10 Best Meal Replacement Shakes (2024) Nutritionist-Approved

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Published by Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer
Last updated: December 24, 2023
We personally test every product featured in our reviews and guides. By ordering products anonymously and getting a group of independent testers, we are able to get first-hand experience and provide data-driven recommendations. Learn more.

Over the years, meal replacement shakes have become indispensable for athletes and individuals pursuing weight loss.

Unfortunately, many of these shakes don’t contain the proper nutrients or quality ingredients to support people’s health and fitness goals.

Our team collaborated with a nutritionist and 14 clients, rigorously testing 30 meal replacement shakes over seven weeks, revealing several subpar products.

Let me show you the best meal-replacement shakes based on our test results.

The Best Meal Replacement Shakes

Editor's Choice
Transparent Labs - MRP
Transparent Labs
Effectiveness
4.9
Ingredients
4.9
Price
4.8
Overall Score 4.9
4.9
Click For Best Price
2nd Best Choice
Garden of Life - Meal Replacement Shake
Garden of Life
Effectiveness
4.8
Ingredients
4.9
Price
4.7
Overall Score 4.8
4.8
Check Current Price
3rd Best Choice
Orgain Vegan Protein Meal Replacement Powder
Orgain Vegan Protein
Effectiveness
4.8
Ingredients
4.8
Price
4.7
Overall Score 4.8
4.8
Check Current Price

Our Top Meal Replacement Shakes (April 2024)

1 - Transparent Labs - MRP (Best Overall)

Rated 4.9/5

Rated With Total Shape's Scoring System

4.9
Effectiveness
4.9
Ingredients
4.8
Price
Transparent Labs - MRP
  • Calories : 220
  • Fat : 7 g
  • Protein : 24 g
  • Carbs : 19 g

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • High-protein meal replacement shake for maximum muscle growth
  • Low in saturated fat and cholesterol for a healthy diet approach
  • Mixes very easily into a smooth meal replacement shake
  • Available in two great flavor options that taste natural and not too sweet

Cons

  • You can only order it directly on the company website

At the top of our list of best meal replacement shakes is this one from Transparent Labs.

We are big fans of this company as they are one of the few that always have clear nutritional labels about all ingredients.

Based on our testing, this is a great meal replacement shake for people who want to lose weight.

But the 24 grams of protein also make it ideal for athletes who want to boost their recovery phases and muscle growth [1].

And we loved both the chocolate and vanilla flavors, which are natural and not overpowering.

Quick Facts:

2 - Garden of Life - Meal Replacement Shake (Best Organic)

Rated 4.8/5

Rated With Total Shape's Scoring System

4.8
Effectiveness
4.9
Ingredients
4.7
Price
Garden of Life - Meal Replacement Shake
  • Calories : 150
  • Fat : 6 g
  • Protein : 20 g
  • Carbs : 12 g

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Added vitamins deliver a broad range of essential nutrients
  • Contains six grams of dietary fiber for improved digestive function
  • Certified organic meal replacement delivers pure and high-quality macros

Cons

  • You’ll need a shaker or blender to turn this into a smooth shake

This Garden of Life raw organic meal replacement shake is ideal for people who want to lose weight and prioritize high-quality and pure ingredients.

Not only does it have a great balance of macros, but you also get some vital vitamins.

And during our testing phase, we also found that the Garden of Life raw organic meal replacement made us feel full for longer.

This is likely due to the added fiber, and if you drink it for breakfast, it should easily keep you going until lunch [2].

Quick Facts:

3 - Orgain Vegan Protein Meal Replacement Powder (Best Vegan)

Rated 4.8/5

Rated With Total Shape's Scoring System

4.8
Effectiveness
4.8
Ingredients
4.7
Price
Orgain Vegan Protein Meal Replacement Powder
  • Calories : 230
  • Fat : 5 g
  • Protein : 20 g
  • Carbs : 25 g

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Low-fat option to suit many different diets
  • Delivers enough calories to replace a complete meal
  • Used plant-based protein, including rice and pea protein, for vegan athletes

Cons

  • The chocolate flavor is a bit too strong tasting

This Orgain Organic meal replacement powder is an ideal option for vegan athletes.

We had a few clients who are on a plant-based diet help us with the testing, and they liked the consistency of the meal replacement shake.

It’s also a great option to replace a complete meal as it’s filling and delivers 230 calories.

The vegan meal replacement shake also combines rice, chia seed, and pea protein for a broach amino acid profile [3].

Quick Facts:

4 - Huel Nutritionally Complete Food Powder (Best for Muscle Gain)

Rated 4.7/5

Rated With Total Shape's Scoring System

4.7
Effectiveness
4.7
Ingredients
4.8
Price
Huel Nutritionally Complete Food Powder
  • Calories : 400
  • Fat : 13 g
  • Protein : 29 g
  • Carbs : 45 g

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Contains less than one gram of sugar to not mess up your diet
  • Includes 27 vitamins to make it a more complete meal replacement
  • Vegan-certified option for athletes on a plant-based diet

Cons

  • We found the powder tends to be more difficult to mix in a shaker

Huel's meal replacement shake offers a comprehensive balance of macro and micronutrients.

One thing that stood out for us was that it makes you feel full.

As a result, you could replace multiple meals a day, and we had one tester take it three times a day and then have a regular evening meal.

Quick Facts:

5 - LABRADA - Lean Body (Best High-Protein)

Rated 4.7/5

Rated With Total Shape's Scoring System

4.7
Effectiveness
4.6
Ingredients
4.7
Price
LABRADA - Lean Body
  • Calories : 280
  • Fat : 9 g
  • Protein : 40 g
  • Carbs : 9 g

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Comes as a pre-mixed drink that is a very smooth shake
  • Very high whey protein content makes it ideal for intense training days
  • Contains no sugar making it a good choice as a keto meal replacement shake

Cons

  • Some of the meal replacement flavors are a bit artificial tasting

This meal replacement shake from Labrada is the one that our testing team liked for those highly intense training days.

Because it has 40 grams of whey protein powder, our test results showed it worked great for muscle recovery [4].

My dietitian also highlighted that because this meal replacement has no sugar, it would be a good choice for athletes on a low-carb diet like keto.

Quick Facts:

6 - SlimFast RTD ADV (Best Weight Loss)

Rated 4.6/5

Rated With Total Shape's Scoring System

4.6
Effectiveness
4.7
Ingredients
4.5
Price
SlimFast RTD ADV
  • Calories : 180
  • Fat : 9 g
  • Protein : 20 g
  • Carbs : 7 g

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • High dosage of protein can help with weight loss efforts
  • Contains healthy fats to help you avoid the bad trans fats
  • 5 grams of fiber can help with making your feel full for longer

Cons

  • These drinks can work out to be quite expensive

SlimFast's meal replacement shake garnered positive feedback from numerous weight loss clients in our tests.

It has a good soluble fiber content that will fill you up while at the same time delivering 20 grams of protein to boost your weight loss [5].

Also, unlike other meal replacements, this one doesn’t contain any trans fats, which can further help to improve the quality of your diet.

Just keep in mind that they are quite expensive compared to complete meal replacements in powder form.

Quick Facts:

7 - GNC Total Lean Lean Shake (Best Tasting)

Rated 4.5/5

Rated With Total Shape's Scoring System

4.6
Effectiveness
4.6
Ingredients
4.4
Price
GNC Total Lean Lean Shake
  • Calories : 180
  • Fat : 3 g
  • Protein : 25 g
  • Carbs : 19 g

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Includes vitamins and minerals to make it a complete meal replacement
  • Comes in small pouches containing the ideal serving size
  • Great choice of flavors to avoid getting bored with the same meal replacements

Cons

  • It’s not available in bulk-order options

The GNC meal replacement shake was a good option for our testing team that wanted a product that they could easily bring to work or college.

This one comes in small pouches, so you don’t have to carry a drink or a large tub of powder.

We also ordered most of the flavors that were available, and we thought they all tasted pretty natural and not too sweet.

But I just wish there was an option to order larger boxes for bulk discounts.

Quick Facts:

8 - OWYN Complete Nutrition Protein Shake (Cheapest Option)

Rated 4.5/5

Rated With Total Shape's Scoring System

4.4
Effectiveness
4.5
Ingredients
4.6
Price
OWYN Complete Nutrition Protein Shake
  • Calories : 300
  • Fat : 10 g
  • Protein : 20 g
  • Carbs : 31 g

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Certified vegan option with plant-based protein sources
  • Available in larger boxes of 36 bottles to keep you going for a few weeks
  • Comes with added caffeine to give you a mental boost in the morning

Cons

  • It contains more sugar than most other meal replacements

This OWYN meal replacement shake is another one that provided good test results with our vegan clients that took it for a few weeks.

The great thing is that you can order it in large boxes of 36 bottles for a good discount.

And one thing that I noticed when taking it in the morning was a nice mental focus boost from the added dose of caffeine [6].

“The reason you get a quick wakeup call after chugging a mug of coffee has to do with the way caffeine tricks your brain. Not only is caffeine a brain stimulant, but it also blocks receptors for a chemical called adenosine.”

- Stephanie Watson, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health

Quick Facts:

9 - ALOHA Ready to Drink Protein Shake w/MCT Oil (Best Caffeinated)

Rated 4.5/5

Rated With Total Shape's Scoring System

4.4
Effectiveness
4.5
Ingredients
4.5
Price
ALOHA Ready to Drink Protein Shake with MCT Oil
  • Calories : 170
  • Fat : 5 g
  • Protein : 20 g
  • Carbs : 11 g

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Based on organic brown rice protein and pea protein sources
  • Contains added MCT oil that can provide boosted brain energy
  • Available in tasty pre-mixed flavors for more convenient intake

Cons

  • Contains some added sugar that you need to account for in diet plans

These Aloha meal replacement shakes offer a great combination of plant-based protein and healthy fats sources.

Our testing also showed that the added fiber seemed to help us bridge longer gaps between meals.

And we also liked the effect of the added MCT oil, which can be ideal for delivering a solid brain energy boost for work, study, and exercise [7].

Quick Facts:

10 - Orgain Organic Nutritional Shake (Best Nutrient-Rich)

Rated 4.4/5

Rated With Total Shape's Scoring System

4.4
Effectiveness
4.5
Ingredients
4.4
Price
Orgain Organic Nutritional Shake
  • Calories : 250
  • Fat : 7 g
  • Protein : 16 g
  • Carbs : 32 g

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Very tasty flavors and a smooth texture from a prem-mixed shake
  • Certified organic ingredients include vitamins and minerals
  • Includes high-quality grass-fed whey protein concentrate

Cons

  • It contains quite a few carbs and added sugar

Here is another one of the Orgain Organic meal replacement shakes that our team liked.

Unlike just taking regular protein shakes, it also includes a great selection of vitamins and minerals.

And we noted during testing that it helps to fill you up and avoid hunger cravings.

And unlike many meal replacement shakes from cheap brands, it doesn’t use whey protein isolate but concentrate instead, which can deliver more natural nutritional value [8].

The reason it’s not higher up on our list of best meal replacement shakes is due to the high-carb and sugar content that you’ll need to account for in your meal planning.

In addition, you can read our review of Orgain Organic protein powder.

Quick Facts:

How We Tested the Best Meal Replacement Shakes

To guide our readers to the best meal replacement shakes, we meticulously tested and evaluated the top 10 products. Here's our process, focusing on five key criteria:

  • Nutritional balance. We analyzed each shake's balance of protein, carbs, and fats to ensure a well-rounded meal substitute.
  • Ingredient quality. The quality of ingredients was a top priority, focusing on natural, nutrient-dense components and avoiding unnecessary additives.
  • Flavor and taste. We sampled various flavors to assess palatability and overall enjoyment.
  • Price per serving. We compared cost-effectiveness to ensure value for money in our recommendations.
  • Third-party testing. Preference was given to products with third-party testing for quality assurance and ingredient verification.

Our rigorous evaluation process enabled us to differentiate, rate, and rank the best meal replacement shakes, offering trustworthy and practical recommendations to our readers.

Buyer’s Guide

An online shopper looking for a guide for meal replacement shakes

Let me show you how you should approach choosing the ideal meal replacement protein shakes.

Who Should Take Meal Replacement Shakes?

Any athletes in a bulking phase or people trying to lose weight should take meal replacement shakes.

They are an excellent way to get a precise combination of macros and calories to support your weight loss or bulking goals.

With our preferred meal replacement shakes above, you can easily replace a healthy meal without having to worry about the vitamins and minerals that your food also contains.

By carefully working out what kind of fat, carb, and protein intake you need, it’s easy to get that precise amount while also helping you feel full for longer.

Related Articles:

Who Shouldn't Take Meal Replacement Shakes?

People with digestive and eating disorders shouldn’t take meal replacement shakes.

It’s important that you only use these to support a healthy, low-calorie diet rather than aim to completely replace all your food intake. 

I would also suggest that anyone with poor eating habits that include fast food and lots of sugary treats should work on fixing those habits before resorting to a meal replacement and protein shakes.

What these shakes don’t do is make up for eating food with poor nutritional value, and they won’t bring on weight loss if you spend the rest of the day eating junk.

Check The Macros Out

A woman counting the macros of food

One of the most important things to look out for with meal replacement shakes is the breakdown of macros.

Protein

One of the main reasons that people drink meal replacement shakes is to get a boost of protein at different times of the day.

For athletes, this can be a particularly important factor that goes beyond just getting enough protein to support muscle growth and recovery [9].

See, getting an extra boost of protein can often mean having to eat more chicken, fish, or meat.

And most people don’t like adding those things to their breakfast meal plans. 

As someone who has gone through many bulking phases where I had to eat chicken breasts for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I can tell you that this quickly became a tiring experience.

Carbs

When it comes to carbs in these shakes, it’s important to take a closer look in detail. While regular protein powders often contain little to no carbs, you do want to see some carbs in a meal replacement drink.

But what you don’t want to see is a large amount of sugar.

One thing that some companies do to make their shakes and protein powders taste better is to add sugar. But that won’t help you lose weight at all and will likely upset your blood sugar levels more than you’d want to [10].

“The World Health Organisation has recently been advised by scientific experts that added sugar or, more specifically, non-milk extrinsic sugar should constitute no more than 5% of energy.”

- Dr. Aseem Malhotra, MD

Fat

Another thing to look out for on the label of meal replacement shakes is the fat content. And I don’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t buy a product just because it has high-fat content.

What’s important to understand is that the human body needs healthy fats to survive. Unfortunately, fat, in general, has got a bad reputation.

What you do need to avoid is trans fats, and you also want to keep saturated fat intake down [11].

Other Nutrition To Look Out For

A woman eating nutritious vegetables

Some of the best meal replacement shakes on the market will also ensure that they deliver more than just the right macro balance.

Vitamins

Ideally, you want to narrow your choices of meal replacement shake powders down to those that also contain vitamins.

See, the food you eat as part of a healthy diet for weight loss or muscle gain also contains critical vitamins.

And the more that meal replacement shakes can deliver the same vitamins you get from meat, vegetables, and fruit, the more of a complete replacement such a shake can become.

You certainly want to avoid becoming deficient in vitamins due to replacing a meal with a simple drink.

Minerals

A good meal replacement shake will also provide some key minerals that you normally get with food. For example, when you eat dairy products, you get a good amount of calcium, which is important for maintaining healthy bones [12].

“Dairy products like milk, yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese are good sources of calcium, which helps maintain bone density and reduces the risk of fractures.”

- Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch

The more minerals that you find on the label of meal replacement shakes, the better it will be for your overall health.

Just like with vitamins, becoming mineral deficient will not help you with your weight loss and fitness goals.

Fiber

When you’re going through the best meal replacement shake options available, I would also suggest that you look for those that have a decent amount of fiber. Five grams or more should help you to fill your stomach more [13].

And that can work wonders for weight loss as it reduces your urges to snack.

In my experience as a fitness coach working with clients, I find that people often create great meal plans and then undo all the good work with sugary treats and snacks. And most of those happen due to hunger cravings that you can avoid.

Work Out Your Calories

A woman counting her calories

Before you simply start taking natural meal replacement shakes as described on the packaging, I would suggest that you work out how many calories you’re trying to replace.

If you’re aiming for net negative calories per day to lose weight, then your shakes need to be a lot smaller than if you’re a bodybuilder in a bulking phase.

You can use an app like Noom or discuss your calorie plans with a dietitian to get the ideal calorie recommendation per meal.

Brand Reputation And Price

There is a huge and lucrative market for meal replacement shakes. But like with all supplements, there are many brands that spend more on marketing and celebrity endorsements than on creating an effective formula.

For our research on the best meal replacement shake, we spent a lot of time looking at the companies behind them. And we can say that all of the above fit the bill for being reputable.

And I would advise people not to choose the best meal replacement powders based on price.

Look for quality ingredients and the right macro and micronutrient profile, and then spend a bit more to get the product that best suits your needs.

Protein Powder vs Meal Replacement Shakes

Protein shakes can replace meals, and stacking them with meal replacements is common in athletic or bodybuilding regimes.

Protein supplements boost protein intake, aiding muscle repair and building. Meal replacement and protein shakes offer a precise mix of macros and calories to replace a meal, helping you feel full.

Protein shakes can double as meal replacements, especially for weight loss. Research shows substituting high-fat, high-carb meals with protein shakes can speed up fat loss. Relying solely on protein shakes for energy can be insufficient, and too much protein might cause discomfort.

However, if you're aiming to bulk up and build more muscle mass, then protein shakes alone may not be a suitable option.

For athletes and bodybuilders, combining protein shakes with meal replacements is common, helping increase calorie intake alongside regular meals.

FAQs

Which Meal Is Best To Replace With A Shake?

Breakfast tends to be the best meal to replace with a shake. Drinking meal replacement shakes first thing in the morning can limit your calories while making you feel full for longer, so you can start your day with a negative calorie intake.

Are Meal Replacement Shakes Good For Weight Loss?

Yes, meal replacement shakes are good for weight loss. They often include added fiber that can help with hunger cravings on a low-calorie diet. And with a higher-than-normal protein intake, you can also boost your metabolism.

Is It Ok To Have A Meal Replacement Shake Every Day?

Yes, it’s OK to have a meal replacement shake every day. As long as you eat regular nutritious food alongside your shakes, you should still be able to get all the vital nutrients for your health.

Choose The Ideal Shake For Your Needs

Out of all the best meal replacement shakes we tested, there is one that all of our clients liked the best.

Not only did it taste great and provide an ideal macro profile, but it had a great taste as well.

The Transparent Labs Meal Replacement Powder shake contains plenty of protein, and you can easily adjust the amount you take to create a complete meal shake.

It provided our clients with energy, a longer feeling of fullness, and faster recovery after workouts.

Order your first supply today and see how much it can transform your diet efforts.

Our #1 Recommendation

Transparent Labs - MRP (Best Overall)

Transparent Labs - MRP
Effectiveness
4.9
Ingredients
4.9
Price
4.8
Overall Score 4.9
4.9
Pros
  • High-protein meal replacement shake for maximum muscle growth
  • Low in saturated fat and cholesterol for a healthy diet approach
  • Mixes very easily into a smooth meal replacement shake
  • Available in two great flavor options that taste natural and not too sweet
  • Get the BEST PRICE until the end of April
Cons
  • You can only order it directly on the company website
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About The Author

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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Our ingredients score is based on 3 factors including: transparency, blend disclosure, and dosage accuracy. We conduct third-party lab verification of ingredients. The score is an objective measure of the lab test results compared to the product label. For more information see our ingredients score explanation here.
Our price score is based 3 factors including: cost justification, market comparison, and overall value. The score is a subjective measurement of the product's value against its price when compared to similar products. For more information see our price score explanation here.
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