Best Meal Replacement Shakes Ranked for 2018 – Top 10 Brands

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Jump Ahead to the Best MRS

Sometimes it is hard to access a healthy and well-balanced meal. This may be due to time constraints, finances or traveling. In these cases, a good meal replacement shake may be very effective. A meal replacement shake can help to provide you a quick source of well balanced macro and micronutrients that are easy to consume. The best meal replacement shakes can be made and consumed on the go, because they can be made without the use of a blender or kitchen – many can just be shaken up with milk or water.

Athletes also greatly benefit from this easy and quick source of nutrients because they can be consumed directly before, during or after workouts to improve the utilization of such nutrients for muscle growth and recovery. They can also be used to improve weight loss. Overall, many people may benefit from the use of a top meal replacement product. This guide will tell you all about how to find the best meal replacement supplement for you.

What Are Meal Replacement Shakes?

Meal replacement shakes generally contain a balanced array of macronutrients, which emulate a balanced meal. They are often low calorie and are quite filling. They tend to also be nutrient-dense, which means they are higher in nutrients than most full meals, even though they are lower in calories. A strong meal replacement shake can help aid in dieting, weight control and enhanced muscle growth. Most meal replacement products are developed with a particular goal in mind. For instance, some meal replacement shakes are intended to improve athletic gains.

However, others are intended for weight loss or overall general health. Some can help to boost muscle growth as well as improve weight loss, resulting in an overall improvement in body composition. It is important to determine your particular health needs to help find the best meal replacement shake for you.

Meal Replacement Shakes vs. Protein Shakes

It is also important to distinguish the difference between meal replacement shakes and protein shakes. These shakes may seem very similar, but are actually quite different. Protein shakes generally contain more protein than meal replacement shakes, and are lower in calories. They also do not usually have as much fat in them, and generally do not include micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals.

Meal replacement shakes may include vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients. If used improperly or used like a protein shake, a meal replacement shake may add unnecessary calories and carbohydrates to your diet.

Benefits of Meal Replacement Shakes

Meal replacement shakes are effective and time-saving. They can help to ensure that you consume a healthy amount of nutrients and achieve a feeling of fullness all in less calories than many full meals. They can also offer you access to a well-balanced meal when you are traveling or on-the-go, and they can help athletes to supplement with much needed macronutrients directly before, during or after a workout. When used properly, these products are quite reliable at helping consumers to achieve their goals.

Who Can Benefit from an MRS?

  • Athletes – Athletes can benefit from meal replacement shakes in numerous ways. Some athletes can take a top meal replacement shake simply to save time – for serious athletes, eating out is sometimes not an option. They rely on making their own meals to ensure they consume balanced nutrients. With a meal replacement shake, athletes can consume a balanced meal without having to spend an hour in the kitchen making one. Athletes can also use meal replacement shakes to provide themselves with extra nutrients to help them bulk up. They can take the best meal replacement shakes before, during or after their workouts; depending on their goals and preferences. Athletes can also use a good meal replacement product to lose weight (or “cut”) by replacing a meal with it – giving them a low-calorie, nutrient dense meal that is easy to consume on-the-go.
  • Those Trying to Lose Weight – Athletes are not the only ones who can lose weight with the help of a meal replacement shake. Those who are looking to shave off a few pounds for health or aesthetic purposes may also benefit from the best meal replacement products. Just as athletes can replace a meal with a shake, regular people can too. Some of the best meal replacement products can provide you with balanced nutrients at only around 500 calories or less, whereas most meals are much more. A study conducted on restaurant meals in 2013 found that the average restaurant meal is about 1,128 calories per meal. As you can see, a good meal replacement shake can really help to improve your calorie budget if you are dieting or trying to lose weight.
  • Travelers – When traveling, it is often very difficult to ensure you consume balanced meals. Consuming fresh fruits and vegetables is often especially hard for travelers – especially travelers on a budget. If you have no access to a kitchen and you have to eat out for most of your meals, salads become pretty expensive. So, if you are planning on taking a long trip, you may want to consider bringing some good meal replacement products that help you to consume balanced meals with plenty of necessary nutrients. They are easy to make and consume, they can help you save money and keep you full and energized on your trip!

Are There Any Side Effects?

If meal replacement shakes are used improperly, they could potentially cause weight gain. They also may cause you to be more fatigued due to calorie restriction. Other side effects may include digestive distresses such as gas and diarrhea. Some people may also experience a minor feeling of bloat, but this is not common. However, if used properly, meal replacement shakes do not generally cause negative side effects.

Note: We do not recommend using meal replacement shakes as a substitute in any way to proper daily nutrition.

How to Take a Meal Replacement Shake

Depending on your purposes, you may take a meal replacement shake for breakfast, lunch or dinner or before, during or after a workout.

Some people may use a meal replacement shake to boost their intake of macronutrients to promote growth, while others may use a meal replacement shake to provide nutrient dense calories and effectively lower their caloric intake to lose weight.

Please note, these products are not meant to replace proper daily nutrition or food!

What to Look for in a Good Meal Replacement Shake

A good replacement shake should be produced by a reliable company for a reasonable price, and should also contain the right nutrients in the right amounts. However, the “right” amounts of each nutrient may differ depending on your purposes, age and gender.

For example, if you are an athlete trying to bulk up, you may want more protein and carbohydrates. If you are trying to lose weight and slim down, you may not want as much carbohydrates. Gender and age also affects your intake recommendations of certain nutrients. There are different available meal replacement formulations to choose from, so knowing your body and your goals is important.

It is also important to be aware of the standard for nutritional balance in a meal. Macronutrients include carbohydrates, proteins and amino acids, fats and cholesterol, fiber and water. There is a wide range of acceptable macronutrient intakes that you can refer to to ensure that you are consuming balanced meals, and to ensure that your meal replacement supplement is within an acceptable range of balance. Generally, the distribution range includes: (For adults)

  • Carbohydrates: 45-65%
  • Proteins: 10-35%
  • Fats: 20-35%

As you can see, it is the ratios that matter most. Micronutrients are also very important factors of a balanced meal. This group of nutrients is called “micro” because you need small amounts of them, as opposed to “macro” which you need large amounts of. Micronutrients include vitamins, minerals and other compounds such as antioxidants and polyphenols. Your micronutrient recommendation can be found as an “RDA,” which means Recommended Dietary Allowance. RDA’s can be found on the National Institutes of Health website, here.

Top 10 Meal Replacement Products Compared

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1. Garden of Life Meal Replacement

Best Selling Meal Replacement Shakes

Garden of Life Meal Replacement is a raw and organic meal replacement product that includes 44 different superfoods, 20 grams of plant based proteins, and lots of important vitamins and minerals. It also includes lots of fiber and probiotics. All of these nutrients comprise a meal replacement shake dosage of only 115 calories per serving! All you have to do is mix a scoop with 8 oz of water or unsweetened almond milk and shake it up. It is vegan, gluten free, dairy free, soy free and USDA organic; making it one of the overall best meal replacement shakes on the market.

Highlights:

  • No added sugar
  • Includes all macronutrients
  • Includes probiotics

What’s in It:

  • 20 grams raw organic protein blend (plant based)
  • 8 grams carbohydrates
  • 7 grams raw organic fiber blend (tapioca fiber, chia seed and flax meal)
  • Raw organic fruit and vegetable blend (spinach, apple, beet, carrot etc.
  • Organic flavor blend (organic vanilla flavors, organic stevia extract, sea salt)
  • Raw organic greens blend (alfalfa, spirulina, barley etc.
  • Raw probiotic and enzyme blend (lipase, protease, bromelain etc.

Who Makes It: Garden of Life, also known as GoL, is a top health and wellness brand that uses real foods to create top quality nutritional supplements. They are committed to using organic products from sustainable farms, and they are partnered with the non-GMO project. Their ingredients are all traceable to the source as well. This is one of the best natural supplement brands out there with a great reputation as well.

Bottom Line: This is one of the best meal replacement supplements on the market! Garden of Life, a reliable and well known natural supplement brand, has developed an effective low-calorie meal replacement supplement that is packed full of important macro and micronutrients.

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2. Slim Fast Original

Slim-Fast-Original

Slim Fast Original, Meal Replacement Shake is a good meal replacement shake coming in at only 200 calories per 8 oz serving. It includes antioxidants, 24 different vitamins and minerals, a healthy dose of protein and fiber. Combine one scoop with fat free milk and shake it up, or blend with ice for a healthy and delicious chocolatey shake.

Highlights:

  • Affordable
  • Includes all the necessary macronutrients
  • Low calorie and nutrient dense

What’s in It:

  • 2 grams protein (milk protein)
  • 14 grams carbohydrates (dextrose, buttermilk powder etc.
  • 4 grams fats (high oleic sunflower oil,
  • 4 grams fiber (soy fiber, cellulose gel, guar gum etc.
  • VItamins and minerals (vitamin D, E, K, zinc, potassium etc.

Who Makes It: Slim Fast is a weight loss and dieting brand that provides meal planning and dieting products to help promote weight loss. Their basic plan includes 5 Slim Fast products that are designed to promote weight loss – a breakfast smoothie, snacks, and a lunch meal replacement shake. The plan involves eating 6 times per day to improve the metabolism, and has been proven to improve weight loss in 50 clinical studies.

Bottom Line: This is one of the best meal replacement shakes. It also is affordable and delicious, while being low-calorie and nutritious! If you are trying to lose weight, or you are an athlete trying to cut and improve muscle definition, this is a top meal replacement product for you.

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3. Amazing Grass Amazing Meal

Amazing-Grass-Amazing-Meal

Amazing Grass Amazing Meal is a raw, gluten free, vegan, non-GMO and kosher meal replacement shake that comes in seven different delicious flavors. It supplies you with a source of macronutrients, as well as added probiotics. It can be taken to help maintain a healthy weight at 130 calories per scoop, or to support a healthy weight with an active lifestyle at 200 calories per meal replacement shake dosage of 1.5 scoops. This is one of the best meal replacement supplements currently on the market!

Highlights:

  • Gluten free, vegan, non-GMO and kosher
  • Low calorie and nutrient dense
  • Includes all macronutrients
  • Includes essential vitamins and minerals

What’s in It:

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

Who Makes It: Amazing Grass is a green superfood brand that was founded in 2002. They base their products off of real, raw whole foods instead of ingredients manufactured in a lab. Their products are all USDA certified organic, non-GMO, kosher pareve, gluten free and vegan. The company also takes a portion of every sale to support charitable organizations.

Bottom Line: This is a top meal replacement shake, and provides you with a nutrient dense and balanced shake.

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4. Atkins Ready to Drink Shake

Atkins-Ready-to-Drink-Shake

Atkins Ready to Drink Shake is a popular meal replacement shake offering a delicious and highly nutritious blend of ingredients. With 15g of protein per serving, it has enough to keep you full between meals, while keeping your diet on track. And with only 1g of sugar and 5g total carbs, it’s a diet-friendly option for those looking for help in their weight loss efforts.

Highlights:

  • 15g protein per serving
  • Only 1g sugar
  • 3g fiber
  • Best seller
  • Well reviewed
  • Made by a great company
  • Good source of protein and calcium
  • Several flavor options

Drawbacks:

  • Some flavors are expensive

What’s in It:

  • 15g protein blend
  • 5g carbohydrates
  • 3g fiber
  • Vitamins and minerals
  • Much more

Who Makes It: This product is made by Atkins, the company that pioneered the legendary Atkins Diet, a popular and highly effective low-carb diet. Today, Atkins makes a variety of useful health products and supplements, and are known for high quality products at reasonable prices. They are a company that you can trust.

Bottom Line: Overall, if you’re looking for a low-carb diet shake, this is an excellent choice. Atkins pioneered the popular low-carb diet, and today they continue to make excellent diet-friendly options to help their customers with their weight loss goals. This is an affordable product and a great option for your diet!

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5. Vega One All-In-One

Vega-One-All-In-One

Vega One All-In-One is a plant based meal replacement product that has no added sugar, is gluten free and non-GMO. It has 20 grams of plant based proteins, a greens and vegetable blend, fiber, omega-3 fat, and is fortified with vitamins, minerals probiotics and antioxidants.

It can be shaken with liquid  or blended to make a good meal replacement shake, and it can replace flour in baking recipes. This meal replacement shake dosage is low calorie as well, at only 160 calories per serving.

Highlights:

  • Low calorie
  • Nutrient dense
  • Fortified with antioxidants
  • Includes probiotics
  • Includes all meal replacement shake benefits
  • Gluten free and non-GMO
  • No added sugar

Drawbacks:

  • Low quantity

What’s in It:

  • 20 grams protein (pea protein, hemp protein etc.
  • 10 grams carbohydrates
  • 5 grams fats (omega-3 ALA fatty acid)
  • 6 grams fiber (inulin)
  • Probiotics (bacillus coagulans)
  • Veggies and Greens (broccoli, kale, spirulina etc.
  • Vitamins and minerals (vitamins A, C and D, calcium, iron etc.
  • Antioxidants (grape seed extract, goji, pomegranate etc.

Who Makes It: Vega is a supplement brand that produces products that offer clean, plant based nutrition. They were founded in 2001 by a triathalon athlete and the founder of another supplement brand, Sequel Naturals. In 2015, the company acquired WhiteWave, which is a leading plant-based nutritional drink producer. Today, their goal is to “deliver premium, innovative, industry-leading wellness solutions” through the power of plant based nutritional supplements.

Bottom Line: This is an effective meal replacement product that helps to replace a meal with a low-calorie, nutrient dense shake. It is also a good meal replacement product for travelers, because it includes a large variety of nutrients from fruits and vegetables. However, it does come in lower quantities than alternative products.

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6. MET-Rx Original Meal Replacement

MET-Rx-Original-Meal-Replacement

MET-Rx® Original Meal Replacement is an effective meal replacement shake for athletes. It combines many of the top muscle growth and fat loss athletic supplements into one top meal replacement product. It includes BCAAs (also known as branched-chain amino acids), which are amino acids with a special structure.

Glutamine is included to replace lost stores of glutamine due to intense exercise. This product also packs in a high protein content, making it an effective meal replacement shake for muscle growth. Overall, it is one of the best athletic meal replacement supplements; providing you with a well-rounded and nourishing meal at only 240 calories per serving.

Highlights:

  • Includes BCAAs and glutamine
  • High protein content
  • Gluten free
  • Includes essential vitamins and minerals
  • Great for athletes

Drawbacks:

  • High protein content

What’s in It:

  • 39 grams METAMYOSYN Protein Blend (whey protein, egg whites, L-glutamine etc.
  • 17 grams carbohydrates
  • 3 grams fat (sunflower oil)
  • 3 grams fiber (cellulose gum, guar gum etc.
  • Vitamins and minerals (vitamins A, D and K, zinc, chromium etc.

Who Makes It: Met-RX is a sports nutrition company that produces products for athletes intended to help them improve. Their products help you train harder and improve muscle growth, as well as maintain and lose weight. They can also help to improve overall body composition. The brand has their own proprietary formulas which they have developed over 20 years of research to provide consumers with the best sports nutrition available.

Bottom Line: MET-Rx® Original Meal Replacement can be used as a very powerful meal replacement supplement for athletes. It includes all of the important macronutrients, however it has a very high protein content; making it more like a protein shake than a meal replacement supplement.

7. ONLY PROTEIN Chocolate Meal Replacement Jug

ONLY-PROTEIN-Chocolate-Meal-Replacement-Jug

ONLY PROTEIN Chocolate Meal Replacement Jug is a protein meal replacement that is only 103 calories per meal replacement shake dosage. The protein is sourced from 100% all natural New Zealand whey protein, and there are no harmful ingredients. This effective meal replacement product includes lactase and protease.

Each serving also contains essential and nonessential amino acids that help to support muscle growth and athletic performance. It has no added sugar, and is free of gluten and soy. All you have to do is add water and you have a meal! The high protein content of this effective meal replacement shake is beneficial for athletes and for those trying to lose weight. Overall, it is a good meal replacement product.

Highlights:

  • High protein content
  • Low calorie
  • No added sugar, gluten or soy
  • Includes digestive enzymes
  • Great for athletes

Drawbacks:

  • Heavy on protein content
  • High in cholesterol

What’s in It:

  • 26 grams New Zealand protein blend
  • 5 grams carbohydrates
  • 1 gram fat
  • 1 gram fiber
  • 200 mg protease
  • 200 mg lactase
  • Essential amino acids (lysine, tryptophan, valine ect.
  • Non-essential amino acids (arginine, alanine, glutamic acid etc.

Who Makes It: Only Protein is a protein and meal replacement supplement brand that produces high quality whey protein powder from grass fed cows in New Zealand. Their products are RGBH hormone free, non-GMO, gluten and grain free, hydrolyzation free, antibiotic free and chemical free. On top of this, they are environmentally sustainable! This makes Only Protein a clean and environmentally friendly protein supplement brand.

Bottom Line: This is a good meal replacement supplement for athletes trying to bulk up their muscles. However, it is comprised of mostly protein. If you are looking for a balanced top meal replacement supplement, this is probably not the choice for you – it also has a higher cholesterol content than some alternatives.

8. Champion Performance Ultramet Low Carb

Champion-Performance-Ultramet-Low-Carb

Champion Performance Ultramet Low Carb is a low carb top meal replacement supplement that is beneficial to anyone trying to lower their intake of carbohydrates. One meal replacement shake dosage provides you with 35 grams of protein at only 230 calories per serving. It provides a complete low carb meal in one easy shake. It also provides a much needed boost of fiber, which is often lacking in a low carb diet due to low intakes of fruits. It also includes amino acids and high quality proteins.

Highlights:

  • Complete low carb meal
  • Fortified with vitamins, minerals and nutrients
  • Includes Citrimax
  • High protein content
  • Great for athletes

Drawbacks:

  • High cholesterol content
  • Expensive

What’s in It:

  • 35 grams protein
  • 6 grams carbohydrates
  • 4 grams fat (canola oil, borage oil etc.
  • 5 grams fiber
  • Vitamins and minerals (vitamins A, C, D and E, calcium, iron etc.

Who Makes It: Champion Performance is a sports nutrition supplement brand that was founded in 1986. They produce health products that are high quality, effective and developed with the latest research in the field. Their parent company, Nature’s Products Incorporated (NPI), is a world leader in supplement manufacturing.

Bottom Line: This is a good meal replacement supplement for those who are on low carb diets. It helps to improve body composition by reducing the amount of simple carbohydrates in your diet, and supplying your body with quality protein. However, it is more expensive and includes more cholesterol than some alternatives.

9.  Core Nutritionals MRP Full Spectrum Meal Supplement

Core-Nutritionals-MRP-Full-Spectrum-Meal-Supplement

Core Nutritionals MRP Full Spectrum Meal Supplement is a blend of high quality whey proteins, casein rich milk proteins and egg albumen as well as BCAAs and enzymes. The carbohydrates included in this full spectrum meal replacement are low glycemic carbs. One meal replacement shake dosage provides all of these beneficial nutrients at only 250 calories.  Overall, this makes an effective meal replacement supplement.

Highlights:

  • Includes all macronutrients
  • Great for athletes
  • Easy to make

Drawbacks:

  • Expensive
  • High in cholesterol

What’s in It:

  • 27 grams protein (whey, casein, milk etc.
  • 27 grams carbohydrates
  • 4 grams fat
  • 5 grams fiber
  • Vitamins and minerals (vitamins A, C and D, calcium, iron, etc.

Who Makes It: Core Nutritionals is a sports nutrition company that was founded by pro athlete couple, Stephanie and Doug Miller. Their line of sports nutrition products are aimed at improving performance and helping to push athletes to reach their full potential.

Bottom Line: Core Nutritionals MRP Full Spectrum Meal Supplement is a good meal replacement supplement.  It provides you all of the meal replacement shake benefits. However, it is more expensive than some alternatives, and it has a higher cholesterol content.

10. Labrada Nutrition Lean Body

Labrada-Nutrition-Lean-Body

Labrada Nutrition Lean Body is a top meal replacement product that combines protein, BCAAs, glutamine and glutamic acids, fiber and EFAs to create a concentrated all-in-one athletic supplement. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are also included. This effective meal replacement shake comes in three flavors, is gluten free and made in the USA.

Highlights:

  • All-in-one athletic supplement
  • Includes all macronutrients
  • Gluten free
  • Made in the USA
  • Great for athletes

Drawbacks:

  • Expensive
  • Super high protein content
  • Higher calories

What’s in It:

  • 20 grams LeanPro (whey and milk proteins, glutamine)
  • 8 grams carbohydrates
  • 5 grams EFA Plex (sunflower oil, soy lecithin, flaxseed oil etc.
  • 8 grams fiber Plex (oat flour, rice bran, cellulose gum etc.
  • Vitamins and minerals (vitamin A, C and D, calcium, magnesium, zinc etc.

Who Makes It: Labrada Nutrition calls themselves the “most trusted name in sports nutrition.” The company produces nutritional products for bodybuilders and intense athletes that help support and improve performance. They also sponsor a team of elite athletes who use their products. Founded by a bodybuilder in 1995, they now offer products such as ready to drink protein shakes, bars and meal replacement powders.

Bottom Line: This is a top meal replacement supplement that includes all of the top athletic macronutrients, such as BCAAs, glutamine and EFAs; as well as protein and fiber. However, it is higher in calories than some alternatives, and it is also more expensive. The high protein content can also be considered a drawback if you are not looking to gain muscle, because it throws off the macronutrient balance.

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Austin Meadows

Written by Austin Meadows

Austin Meadows is an independent writer and consultant specializing in health and wellness topics. With more than 7 years of experience writing in the natural health industry, Austin strives to deliver accurate, concise and researched based information to his readers. You can find more of Austin's work at Olympic-Creative.com, or connect with him on LinkedIn.