10 Popular Meal Replacement Shakes: Which One’s Right for You?

Have you dismissed the idea of a protein shake because it “just wasn’t for you”? Protein shakes aren’t just for athletes anymore. There are shakes for everyone, whether you’re trying to build muscle, lose weight, improve your digestion, or take better care of your body.

Everyone who uses protein shakes does so for different reasons. Therefore, choosing the protein shake that’s right for you depends largely on your goals. Are you trying to fend off the mid-morning blood sugar crash? Attempting to lose a few pounds? Maybe you’re just trying to add more nutrition to your day. Whatever your reason, there’s a shake out there made just for you. Here are the most popular protein shakes you can buy, and how each one can help you reach your goals.

For the early morning commuter

1. Shakeology

Meal replacement shakes like this have fat-burning benefits.

Shakeology products are great for your digestive system. | iStock.com

Beachbody’s Shakeology is getting a lot of hype in the world of meal replacement shakes, as it boasts the inclusion of over 70 ingredients to aid in your body’s digestive health and fat-burning capabilities. Beachbody states that the digestive enzymes added to Shakeology are from natural sources such as papayas and pineapples, and these sources also provide high levels of antioxidants that can help prevent premature aging and degenerative disease. This is a perfect choice for someone who doesn’t have the time or desire for breakfast, but needs an energy boost before lunch.

With all of these benefits, where are the drawbacks? Shakeology is one of the priciest meal replacement shakes on the market — a 30-serving supply will cost you about $130 without shipping, which comes to roughly $4 a meal. They do offer a sampler at just $30 that includes six single-serving packets, which is created for those who want to try all of the flavors before purchasing any of them in bulk. With shipping and handling, this still comes to about $40 for only six packets.

2. Orgain

You can enjoy this meal replacement shake regardless of any dietary restrictions.

Orgain’s shakes are designed to meet a variety of dietary needs. | iStock.com

With so many different meal replacement shakes on the market, Orgain Protein Powder makes its mark by providing shakes that are completely gluten-free, soy-free, non-GMO, and free of all artificial ingredients. Orgain not only wants you to get that protein boost that you’re after, but they want you to feel as healthy as possible in the process. While they do have dairy-based shakes that are made with all grass-fed whey and milk protein concentrates, they also have great vegan options that are made using completely organic ingredients.

Orgain has options for everyone — whether you’re an athlete looking to load up on protein or you’re working all day in the office without a lunch break. Orgain has something that will satisfy your hunger. Their 2 pound organic protein shake contains a mere 150 calories and a whopping 21 grams of protein.

For the weight watcher

3. GNC Total Lean Lean Shake

High-protein meal replacement shakes are the perfect post-workout snack.

The protein in this shake is great for post-workout muscle repair. | iStock.com

Total Lean Lean Shake’s main goal is to provide you with a meal replacer filled with 25 grams of whey protein per serving in addition to vitamins and minerals that aid in a healthy metabolism and lean muscle mass. GNC offers the details of its no-frills approach on its website, listing all of the ingredients of the shake so you know exactly what you’re putting into your body.

The Lean Shake is the best pick for those looking to reduce cravings to aid in weight loss. This drink is not a complete system like Shakeology, and so obtaining actual results with this drink is more dependent upon other factors in your life, such as diet and exercise. There’s no personalized plan or coach here.

4. IdealShape

Try a low-calorie meal replacement shake packed with nutrition.

IdealShape is just 90 calories per serving. | iStock.com

IdealShape’s meal replacement shakes are geared toward those who are looking to lose weight and control cravings. It’s not for those who are necessarily trying to gain muscle, increase their metabolism, or improve their digestive health. The IdealShape website shows how replacing just one meal a day will assist in weight loss when accompanied with a calorie-controlled diet, as the powder formula they provide is a mere 90 calories per serving. Most other meal replacement shakes are around 180 calories a serving, and coupled with blending those formulas with berries, bananas, or nut butters, that calorie count can skyrocket and ultimately sabotage all attempts at weight loss. IdealShape boasts that just one 90-calorie serving of the shake is enough to keep you satisfied for up to three hours because of the inclusion of the all-natural potato protein called Slendesta.

The price for these meal replacement shakes is about $50 for 30 servings, and the powder formula also comes with a free 20-ounce shaker bottle. If this price seems a little steep for you, then have no fear — the IdealShape website typically hosts sales on its products, sometimes even giving away a free container of meal replacement powder with the purchase of two.

For the health nut

5. Herbalife

Meal replacement shakes made with this powder do not contain whey protein.

Herbalife powders contain soy protein, but no whey. | iStock.com

Herbalife is a company that has more than just a meal replacement shake to offer — it also has nutrient-dense snacks, vitamins, and products. The most beneficial part of Herbalife is that it encompasses an entire system to make you look and feel your best. Discover Good states that Herbalife centers around more than just the dietary shakes and supplements and keeps its focus on living an active life and building an overall confidence in its clientele.

Though Herbalife is on the more affordable side for the powder formula alone, the powder only contains soy proteins according to a chart provided by Food Babe. Without whey protein, it’s difficult to say whether this supplement would actually keep you full for the entirety of a meal. However, it’s packed with enough nutrition to act as the perfect supplement to an already healthy diet.

6. Visalus Vi-Shape

This is a meal replacement shake designed for anyone trying to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Try this whether you have a weight loss goal or not. | iStock.com

Visalus Vi-Shape’s meal replacement shake is a drink that’s not just for weight loss. The nutrient-dense formula is designed for anyone looking to live a healthy and active lifestyle with or without a weight loss goal in mind. According to the Vi-Shape website, the formula includes a protein blend of whey and soy proteins, a full day’s serving of fiber, and 25 other heart-healthy vitamins and minerals. The shake also only has one gram of fat, less than one gram of sugar, a low-sodium content, and only 90 calories per serving.

What’s also great about Vi-Shape? Its formula is gluten-free, lactose-free, certified kosher, and low-carb, so this can be a great option for anyone with these dietary restrictions. According to the Vi-Shape fact sheet, Visalus chose to use a blend of whey and soy proteins, and though soy proteins can cause digestive issues, their soy is not genetically modified.

7. Vega

Unlike many other meal replacement shakes, these are completely plant-based.

If you’re looking for a plant-based shake option, you’ll love this. | iStock.com

If you’re looking for a plant-based protein shake that not only offers a satisfactory meal replacer, but also offers vitamins, probiotics, and antioxidants, the Vega One Nutritional Shake may be your best bet. Vega offers a variety of powder supplements to fit your needs, whether that’s the Vega Essentials shake that boasts 3 servings of greens in one serving, or the Vega Protein & Greens blend that offers 20 grams of protein per serving. However, the Vega One Nutritional Shake provides the full package of protein and nutritional needs to fit into any lifestyle.

The Vega One Nutritional Shake comes in a variety of flavors such as berry, vanilla chai, coconut almond, and mocha. A large container of this formula holds 20 servings and can be purchased for about $70. Though not the cheapest item on the list, all of the benefits of this meal replacer may make up for the steep price.

For the muscle builder

8. Cal Naturale

This brand has a greater variety of flavors than other meal replacement shakes.

Svelte shakes come in a variety of flavors. | iStock.com

Originally known for their sustainable wine, California Natural Products has a new creation that appeals to health fanatics everywhere. While many of the meal replacement options on this list come in either pre-mixed formulas or powder supplement form, Svelte keeps it simple with one option: an organic pre-mixed protein shake that doesn’t disappoint on flavor. Though you can only purchase individual CalNaturale shakes, their variety of flavors far exceeds many of the other meal replacement shakes on the market. These single-serving shakes come in either an 11- or 16-ounce size, and you can get them in banana crème, chocolate, French vanilla, cappuccino, or spiced chai.

Whether you’re looking for a pre-workout drink or a post-workout mini-meal packed with protein and fiber, Svelte has you covered. Using organic, non-GMO soy milk as their base, Svelte packs 11 grams of protein into each 11-ounce shake as well as 5 grams of fiber and a mere 180 calories. The cappuccino-flavored beverage even has organic coffee beans to give it a natural coffee flavor, and each drink is flavored with stevia instead of regular sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. Svelte is completely gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan, and they use all organic ingredients to create their shake.

9. Muscle Milk

This is a high-protein option for athletes and non-athletes alike.

Muscle Milk products are high in protein and low in calories and sugar. | iStock.com

There are many options when it comes to purchasing Muscle Milk — you can go for one of the six pre-made protein shake options, or you can try one of their four powder formulas, each boasting different benefits depending on which you choose. If there’s anything that’s consistent with all of the Muscle Milk products, it’s that they are incredibly high in protein and low in calories and sugar, making them ideal for those looking to build strength after a workout.

In Muscle Milk’s Genuine Powder, you’re getting 25 grams of protein and over 20 vitamins and minerals in each serving. Though there are 240 calories in each serving as well, the product suggests that you mix your powder with your favorite smoothie recipes or other supplement shakes to create your own unique meal replacer that’s full of protein. If you’re looking for a powder that’s a bit leaner, try the Muscle Milk Low-Fat Protein Powder, which is only 100 calories per serving while still retaining 15 grams of high-quality protein. Unfortunately, there’s not a true dairy-free option for vegans — while they have a pre-made shake formula that does not include dairy in the mix, they still use milk proteins in all products.

10. Bod-e Shake

High-protein, high-fiber meal replacement shakes help to keep you feeling full.

This shake packs in 7 grams of fiber per serving. | iStock.com

The Bod-e Shake is designed to balance protein with carbs and healthy fats so that you can build lean muscle mass and suppress your appetite to achieve your goal weight.

This meal replacement shake comes in powder form, and there are only two basic flavors — chocolate and vanilla. While there may not be a whole lot of variety to this formula, this could be a great option for those looking for an easy, straightforward shake that’s jam-packed with nutrients. In each 2 scoop serving of this shake, there are 16 grams of whey protein concentrate, 7 grams of fiber, 24 grams of carbs, and 660 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids. Not only are you getting your protein with this powder, but you’re also getting a healthy dose of nutrients that you may not otherwise consume in your everyday diet.

Lauren Weiler also contributed to this story