In this fast-paced and busy world, we may not be getting the nutrition we like. Nutrient deficiency is real and can present itself in numerous ways, including unwanted fat, stress eating and feeling constantly depleted.
Meal replacement shakes are wonderful innovations that seek to solve problems like these. Just add a scoop or two to a bottle or glass, fill it with milk or cold water and you get vital nutrients, as well as vitamins and minerals.
Whether as a weight-loss tool or as a convenient shake you can chug in-between meals, you can count on these 13 best meal replacement shakes to save the day.
The 13 Best Meal Replacement Shakes on the Market
- Best Overall – Complete by Instant Knockout
- Best Shake for Weight Loss – PhenQ Meal Replacement Shake
- Best Meal Replacement Shake For Weight Gain – Transparent Labs Mass Gainer
- Best Tasting Meal Replacement Shake – Authentic MRP
- Best Meal Replacement Shake For Vegans – MacroMeal Vegan Chocolate
- Best for the Keto Diet – HLTH Code Complete Meal
- Best Shake For Muscle Building – Transparent Labs Mass Gainer
- Best Meal Replacement For Diabetes – 310 Meal Replacement Shake
- Best Meal Replacement For Low Carb – HLTH Code Complete Meal
- Best Meal Replacement For Men – The Man Shake
- Best Meal Replacement For Women – The Lady Shake
- Best on Amazon – 310 Meal Replacement Shake
- Best on a Budget: Authentic MRP – Meal Replacement Powder
See below for complete details on each…
Best Meal Replacement Shake Overall
Complete by Instant Knockout
Our first reaction when we tried Complete by Instant Knockout was, ‘Wow.’ It’s difficult to pick its greatest strength because almost all of them are exceptional in terms of value for money, quality of ingredients and dosage. It’s definitely a full macro meal that’s almost like the real thing!
Clean eating is the name of the game, and you get good stuff such as plant-based protein, oat flour, MCT, vitamins from organic flax seeds, and more. You also get strength and muscle-building ingredients such as Omega 3s, amino acids and proteins.
We love Complete meal replacement powder because everything is listed and disclosed on the label. Complete delivers 35 grams of protein, 35g carbs, and 13g of fiber to satiate your hunger and give your body the elements it needs to perform throughout the day.
With the Instant Knockout brand, you get trusted quality, premium ingredients, incredible value, and 3rd party testing. The manufacturer even offers a money-back guarantee, but you won’t be needing it because Complete is that good.
Rounding out the details are non-GMOs, soy-free and organic ingredients and super flavors in Vanilla Cake and Snickerdoodle. Complete should be the first on your list of top meal replacement shakes!
On top of all that, Complete meal replacement is designed to be used with the company’s fat burner Instant Knockout Cut in their Instant Knockout System where both supplements work together to amplify your weight loss results.
Complete is priced very reasonably when compared to other meal replacement shakes. On top of that, you can get free shipping when you buy multiple pouches.
In our opinion, Instant Knockout Complete is the best meal replacement shake on the market.
- Can be used with their fat burner for amplified results
- 13 grams of fiber per serving
- Less expensive per meal
- Features a mighty 35 grams of protein per serving featuring pea protein
- Buying multiple pouches gets you free shipping in the US and UK
- Only available on the manufacturer’s website
Best Shake for Weight Loss
PhenQ Meal Replacement Shake
PhenQ Meal Replacement Shake is a great, easy way to get that nutrient-packed shake you need when you just don’t have the time. Get the protein and vitamins your body needs while also keeping cravings at bay with this keto-friendly shake made from 100% plant-based nutrients.
Two scoops give you essential protein, carbs and fat from natural and healthy sources, and at just 269 calories you’ll be hitting your daily macros consistently. Fiber is the key to letting go of excess weight from food, and you get 2 grams of it along with MCT, BCAAs and all that vitamins and minerals.
PhenQ curbs your cravings as you go on a diet by filling you up with pea protein and brown rice protein. The taste is something to write home about, and you get to choose between Vanilla and chocolate.
No matter the reason for your weight loss, PhenQ has your back. Whether it’s curbing appetite or giving you the macros to sustain energy, the meal replacement is as close as it gets to a real meal. Every calorie is bursting with beneficial stuff so you won’t feel guilty taking them every day. And when you need a cheat, just add a scoop and your body will hardly notice!
- Vegan friendly
- Features 13 grams of healthy fats
- Great for losing weight on a budget
- Delicious flavors
- 60-day money-back guarantee
- Only available on the manufacturer’s website
Best Meal Replacement Shake for Weight Gain
Transparent Labs Mass Gainer
Having trouble putting on some serious muscle mass and need a meal replacement that can do the job? Look no further than Mass Gainer by Transparent Labs. It’s the product we’d recommend and the brand we’d stand by because of how they raise the bar on supplement standards.
Transparent Labs outright puts out the benefits of drinking their meal replacement product. It’s targeted towards athletes and bodybuilders who want to step up a weight class and lay the foundation, muscle-wise. We love how every serving has 53 grams of pure grass-fed whey concentrate protein, 109 grams of clean carbs, 12g of fat and a whopping 750 calories total. In case you’re wondering, the sources are sweet potato, oat and organic tapioca.
As with any quality meal shake, you get the requisite MCT and coconut milk powder, but this one has creatine monohydrate for that extra punch come gym or workout time. No, there are no additives, food dyes and sweeteners to mar the product- you get monk fruit and Stevia rounding out the ingredients mix. There are also 8 grams of dietary fiber for your gut.
Protein Series Mass Gainer comes in Cookies n’ Cream (which isn’t gluten-free and Sweet Vanilla. Both taste really good and you’ll hardly believe they’re not desserts. For maximum potency, it’s recommended that you use milk as your liquid. The manufacturer ships out their products quickly and internationally, too.
Just like the MRP powder above you can save money on Mass Gainer by buying multiple tubs and you can also use the coupon code TL10 at checkout to save 10%.
- Great for packing in lean muscle
- High in protein – 53 grams of protein per serving is a class in itself
- 6 grams of fiber per serving
- Coupon code TL10 saves 10% at checkout
- Has 7 grams of saturated fat
Best Tasting Meal Replacement Shake
Authentic MRP- Meal Replacement by Jacked Factory
When drinking meal replacement shakes you don’t want them to taste like dirt. Some of them
are literally hard to swallow. No matter how packed they are with clean protein, carbs and all that stuff, not a lot of people will buy them because of the gnarly gastronomic experience.
If you’ve been burned in the taste department before, then we’d wholly recommend you refresh your palate and try the Authentic MRP by Jacked Factory. The flavors, Smores and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip are absolutely amazing and feel like they came out of the Cheesecake Factory- it’s that delicious!
Jacked Factory has managed to come up with a miracle with the Authentic MRP. What’s surprising is that there are no added sugars, no fillers, creamers and artificial food coloring. The powder mixes very well with ice water or milk, and even when you use a shaker bottle for bringing it with you to the gym.
Authentic MRP isn’t a slouch in the nutrition department, either. The highlight is easily the Carb10 Pea Starch that allows for 26g of clean protein and 20g of carbs per serving, whey protein isolate, MCT oil powder, and hand-picked minerals. The whole thing is scientifically formulated and manufactured in a cGMP facility for quality and efficacy.
Jacked Factory’s MRP is our go-to shake when we need that burst of flavor in the middle of the week. It’s absolutely worth every penny.
- Superb taste in Smores flavor
- Easily digested and absorbed components
- Made in the USA
- 4 grams of fiber per serving
- Loaded with essential vitamins and minerals
- Comes only in one size
Best for Vegans
MacroMeal Vegan Chocolate by Macrolife
Vegans will no longer have a hard time shopping for a suitable meal replacement, thanks to MacroMeal by Macrolife. The addition of beneficial enzymes and probiotics round out an already excellent product that deserves a spot on our list.
This vegan meal replacement shake is keto-friendly and gluten-free. You get a generous dosing of protein at 25 grams from plant-based, non-GMO sources. MCT becomes moot here, as are superfoods that you might be missing out on when you eat your daily meals. Specifically, each serving of the MacroMeal will give you a blend of ‘Ultimate’ greens and reds such as acai, beet juice, chlorella, spirulina, barley and maca, among others. There are also 3 billion probiotics and digestive enzymes to improve absorption, and the essential 5g of fiber to wash out the waste.
Price is a bit higher than the other meal replacements but it’s understandable given the fact that you get premium ingredients. There’s only one flavor, which is chocolate but it’s one of the best-tasting vegan meal replacement shakes we’ve ever come across. Thankfully they often run promotions such as staggered payment options, free shipping and discounts.
- Well-rounded ingredients, notably fiber, superfoods and MCT
- Macrolife often runs promotions and offers to save you money
- Chocolate flavor is absolutely on-point
- Loaded with vitamins and minerals
- Shipping may get delayed
Best Shake for the Keto Diet
HLTH Code Complete Meal
Shopping for a meal replacement, keto diet-wise may seem like an impossible task, and for this reason, we’ll save you the time by recommending an excellent product upfront.
Meet the HLTH Code Complete Meal, a one-of-a-kind meal replacement shake that caters to the keto crowd. The single most important feature is the super low carb count at just 13 grams so you won’t go over your daily quota. Fat is at a welcome 27g, fiber stands at 9g, and 27 grams of protein is generously mixed in for good measure.
Complete Meal is formulated by a metabolic scientist for a 1:1 ratio of protein and healthy fats. Speaking of which, the protein is sourced from egg whites, whey and grass-fed collagen. You get the prerequisite vitamins and minerals, omega 3 and omega 6 content, fiber, probiotics and digestive enzymes in the form of apple cider vinegar. For flavoring, HLTH relies on natural monk fruit, cocoa and Stevia to create its Creamy Vanilla and Chocolate Macadamia. As for the calories, you get 400 per serving.
The official website does run promotions every now and then, and you can get significant savings when buying in bulk. It’s the only shake you need when you’re on a keto diet.
- Good mix of keto-friendly macro and micronutrients
- Has fiber, probiotics and digestive enzymes
- Excellent value for money
- Not suitable for vegans and children
Best for Muscle Building
Transparent Labs Mass Gainer
There’s a very fine line between gaining weight and muscle building, but both have a common goal- building lean muscle mass. This is why we think it’s best to have a separate category but a shared product between them.
Now, when talking about muscle building, staple supplements such as pre-workouts and post-workouts come into play. These powders serve not only to lay the foundation in protein but give a boost in the energy and stamina department as well. Mass Gainer is actually perfect in this regard since you’ll be getting 100% grass-fed whey concentrate, long-lasting carbs in the form of sweet potato, oat and tapioca and MCTs and coconut milk powder for stamina-boosting aspects.
What makes Mass Gainer a viable muscle-building meal replacement is the addition of creatine monohydrate. Athletes and bodybuilders will know the benefits of supplementing with it, and Transparent Labs has been keen enough to add it to their product.
You won’t need to substitute water for milk if your goal is to build muscle. As always, we recommend you go with a workout program so you can build maximum lean muscle with Transparent Lab’s meal replacement shake. It’s good value for money, and you can get free shipping in the US for orders of $150 or more.
- Has creatine monohydrate
- Tops out other meal replacement shakes in protein and calories
- Made by Transparent Labs
- 6 Grams of fiber
- Only available on the manufacturer’s website
Best Shake for Diabetes
310 Meal Replacement Shake
Meal replacement is a really good idea if you’re trying to control your sugar and carb intake. There’s no need to calculate portions, ingredients and serving sizes- just read the nutrition label and mete out the recommended scoops, and voila! You’re satiated and you meet the recommended daily requirements.
Should you want to take sugar control to the next level, there’s 310 Meal Replacement Shake. Each glass is only a little over a hundred calories and 100% free from soy, dairy, gluten, GMOs and artificial sweeteners. Net carbs are kept intentionally low and the product is keto-friendly to a degree as well.
What we love about 310 MRS is the sheer number of available flavors you can choose from. There’s the organic Unflavored, standard Vanilla and Chocolate and must-tried Salted Caramel, Chocolate Mint, Toasted Coconut, Mocha, Gingerbread, Peppermint Swirl, Horchata, S’mores and Cookies n’ Cream. There’s also Chocolate Icing and Vanilla Cake rounding out the list.
As delicious as they sound there are no artificial or excess sugars that could ruin your health. 2g of carbs and zero artificial sweeteners sound good, but then 310nutrition managed to pack in superfoods such as turmeric, beetroot, spinach and spirulina in their organic forms.
Try one, or get the starter kit or shake the box to find your sweet spot. Either way, you’ll be well on your way to a healthier version of yourself!
- Only 2g of carbs and 110 calories per serving
- One of the most varied flavor options we’ve seen in a meal replacement product
- Good selection of superfoods
- 5 grams of fiber per serving
- It’s easy to get weighed down by too many choices
Best Low Carb
HLTH Code Meal Replacement
It’s not enough that you aim for the lowest possible carb content in a meal replacement shake. You’ll want it sourced from clean and organic ingredients and surrounded by a complement of healthy nutrition. HLTH Code nails this perfectly on the head and this is why we chose it for our ‘best low carb’ category.
Meal Replacement boasts a low carb count at 4 grams while upping the healthy fats at 27g. It’s good for inducing ketogenesis while keeping you satiated and full for a long time. In the sweetener department, you get a low glycemic monk fruit and next-gen Stevia, which explains the absence of a bitter aftertaste.
HLTH Code’s meal replacement has unique ingredients in apple cider vinegar, digestive enzymes, probiotics and beneficial fiber. Its fat content comes from grass-fed ghee, cocoa butter, flaxseed, olive oil and coconut oil. As for protein, you get a spectrum of grass-fed collagen, egg whites and whey.
There are only a few low-carb shakes in the market, but we can say with confidence that Meal Replacement is the best out there.
- Low carbs sourced from excellent ingredients
- High satiety from healthy fat content
- Comes with a full complement of ACV, gut enzymes and probiotics
- Jam-packed with vitamins and minerals
- Comes only in Vanilla or Chocolate
Related: Best Whey Poretien Isolated Powders
Best Shake for Men
The Man Shake
Is there any doubt that a meal replacement called ‘The Man Shake’ shouldn’t take home the ‘best for men’ award? For instance, it’s a specially formulated weight loss shake that works to reduce fat around your waist and has a plethora of vitamins and minerals, fiber and protein made for the male physique.
The Man Shake is more of a get-out-of-jail-free card than a muscle-builder shake in that it caters to the weight loss market. It’s for guys who want to do a health reset and reduce their beer bellies while still being able to enjoy the occasional beer and burger along the way. It’s convenient and great as a meal replacement and for busy lifestyles.
At the heart of the shake is a fat burner formula surrounded by pre and probiotics, vitamins and minerals, 30 grams of protein and about 800 calories per serving. It’s worthy to note that it’s for men, hence the greater amount of ingredients and nutrition.
The manufacturer recommends you replace two of your daily meals with it, and work out regularly to achieve the desired effect. The Man Shake comes in great flavors such as Choc Mint, Banana, Caramel, Strawberry, Coffee, Vanilla and Chocolate.
- Weight loss meal replacement for men
- Great mix of ingredients for well-rounded nutrition
- Plenty of calories to stifle hunger and cravingsF
- No large serving packs
Best Meal Replacements for Women
The Lady Shake
Alright ladies, you know the drill. The Lady Shake is a specially formulated weight loss shake designed so you can continue enjoying what life has to offer and get a slimmer physique. As per the manufacturer, there’s no complications- just a blend of ingredients designed to burn fat fast in an easy-to-make powder mix.
Unlike other fad diets, all you have to do is follow instructions and take it every day. You won’t need to count calories, compute macros or follow a very specific set of rules on eating. Sugar is low while vitamins and minerals, and fiber are ramped up. Each serving holds 28 grams of protein, 2g of fat and 16g of carbs in a 200-calorie meal.
But really, it’s all about the experience and substituting unhealthy meals for healthy, nutritious ones. It’s easily mixed with just cold water and a shake bottle, and perfect for when you’re headed to the office or on your way to pick up your kids at school or the mall.
Oh, and there’s a vegan version of The Lady Shake, and flavors such as Chocolate, Strawberry, Caramel, Coffee, Vanilla, Banana and Birthday Cake. Bulk orders get significant discounts on the manufacturer’s official website.
No doubt these are the preferred meal replacement shakes for women.
- Specially formulated for women’s physique
- All-natural fat burning formula
- Low in saturated fat
- Good source of vitamins and minerals
- Made for those trying to lose weight
- Contains caffeine
- Based in Australia
Best Shakes on Amazon
310 Meal Replacement Shake
310 Nutrition has the top meal replacement shake we’ve seen on Amazon, and that’s saying a lot. There are literally hundreds of them on the platform but if you want to skip the trial and error part this is what we’d recommend.
This meal replacement can serve up nutritional goodness at just over a hundred calories and 2 grams of carbs. Whole, fresh foods and plant-based protein lead the charge here- you get pumpkin, brown rice and pea protein, and notable superfoods such as beetroot, spirulina, turmeric and spinach, among others. Artificial sweeteners, sugar, soy, dairy and gluten are absent here which makes it a refreshing product (and a unique one at that).
As far as meal replacement shakes go 310 has nailed it on the head. And we haven’t discussed one of the best parts yet- the wealth of interesting flavors you can try!
There’s Chocolate Icing, Vanilla Cake, Cookies n Cream, S’Mores, Horchata, Peppermint Swirl, Mocha, Gingerbread, Toasted Coconut, Chocolate Mint, Chocolate, Vanilla, Salted Caramel and Unflavored. We swear that if you’d close your eyes while drinking it you’d think that food was blended and served as a smoothie.
Reviews on Amazon are overwhelmingly positive, which makes buying the meal replacement shake by 310 nutrition a confidence purchase.
- Has thousands of positive reviews on Amazon
- Shake bundles, boxes and packs are available
- Good source of protein and fiber
- A bit more expensive than the others
- Not as high in vitamins and minerals
Best Replacement Shakes on a Budget
Authentic MRP – Meal Replacement Powder
Authentic MRP should be the gold standard for meal replacement taste and value. In case you’re wondering, Jacked Factory’s shake is the best-tasting of them all, and at the listed price point there’s nothing to complain about either!
Each serving only costs you over a dollar, and in comparison gets you a naked hotdog for the same price. However, the similarities end there, because not only are you getting quality whey protein, carbs and healthy fats, you’re also getting MCT and several essential minerals in the process.
Cheap doesn’t have to mean mediocre. Every package is manufactured in a cGMP facility, made in the US and scientifically formulated to support lean muscle growth and recovery. There’s even a 100% hassle-free money-back guarantee for those who are on the fence.
- Budget-friendly yet packed with whey protein, fat and calories
- No sugar, artificial flavoring and GMOs
- Good for building muscle
- Uses artificial flavoring
- Has 4.5 grams of saturated fat
How We Decided
There are meal replacement shakes for adding mass, losing weight, for women and even those that are formulated with the keto diet in mind. However, it all boils down to four important factors- taste, nutrients, reviews and fiber.
How a meal replacement shake tastes provides immediate feedback on whether you should continue using it or not. It’s very hard to follow through with your regimen if the food you’re eating is bland (or in this case, yucky) and you’re not getting a great gastronomic experience.
For this reason, we decided that taste should be a factor in how we came up with the top meal replacements list. The best ones have worked some sort of wizardry where the taste is fairly accurate to the label, e.g., S’mores taste exactly like how you remember them, and so on and forth. These deserve to be included in our opinion.
A make-or-break kind of element in a meal replacement is its contents. It’s easy to just put in a thousand calories and call it a day, but that wouldn’t be a healthy meal replacement, would it?
We sifted through dozens of MRPs in the market in search of a true replacement for whole foods, such as meat, vegetables and fruits. Those that have added bonuses, such as probiotics, digestive enzymes and superfoods get the nod, and specialty ones too, such as meal reps for men, women, the diabetic and vegans, among others.
The more complete a meal is in the nutrition department with vitamins and minerals, the more deserving it is to be called a true replacement.
User experience in the meal replacement genre can have a sort of disparity, where we could claim that a shake tastes good while the majority say the mixture is as delicious as a vat of salt. In this case, we try to strike a balance by hearing what other people have to say about a particular meal replacement product.
It’s pretty straightforward- does X brand get good reviews on major platforms? Then it’s definitely worth a look. What good things and bad things are they saying? Then, we try the product and see if the claims have a solid basis.
You could be wondering, why is fiber so important that it deserves its own category? and, why can’t it be a part of the nutrients section?
Fiber is an oft-overlooked part of nutrition, but it’s the tiny details that separate the great meal replacement products from the rest. If a shake has it in the recommended amounts then we can say with confidence that it’s already worth a try.
Can You Live On Just Meal Replacements?
It’s certainly tempting to just forego the tedious stuff in eating, such as chewing and swallowing and sitting down. Why spend half an hour or more (when you factor in cooking) when you could use that time working out, building muscle or resting?
Mathematically speaking, a meal replacement can be a real replacement for food. There’s the protein, carbs, fat and calories, and a complement of gut enzymes, probiotics, fiber and vitamins and minerals. However, it’s not that simple because actual food contains more than just those.
So the answer to the question is no, you can’t just drink meal replacement shakes. Somewhere down the line, you’ll be missing out on what makes whole foods healthier and more nutritious than their meal replacement counterparts.
The processed version of the nutrients in meal replacements are inferior to the nutrients you get when you sit down with a meal of chicken, broccoli and rice. There are the little things- the antioxidants, the organic aspect of it all and the human nature of sitting down and partaking in a healthy meal.
Meal replacements are intended to fill out your nutritional gaps- some probiotics here and there, a bit of MCT and of course, the proteins and healthy fats that aren’t present in most everyday foods. Treat it that way and you’ll do just fine.
Can I Use Meal Replacement Shakes to Lose Weight?
The answer is yes, certainly. There are MRPs designed to do exactly that- our recommendation is the PhenQ Shake along with Instant Knockout Cut Complete. If you’re looking to lose weight on a budget then you can pick up the Authentic MRP by Jacked Factory for cheap.
The trick to a successful weight loss regimen is to avoid calorie-laden foods, bingeing out, and having the discipline to opt for a meal replacement instead which has fewer calories. Also, incorporate an exercise routine that’s designed to melt fat and build up lean muscle, and follow through with it until you see results.
Meal Replacement Shakes VS Protein Shakes: What’s the Difference?
The main difference between a protein shake and a meal replacement is that a protein shake contains mostly protein, while a meal replacement contains a plethora of nutrients.
The way they’re used is slightly different as well. Athletes and bodybuilders turn to protein shakes to boost lean muscle formation and to bulk up, while meal replacements may be used to lose weight and fill in the nutritional gaps.
Are there side effects with meal replacement shakes?
The individual’s health status and lifestyle choices will determine how they experience a meal replacement shake. It may be smart to talk through these side effects with your doctor before starting the product, just in case there is something that can help alleviate them or at least prevent their occurrence altogether.
Can gain weight with meal replacement shakes?
When individuals go for a meal replacement low in calories, there is always the risk that they will experience hunger moments requiring refueling. This can lead to an increased intake of food which may result on weight regain before you know it.
Therefore going based solely off calorie counts never helps us achieve our goals.
Will drinking meal replacement shakes deprive me of certain nutrients?
The primary nutrients that many experts believe individuals are deprived of are phytochemicals, which help boost the immune system, implying some protection against infections and diseases. Overall, you are better off eating real food over a meal replacement shake.
Can meal replacements cause diarrhea?
Having a meal replacement shake as part of your diet is not going to make you any worse for wear. In fact, they can actually help with stomach issues that come from eating less than healthy foods.
The key thing here is variety – having different nutrients at each meal will ensure the body has everything it needs so no one nutrient becomes too important or overrepresented in one food group while neglecting others who may be essential for our health.
Can meal replacement shakes cause constipation?
You can get constipation from meal replacements if you choose one that doesn’t have much fiber in it. If constipation is a concern i would stick with the higher fiber shakes.
There you have it- a list of the top meal replacements for different categories. Shopping is now as easy as determining what you need a meal replacement for, looking up the best shake and buying it at the official website.
Meal replacement shakes can be the catalyst you need to achieve your dream physique. Don’t forget to supplement it with exercise and real whole foods to get to your goal much faster.
Ryan is a former college wrestler and lifelong fitness fanatic. He has run half marathons, done mud runs, placed in body transformation contests, coached wrestling and now coaches girls soccer. Not to mention he has also tried literally hundreds of supplements over the years and has a vast and thorough supplement knowledge. He has written for Muscle & Strength, Testosterone Junkie, The Sport Review and other publications. He is also the editor in chief of this website. Feel free connect with him on his LinkedIn page below.