15g of protein, 11g of carbs, 3g of fat, 2g of sugar and all of the essential vitamins and minerals. Plus it has 850mg of probiotics for a healthy gut, digestive enzymes, fatty acids (Heart health), and it’s sweetened with Stevia.
But, there’s also added collagen for skin and joint health. One study shows promising results for oral collagen supplementation for skin healing and aging. The benefits can promote skin elasticity, hydration, and dermal collagen density. (12)
And this is great news for everyone!!
Pricing: $12.74 for 13 servings
Huel Meal Replacement
So, you get more than just a meal in a bag with Huel. You get two bags, a shaker cup, and a booklet as well.
100g (400 calories) of powder contains 29.6g of protein, 36.7g of carbs, 13.2g of fat, and 7.9g of fiber. The protein is made from peas and brown rice while the carb source is oats, and the fats are MCT’s from coconut, flaxseed, and sunflower lecithin.
Huel also contains all of the essential vitamins and minerals too and it also has a very low glycemic index score of 27 which means it’s won’t negatively affect your blood sugar levels.
Pricing: $75 for 28 meals
A serving of Isalean has 240 calories 24g of protein, 24 g of carbs, 6g of fat, 45mg of cholesterol, and 11g of sugar. Plus, Isalean has digestive enzymes and it contains no artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors or preservatives, so it’s a clean meal replacement.
Plus, there’s a respectable amount of vitamins and minerals in there too so, you won’t have to worry about being deficient in anything.
Pricing: $55 for 14 meals
Labrada Nutrition Lean Body
The Labrada line was founded by legendary bodybuilder Lee Labrada and Lean Body is a quality meal replacement for the active individual.
But with a whopping 35g of protein, it’s obvious this was a supplement geared toward the people who weight train. 2 scoops will give you 290 calories, 21g of carbs, 7g of fat, 70mg of cholesterol, and 5g of sugar.
Now, Lean body does have a lot of essential nutrients and vitamins but it’s at a lower dose which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And the majority of nutrition should come from real foods so a supplement that supplies a decent amount of vitamins and minerals won’t do harm.
But, it’s a great product which will supply your needs when you’re on the run or in between your meals.
Pricing: $22 for 16 servings
Ideal Shape Ideal Shake Meal Replacement
Ideal Shake meal replacement seems to have quite a bit going on… it’s low fat, low sugar, has 22 vitamins and mineral plus 5g of fiber, 11-12g of protein, and a serving is only 110-120 calories.
But, that’s not all… there’s 300mg of Slendesta; which is a potato protein, that is supposed to curb hunger for up to three hours! If this is true, then this meal replacement is a dream come true for people who are trying to lose weight.
Pricing: $50 for 30 servings
Field Work Nutrition Co. Primo Smoothie Meal Replacement
If you want a powerhouse meal replacement then this is it!
Primo Smoothie has so many amazing and beneficial ingredients that there’s little to be desired just by looking at the nutrition label.
A serving is 200 calories, 20g of grass-fed whey and concentrate, 18g of carbs, 5g of fat, 5g of fiber, and 4g of sugar.
The carb complex is made of ingredients like sweet potato, organic oats, chia, and quinoa, to name a few. Plus, you get 995mg of a pre- and probiotic blend of Curcumin and Tart Cherry. Then, there’s a fruit and veggie complex and finally 50mg of digestive enzymes.
Curcumin is a spice that has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties. It helps to combat anxiety, arthritis, metabolic syndrome and more according to research.
Tart cherry also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and according to a study, there’s evidence to suggest it has a positive effect on blood pressure, oxidative stress, exercise-induced muscle soreness, and strength.
Primo Smoothie meal replacement has tons of benefits and each serving supplies whole-food, nutrition. There are absolutely no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, added sugars, soy, or gluten and each batch is field tested for quality.
So, look no further than Primo Smoothie!
Pricing: $56 for 18 servings
What is a Meal Replacement?
A meal replacement supplement should be a substitute for some of your meals. They’re usually a prepackaged, powdered mix which contains essential nutrients and should provide similar nutrition as a healthy meal. So… a meal you can blend/shake and drink (Like a protein shake but with more nutritionally complete).
Now, typically, there are about 150-200 calories per meal replacement shake, however; there are many which provide 400+ calories for the people who need more.
There are meal replacement bars as well, which people often consume to supplement their meals. But, these are often more expensive overall and may provide less overall nutritional benefits.
Powders can be packed with a lot of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial ingredients so they’re a preferred option.
What to Look for in Good Meal Replacement…
You can always add ingredients to a meal replacement shake or smoothie for additional nutritional benefit. But, choosing a shake which supplies a base for macronutrients and fiber is highly recommended.
And that’s because sometimes we only have enough time to “mix and go” and adding additional ingredients isn’t always possible.
“Look for shakes and smoothies with at least 325 to 400 calories, 15 to 25 grams of protein, at least 5 grams of fiber, and 10 to 13 grams of fat from a healthy source like avocado, fish oil, olive oil, or nuts,”
Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RD, author of The SuperfoodsRx Diet, told Prevention. This is great advice but since everyone’s different, specific nutritional needs will be as well…
Like a nutritious meal, a replacement powder should have sufficient quantities of macronutrients, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and some even include additional ingredients for increased, potential health benefits.
Protein is an essential macronutrient which builds and repairs many of the body’s tissue. It’s important for muscle growth, skin, hair, teeth, hormones, and essentially all body tissue. (1)
But, it doesn’t end there… protein is needed to make enzymes which create chemical reactions in the body and it’s also responsible for hemoglobin which carries oxygen in the blood.
Carbohydrates are the only macronutrient which provides energy for all of the body’s functions. Carbs convert into glucose which is stored in the muscles and liver before used for energy when needed. (2)
So, that is why active people need more carbs to replenish lost glycogen stores during exercise. The more glycogen storage, the longer you can maintain a high level of activity.
Fats are essential for brain health, cholesterol, hormones and some people use them for energy. But, there’s a difference between the varying types of fats. (3)
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the healthy kinds, where trans fats are bad, and saturated fats should be consumed in fewer quantities.
Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and are found in foods like avocadoes, nuts, seeds, fish, and canola oil. These foods also have Omega-3 fats which essential for heart health, and blood pressure, while lowering the bad (LDL) cholesterol and increasing the good (HDL) cholesterol. (3, 4, 5)
Trans fats are made from hydrogenated oils, which are used for frying, baked goods, and processed foods. It’s best to stay away from these fats as they lower good cholesterol, increase bad cholesterol, increase the risk for chronic disease, and contribute to insulin resistance. (3)
Vitamin A supports eye health, bone growth, and healthy skin. Vitamin C is important for immune function, collagen, wound healing. B-vitamins are essential for healthy blood cells, cell energy, and DNA formation.
Vitamin D is vital for bone growth as it helps absorb vitamin C and it’s important for human development. And vitamin E is an antioxidant which acts as a “cell protector”.
Calcium is crucial for bones, teeth, muscle contractions, nerve function, hormones, and blood pressure. (7)
Iron helps red blood cells function for oxygen delivery, creates amino acids, neurotransmitters, hormones, and collagen. Magnesium helps calcium build bone and teeth while promoting playing a role in muscle contraction. (8)
Potassium is essential for nerve and heart health while balancing bodily fluid and sodium performs the same functions. And zinc is important for cell, protein, and enzyme creation. (9)
Our Criteria For Meal Replacement Picks!
So, how did we decide which products would make the cut?…
Well, we value your taste buds too and it’s never fun having to squeeze your nostrils to down a shake. So, each product is satisfactory in this area and some may even blow expectations away.
However, everyone is different and so you have to try for yourself.
Low quality won’t cut it. But, we know budget is a concern for many people and therefore, some options are within an affordable price for most people. However, great quality can cost a little and there’s just no way around it.
An acceptable meal replacement powder will give you enough quality nutrients to be considered a “meal replacement”. But, you have to consider the fact that everyone’s nutritional requirements are different. And, some people may need to rely on these shakes for a good portion of their meals while others only need a shake or two every now and then to fill in their needs.
But, there’s a good amount of macronutrients, vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial ingredients in each product. So, there’s something for everyone.
Most people who use these products are overall very satisfied and this criterion ranges from the taste to what they offer regarding nutritional completeness.
Are you getting enough for the money? These products provide a good combination of all important criteria for a good meal replacement shake. So, we chose accordingly.
What Are The Downsides To Meal Replacements?
There may be a few concerns for people looking to implement liquid meal replacements in their diets as the majority or as a sole source of their daily nutrition.
Like, for example, transitioning back to whole foods. It may be hard to adjust after having consuming liquids for so long. But, making the transition shouldn’t be an issue long-term.
And most people should have no problem using meal replacements to fill in what they don’t get from real foods. This may be due to convenience or a new diet, but real whole foods should always be a part of a healthy and nutritious diet.
Also, a lot of meal replacements don’t supply enough fiber which is important for healthy digestion, and phytochemicals from plant-based foods are something which may fall short as well. However, quality products contain a sufficient amount of all necessary nutrients.
That’s a Wrap!
Ok folks… These were our 10 meal replacement supplement picks for 2019 and we hope you saw a few you really liked!
So, what now? Well, we know how important quality nutrition is for optimal health. So, it’s time to start supplementing your meals so that you no longer have an excuse to miss one. Whether you want to build muscle, lose weight, or perform better… it won’t be possible without prioritizing complete, daily nutrition.
And meal replacements are a very beneficial aid for your fitness journey!