One of the hardest aspects of dieting is finding the time to prepare and cook healthy meals. It’s all very well planning on cooking a nutritious breakfast, but at 6 am, the ability to chop vegetables and cook eggs is limited! That’s where meal replacement shakes come into the equation. In this article, we will be ranking the best meal replacement shakes for health and weight loss.
We have picked five of the best meal replacement shakes available on the market and ranked them based on differing criteria. There is the best overall shake, the best shake for weight loss, a budget shake, a meal replacement shake company that offers the best variety, and the best meal replacement shakes for wellness.
Five Best Meal Replacement Shakes
We will look at each meal replacement shake, assessing its ingredients list, macronutrient profile, taste, variety, price per serving, and how well they can aid your health and weight management goals.
Overall Best Meal Replacement Shake: Rootana (editor’s choice)
- High in protein
- High in fibre
- Free from artificial sweeteners
- Natural ingredients list
- Tastes incredible
- Excellent value for money
- Only two flavours are available (so far)
- Only available from the Rootana website
Rootana is a newcomer in the meal replacement world, but it has come out of the blocks at an electrifying pace and tops our list of the best meal replacement shakes. There are several reasons for this. Rootana, unlike the vast majority of meal replacements, avoids the use of any artificial sweeteners, colourings, or flavourings. This means that it avoids that highly-sweet aftertaste that most meal replacement shakes suffer from, and it is great for people who wish to avoid artificial ingredients where possible.
Rootana is very popular with people focused on their health and wellbeing and those who want their shakes packed full of natural ingredients. Rootana is high in protein high in fibre, contains a number of healthy fats, and contains all the vitamins and minerals required for a healthy lifestyle.
Ingredients in Rootana
- Oat Flour – Top quality source of low GI carbohydrates and fibre. Oats can help to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol , and certain cancers . They are also highly satiating and are great for weight loss .
- Pea Protein – The best source of plant-based protein, pea protein contains all of the amino acids required for muscle building and is known as a complete protein because of this . Pea protein is also environmentally friendly, making Rootana one of the most sustainable meal replacement shakes.
- Golden Milled Flaxseed – A great source of omega-3 fatty acids, and just like oats, flaxseed is great for reducing your risk of CVD, high cholesterol, and cancer . Thanks to its fibre content, flaxseed is also satiating, helping you to reduce your calorie intake and potentially lose weight.
- Sunflower Seed Oil – Top-quality sunflower seed oil is used for Rootana’s healthy fats (alongside the fats found in oat flour and flaxseed). High in antioxidants, sunflower seed oil can help slow ageing by preventing cell damage.
- Coconut Sugar – A natural sugar, coconut sugar is a healthier alternative to many artificial sweeteners or cheap sugars. Natural coconut sugar provides a more neutral taste, allowing the natural flavours of Rootana to shine. Coconut sugar spikes insulin less than regular sugar and contains more vitamins and minerals.
What we love most about Rootana is how they prioritise real-food ingredients over artificial ones. This keeps the shakes natural and environmentally friendly. The fact that they taste great mix well, and will fill you up nicely after just 30 seconds of prep, is a real bonus in our book.
They are high in plant-based protein, high in fibre, and contain many healthy fat sources. The vitamin and mineral content is excellent, and you can expect to see many health benefits from consuming Rootana regularly.
Best Meal Replacement Shake for Weight Loss: Instant Knockout Complete
- Very high in protein
- Very high in fibre
- High-quality, healthy fats
- Amazing ingredients list
- Perfect for weight loss
- It can be combined seamlessly with IK Cut fat burner
- The cost per meal is high due to premium ingredients
- Only available from the Instant Knockout website
- Only one flavour is available
Instant Knockout is a company best known for its incredible fat burner Instant Knockout Cut, which tops many a list of the best fat burners. Complete is a meal replacement shake that is designed to complement Cut, but the two work incredibly well when separated.
Complete was designed for MMA fighters, boxers, and other athletes who need to healthily reduce their body fat in the lead-up to a fight without compromising muscle mass. This means that it is very high in protein (35 grams per serving), as a high protein diet can help to preserve muscle mass during an intense diet .
Thanks to the protein and the very high fibre content (13 grams per serving), Instant Knockout Complete is ideal for anyone who wants to lose weight. Both protein and fibre are satiating, making it easy to reduce your calorie intake and create a calorie deficit.
Ingredients in Instant Knockout Complete
- Plant-Based Protein – Complete gets its protein from several plant-based sources: pea protein, soy protein, brown rice protein, and chia seeds. This allows for a complete amino acid profile, and getting your protein from several different sources is beneficial for your health.
- Golden Flaxseed – The same ingredient as those used in Rootana, flaxseed is incredibly popular with vegetarians and vegans as it is a non-fish-based source of omega-3 fatty acids. It is also a source of fibre and can help with weight management and heart health.
- MCT Oil – This is a superb addition to the Instant Knockout Complete ingredients list. Good quality MCT oil is an excellent source of healthy fats, helping with calorie burning and satiety. MCT oil is very popular in ketogenic diets due to its health benefits, and it is ideal for anyone looking to lose weight.
- Oat Flour – As with Rootana, Complete gets most of its healthy carbohydrates from oats. These contain beta-glucan, a soluble fibre that can help lower cholesterol and increase satiety. Oats are very low GI, meaning they won’t spike your blood sugar and leave you feeling fatigued and hungry several hours later.
- Chia Seeds – A plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fibre, and calcium. Chia seeds are very nutritionally dense and also happen to be low in calories.
Instant Knockout Complete Verdict
Instant Knockout Complete is a high-quality meal replacement shake, one that is perfect for weight loss. Complete was initially designed for pro-fighters, and this aspect shines through in the ingredients list. Enough protein to preserve muscle, enough fibre to ensure satiety, and top-quality ingredients to provide real-food nutrition. The lack of flavour options may be frustrating to some, but the flavour that it does offer (vanilla) is so well constructed that you will hear few complaints.
This is a superb meal replacement shake, and though it may charge a premium price compared to some meal replacements on this list, this is down to the superior ingredients used, and the highly nutritious formula. An excellent choice for anyone looking to lose weight in a healthy and effective manner.
Best Budget Meal Replacement Shake: Jimmy Joy
- High in protein
- High in fibre
- Low price per serving
- A decent number of flavours are available
- Heavy use of soy
- Only available from the Jimmy Joy website
Jimmy Joy (originally called Joylent) is an excellent budget meal replacement shake option. It was originally designed to emulate Soylent, one of the most popular meal replacement shakes in America, unavailable in Europe. But after a few years, it has forged its own path.
Now, Jimmy Joy is its own brand, with no real similarities to Soylent other than its overreliance on soy for protein and carbohydrates. Jimmy Joy provides many more flavours and uses better ingredients, yet it still manages to keep its cost per serving very low.
A 96-gram serving of Jimmy Joy contains 400 calories, 15 grams of fat, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 8.2 grams of fibre, and 20 grams of protein. It is completely plant-based, making it suitable for vegetarians and vegans, and Jimmy Joy has attempted to stay as environmentally friendly as possible.
Ingredients in Jimmy Joy
- Oat Flour – One of the cool things about Jimmy Joy is that their ingredients label contains the percentage that each ingredient comprises. So, we know that Jimmy Joy is 39% oat flour. As you will know, we’re big fans of oat flour. It is an excellent carbohydrate source, full of fibre, as well as some protein and healthy fats. Oats are ideal for dieting, improving your cholesterol levels, and reducing your risk of heart disease. They are highly satiating and have a low environmental impact compared to many carbohydrates.
- Soy Flour – Jimmy Joy is made up of 26% soy flour. The big draw for soy flour is that it is gluten-free; however, as the oats used in Jimmy Joy are produced in a factory that also produces gluten products, it can’t technically be classed as gluten-free. There is nothing wrong with soy flour. However, when you consider that Jimmy Joy also uses soy protein isolate, you realise that the shakes are almost 40% soy.
- Soy Protein Isolate – A great plant-based protein source, soy protein is a complete protein that contains all of the amino acids required for muscle growth . Also, unlike animal-based protein, it can lower cholesterol rather than raise it.
- Golden Flaxseed – Another ingredient that we have seen a lot of so far, flaxseed has many health benefits, and it is an excellent addition to a plant-based meal replacement shake.
- Vitamin & Mineral Mix – Containing all the vitamins and minerals required for a healthy lifestyle.
Jimmy Joy Verdict
Whether or not you like Jimmy Joy largely depends on how you feel about soy products. Most people are fine with soy, but it is a common allergen for many, and there is certainly an argument that too much soy can be bad for your health. Soy is an inexpensive ingredient, which is why it is used by Jimmy Joy and Soylent. This helps to keep costs low.
The low cost per serving is one of Jimmy Joy’s strongest benefits. But the use of pea protein in Rootana and a blend of different proteins (soy, pea, and brown rice) in Instant Knockout Complete make them better overall products, in our opinion.
Best Meal Replacement Shake for Variety: Huel
- Lots of flavours available
- High in protein
- High in fibre
- Good quality ingredients
- Have recently increased their prices
- Some flavours are notoriously bad
Alongside its US rival Soylent, Huel is by far the biggest meal replacement shake company on the market. Not that they take kindly to the term meal replacement. Huel describes their shakes as powdered food rather than a meal replacement, but the difference between the two terms is minuscule.
Huel is a plant-based meal replacement that focuses on natural ingredients. Unlike Rootana, Huel does rely on artificial sweeteners, but other than that, it is fairly committed to delivering real food ingredients. Huel also offers a huge variety of products and flavours. With Huel Black, a higher-protein, lower-carb version of Huel.
Huel has a great nutritional profile, with one shake containing 400 calories, with 30 grams of protein, 13 grams of fat, 37 grams of carbohydrates and 7.5 grams of fibre.
Ingredients in Huel
- Oat Flour – A very common meal replacement shake ingredient due to its many health benefits, low cost per serving, and environmental benefits. Huel gets the majority of its carbohydrates from oat flour. If you have read the other reviews on this page, oat flour is great for lowering bad cholesterol levels, improving heart health, and increasing satiety (making it ideal for weight loss).
- Pea Protein – The best plant-based protein available, pea protein has a complete amino acid profile. Huel has made the smart decision (similar to Instant Knockout Complete) of pairing it with brown rice protein. As the two have a synergistic partnership.
- Ground Flaxseed – Another staple of meal replacement shakes. Flaxseed provides omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, and even some protein.
- Brown Rice Protein – As mentioned in the pea protein section, brown rice protein is often paired with pea protein as their amino acid profiles match together very well.
- Tapioca Flour – Tapioca flour has been added for texture and to boost the carbohydrate content, but tapioca is a very poor ingredient when it comes to nutrition. It is basically pure starch and doesn’t really offer any health benefits.
- Sunflower Oil Powder – Sunflower oil powder is also used by Rootana, and it is an excellent source of healthy fats.
- MCT Powder – As much as we love MCT powder, it should be noted that Huel only contains 2.8 grams of MCT powder per 100-gram serving. As there are 13 grams of fat, this means that the vast majority of fats come from sunflower oil powder rather than MCT powder.
Huel offers so much variety compared to the other meal replacement shakes on this list. The number of flavours available is huge, and several different products are available. The use of natural ingredients is, for the most part, very good. The only downsides are the use of tapioca flour, the very low amount of MCT powder, and the use of artificial sweeteners.
Still, these are minor issues for most people. If you like a lot of choices, then Huel is an excellent option. Some of the flavours are excellent (cinnamon swirl), while others (chocolate) are notoriously bad. But at least you have the choice.
Best Meal Replacement Shake for Wellness: Ka’Chava
- Highly nutritious ingredients
- Very high in protein (proportionately)
- High in fibre
- Real food ingredients
- No artificial sweeteners
- Very low in calories
- Very high cost per serving
- Only available from the Ka’Chava website
- Dosages of ingredients can be incredibly low
Ka’Chava is a really interesting meal replacement shake and one that will certainly divide opinions. On the one hand, it uses a massive range of diverse real-food ingredients. On the other, it only contains 240 calories per serving and costs almost $5 per meal (unless you subscribe, which lowers the price to $4).
This begs the question, does Ka’Chava even count as a meal replacement shake? For a man trying to consume 2,000 calories per day, one shake would only constitute 12% of his calorie needs. You would need 8 shakes to hit 2,000 calories (at a cost of $40).
So why have we added it? Quite simply, because it is seriously impressive in many ways. The commitment to sourcing many real food ingredients is admiral. Ka’Chava contains 85+ superfoods in its formula.
Of course, a serving size is only 60 grams, so the dosage for each ingredient will be minimal. For example, the super greens blend contains 17 ingredients, but it is only 0.5 grams. You are unlikely to get many of the individual benefits of each vegetable with such a small dosage.
Ingredients in Ka’Chava
- Plant-Based Protein Blend – 29.25 grams, yellow pea protein, brown rice protein, sacha inchi, amaranth, quinoa. This is a really decent protein blend. It is 29.25 grams and contributes 25 grams to the overall formula. The combination of pea protein and brown rice protein is perfect, and the other three ingredients are an added bonus. This blend is the best part of Ka’Chava.
- Omega EFA/Fibre Blend – 11.12 grams, whole grain oat, acacia gum, chia seed, flaxseed. This is another excellent blend, which contributes towards the 6 grams of fibre per serving. It would have been nice to have a higher fibre content, but in a shake that is only 240 calories, this would be unrealistic.
- Antioxidant/Super Fruit Blend – 5.1 grams, coconut flower nectar, acai berry, maqui berry, Camu-Camu berry, strawberry, tart cherry, blackberry, blueberry, raspberry. Coming in at only 5 grams, this blend isn’t going to achieve much. How many strawberries can you fit into 5 grams? Less than one! This blend is a little pointless in all truth.
- Adaptogen Blend – 1.02 grams, maca root, shiitake mushroom mycelia, maitake mushroom mycelia, reishi mushroom mycelia, cordyceps mushroom mycelia, ginger root. Again, this blend has a lot of promise, but the dosage is too low for any effective benefits to be noticed.
- Super Greens/Vegetable Blend – 0.5 grams, beet, carrot, spinach, broccoli, tomato, kale, cabbage, parsley leaf, Brussel sprouts, green pepper, cucumber, celery, garlic, green onion, cauliflower, asparagus, chlorella. This is a really good blend of healthy green vegetables (and garlic), but the dosage is too small to be effective. There is half a gram. Compare this to a normal greens powder, and it is minuscule.
- Probiotic/Prebiotic Blend – 0.05 grams, inulin, lactobacillus rhamnosus, lactobacillus acidophilus. A really nice little probiotic and prebiotic blend to help with digestion and gut health.
- Digestive Enzyme Blend – 0.05 grams, amylase, protease, cellulase, lactase, lipase. As with the above blend, this digestive enzyme blend helps you to digest your shake and extract the nutrients.
There is a lot to admire with Ka’Chava, but it also has a lot of issues. A well-known quote from Sir Alec Issigonis,” a camel is a horse designed by committee,” fits Ka’Chava perfectly. It wants to be the best meal replacement shake out there and has filled its formula with 85+ ingredients.
But the cost of delivering all 85 ingredients effectively is astronomical. So they’ve reduced the serving size, cut the ingredient dosage to a fraction of what it needs to be, and they have still ended up with a shake that costs 3x what its competition does.
Ka’Chava feels like a cross between a greens powder and a meal replacement, but by trying to please everyone, it struggles to please anyone.
But there is something about Ka’Chava that still draws us in. Perhaps it is the idea of glorious failure? At least Ka’Chava is trying to change things up. Sure, their product isn’t a great meal replacement shake. But it’s still very high in protein, has a lot of fibre, and has taken a novel approach to hitting your nutritional needs.
Don’t take it instead of meals, but as part of a healthy snack. Or alongside some other ingredients as part of a healthy smoothie? It could be a great choice. You may need to remortgage the house to afford it, though!
Rootana is Our Best Choice Meal Replacement Shake
Our favourite meal replacement shake on this list is Rootana. It is packed full of healthy ingredients, tastes amazing, has a lot of protein and fibre per serving, and avoids the use of any artificial ingredients such as sucralose, stevia, or colourings. But not everyone has the same goals, and you may find that another meal replacement on this list aligns perfectly with what you want to achieve.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Makes a Good Meal Replacement Shake?
As you can see, there are a vast number of products that fall under the umbrella of meal replacement shakes. Instant Knockout Complete is a big, brash meal replacement that is packed full of protein. While Ka’Chava is a low-calorie shake that focuses more on improving your diet. Rootana is right in between these two products, focusing on high-quality ingredients yet maintaining a sensible calorie amount.
Are Meal Replacement Shakes Good for Weight Loss?
Yes, meal replacement shakes can be amazingly helpful if you are trying to lose weight. They are usually 400 calories (or thereabouts), are high in protein high in fibre, and can help you to reduce your hunger between meals. They work best when integrated into a healthy diet and active lifestyle.
What’s the Best Meal Replacement Shake?
This depends on what your needs are, but our favourite is Rootana due to its excellent ingredients, high protein and fibre, and its refusal to use any form of artificial sweetener.
What is the Best Meal Replacement Shake for Building Muscle?
We really like Instant Knockout Complete when it comes to building muscle due to its very high protein content. Huel Black is another good choice as a meal replacement when it comes to building muscle.
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