How To Use Meal Replacement Shakes For Weight Loss


Consuming meal replacement shakes for weight loss can be beneficial as long as you choose the right shake. There are different factors to consider when choosing a meal replacement shake, like busy lifestyles, taste and price. You will find suggestions in this article to make your selection process a little easier.

The RIGHT Way to Use Meal-Replacement Shakes for Weight Loss

meal replacement shakes for weight loss

You’ve probably seen ads for weight-loss shakes blowing up your Instagram and Facebook feeds with seriously amazing before-and-after pics. But can swapping your breakfast or lunch for a shake really help you reach your goal weight?

“The short answer is yes,” says Marisa Moore, R.D.N., a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Atlanta. Here’s proof: Participants in a Diabetes Spectrum study who replaced two meals a day with a shake, hot chocolate, or soup lost 7.8 percent of their body weight after three months. The group with more leeway over what they ate lost just 1.5 percent of their body weight while consuming the same amount of calories.

Another analysis from the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders reviewed studies that compared reduced-calorie diets with those heavy on liquid meal replacements. Both groups lost weight at the three-month and one-year marks, but the meal-replacement group lost more.

These seven R.D.-approved tips will help ensure that you’re actually seeing results (there’s more to it than: open shake, drink shake):

meal replacement shakes for weight loss

Pay attention to that nutrition label! The grams of protein in your shake should always be higher than or equal to the amount of carbs you’re consuming, says Jamie Mass, R.D. “This prevents your blood sugar from dropping and keeps you full longer,” says Mass.

If you’re short on protein, add a side of nuts, deli turkey, or a hard-boiled egg, she says. Or, if your shake has less than 10 grams of carbs, feel free to add a piece of fruit.

meal replacement shakes for weight loss

When you’re glued to your desk and don’t have time to grab lunch, shakes can be a healthy, convenient option, says Rob Sulaver, a certified sports nutritionist for Keep a stash in your work fridge for those days when the vending machine is your only other choice.

meal replacement shakes for weight loss

“People really struggle to get protein at lunch, so drinking a shake that’s rich in that nutrient with a small salad can be ideal,” says Mass. Just make sure that your shake clocks in at around 200 calories while your salad contains about 200 to 300 max, so you don’t go over your calorie budget for that day, she says.

meal replacement shakes for weight loss

That same protein-rich shake (under 200 calories!) is the perfect way to stave off a three p.m. hunger attack, says Mass. Remember, keeping your blood sugar stable is key for weight loss, she says.

meal-replacement shakes

Drink half of a meal-replacement shake 30 minutes before hitting the gym, then down the rest afterward, says Mass. If you’re working out during your lunch break, this is a great way to make sure you’re fueled and full. (To make an even bigger dent on your weight-loss goals, check out these fat-burning moves from Women’s Health’s Look Better Naked DVD.)

You can also try this strategy while heading to the gym after work. That way you won’t be too ravenous post-sweat to whip up a healthy din, says Mass.

meal replacement shakes for weight loss

You can soothe your ice cream cravings by blending a shake (or half of one) with ice and vanilla extract, says Mass. You won’t miss the sugar crash that comes with a pint of B&J.

Losing Weight with Meal Replacement Shakes

Losing weight isn’t easy. If you’re looking for a way to simplify what you eat, detox from unhealthy eating habits, and reach your health goals, mixing some liquid meal replacements into your diet could be a great way to start.

Replacing meals like fast food when feeling hungry at work is what I recommend as a starting point. Fat loss is possible the moment you decide exactly what your weight loss strategies will look like. You can even find a social meal replacement group on sites like facebook!

I can speak from my own personal experience, you can lose weight with meal replacements. I lost 140 lbs with the assistance of meal shakes. You CAN use meal replacement shakes to help you too. 

Furthermore, a meal replacement diet is a great way to lose weight quickly – if you follow some of the guidelines I mention here.

The Best Way to Lose Weight with Meal Replacement Shakes 4

The Best Nutrition for Losing Weight on Meal Shakes

If you don’t have time to prepare healthy meals and want to fix unhealthy eating habits, then you should know a little bit about all the nutrients that meal replacement shakes provide. 

Part of a healthy body weight and change of diet involves getting enough of the nutrients that I’m about to talk about. Not only will meal replacement shakes help you get the nutrition your body needs – but they will also help you stay full.

Your meal replacement should have a good amount of protein, fat, and fiber. And some of them are even suitable for a keto diet! According to the research, a lower-carb, higher glycemic index diet can keep you healthier. 

Are meal replacements healthy?

There are many brands of meal replacement drinks made for everyday life, and also for purposes like weight loss and sports recovery. Compared to the average American diet in the U.S., it does an excellent job at addressing health concerns. 

Products like Huel, Soylent, and Jimmy Joy have a relatively low glycemic index thanks to low-sugar and slow-digesting carbs, 20+ grams of protein, and other ingredients that aid in helping you lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. 

Instead of being sweetened by sugars, Soylent contains artificial ingredients like certain flavors and sucralose.

Basically, high-quality meal replacement shakes contain the same amount of high-quality nutrition, if not better, than the average meal (especially fast foods.)

What makes a Meal Shake “healthy”?

If you do your own research, you’ll find a huge difference between the quality of ingredients between brands. I strongly recommend against brands you can buy in stores because of lots of added preservatives and low-quality sources.

The main macronutrients: Carbs, Fats, and Proteins dictate what is considered healthy. A good meal replacement shake should be relatively low in carbs and packed with protein. Besides that, fat will help keep you fuller longer.

Carbohydrates in Meal Replacements

Besides the big box store brands (like Ensure, etc), most meal replacement beverages don’t contain a lot of added sugars. Added sugar would spike your blood sugar levels and hinder your weight loss journey. The sources of carbohydrates in healthy meal replacement shakes are often plant compounds that take a long time to digest.

Protein in Meal Replacements

Protein is a huge factor in helping keep you full during the day. 

If there’s one thing meal replacements are great at, it’s making sure you get enough protein in your diet – essential for weight management.

Many meal replacements like Soylent or Huel provide plant based protein (like pea protein). Other kinds come from whole grain. This is especially great if you’re looking to try meal replacements to reduce meat consumption. 

For the average non-athlete, it’s perfect, but I would need to supplement more protein to maintain muscle mass. There are brands that make high protein meal replacements like Huel or Feed. 

Fat in Meal Replacements

The secret to having lost weight like I have is NOT low fat. Even saturated fat is fine within the context of a balanced diet. Meal replacement shakes, just like a complete meal, should contain healthy fat.

Good fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (that’s the advice coming from medical professionals). But if you’re eating a low-carb diet, saturated fat is part of the equation. But most meal replacement shakes don’t contain a lot of those kinds of fats.

Many keto meal replacements will have you add in your own fats – like oils, heavy cream, or butter. If you want to use meal replacement shakes AND do a keto diet, there are some specialized brands that will help you lose weight and do keto. 

We talk about it here in our article about keto meal replacement shakes.

Micronutrients in Meal Replacements

Some meal replacement shakes, especially keto shakes like Keto Chow, contain a better profile of electrolytes – salt, potassium, magnesium, calcium than most whole foods. This will help reduce hunger and increase energy on a diet with fewer calories.

The average American diet is lacking critical nutrients that assist you with weight loss. In fact, 4 of the most important ones for feeling full: Fiber, Sodium, Magnesium and Potassium. Without these, especially fiber, the stomach is triggered to be hungrier sooner. 

Should you use a meal replacement shake to lose weight?

Looking to shed a few pounds? We ask the experts whether using a meal replacement shake to lose weight is safe or healthy

Generally, in order to shed unwanted weight, we’re told to eat less and move a little more. But could using a meal replacement shake to lose weight be a useful addition to an individual’s weight loss journey?

The best meal replacement shake involves very little effort and tends to be either premade or a powder mixed with water or milk. There are a number of reasons why someone may use a meal replacement shake to lose weight, from calorie control through to convenience. However, there are also some drawbacks. Often they may not be filling enough. Plus, for the foodies out there, it can take away the joy of cooking. Because of this, they may cause people to eat more food due to hunger, which could negate the potential weight loss benefits. 

Live Science spoke to Liam Holmes, Performance Nutritionist and foodspring(opens in new tab) Ambassador, to determine whether using a meal replacement shake for weight loss is safe or recommended.


A meal replacement shake is normally a shake that has a balance of protein, carbs and fats with added vitamins and minerals. As the name suggests, these shakes are created to replace a meal, whether that be breakfast, lunch or dinner, or a combination of these.

Holmes explains that meal replacement shakes differ from the best protein powder as they contain a slower digesting form of protein, as well as carbohydrates such as oats, to help you to feel fuller. Since they are replacing a meal, it’s important that a meal replacement shake still fills you up.

“People can find that meal replacement shakes help them to make better choices at meal times,” says Holmes. This is largely due to the fact that there isn’t as much choice when deciding what to make: you simply mix and drink.

“Whereas thinking about breakfast and actually cooking it can be a challenge for some people,” he adds. “Meal replacement shakes are popular with people as they’re just so convenient.”


There are several benefits to meal replacement shakes, making them a useful tool for shedding any unwanted pounds:

May help to control calorie intake 

Holmes says that using a meal replacement shake can help with weight loss, as long as the person maintains a calorie deficit over a period of time. 

“Being in a calorie deficit is the key driver of weight loss, so if a person swaps a 700 calorie meal for a 400 calorie shake, it could help them to create the deficit needed to elicit weight loss.”

He adds that people could use it to replace a meal where they often overeat or struggle to make good choices, and this will in turn help them to be more consistent. 

However, it’s important to maintain this calorie deficit. It might be worth tracking calories to stay on top of any extra snacks or food that’s consumed. Research published in Current Nutrition and Food Science(opens in new tab) has also found that swapping a meal or two each day with a meal replacement shake can speed up weight loss.

However, as Holmes explains, a meal replacement shake is not a “magical drink that burns fat and guarantees weight loss”. 

“A meal replacement shake can work but only if a person creates a calorie deficit and is consistent with this,” he says.

Ensures protein intake 

“Protein is a very important nutrient and when dieting it is essential,” says Holmes. He explains that protein helps to preserve muscle mass when dieting, while also helping people to feel fuller. 

“When dieting, managing hunger is a key area that needs attention so having a higher protein intake of around 1.4-1.8g per kg of bodyweight per day, will help. A meal replacement is a convenient way to get adequate protein into your diet.”

There’s also research published in the Nutrition Journal(opens in new tab) to show how a protein-enriched meal replacement can help to increase fat loss. Fat loss and weight loss differ here, as weight loss can include the loss of muscle mass, which is what we want to maintain. Muscle also helps to ensure people have a healthy metabolism, which helps with ongoing calorie burning.

Packs in vitamins and minerals 

According to Holmes, when a person is dieting, the fact that calories have to be reduced means there is less opportunity to nourish the body. 

“Having a meal replacement with added vitamins and minerals can be a nice way to get some essential nutrients into your diet,” he adds.

In fact, some vitamins and minerals have been proven to actually help with weight maintenance. One study published in Nutrients(opens in new tab) found that whilst vitamin and mineral deficiencies were common among obese individuals, it wasn’t so commonplace in “long-term weight loss maintainers”. 

Other research published in the Nutrition Journal(opens in new tab) also found that over a year-long study, those who took meal replacement shakes or bars actually had a more adequate essential nutrient intake than those who ate a traditional food diet. 


Amongst the benefits of using a meal replacement shake for weight loss are several negatives. One of these pitfalls is that an individual could become reliant on meal replacement shakes.

“I do think that people can end up using meal replacements for more than one meal or skipping meals and just taking a shake,” says Holmes, who suggests that people use meal replacements sparingly. 

“Don’t rely on them for every meal. A good way to use them is for snacks – use half or spit over the morning or afternoon – or to top up the protein content of a meal.”

He also adds that you need to be aware of how you feel after taking a meal replacement shake. “If you feel okay drinking it but are then starving an hour later and end up snacking or overeating in the next meal, then you need to readjust your strategy,” he says.

To stop the hunger that could kick in and potentially disrupt your weight loss efforts, Holmes says that a meal replacement shake could be used alongside a small meal.

“You could have some boiled eggs and a shake, or some yogurt and fruit and a shake for breakfast. This way you get some solid food that doesn’t involve cooking a lot of food.”

There’s also the potential of certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies when taking a meal replacement shake. Although meal replacement shakes tend to contain an array of nutrients needed for good health, they may contain less than wholefoods, or the spectrum of vitamins and minerals may not be suited to the individual. 

However, it is worth checking with your GP before embarking on a meal replacement shake diet, to ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

TheSuperHealthyFood © Copyright 2022. All rights reserved.