menu iconknow your dna logosearch icon
How To Use Meal Replacement Shakes To Lose Weight
Updated on September 13, 2023
Back to top
back to top icon
Meal Replacements
How To Use Meal Replacement Shakes To Lose Weight

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 when 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.

How To Use Meal Replacement Shakes To Lose Weight 4

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 diet change involves getting enough of the nutrients that I’m about to discuss. 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.1

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., meal replacement drinks effectively address 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 helping you lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. 

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

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

What Makes a Meal Shake “Healthy”?

When your meal shake can provide the three main macronutrients (carbs, fats, and proteins) in proportional quantities, your meal shake is considered "healthy."

A good meal replacement shake should be relatively low in carbs and packed with proteins. While low in quantity, the fat in meal replacement shakes will help you feel fuller longer, keeping you from snacking between meals and ingesting more unnecessary calories.

If you do your research, you’ll find a huge difference in 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.

Carbohydrates in Meal Replacements

Besides the big box store brands (like Ensure, etc.), most meal replacement beverages don’t contain many added sugars.

Added sugar spikes your blood sugar levels and hinders your weight loss journey, making them carbohydrates to avoid. 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. Protein is essential for weight management, and meal replacement shakes are typically packed with it.

Many meal replacements like Soylent or Huel provide plant-based protein (like pea protein). Other kinds come from whole grains. This is especially great if you want 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 losing a significant amount of weight, as I have, is NOT avoiding 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 from medical professionals).2

Unfortunately, most meal replacement shakes don’t contain too many of those kinds of fats.

Many keto meal replacements will have you add your own fats like oils, heavy cream, or butter. If you want to use meal replacement shakes AND do a keto diet, some specialized brands will help you do both and still provide enough good fats.

Micronutrients in Meal Replacements

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

The average American diet lacks critical nutrients that assist you with weight loss. Fiber, sodium, magnesium, and potassium, four of the most important ones that help you feel full, are often lacking. Without these, especially fiber, the stomach is triggered to be hungrier sooner.3

Choosing the Perfect Meal Replacement Shake

My Favorite Meal Replacement Shakes (USA)

  1. Huel
  2. Keto Chow
  3. Jimmy Joy
  4. Mana
  5. Soylent

My Favorite Meal Replacement Shakes (EU)

  1. Feed.
  2. Huel
  3. Saturo
  4. Queal
  5. YFood
How To Use Meal Replacement Shakes To Lose Weight 5

Tailor Your Liquid Meal Replacement to Your Needs

The best meal replacement will depend on your needs and calorie intake. You only need fewer calories to lose weight, but you also want to ensure the meal replacement shake tastes good!

Now that you’re thinking about drinking meal replacement shakes to aid with weight loss, you might wonder what the best brand and type of shake would be.

I’ve tried so many meal replacement shakes that I can barely count them, but I can’t provide medical advice. You should talk to your doctor about which shake fits you best, especially if you have any health conditions.

Meal replacement products should do their best to mimic a full meal with whole foods.

How To Use Meal Replacement Shakes To Lose Weight 6

The 10 Most Important Factors When Considering Meal Replacement Products

  • Getting enough calories
  • Getting enough protein
  • Low glycemic index carbs
  • Healthy fats (low saturated fat)
  • Essential vitamins and minerals (such as vitamin C/vitamin D) 
  • High fiber
  • Micronutrients
  • Electrolytes (potassium, magnesium)
  • Overall quality and source of ingredients
  • Quantity of liquid

Remember that fewer calories do NOT automatically mean that your shake is a good meal replacement shake.

You should use a net daily energy calculator to find out how many calories you need to eat to lose weight. Generally, for women, this would be lower than 1500 and 2000 for men. But I don’t recommend going lower than 1200.

What to Do When You Find the Right Shake for You

I recommend starting with replacing one or two meals a day with shakes. Breakfast and lunch are usually the easiest. Work your way up, and be careful about how much fiber you get if you are not used to a high-fiber diet. Too much too soon can cause stomach problems!

Trying a 100% Meal Replacement Shake Diet

I spent about two months strictly consuming meal replacement shakes and felt great! I stopped needing to take naps, lost a ton of weight, felt fuller for longer, and ended my sugar cravings.

My blood tests, EKG, physical, etc., showed that I was in the best shape of my life. Even though I’ve reached most of my weight loss milestones, I plan on using liquid meal replacements to save time for the rest of my life.

But this is an extreme option and not easy to pull off.

Don’t get me wrong, it was worth the 15 lbs I lost, but getting to the next meal without something solid in my stomach was always a challenge.

Please remember that you can’t just drink protein shakes and survive off them alone. Take a look at the best shakes list above for ideas.

Here are some ideas for how to space out the meals, so you don’t get hungry:

Meal Plan 1:

12 PM: 500-calorie shake

8 PM: 2x 500-calorie shake

Meal Plan 2:

12 PM: 500-calorie shake

4 PM: 500-calorie shake

8 PM: 500-calorie shake

Meal Plan 3:

8 AM: 350-calorie shake

12 PM: 350-calorie shake

6 PM: 2x 350-calorie shake

I DO NOT recommend immediately jumping from normal food, 0 calorie restriction to a 100% meal replacement shake diet.

In other words, to start, I recommend replacing only one or two meals a day with a high-protein shake like Huel.

You may need more calories than what I listed, especially if you are a man. Weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint. 

If you starve yourself, you’ll be in bad shape and more likely to rebound to an unhealthy diet. 

Updated on September 13, 2023
Minus IconPlus Icon
3 sources cited
Updated on September 13, 2023
Adam Andrewjeski
Adam Andrewjeski
Content Contributor
’m Adam Andrewjeski, a self-improvement and health-obsessed writer from Las Vegas. I love experimenting with new supplements, diets, exercises, and personal development. I’ve been interested in health and fitness trends ever since I started working out 15 years ago and went to UC Berkeley for Chemical Biology. Last year I decided to go on a journey to lose weight, get fit, and become the best version of myself.
Back to top icon