- Do meal replacement powders and shakes help? Meal replacement shakes -- ready-to-drink or made from a powder, have been shown to help people on diets lose more weight, improve blood sugar control for people with type 2 diabetes, and boost protein intake to increase muscle mass. It can also offer a more healthful alternative to snack foods when you are unable to have a regular meal. In particular, meal replacements offer protein in a convenient form, along with carbohydrates (and often fiber) as well as fats. The products, however, are not meant to replace all of your meals and consumption of whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables. (See "What It Does").
- What's in meal replacement shakes? Most products provide about 10 to 20 grams of protein (from a variety of sources) per serving but vary widely in the amounts and types of carbohydrates and fats they include. They may also have a range of vitamins, minerals, and botanical ingredients. Serving sizes also range widely, from about 25 to 60 grams providing about 90 to 400 Calories. (See "Comparison Chart").
- Which meal replacement powders and shakes are best? ConsumerLab.com found that 4 of the 11 meal replacement products it selected and tested were not accurately labeled and/or had an unacceptable contamination (See "What CL Found"). Among those which were Approved based on their quality, CL then compared the products on features such as protein, energy, fiber and cost and made its Top Picks. You can compare specifics of the products using the Results Table.
- How to use meal replacement shakes? Products sold as powders are typically mixed with water or other liquids, but be aware of what you are adding (calories, carbs, etc.). (See ConsumerTips™).
- Cautions with meal replacement shakes: Do not substitute a meal replacement product for all of your meals or be fooled into thinking that you can skip eating whole foods. In addition, be aware that you may need to increase your fluid and calcium intake if you are increasing your protein intake. (See Concerns and Cautions).