Best Meal Replacement Shakes

Everything you need to know

By Ian Rattler and Amber Smith
Jun 3, 2023 5:00 AMJun 3, 2023 7:34 PM
Elm and Rye


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

This article contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Meal replacement shakes are a popular industry that’s gaining the world’s attention. These are shakes that society has started to see help encourage a healthy and nutritious lifestyle. With just 30 seconds of prep time you can have a nutritious and delicious meal-like shake! 

These are a fabulous way to eat between workouts or a busy job schedule. In this article, there will be 10 of the best meal replacement shakes featured with details on each. This will help you determine which of the best shakes are right for your lifestyle and goals. 

Categorizing the Best Meal Replacement Shakes

The list of meal replacement shakes below are ranked from one to ten, with the number one slot being held as the best of the best! This means the lower categorized meal replacement shakes had something that didn’t’ quite fit the bill when compared to the one above.

This does not, however, mean that the shake is less than the others, it’s just a matter of subjectivity when the shakes were evaluated by the research team! Be sure to review each of the 10 options to find the perfect match for you! 

10 Best Meal Replacement Shakes

Below are the ten best meal replacement shakes that are available to buy online today. The first one on our list, as noted, is the top performing option and then there are some other hidden gems in the list, so be sure to read the entire article to the end. 

#1 Elm & Rye Protein Powder (overall best meal replacement shake)

Elm & Rye Protein powder is an all-natural meal replacement shake that has been made from the best free-range and grass-fed cows the brand could find. This brand does have a vegan option, so be sure to peek at their vegan brand if you’re not interested in the grass-fed protein shakes. 

Each of the shakes you make using Elm & Rye’s Protein Powder will include 20 grams of protein, turmeric, BCAA’s, ashwagandha, mushroom complex, and collagen per serving size. 

This brand has a simple ingredients list to include; Milk Protein Concentrate, Hydrolyzed Collagen, Cocoa Powder, MCT Oil Powder, Natural & Artificial Flavors, Mushroom Complex Powder, Turmeric Root Powder, Ashwagandha Extract, Sugar, Sucralose, & Xanthan Gum. You can read this on their website, directly. 

This contains 9 amino acids. Amino acids, which are also known as the building blocks of proteins, play a vital role in many processes in your body. These include creating proteins, hormones, and neurotransmitters. You can find high concentrations of amino acids in protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, and soybeans.

According to the National Library of Medicine, “there is robust evidence which shows that consuming protein pre- and/or post-workout induces a significant rise in muscle protein synthesis.”

While Elm & Rye currently has 3 flavors for their grass-fed protein & vegan protein option (chocolate, vanilla, and cookies & cream) they may have future flavors or unflavored options should there be high consumer interest in such options from their customer base.  This protein blend does well to add flavor alongside your mix of fruit and veggies for a daily meal replacement shake. 

Shop Elm & Rye 

#2 Penguin Protein Powder 

Next up on our list of the 10 best meal replacement shakes is Penguin Protein Powder. If you’re searching for a way to lose some pounds then this is by far the best option for you. 

It is high in protein with 30 grams of protein, 20 grams of CBD, and 10 grams of Collagen per serving. This is the best option for anyone out there who wants a protein powder meal replacement shake that also provides relief with its CBD content. 

This brand has made their protein powder with top-notch ingredients. Users can opt for a vegan or whey protein option to ensure they’re getting the best possible meal replacement shake nutrients for their body. 

Penguin’s vegan protein powder is a full-body restorative blend made from pea protein that comes in five delicious flavors: chocolate, vanilla, peanut butter, cookies & cream, and Rocky Road. Each serving contains 30 grams of protein, 20 grams of CBD, and 10 grams of collagen. There are 840 grams in each bag (30 servings total). Their formula includes a customized mushroom complex for extra nutrients, turmeric for its anti-inflammatory properties, collagen to support joint health, and Ashwagandha to reduce stress. No artificial sweeteners or coloring added!

Penguin’s whey protein powder uses only the best pasture-raised, free-range, and grass-fed cows to make this meal replacement shake. It comes in five delicious flavors: Chocolate, Vanilla, Peanut Butter, Cookies & Cream, and Rocky Road. Each serving contains 30 grams of protein plus 20 grams of CBD and 10 grams of Collagen. You'll get 30 servings per bag--that's 840 grams total! This formula, much like the vegan one, includes a customized mushroom complex plus turmeric and ashwagandha.

This amazing product works well as part of a healthy diet plan to replace one of  your meals during the busy daytime routine you have! 

Shop Penguin Protein Powder

#3 PhenQ Complete Meal Shake

If you’re searching for a strong meal replacement shake that is also beneficial for weight loss, then look no further than PhenQ. This complete meal shake will help you cut weight, keep up with the active lifestyle you have, and help keep your body up to par with the required nutrients it needs for maximum strength. 

But, as with any product in the meal replacement shake industry, it’s all about the quality of the product when it comes to choosing the best meal replacement shakes available. 

PhenQ can replace a full meal, yes for real! You can replace breakfast, lunch, or dinner when you opt to go with this option. The brand swears that you will shed excess weight naturally while having an increase in energy, lowered food cravings, and enjoy 16 grams of protein per serving. 

There are three flavors available from PhenQ, brownie, vanilla ice cream, and strawberry & cream. Much different than the above two options of best meal replacement shakes, right?! 

And don’t forget about the fact that PhenQ is gluten-free, low in sugar, and containers a variety of the key vitamins human beings need. This means you can skip a meal by using this meal replacement shake without skipping out on nutrients. 

If you don’t enjoy PhenQ, the company does offer a full refund with no questions asked. 

#4 Abnormal

This is a pretty fascinating meal replacement shakes company. Abnormal promises to provide their customers with custom-made shakes based on the answers consumers provide to their website’s questionnaire. We’ve seen this done in other industries, so that’s pretty neat to see. 

While it’s an inventive idea, many have told us that it doesn’t live up to the hype, but we still wanted to include this brand on our list as it does have some high quality ingredients and potential for those who are interested in such an option for a meal replacement shake. 

When you sign up to get Abnormal they will have you fill out some questions, the answers you provide will be analyzed and thus allow this brand to create a personalized meal replacement shake for your individual goals. 

Since it’s near impossible to cover every possible variable in the results of a questionnaire for people who want the best meal replacement shakes, Abornimal does their best by providing 5-10 options and your answers help them guide you towards one of those that fits as close as possible to your questionnaire results. 

At the end of the day, this concept does tend to fall apart when you consider how much protein various people need based on weight, and perhaps gender as well. Females and men will require different protein levels and a meal replacement shake that is 350-calories may not be suitable for someone who is replacing a 250 calorie meal with said shake. 

But, we wanted to include this brand for even with the potential to not get the formula for individuals 100% right every time, they do have an edge on what the future of meal replacement shakes may need to offer the consumer; the ability to customize an individual place based on their personal stats. 

#5 Ka’Chava

This brand is one of the most fascinating options on the list and it has some amazing ingredients to boot! Ka-Chava has 85+ organic ingredients that are plant-based and heavy on nutrition. 

There are vegetables and fruits, yes real food, found in the Ka’Chava meal replacement shakes which really says a lot! They have included cinnamon, chia seeds, flaxseeds, ginger, and vanilla among other ingredients. 

This makes them a pretty impressive brand that also has a higher cost per serving. This meal replacement shake option will run you around $5 per serving unless you opt to save some cash with their subscription model. Unlike some of the other options, this brand is just 240 calories. 

Which, we know can break the option of using it as a meal replacement shake unless you are already having a lower calorie meal during the day that this shake can replace. The choice is obviously up to you for noting if these calories are sufficient for your goals. 

Many have said that there is no point in adding maca root if there isn’t enough of it it be effective, so the brand didn’t need to add this to their meal replacement shake. Then there are other issues with serving size and dosages of the ingredients that, quite simple, aren’t a significant factor in nutrition standards for use as a meal replacement shake. 

With all that being said, Ka’Chava may be a fabulous shake to enjoy alongside a delicious healthy meal rather than using as a complete meal replacement shake.

#6 BeNu Complete

This new meal replacement shake option from MyProtein is gaining popularity in the shake industry and seems to have surprised most consumers who have opted to buy this brand. 

Not only does BeNu Compelte have a fantastic macronutrient profile with 33 grams of protein per 402 calories, but it also has some pretty substantial ingredients to help you be healthier. 

This meal replacement shake has gluten-free oat flour, whey protein concentrate, soya protein isolate, flaxseed, and a vitamin and mineral mix, among other ingredients.

This may not be the perfect mixture out there, but it’s a decent value for the price. It contains easily digestible whey protein and helps you with losing weight or building muscle. 

#7 Jimmy Joy

This company started out as a copy of the American company Soylent, mostly because the Soylent brand doesn’t sell their meal replacement shakes to Europe. That is until Huel came on the scene to provide some alternatives. 

With that being said, this brand was previously  known as Joylent and had similar macros and formula blend. But, as per the request of Soylent they changed their brand name to Jimmy Joy to avoid confusion between the two different companies. 

A Jimmy Joy shake has 400 calories per serving and 20 grams of protein, with 43 grams of carbohydrates and 15 grams of healthy fats. This may be one the meal replacement shakes on our list that’s considered high in omega-3 fats and includes 26 micronutrients as well! 

These lovely looking pouches make it easier to consumer the meal replacement shake when compared to other brands that use a scoop to get their protein powder out of the container. You will enjoy the price point and quality of this option if you find it fits your lifestyle goals today. 

#8 PhenQ

PhenQ is a shake that offers a lot, including the use of CARB10 and gluten-free oat flour. It also has a vegan micronutrient blend alongside whey protein concentrate. This odd combination might make you wonder why bother with a vegan blend if there's already whey protein present.

Despite not being vegan-friendly, PhenQ is excellent for those looking to shed fat and build muscle due to its high protein density.

Most men will find that they require two servings of PhenQ meal replacement to replace a meal. You are getting 32 grams of protein and 538 calories per serving, which is lower in cost than Ka’Chava.

In addition to being one of the most nutritious meal replacement shakes on this list, PhenQ also boasts an excellent mixing ability and a wide variety of flavors.

#9 Redcon MRE

MRE by Redcon is a one-of-a-kind meal replacement shake that has become hugely popular. It contains 530 calories per serving, 47 grams of protein, 75 grams of carbohydrates, and just 4 grams of fat. While this kind of shake might not be for everyone's goals and diets, if you're looking to lose weight or build muscle it could be the perfect solution.

Its use of real foods for protein and carbohydrates is what makes it particularly interesting. Beets, salmon, chicken, egg, brown rice and pea proteins are included in the ingredients list. For carbs, you'll find rolled oats yams and sweet potatoes have been used. MCT oil has also been chosen as a top-quality fat content option.

Although it may be expensive at $3.20 per serving, Redcon MRE contains high-quality ingredients that make it worth the price. It is similar to Instant Knockout Complete in this way, but does not use a plant-based formula, which could have made it more inclusive and better for the environment.

For people who are looking to lose weight but still need high calories in their diet, Redcon's 530 calorie offering is a great option.

#10 Ample

The last option included in this list of the best meal replacement shakes is Ample. You’ll find that this is a reasonable option for anyone out there searching for a high protein content shake. 

With 31 grams of protein, 33 grams of carbs (5 of which are fiber), and 15 grams of fat you’ll love this option for the price point and delicious ingredients. This meal replacement shake includes sunflower oil, MCT oil powder, sweet potatoe powder, and other ingredients in their grass-fed whey protein option. 

This last option on the list of the 10 best meal replacement shakes isn’t vegan-friendly as there are some ingredients like tapioca and dextrin in the list of their product ingredients. This is a reasonably priced, flavorful option for anyone who wants a budget-friendly meal replacement shake. 

Why Should You Add a Meal Replacement Shake to Your Diet?

Some people might be wondering why they should add a meal replacement shake to their diet. There are actually a few good reasons why you might want to consider doing this.

One reason is that meal replacement shakes can help you lose weight. If you're trying to slim down, replacing one or two meals per day with a shake can help you achieve your goals. Shakes are also a great way to get in extra protein, which can help you build muscle and burn fat.

Another reason to consider using a shake as a meal replacement is that they can be helpful if you're struggling with digestion issues. If you have trouble digesting certain foods, drinking a shake instead can be a much easier way to get all the nutrients your body needs.

Finally, shakes can be a great way to make sure you're getting enough vitamins and minerals. Often when we're busy, it's hard to make sure we're eating enough fruits and vegetables. A shake can be a quick and easy way to get all the nutrients you need in one meal.

What to Look for in a Meal Replacement Shake?

In a picture perfect world you will want to get a meal replacement shake that has natural ingredients or as close to natural as possible. For example, look for rolled oats instead of dextrose. You will also want a high protein option with fiber in it. 

Next you’ll want to peek at what micronutrients they have, as you need vitamins and minerals when replacing a meal with a smoothie or shake. Now, you don’t want to get hyper focused on just the ingredients, because you may also want to consider the taste, price per serving, and whether or not the brand is environmentally friendly. 

Lastly, it’s important to have realistic expectations for your meal replacement shakes because they may not fit the bill for all of your nutrient needs or preferred options. With that being said, you should be able to find the best meal replacement shakes for your goals in the list above. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best meal replacement shake?

The best meal replacement shake for you will depend on multiple factors, but the number one option on this list is by far the best option out there. Elm & Rye Protein supplement is of the highest standard and flavor! 

Do meal replacement shakes really work?

Yes, meal replacement shakes really work! These shakes can help you improve nutrition, lose weight safely, and help you save some hard earned cash. Not to mention the best meal replacement shakes will also save you time in researching other options out there to maintain a healthy diet. 

Can you lose weight by replacing 2 meals with meal replacement shakes?

You could potentially lose weight by replacing more than 1 meal with a meal replacement shake. The problem with drinking too many of these and not enough solid food though, is that they could cause deficiencies in vitamins and minerals if you’re not getting the proper amount inside the meal replacement shakes. 

Can I replace all of my meals with meal replacement shakes?

Again, you could replace all of your meals with meal replacement shakes for a short period of time, but you shouldn’t do that. The reason is because you still need to get nutrients from real food. The key is to discuss your health needs with a doctor before replacing any meal, especially all of your meals with a meal replacement shake. 

What happens if you only drink meal replacement shakes?

If you only drink meal replacement shakes then may lose weight and find that your nutrition levels improve. The problem is that you cannot maintain this type of diet forever as you will crave other food options and perhaps the nutrients you’re missing by drinking the wrong meal replacement shakes for you. Some countries treat meal replacement shakes differently, so be sure to check the rules and advisements for your current region before only drinking meal replacement shakes. 

Final Thoughts on Best Meal Replacement Shakes

After reviewing the top 10 best meal replacement shakes that are available to buy today, you’ll find that each has a unique list of pros and cons. No two people reading this entire list of recommendations will choose the same product. 

With that being said, the number one choice is by far Elm & Rye protein supplement for its high-quality ingredients, reasonable price point, and dual options for vegan and non-vegan alike. 

No matter which meal replacement shake you opt to go with, you just need to confirm that you will use it as part of a healthy lifestyle change. 

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2023 Kalmbach Media Co.