The Best Meal Replacement Shakes for Weight Loss Reviewed (2023)
Meal replacement shakes make it easier to achieve your health and fitness goals.
Some people use meal replacement shakes to lose weight. A good shake gives you the nutritional value of a full meal while suppressing your appetite and containing fewer calories.
Others use meal replacement shakes to support an active lifestyle or a heavy training routine. Some shakes contain protein, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to support an active lifestyle. And many consumers around the world are relying on top-rated meal replacement shakes instead of cheap diet pills to lose weight like Alpilean.
However, there’s a difference between good and lousy meal replacement shakes for weight loss.
To help you separate the worst meal replacement shakes from the best, we tested, tried, and ranked some of the internet’s trendiest shakes.
The Best Meal Replacement Shakes
When reviewing the best meal replacement shakes the market has to offer, individuals will quicky see they come in various varieties and can achieve multiple health and wellness goals. Here is our ranking of the best meal replacement shake powders for weight loss:
- PhenQ Complete Meal Shake
- Organifi Complete Protein
- Exante Meal Replacement Shakes
- Lanta Flat Belly Shake
- Ladder Plant-Based Shake
- Okinawa Flat Belly Tonic
- Ikaria Lean Belly Juice
- Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal
- Orgain Organic Meal On-the-Go Nutrition Powder
- Ka’Chava Superfood
PhenQ Complete Meal Shake
Want a dessert shake that burns fat? PhenQ’s Complete Meal Shake could be the right choice. Each serving replaces one full meal while helping you shed excess weight naturally.
Complete Meal Shake is specifically designed for weight loss. It contains ingredients to suppress cravings and satisfy your sweet tooth, making it easier to stick to your diet goals. The next time you’re tempted to reach for a sweet dessert in the middle of the afternoon or early evening, you can take a Complete Meal Shake instead.
PhenQ offers its Complete Meal Shake in three surprisingly delicious flavors: Strawberry & Cream, Vanilla Ice Cream, and Chocolate Brownie.
Organifi Complete Protein
Organifi Complete Protein is among the internet’s best-rated meal replacement shakes. The vegan, plant-based protein powder contains several unique ingredients we don’t see in competing powders – including enzymes to reduce bloating.
According to Organifi, Complete Protein can support craving control, weight management, and digestion. Organifi markets Complete Protein as a two-in-one formula: a protein shake and multivitamin formula rolled into one easy-to-make, delicious beverage.
You can satisfy your hunger while indulging your taste by taking Complete Protein daily with water, almond milk, or any other alternative. If you want a meal replacement shake that makes you feel full, then just one glass of Complete Protein can help while providing you with the protein, vitamins, and minerals you need to support an active lifestyle.
Exante Meal Replacement Shakes
Exante’s meal replacement shakes are creamy, delicious, packed with 26 vitamins and minerals, and deliver at least 25% of your recommended daily intake of multiple vitamins and minerals in each serving. Like other top-rated meal replacement shakes on our list, it’s like a multivitamin and protein powder combined.
Exante designs its meal replacement shakes to provide three hours of hunger-blocking power. That’s about average compared to other meal replacement shakes on our list. However, Exante’s meal replacement shakes have just 120 calories per serving – much lower than most other shakes on our list.
If you want a low-calorie weight loss shake that provides proper nutrition while keeping you full for hours, then Exante’s meal replacement shakes could be the right choice.
Exante also offers several unique and popular flavors, including Snickerdoodle, Red Velvet, Marshmallow Milk Cereal, Fruity Milk Cereal, and Chocolate. They also provide a “JUICED” version of their meal replacement shake for alternative flavors.
Lanta Flat Belly Shake
Lanta Flat Belly Shake has a unique ingredient label. While some powders contain a proven blend of protein, vitamins, and minerals, Lanta chooses a unique approach with plant extracts, herbs, and other special ingredients to accelerate weight loss.
Each serving of Lanta Flat Belly Shake contains mangosteen, Panax ginseng, cinnamon bark, ashwagandha, green tea extract, and other popular ingredients. These ingredients may seem unusual, but they’re added with targeted goals: the EGCG in green tea can boost thermogenesis, for example. At the same time, ginseng contains natural chemicals called ginsenosides to target inflammation. Other ingredients boost metabolism or fat burning in different ways.
The Lanta Flat Belly Shake could be the right choice if you want a meal replacement shake that goes above and beyond what we expect from other nutritional supplement formulas.
Ladder Plant-Based Shake
Ladder’s Plant-Based Nutrition Shake is one of the highest-quality formulas on this list – yet it’s not priced significantly higher than competing meal replacement powders. In fact, at $66.95 for 30 servings and under, the Ladder Plant-Based Shake offers some of the best value on our list.
Each serving of Ladder Plant-Based Shake contains 20g of plant-based protein (from pea protein), 7g of fiber, 26 vitamins and minerals, and 0g of added sugar.
The Ladder Plant-Based Shake is also one of the few meal replacement shakes on this list to be NSF Certified for Sport. To achieve this certification, Ladder needed to pass strict third-party testing requirements. Most supplement companies don’t bother with NSF Certified for Sport – but it’s important for amateur and professional athletes who undergo testing.
Oh, and Ladder’s Plant-Based Shake is the only one personally approved by LeBron James and Arnold Schwarzenegger. They launched Ladder after being disappointed with other options in the supplement space.
Okinawa Flat Belly Tonic
Okinawa Flat Belly Tonic is a powdered weight loss supplement that can also work as a meal replacement powder.
Featuring a blend of 100% natural ingredients, Okinawa Flat Belly Tonic was inspired by the Japanese island of Okinawa, which has a famously low rate of obesity. Using natural ingredients sourced from traditional Japanese and Okinawan remedies, Okinawa Flat Belly Tonic is designed to provide effective weight loss without overloading you with carbs or calories – and it still makes you feel full.
The Okinawa Flat Belly Tonic superstar is a 2,800mg serving size. While other meal replacement shakes often contain 5,000mg per serving or more, Okinawa Flat Belly Tonic packs a potent punch of vitamins, minerals, probiotics, fruit extracts, and other ingredients to support consequential weight loss.
Ikaria Lean Belly Juice
Ikaria Lean Belly Juice is a top-rated weight loss formula that, like Okinawa Flat Belly Tonic, is specifically designed for weight loss.
Ikaria Lean Belly Juice has an advanced superfood complex with a blend of fruit extracts, vitamins, herbs, spices, and more – including dozens of unique ingredients not found in other supplements. Each serving contains fucoxanthin, resveratrol, capsaicin, orange pectin, and black pepper extract, among other special ingredients.
The unique name of the supplement comes from the Greek island of Ikaria. Ikaria, home to around 8,000 people, is one of the planet’s “blue zones,” which means it has an unusually high number of centenarians. People on Ikaria tend to be happy, healthy, and slim – and Ikaria Lean Belly Juice contains ingredients sourced from Ikaria or inspired by the Greek island.
Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal
Garden of Life makes many popular plant-based nutritional supplements, and Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal is the company’s top-rated meal replacement powder.
The powder is USDA Organic certified and contains 21 whole food vitamins and minerals along with probiotics and enzymes. The supplement also contains 44 superfoods, competing with some of the highest-rated options on our list while being more affordable.
At under $52 for 28 servings, Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal is a premium quality meal replacement powder available at a reasonable price. Taking it daily can boost energy, build lean muscle, support healthy digestion, and stay full – all while consuming whole foods and superfoods without the heavy processing or artificial ingredients found in other powders.
Orgain Organic Meal On-the-Go Nutrition Powder
Orgain, like Garden of Life, is a well-known and top-rated nutritional supplement company with a range of plant-based shakes. With Orgain Organic Meal On-the-Go Nutrition Shake Powder, you get 7g of prebiotics and fiber and 20g of plant protein per serving, and vitamins and minerals.
Orgain’s formula is also USDA Organic certified – something we don’t see with all other meal replacement powders on our list. Plus, it’s available in two tasty, natural flavors with no sugar added, including creamy chocolate fudge and vanilla bean.
When you replace a meal, you shouldn’t just replace that meal with chemicals and additives; instead, you should replace that meal with foods you would have eaten – like whole foods. Orgain’s Organic Meal On-the-Go Nutrition Powder provides a whole-food-based nutritional supplement powder to support weight loss, energy, an active lifestyle, and other benefits.
Ka’Chava’s Superfood, formerly known as Ka’Chava Tribal Superfood, is a blend of acai, brown rice, mushroom extracts, fruits, herbs, plant extracts, spices, and more.
We also like Ka’Chava Superfood because it’s available in multiple flavors – including classic options like chocolate and vanilla and more unique options like coconut acai, matcha, and chai.
Some natural meal replacement shakes make big promises about their effectiveness but doesn’t taste good. With Ka’Chava Superfood, the formula is surprisingly tasty. It’s not as rock-bottom cheap as other options on our list, but it’s one of the highest-quality meal replacement powders you can buy today. There’s a reason Ka’Chava markets its flagship formula as “the world’s healthiest shake.”
Ranking Factors for The Best Meal Replacement Shakes
Meal replacement shakes contain different ingredients, different macronutrient values, and different levels of quality. Some meal replacement shakes are nutrient-dense, packed with vitamins and minerals, and backed by ample scientific evidence. Other meal replacement shakes contain cheap carbs, low-quality ingredients, and poor protein sources.
Below are factors we used to separate the best and worst meal replacement shakes:
A good meal replacement shake has a modest number of calories, protein, and fiber. A lousy meal replacement shake has low protein and fiber and high carbs and calories. We considered the macronutrient value of each meal replacement shake.
Does It Fill You Up?
We consumed each meal replacement shake on an empty stomach, then waited to see how long it took to feel hungry. A good meal replacement shake should replicate the sensation of a meal by filling you for 3 to 4 hours. Some meal replacement shakes work as advertised, keeping you full for hours. Others leave you feeling hungry 30 minutes later. Some meal replacement shakes are packed with calories and carbs to make you feel full, while others use fiber, herbal extracts, and other ingredients to suppress your appetite without overloading you.
In addition to assessing the macronutrient value, we evaluated the micronutrient value. This is the percentage of vitamins and minerals in the formula. The best meal replacement shakes contain above 50% of crucial vitamins and minerals recommended daily value (%DV). That’s important because you usually get those vitamins and minerals from a meal.
Ingredient Sources & USDA Organic Certification
Many meal replacement shakes contain extracts, condensed ingredients, and other highly-concentrated formulas. That’s great because it allows you maximum nutritional value from a smaller serving size. However, it also concentrates toxins, pesticides, and other unwanted ingredients in the finished product. That’s why USDA Organic certification and high-quality ingredient sources are so important.
Fat Content & Keto Friendliness
The keto diet is one of the world’s most popular diets, and many people take meal replacement shakes to meet their daily fat macronutrient intake. We weren’t biased against meal replacement shakes with low-fat content because the keto diet isn’t for everyone. However, we expected a strong, healthy fat content when advertised as a keto meal replacement shake.
Cost Per Serving & Fair Value
Whether you want to spend $7 per serving or $2, there’s a shake for you. The best meal replacement shakes offer good value on any budget. Just because you have a lower budget doesn’t mean you need to compromise on health and quality. We considered cost per serving and fair value in our rankings and featured multiple shakes at each price point.
Transparent Labeling & Manufacturing Information
Some meal replacement shakes are entirely transparent with their labeling. They don’t use proprietary formulas. They disclose each ingredient and dose upfront. Others are surprisingly opaque. They don’t disclose ingredient sources, manufacturing locations, or even the original manufacturer’s name. We preferred meal replacement shakes with transparent labeling and manufacturing information.
Formulated by Doctors, Dietitians, or Nutritionists
The best meal replacement shakes companies employ doctors (MDs or PhDs), dietitians (RDs), nutritionists, and other medical or nutritional professionals to verify the formula works as advertised. Some companies are upfront about their medical advisory board, while others have no medical approval or certification.
Other Beneficial Ingredients, Herbs, & Plants
We assessed each meal replacement shake based on its protein, fat, and overall macronutrient value. However, we also considered complementary ingredients, including herbs, plants, and other beneficial compounds. The best meal replacement shakes contain herbs to suppress appetite. Others contain turmeric or mushroom extracts to provide antioxidant or adaptogenic effects.
Refund Policy & Satisfaction Guarantee
Some meal replacement shakes aren’t ideal for everyone. If you’re unsatisfied with your shake, then you should be able to request a refund. We liked manufacturers that stood behind their products with a satisfaction guarantee, which means they’re confident their formula works.
NSF Certified for Sport
We liked the Ladder Plant-Based Nutrition Shake because it’s one of the few mainstream meal replacement shakes with NSF Certified for Sport status. To be NSF Certified for Sport, a supplement must meet strict quality and testing requirements to verify it’s free of banned substances. It’s an extra level of verification any dedicated athlete – at any level – needs to compete.
Natural Versus Artificial Ingredients
Some meal replacement shakes taste good – but they achieve that taste using high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, chemical additives, and other unnatural ingredients. While some people are good with artificial ingredients, it’s generally seen as a way to cut corners. We preferred meal replacement shakes that used 100% natural ingredients.
Taste, Texture, Flavor, and Sweeteners
We tested each meal replacement shake above – often in multiple flavors. The best meal replacement shakes taste great and have a creamy, delicious texture – without artificial ingredients or synthetic additives.
After considering all the above factors, we ranked the world’s best meal replacement shakes to create the above rankings.
How Meal Replacement Shakes Work
Meal replacement shakes are protein shakes with added nutritional value. They’re designed to offer all the benefits of a protein shake plus extra carbs, calories, fats, vitamins, and minerals to replicate a meal.
As the name suggests, meal replacement shakes are designed to replace a meal. Some people take meal replacement shakes as a healthy snack in the afternoon or evening. Others use meal replacement shakes to skip breakfast, lunch, or dinner, delivering similar nutritional value without the calories of a full meal.
There are multiple types of meal replacement shakes, including:
- Meal replacement shakes designed for weight loss
- Meal replacement shakes for appetite suppression and hunger blocking
- High-calorie, high-carb meal replacement shakes to add weight or build lean muscle
- Energy-boosting meal replacement shakes with caffeine and other ingredients to boost metabolism
- Lightweight meal replacement shakes deliver substantial nutritional value with as few calories and carbs as possible
- Cheap, cost-effective meal replacement shakes are designed to give you a healthy meal on-the-go
Whatever you’re looking for in a meal replacement shake, you can find an option that works for you.
Benefits of Meal Replacement Shakes
Meal replacement shakes significant benefits include the following:
- Weight Loss: Meal replacement shakes can help you maintain a caloric deficit, making it easier to lose weight.
- Lean Muscle Repair & Development: Meal replacement shakes are also packed with protein and can fuel an active lifestyle, helping with lean muscle repair and development.
- Healthy, On-the-Go Meals: If you’re tired of eating fast food on the go, a meal replacement shake could help. Add a scoop of meal replacement powder to a shaker bottle, then take it wherever you go. Add water for an easy meal.
- Cost-Effective Nutrition Without Preparation Time: You could spend hours cooking three healthy meals per day. Or, you could replace a meal with a meal replacement shake, giving you a substantial boost of nutrition without the preparation time or added cost.
- Fill in Nutritional Gaps: Some meal replacement shakes are like multivitamins and protein powders mixed into one convenient formula. You can fill in nutritional gaps and give your body the necessary macronutrients and micronutrients.
- Weight Gain: Some people take meal replacement shakes to gain weight. Some meal replacement shakes are packed with calories and carbs. Some people want to support an active lifestyle, while others – particularly young and energetic people – struggle to gain weight and build muscle. Taking meal replacement shakes between meals could help gain weight.
- All Day Energy: Protein powders can give you a slight energy boost. However, meal replacement shakes can be effective for long-term, all-day energy. If you struggle to maintain energy with your active lifestyle, meal replacement shakes can help.
Meal Replacement Shakes Vs. Protein Powders: What’s the Difference?
All meal-replacement shakes are protein powders, but not all protein powders are meal-replacement shakes.
Here are the distinguishing factors between meal replacement shakes and protein powders:
- Meal replacement shakes tend to have larger serving sizes with more calories, carbs, fats, fiber, and other macronutrients
- Meal replacement shakes tend to have more vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients than protein powders
- Protein powders could leave you hungry 30 to 60 minutes later, while meal replacement shakes often have ingredients to reduce hunger.
- Meal replacement shakes are packed with fiber and other compounds to support digestion and make you feel full.
- Meal replacement shakes are designed to replace a meal and often provide similar nutrition to a whole meal; in comparison, even the best protein powders aren’t designed to provide comparable nourishment.
Scientific Evidence & Clinical Trials for Meal Replacement Shakes
Multiple studies have validated the benefits of protein powders, meal replacement shakes, and nutritional supplements. And, because there is a full spectrum of meal replacement shakes with different nutritional values, selecting the shake that works for your unique needs is easy. We’ll review some of the scientific evidence supporting meal replacement shakes below:
Could Help with Weight Loss
In a 2010 study, researchers told a group of volunteers to follow a diet plan. Half the group took a meal replacement shake with the diet plan. After 16 weeks, researchers found that people in the meal replacement shake group lost more weight, on average than those in the placebo group.
Could Help with Inflammation, Oxidative Stress, and Overall Stress Response
Many meal replacement shakes contain ingredients for inflammation, oxidative stress, and overall health and wellness. In the same 2010 study linked above, researchers also found people in the meal replacement shake group improved biomarkers related to weight loss, inflammation, and oxidative stress. Taking a supplement for inflammation is particularly important when supporting an active lifestyle, as exercise temporarily increases inflammation throughout your body.
Improve Body Composition and Lower BMI
Some studies show meal replacement shakes can improve body composition. That could mean a smaller waist circumference, lower BMI, and lower body fat percentage, among other benefits. In a 2018 study, researchers found meal replacement shakes decreased body weight and body mass index (BMI) by 4.3%, compared to a placebo, while also dropping fat-free mass by 1.8%.
Boost Athletic Performance
Meal replacement shakes could make you better at sports and improve overall athletic performance. A 2018 study found that protein supplementation significantly enhanced performance in a group following a resistance training program, suggesting participants could lift heavier, last longer, and perform better than those in a placebo group.
Enhance Recovery After Exercise
Many people take meal replacement shakes to give their bodies the protein, fats, and other ingredients needed to recover after exercise. In the same 2018 study above, researchers found meal replacement shakes significantly improved recovery in a group of active people following an endurance training program. Despite a common myth, researchers found no evidence you needed to take protein within one hour of exercise, and researchers observed post-exercise recovery benefits even when taking meal replacement shakes hours after a workout.
Enhance Digestion and Reduce Bloating
Many of our top-ranked meal replacement shakes above contain digestive enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, fiber, and other ingredients to support good digestion. A 2016 study found that digestive enzyme supplementation could significantly impact gastrointestinal disease.
Boost the Absorption of Protein
Many meal replacement shakes contain probiotics, which could help your body absorb protein more efficiently. People with low probiotic levels and poor microbiota balance could have poor protein absorption. In a 2020 study, researchers found probiotic supplementation led to increased absorption from plant protein. If you aren’t taking a probiotic supplement or a meal replacement shake with probiotics, you could be flushing protein down the toilet.
Boost Nutritional Intake
If you’re an active individual, you need more nutrients than someone inactive. A study showed busy people, for example, need approximately 1.4 to 2.0g of protein per kilogram, meaning a person weighing 175 lbs needs about 111 to 159g of protein per day. A meal replacement shake can help fulfill your protein intake.
Meal Replacement Shakes FAQs
Our nutritional experts get plenty of questions about meal replacement shakes, protein supplementation, exercise recovery, and how it all works. Here are some of our answers to our most frequently asked questions:
Q: What is a meal replacement shake?
A: A meal replacement shake is a beverage typically designed to fill nutritional gaps and replicate a meal.
Q: What’s the best meal replacement shake for weight loss?
A: The best meal replacement shakes for weight loss include the PhenQ Complete Meal Shake, Organifi Complete Protein All-in-One Mix, Lanta Flat Belly Shake, and Ka’Chava Superfood, among other options.
Q: What are the benefits of a meal replacement shake?
A: Benefits of a meal replacement shake include appetite suppression, weight loss, muscle development, and on-the-go nutrition.
Q: How do I drink a meal replacement shake?
A: Most meal replacement shakes are designed to be taken with water, milk, a plant-based milk alternative, or any other beverage you choose. Check the instructions on your meal replacement shake.
Q: What’s the best meal replacement shake for the keto diet?
A: The best meal replacement shake for the keto diet is PhenQ Complete Meal Shake because it provides high-fat levels compared to others.
Q: What’s the best meal replacement shake for weight gain?
A: The Ka’Chava Superfood shake, Organifi Complete Protein All-in-One Mix, and PhenQ Complete Meal Shake can all be used for weight gain – especially when taking two or three servings per day for added calories.
Q: Are meal replacement shakes good for diabetes?
A: Diabetics should talk to their doctor before taking any supplement – including meal replacement shakes. However, the best meal replacement shakes can offer on the go to support an overall healthy lifestyle.
Q: When is the best time to take a meal replacement shake?
A: Many people like taking a meal replacement shake after working out to accelerate muscle repair. However, others take meal replacement shakes for breakfast, lunch, snacks, or desserts.
Q: Do I need to work out to use a meal replacement shake?
A: Meal replacement shakes are often designed to support an active lifestyle, although many take meal replacement shakes for on-the-go nutrition, easy low-preparation meals, and other perks.
Q: What does a meal replacement shake do?
A: A meal replacement shake suppresses your appetite without being overloaded with carbs or calories.
Q: Do meal replacement shakes work?
A: Yes. The best meal replacement shakes contain adequate macronutrients and protein to support active lifestyles.
Q: Are meal replacement shakes vegan?
A: Many meal replacement shakes are vegan and vegetarian friendly. They’re made from plant-based protein – like pea protein. Check your meal replacement label.
Q: How many meals can you replace with a meal replacement shake?
A: An average meal replacement shake is designed to replace one meal or snack.
Q: Can you live off meal replacement shakes alone?
A: Most meal replacement shakes are not designed to be your only source of nutrition, and you should not live exclusively off meal replacement shakes long-term.
Q: How many hours can a meal replacement shake last?
A: A good meal replacement shake can help you feel full for 2 to 4 hours after consumption.
Q: How do meal replacement shakes make you feel full?
A: Meal replacement shakes may have high levels of protein and fiber to fill your stomach and make you feel full – all without dramatically increasing your calorie intake.
The Best Meal Replacement Shakes to Lose Weight Conclusion
Meal replacement shakes and drink powders are an easy and effective way to fill nutritional gaps and support an active lifestyle. Our best meal replacement shakes list includes low-calorie, keto-friendly, and other popular options that focus on helping individuals lose weight safely, naturally and effectively.
By going with a top-rated trusted brand reviewed above, consumers give themselves ultimate peace of mind that the product is working as intended and is made complete with high quality ingredients backed by scientific research and medical literature that supports real health benefits with no side effects risk.To learn more about the world’s best meal replacement shakes or to buy them today, check our list above.
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