Between grocery shopping, meal prepping, and navigating restaurant menus, it isn’t constantly easy to work toward a load loss goal. Enter, enjoy the meal replacement shakes, which take the guesswork the end of making far better choices. However do they actually help you shed weight?

While there’s part promising research roughly meal replacement beverages, healthy weight ns (i.e weight loss that happens gradually and also can be sustained) usually requires behavior changes you deserve to practice long-term—meaning you’d need to seriously commit to meal replacement shakes because that lasting results. Those more, “meal instead of shakes don’t solve unhealthy eat habits,” claims registered dietitian Jerlyn Jones, MS, nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy the Nutrition and also Dietetics. 

Here’s what rather you must know:

The science behind enjoy the meal replacement shakes


Think that a enjoy the meal replacement shake together a way to incorporate nutrition right into your work whenever you absence the time (or patience) to plan a healthy and balanced meal and/or sit down and eat it, claims obesity medication physician Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, an educator and policy device at Massachusetts general Hospital and also Harvard medical School. Sold by the party or in a flour designed come be blended with water or the milk of her choice, many meal instead of shakes administer a variety of essential macronutrients—that is, carbohydrates, protein, and also fat—and micronutrients, i.e., vitamins and minerals. However, “all shakes aren't developed equal,” Dr. Stanford says—and castle can’t completely replicate a healthy diet full of entirety foods include antioxidants and the plant compounds recognized as phytochemicals, both the which safeguard your cells, Jones adds.

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Meal instead of shakes and weight loss


Because lock portion-controlled and also convenient, meal replacement shakes may help you melted pounds, claims Annette Frain, BS, head registered dietitian nutritionist at Wake forest University in phibìc Carolina and spokesperson for The obesity Society. That said, they’re simply one of countless tools that have the right to support your weight ns journey. 

Including a broad variety of enjoy the meal replacements—like soups, shakes, bars, and also portion-controlled meals—in your diet may help you lose weight and keep it turn off for about one year, follow to a 2019 testimonial of 23 research studies on adults with overweight or excessive weight published in the newspaper Obesity Reviews. When this data may seem promising for fans of enjoy the meal replacement shakes, this research comes v a couple of caveats:

Meal replacement shakes for load loss no the sole focus of the studies examined in this review. Meaning? It’s hard to say even if it is replacing meals with just shakes leads to long-term weight lose or what combination of meal replacement alternatives is most effective.On average, each research subject just lost around three pounds. if losing any amount that weight—and maintaining it off—can be beneficial for civilization with excess weight or obesity, together minor load loss may not be precious the sacrifice of continuously skipping real meals.Subjects lost much more weight as soon as they linked meal replace instead instead with various other weight-loss strategies. most of the time, effective weight loss results from practicing a variety of behaviors. If the only change you do is sipping shakes in lieu the meals, you might lose less weight than those who replace meals and attend a support group, for instance.

At the finish of the day, if she planning top top drinking enjoy the meal replacement shakes to consume under calories simply until girlfriend drop a few pounds, your weight may rebound when you avoid drinking them. “Long-term load loss requires learning to enjoy a selection of healthful foodstuffs from all of the food groups,” Jones says.

Potential wellness benefits of meal replacement shakes

"Shakes deserve to be a much better way to gain nutrition than skipping the enjoy the meal altogether,” claims registered dietitian Adrien Paczosa, BS, a media representative because that the Texas Academy that Nutrition and Dietetics. Right here are some more nutritional services of adding meal instead of shakes to her diet:


Most healthy adults need to consume around 0.8 grams that protein every kilogram that body load per day to assistance the body’s organic processes. So a healthy and balanced adult woman who weighs 140 pounds needs about 50 grams the protein a day, if a healthy and balanced 180-pound male needs around 65 grams the protein a day. While many Americans get sufficient protein, if you take place to be missing the mark, supplementing your diet through a protein-rich meal replacement shower may help you reach your an individual protein needs.

If you’re replacing a meal v a protein shake, Dr. Stanford recommends finding a brand that delivers about 20 grams of protein per serving.


“Many enjoy the meal replacement shakes are a good source that vitamins and also minerals such together calcium, potassium, iron, and also vitamin D, which many civilization are lacking in your diets,” Jones says. Supplementing premade bottled shakes through your very own ingredients—think spinach, i m sorry is complete of vitamin C, and plain Greek yogurt, i beg your pardon delivers extra calcium, potassium, protein, zinc, and vitamins B6 and B12—can do every sip even an ext nutritious.

Ideally, a enjoy the meal replacement shower should provide a variety of micronutrients like B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and also vitamins A, D, E, and K, i beg your pardon are vital to condition prevention and wellbeing, Jones says.


Be the a quick, simple breakfast or a having lunch on the run, a bottled enjoy the meal replacement shakes can be convenient and also easy to transport. During a super busy day (or week, or month…) a rapid shake can aid keep girlfriend satisfied, Frain says.

Potential difficulties with enjoy the meal replacement shakes

While details meal instead of shakes can provide essential nutrients and also enhance an already nutritious diet, reaching for the wrong flour or bottle deserve to detract from her efforts. Here’s why:

1. They may contain unnecessary included sugars.

If her meal instead of shake tastes more like a milkshake 보다 a meal, you could want to examine the label for concealed sugars favor corn syrup, Jones says. To make certain you’re continuing to be within the healthy daily limit for added sugars—about 12 teaspoons—aim because that a shake that includes less than 10 grams the sugar per serving, Dr. Stanford recommends.

2. They fall short on nutrients.

When girlfriend drink a meal rather of eat it, it’s crucial that her shake has the macronutrients—carbohydrate, protein, and fat—of a well-rounded meal, Paczosa says. Fiber, i beg your pardon is a carbohydrate, is additionally important if you desire to feeling fuller, she continues, yet many enjoy the meal replacement shakes are lacking in this department. Dr. Stanford recommends trying to find a shake that contains roughly five or an ext grams of fiber every serving.

3. They have the right to contain concealed servings.

While you’re checking the ingredients label of your shake, it’s crucial to keep in mind the serving size, too, Dr. Stanford says. Oftentimes, there’s much more than one serving every bottle. Drink the totality thing, and you can be ingesting much more sugar and also calories than you bargained for. A proper serving need to clock in at around 250 to 350 calories, claims Los Angeles-based registered dietician Katie Chapmon, MS.

What is the finest meal instead of shake?

In the same method you’d study a piece of develop or brand-new cereal in ~ the grocery store, it’s essential to to compare the nutritional truth of enjoy the meal replacement shakes. After ~ all, just due to the fact that an Instagram influencer you monitor or fitness trainer at your gym swears through a details brand doesn’t typical it’s a nutritious option or the ideal one for you. A couple of things to save in mental to assist you decide:

The flavor: If you deserve to hardly obtain through the job of drink a certain shake, opportunities are you won’t look front to sipping your next one. Find brands that have actually flavors you like so friend actually reap them.Dietary preferences: Do you have to avoid gluten or whey, regulate diabetes, or amp up your protein intake? If you tackling particular health issues, talk to your physician to check out if the or she has any kind of meal instead of brand references at the ready.

Still stumped on where to start? WW's protein powders supply 25 g the protein per serving. Select from chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry—or shot all 3 flavors!

Meal instead of shakes for males vs. Women


Generally, guys tend to have more muscle mass 보다 women and therefore, might have higher daily protein needs, Chapmon says—one factor why part meal replacement shakes may appear to it is in marketed toward a specific sex. 

That said, at the end of the day, the quality (and macronutrient quantities) of her diet comes under to the amount of that is parts. If she concerned about not getting enough macronutrients or vitamins and also minerals for your lifestyle, or feel overwhelmed when it comes to picking a quality product, guidance from a registered dietitian deserve to be helpful, Frain says.

Otherwise, eating a selection of vibrant vegetables, beans, fruits, entirety grains, irradiate dairy, and also lean protein should carry out the proper amount that vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients for many people, according to united state Department the Health and also Human Services.

How to usage meal replacement shakes

If you want to incorporate meal replacement shakes right into your load loss journey, two tiny studies released in 2012 and 2018 suggest that replacing one to 2 meals a day through meal replacement beverages may rise weight loss, Jones says—but it’s vital to keep in mind that each of these research studies were carried out on much less than 200 people and also only go on for 12 weeks. Therefore while there may be short-lived benefits, the long-term benefits remain to be seen. 

If you’re reasoning of supplementing your diet with shakes (i.e drink them as snacks in between meals rather than rather of breakfast, lunch, or dinner), Jones recommends difficult to fifty percent a serving. Drinking a full shake in between meals may at some point lead you to consume an ext calories 보다 your body needs, i m sorry could add to load gain.

The upshot: space meal replacement shakes “healthy”?

What makes a enjoy the meal replacement shake healthy and balanced (or unhealthy) is the top quality of its macro and micronutrients and how it fits right into the paper definition of the rest of her diet.

That said, if her goal is to shed weight, combine both dietary changes and increased physical activity levels will set you up for the many success, according to a 2009 meta-analysis the 18 randomized trials carried out on overweight people published in the newspaper Obesity ReviewsIn other words, if the occasional meal replacement shiver is component of a lifestyle overhaul, it have the right to be a clever choice, especially in conjunction through a weight loss assistance program, Jones says.

Ultimately, it may be smarter to focus on eating whole foods so you have the right to make healthy selections in the lack of meal replacement shakes, according to Paczosa. After all, eating must be about both health and enjoyment. 


Jessica DiGiacinto is an associate editor at WW. A health and also wellness writer and also editor based out of brand-new York, she’s contributed to Popsugar, Bulletproof 360, and Galvanized Media, among other media outlets.

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This short article was reviewed for accuracy in July 2021 by Stephanie L. Fitzpatrick, PhD, an elderly manager for multicultural program at WW. The WW science Team is a dedicated group of experts who ensure every our services are rooted in the best possible research.