Are Meal Replacement Shakes Healthy?

There is nothing better than being able to sit down to a nice meal and actually have time to enjoy what you are eating, but the truth is life can get busy especially with summer vacation coming to an end and busy school and work days just around the corner; we are always looking for a fast and heathy snack or even a meal, something that is easy to bring along with us where ever our busy day takes us.

There are a lot of meal replacement shakes out in the marketplace today promising help with weight loss and appetite control, and also promoting them as a quick no fuss on the go snack or meal that is a healthy alternative to a full meal. But are meal replacement shakes actually the healthiest option and provide your body with the nutrients and the satisfaction of a full nutritious meal?

What is a Meal Replacement Shake?

are meal replacement shakes healthy

Meal replacement shakes are designed to give you a wide range of essential nutrients in a low calorie meal substitute, rich in proteins and low in carbohydrates. A good shake should contains both carbohydrates and protein and between 200 and 400 calories. These shakes are designed to replace a regular meal that you would have throughout your day, there are so many to choose from but be careful because not all of them are as healthy as they seem.

Benefits of Drinking Meal Replacement Shakes

There are a few benefits to drinking a meal replacement shakes, it helps you stay on track of a low calorie diet and also loads your body with essential nutrients as well.

Weight Management

Meal replacement shakes help with weight management because they tend to have fewer calories than eating full meals, so if you want to lose weight, having a shake replace a meal can help you reduce your daily calorie intake and help with consistent weight loss.


Albeit, some meal replacement shakes are loaded with many essential nutrients and antioxidants to help supplement your body. The healthiest meal replacement shake needs to have little to none added sugar and keep fat to a minimum, but also needs contain enough calories to keep you full for several hours. The healthiest shakes will also be high in protein and fiber.


The one major upside that meal replacement shakes have over full meals is when it comes to convenience. These shakes are packaged so they are very easy to take with you anywhere you go. They are also easily available and you can find them just about anywhere and because they do provide some nutrients and will help keep you full, shakes are preferable to skipping meals entirely if you’re traveling or in a rush.

The Not so Benefits of Meal Replacement Shakes

Walk into any health store or even your local grocery store and you will find a wide ranged selection of “healthy” meal substitute but just because it says healthy on the label, the truth is not all shakes are created equally and some are far worse than they seem. When choosing a shake to help your efforts in losing weight always make sure to look at the label, as said before a healthy shake should contain real ingredients and should have little to none added sugar or fats.

Many shakes are loaded with sugars and hidden ingredients to give them a tasty flavor these shakes are not better for you than a candy bar and should not be your first choice. Also another downside to meal replacement shakes is that they will take a hit to your wallet, many of them are quite expensive and you get very little for what you pay for.

If you’re using shakes for weight loss, it is recommended that you do so only for the short term and in combination with other healthy strategies try to limit reliance on these shakes to a maximum of once a day, preferably only once or twice a week. These shakes should be a last resort for nutrients when you are truly on the go and have no time to make a full nutritious meal. And let’s face it! Who wants to drink there food?

Tips for Buying Meal Substitutes

The best way to know that you are making the most informed healthiest choice on which shake to buy is to check the nutrient facts on the back of the package. The healthiest shakes should contain full foods such as fruits and vegetables. They should also contain primarily complex carbohydrates, with little to no added sugars or fats, along with a moderate amount of protein and fiber. Look for Shakes that fit the following guidelines:

  • 220-230 calories per serving
  • Less than 5 grams of fat per serving
  • 3-5 grams of fiber per serving
  • 10-15 grams of protein per serving
  • Fortified with a third of daily vitamins and minerals

Meal Replacement Shakes vs. Real Foods

meal replacement vs real food

The best and healthiest way to improve you healthy lifestyle and to help you stay on track of your healthy lifestyle goals is to develop the habit of eating a whole food well balanced and low calorie diet that included daily servings of lean proteins, fiber, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy and vegetables. It is very important to note that when it comes to meal replacements shakes that they are really more bad than good and only should really be consumed when you are truly on the go and eating a full meal is not an option.

As I said before meal substitutes can be very expensive and you get very little for what you are actually getting. Not only is making your own easy snacks and meals healthier than buying prepackaged shakes, but they are also far lighter on your wallet as well. There are so many more options for easy quick meals than meal replacement shakes and you’re getting way more for your buck in making your own and they also last longer and provide more than just once meal. Easy meal alternatives that are just as portable include fruit apples, bananas, 100% fruit juice, low-fat cheese, crackers, yogurts, peanut butter, nuts, dry cereal, graham crackers, cereal, or granola bars. These foods not only provide quick energy, they are less expensive substitutes for the prepackaged Meal Replacements Shakes.

Living a healthy lifestyle is not easy and sometimes when life gets busy it can make it even harder to stay on top of it, but with a little preparation and motivation you can make healthy choices and not have to rely on shakes to stay on track with your healthy lifestyle. Meal substitutes if used for weight loss should be used only on short term and keep it very minimal. There is no magical shake that will instantly help you lose weight; losing weight is all about filling your body with essential nutrients and living a well-balanced life style that also includes eating whole foods and exercise.

Casey Dale

Casey loves the anything and everything to do with the outdoors, she enjoying hiking, snowboarding, and one of her biggest interests is the ocean. Casey also loves to travel and writes about health and food articles.

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