Meal replacement products are everywhere in the diet and fitness industry these days. In a world of fast foods and fad diets, finding the time, money, and knowledge to follow a healthy diet plan daily can be challenging.
Originally created to help people absorb nutrients more efficiently, meal replacements have become a convenient alternative to traditional dieting – and are designed to offer the same nutrition as a full meal.
As the name suggests, meal replacements are designed to, quite simply, replace a meal. The best protein meal replacement will contain a good balance of protein, carbs, and fats. In other words, it should contain more than just protein.
You’ve likely also heard of protein shakes (and/or powders), but these are different from meal replacements in that they’re designed more to provide high-quality protein to help the body build muscle after a strength training workout.
Basically, the key difference between meal replacements and protein shakes is that the former contains all three macros, while the latter contains only protein.
In this article, we look at the best protein powder for meal replacement – including vegan options – that we feel are available on the current market.
The Best Protein Meal Replacements: Are They Even Healthy?
While whole foods are typically the best way to provide the body with necessary nutrients, meal replacements can be a convenient meal option for those that are on the go – and they can be surprisingly nutritious too.
Meal replacement products are designed to provide a meal’s worth of nutrients when people do not have the time or the access to a proper meal. Of course, each person has different nutritional needs, and not all meal replacements are created equal. This means there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
That said, the best meal replacement protein products provide enough energy and nutrients to get through the day.
The best way to purchase quality protein meal replacements is to read the nutrition information and ingredients list of the product carefully. Check that the product is not too high in added and artificial sugar and that it does not lack the essential vitamins and minerals that solid foods provide.
Best Protein Powder Meal Replacements: What Are The Options?
Typically, meal replacement products come in two main varieties:
- Ready-to-drink, bottled products
- Powdered supplements that are mixed in with water
Making the choice to follow a meal replacement diet plan is highly individualized. For people that are trying to lose weight, protein meal replacements can be a great option in that they help to avoid excess sugar and carb intake. A diet that reduces calorie intake helps people slim down, regardless of whether the calories come from liquid food or solid food.
Additionally, boosting protein intake with meal replacements helps the body maintain muscle mass. And for those that do strength training workouts frequently, they may even notice muscle gain. A body with more muscle will burn more calories daily in comparison to a body that has more fat.
Below, we will look at the best meal replacement protein powder options, as well as ready-to-drink solutions.
Best Vegan Protein Powder Reviews
Picking the best protein meal replacement brands on the market was quite challenging. However, we eventually managed to narrow our list down to five choices (and we’ve even included a vegan option). Here are our five top picks:
1. Vega Protein Nutrition Shake
Although it is sold as a protein shake, the Vega protein meal replacement packs a quality assortment of healthy carbs and fats. The shake is sold in a pack of 12, is available in either a chocolate or vanilla flavor, and provides enough plant-based protein and vegetable blends to fuel the body.
Moreover, the shake is certified vegan-friendly, non-GMO, and soy, dairy, and gluten-free. As a bonus, the company is B-Corporation certified – which means that they meet high environmental and social performance standards.
Nutrition Info: 170 calories, 5 grams fat, 13 grams carbs, 3 grams fiber, and 20 grams protein
2. Premier Protein Meal Replacement Shake
With mouthwatering flavors like chocolate, caramel, vanilla, and cookies & cream, the Premier protein meal replacement shakes have something for all the sweet tooths out there. As a recipient of the American Master of Taste Gold Medal for superior taste, these replacement meals are so smooth and delicious people often mistake them for a milkshake.
They are packed with 30 grams of protein, which helps keep the body feeling full and fueled up for whatever the day holds. Additionally, the Premier shakes contain vitamins C and E, both of which are important antioxidants the body needs to help support a healthy immune system.
Nutrition Info: 160 calories, 3 grams fat, 5 grams carbs, 3 grams fiber, and 30 grams protein
3. MyProtein Meal Replacement Blend
The MyProtein protein meal replacement is designed to support weight loss goals while providing the body with the essentials it needs. Each serving contains 18 grams of high-quality protein, which helps to grow and maintain important muscle. It also contains 17 grams of carbohydrates, which provides the necessary fuel to power people through even the busiest of lifestyles.
There are five indulgent flavors to choose from: chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, banana, and salted caramel.
Nutrition Info: 200 calories, 6.7 grams fat, 17 grams carbs, 4.1 grams fiber, and 18 grams protein
4. Truefit Protein Powder
With real food ingredients, grass-fed whey protein, and high-quality probiotics, the Truefit protein meal replacement delivers protein-rich, whole food nutrition, for those that are looking for either a post-workout shake or an on-the-go meal replacement powder.
Thanks to an array of whole food ingredients, this product can be used as a lean meal replacement shake to fulfill basic nutritional needs, regardless of fitness level. There are four flavors available to choose from: vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon churro, and cold brew coffee.
Nutrition Info: 90 calories, 4 grams fat, 4 grams carbs, 2 grams fiber, and 10 grams protein
5. Labrada Whey Protein Meal Replacement Shakes
The Labrada protein meal replacement shake boasts 40 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and 280 calories, making it one of the most filling options on this list. It also contains absolutely no sugar and is lactose-free, making it a great pick for those who are sensitive to dairy.
This product is perfect for athletes, dieters, fitness enthusiasts, and bodybuilders wanting to supplement their nutrition with the purest and highest quality protein.
Nutrition Info: 280 calories, 9 grams fat, 9 grams carbs, 5 grams fiber, and 40 grams protein.
Final Thoughts on the Best Protein Meal Replacement
At the end of the day, people need to decide whether protein meal replacements are something that will benefit their specific health and wellness goals. In this article, we’ve given our top picks of brands that we feel offer the best protein meal replacement options.
For those looking for a well-balanced solution, the Vega Protein Nutrition Shake is a great choice. Those wanting to satisfy a sweet tooth, on the other hand, will want to turn towards Premier shakes. For the bodybuilders and athletes out there, Labrada is probably the best bet overall.
The absolute best all-around protein powder for meal replacement currently on the market though, is in our opinion the Truefit range. These products are great as either a post-workout shake or for using on-the-go. If weight loss is the underlying goal, the MyProtein shake range is perhaps the best option.
All in all, when shopping for meal replacements, it is important to choose high-quality brands that use wholesome ingredients. Also, consider which nutrient ratio and type of solution (ready-to-drink or powdered supplement) work best for your specific wellness goals.