Can Meal Replacement Shakes Help Me Lose Weight?

Diet is a big piece of the energy coaching puzzle. The extra successfully you gas your exercises, the stronger you’re sure to get. However not everybody savors making meals within the kitchen like they love the process of making muscles within the fitness center.

It may be that you just simply don’t have the power or need to meal prep. You could possibly hate cooking, or you might be on the go so usually that getting ready your meals for peak coaching effectivity and tastiness simply isn’t within the playing cards. Enter meal replacement shakes

By swapping in a nutritionally-balanced shake for a standard sit-down-and-eat meal, you will get your physique the vitamins it wants whereas fueling your exercises. But when altering your physique composition is one among your targets, can meal substitute shakes assist you lose weight safely

Three glasses of meal replacement shakes.
Credit score: Aleksey Korchemkin / Shutterstock

Right here’s what it is advisable to find out about meal substitute shakes, together with when it is best to (and shouldn’t) use them.

Editor’s Be aware: The content material on BarBend is supposed to be informative in nature, but it surely shouldn’t be taken as medical recommendation. When beginning a brand new coaching routine and/or weight loss plan, it’s at all times a good suggestion to seek the advice of with a trusted medical skilled. We aren’t a medical useful resource. The opinions and articles on this website usually are not meant to be used as prognosis, prevention, and/or remedy of well being issues. They aren’t substitutes for consulting a certified medical skilled.

What Are Meal Alternative Shakes?

Meal substitute shakes are product of pre-blended formulation designed to offer a specific amount of nutrients and energy. As an alternative of placing collectively a plate of various meals that must be ready individually and introduced collectively, these shakes are meant as a fast and simple substitute for stable meals.

In a typical meal replacement strategy, you may swap one or two of your every day meals with a pre-packaged, nutritionally-balanced method that you just’ll drink as a shake. (1) Many people may also use an intuitive strategy to adding other snacks and meals all through the day. (1)

If you wish to maintain this meal substitute over an extended interval (nearer to a 12 months), analysis suggests limiting the swap to solely changing one meal per day after a two-a-day swap throughout the first month. (2)

That can assist you work out which meals you may wish to swap out, it might assist to know your caloric intake requirements based mostly in your targets and exercise ranges. For an estimate of what number of energy you may wish to purpose for, try BarBend’s calorie calculator.

[Read More: How to Eat for CrossFit — A CrossFitter’s Guide to Nutrition]

Weight reduction and upkeep is a posh course of that entails nuanced relationships between appetite, satiety (emotions of fullness), metabolism, and psychosocial elements like stress. As such, reducing weight shouldn’t be a easy results of energy in and energy out. (3

Nonetheless, having a deal with in your caloric wants may help information the way you combine meal substitute shakes into your diet.

Can Meal Alternative Shakes Assist You Lose Weight?

Meal replacements may assist with an preliminary burst of weight loss greater than conventional stable meals methods. (4)(5) Nevertheless, this short-term weight reduction could also be adopted by a subsequent weight gain. (4

Structured help from healthcare professionals might assist make meal substitute shakes a extra sustainable technique. When accompanied by skilled help, these shakes might assist folks drop a few pounds and preserve that loss for nearer to a full 12 months. (6)(7

Some proof means that when meal substitute methods are used together with main well being care suppliers, weight reduction may be sustained for 3 years. (8)

Within the preliminary weight reduction part, swapping out a self-selected dinner with a high-fiber, high-protein meal substitute each evening for 3 months might assist people lose as a lot as 4.3 % of their physique weight. (9

Nevertheless, analysis suggests that folks utilizing meal replacements for weight reduction could also be much more more likely to achieve lots of weight again after the primary few months. (4)

One motive for the preliminary weight reduction part may be that pre-packaged merchandise might comprise much less power than the meals or snacks a person may self-select. (6) Meal replacements which might be larger in protein and fiber might also assist you really feel fuller for longer. (10)(11)

Potential Advantages of Meal Alternative Shakes

Whenever you’re seeking to drop a few pounds, meal substitute shakes could also be useful within the quick time period. Listed below are some potential advantages related to integrating these shakes into your nutritional plan.

Enhance Cardio Metabolic Well being

Some folks might expertise enhancements in cardiometabolic danger elements for cardiovascular ailments — akin to lowered blood stress — together with weight reduction related to meal replacements. (9

Solely the cis males in a single examine of weight reduction with meal replacements skilled a major discount in blood stress and visceral fat levels, although — the cis girls within the examine didn’t. (9) No matter gender, contributors who skilled weight reduction additionally skilled a discount in blood glucose ranges. (9)

Further analysis means that meal substitute methods could also be significantly useful for folks with Kind-II diabetes throughout preliminary weight reduction phases. (1)


The construction that meal substitute shakes may give your way of life may be behind a few of their attraction and effectiveness. (1) Since they’re available in an individual’s fridge, require no prep time, and already ought to comprise a nutritionally-balanced unfold of macro and micronutrients, these shakes can take the guesswork out of nutrition. (1)

In case you’ve received a busy way of life, despise cooking, or in any other case don’t wish to fear about meal prep, you might be interested in the construction that meal substitute shakes present. (12) And when a dietary technique is handy, it’s typically simpler to stay to sustainably over time. (13)

Constructed-In Portion Management

For folks seeking to develop a extra balanced relationship with meals, practicing portion control may be useful. That’s, studying to manage how a lot of which meals you’re consuming at any given meal. 

Completely different strategies of portion management work properly for various folks. Some favor to meal prep their food forward of time and portion out all the things into containers for the week forward. That approach, you solely take into consideration parts as soon as per week — the remainder of the week, you simply open the fridge, take out a prepped container, and revel in.

Different folks favor to eyeball it, estimating their parts based mostly on practices like filling half of every plate with veggies immediately earlier than including the rest. However even this type of casual guestimation can get tough for those who’re on the go lots. Enter meal substitute shakes.

These shakes are pre-portioned, coming with a label concerning what number of energy, how many macros, and what sorts of micronutrients are included. You’ll know what parts of macros you’re getting, which might get rid of lots of uncertainty and guesswork with portion management. This may be preferable for individuals who don’t wish to concentrate on the main points of meals prep.

Potential Drawbacks of Meal Alternative Shakes

Whereas they may be handy, meal substitute shakes aren’t essentially one of the best slot in all circumstances. 

Affiliation with Disordered Consuming Habits

Disordered eating habits embody a preoccupation with calorie counting, which can be strengthened through the use of merchandise like meal substitute shakes to nail down a selected variety of energy. (3) The rise of “weight loss plan merchandise” has been related to an increase in consuming issues in Western cultures or cultures that adapt Western dietary habits. (3

Liquid meal replacements could also be related to a short lived improve in binge consuming behaviors, in contrast with balanced deficit diets specializing in typical meals and non-dieting approaches to vitamin. (14)(15)

Editor’s Be aware: In case you or anybody you realize are fighting disordered consuming habits, the Nationwide Consuming Issues Helpline is accessible at numerous hours all through the week online and by texting or dialing (800) 931-2237.

Weight Biking

Analysis suggests that you just may certainly drop a few pounds while you first begin out utilizing meal replacements. (4) However after an preliminary weight reduction part, plainly people could also be even extra more likely to achieve the burden again than they might be when making an attempt extra food-based approaches to reducing weight. (4)

This yo-yo impact of fluctuating weight reduction and achieve can have detrimental results on folks’s general well being, together with an elevated danger of type-II diabetes and heart problems. (16) In case you’re seeking to create extra sustainable impacts in your physique composition, you may wish to intently seek the advice of with healthcare professionals in tandem with these shakes. (6)(7)

Lack of Certainty

Many meal substitute merchandise available on the market might characteristic proprietary blends of components, which makes it inconceivable for shoppers to make certain of how a lot of each ingredient they’re getting. In case you’re involved about ensuring you’re getting all of your micronutrients along with your macros, you may favor to know precisely what’s in your meals. (17)

Meal replacement shakes are typically commercially distributed, outdoors the context of help from medical or dietary professionals. (8) These merchandise could also be supported by little to no proof concerning the weight reduction claims that may be on the label. (8) This will go away people unsure as to how to ensure they’re combining their meal replacements with complete meals to make sure a sustainable dietary stability. 

Some proof means that meal substitute methods may be part of sustainable weight reduction (over the course of two to a few years) when the blends are created and distributed with the help of main care physicians. (8)(18) However normally, the patron could also be on their very own with regards to deciding on and integrating meal replacements.

Lack of Enjoyment

In case you’re turning to meal replacements for weight reduction, you may reap probably the most profit for those who swap out greater than half of your caloric consumption with meal replacements. (19) Analysis means that getting greater than 60 % of your every day power consumption from meal replacements could also be more practical than solely swapping out one average-sized meal. (19)

However this technique may rapidly turn into tedious, to say the least. Having fun with your meals can result in extra sustainable dietary practices, even while you’re aiming to drop a few pounds. (20)

Who Ought to Use Meal Alternative Shakes

Curious if meal substitute shakes can be a great choice for you? Listed below are some kinds of athletes who may profit from swapping out some stable meals for the liquid selection.

Athletes on the Go

No time to meal prep? Consistently touring? Meal substitute shakes can turn out to be useful since all it is advisable to do is pack them up and drink. If it is advisable to pack away some energy — whether or not you’re aiming for an general deficit or not — this liquid-style meal may help you do exactly that.

Athletes Working With Healthcare Professionals to Lose Weight

Whereas meal substitute shakes appear to assist shed some weight within the preliminary months of utilizing them, the chance of gaining the burden again could also be larger than with stable meals diets. (4)

In case you’re aiming to lose weight, research counsel that meal substitute shakes may be more practical in the long run when formulated or used with the supervision of healthcare professionals. (8)(18)(6)(7)

Athlete with a meal replacement shake and supplement bottles.
Credit score: ALL finest health is HERE / Shutterstock

Together with potential weight reduction, meal substitute shakes additionally might positively have an effect on blood stress and glucose ranges. (9) This may help cut back cardiometabolic danger elements for cardiovascular and different ailments. (9

Consuming may be fairly a laborious exercise while you’re making an attempt to pack in further energy throughout bulking season. In case you’re struggling to satisfy your every day consumption necessities to fuel new muscle growth and extra intense workouts, meal substitute shakes may not change a meal a lot as add a brand new one.

This fashion, you may drink down these further energy, which may be simpler than the type of force-feeding that requires you to cook dinner and chew.

Athletes Who Like Construction

Power athletes usually thrive on consistency and construction. It is smart — your training program has a selected logic to it. Why shouldn’t your vitamin? Whether or not you don’t wish to cook dinner otherwise you merely wish to know what macros and energy are going into your physique always, meal substitute shakes may be a great wager for you.

Who Ought to Not Use Meal Alternative Shakes

Whereas they could work for some, meal substitute shakes aren’t essentially for everybody. Whether or not you wish to cook dinner or are looking out for yo-yo-ing weight reduction and achieve, you may wish to keep on with solids.

Athletes Who Must Eat Intuitively 

For athletes vulnerable to or with histories of disordered eating habits, proscribing meals in any approach could be a harmful endeavor. Meal substitute shakes for weight reduction are typically meant to assist limit energy and actually take a meal off the desk. 

Athlete with a meal replacement shake.
Credit score: vectorfusionart / Shutterstock

As such, these shakes might not be appropriate for athletes preferring or have to take a extra intuitive strategy to consuming. Intuitive eating entails studying to take heed to your physique’s starvation indicators, consuming while you’re hungry, and stopping while you’re full.

Meal substitute shakes might definitely play a job on this for some — these which might be high in protein might improve emotions of fullness. However since many of those shakes are marketed as weight reduction aids, athletes with histories of disordered consuming habits or physique picture struggles might wish to decline. 

Athletes Who Choose Dietary Selection

You may love cooking otherwise you may simply have a texture factor the place you don’t like ingesting your meals. Athletes might also wish to hold nearer monitor of their micronutrients and absorb all kinds of various meals. Regardless of the case could also be, for those who’re an athlete that prefers selection in your nutritional plan, you may wish to skip the meal substitute shakes.

Athletes Who Wish to Keep away from Speedy Weight Biking

Meal substitute shakes definitely can support in weight reduction. However to set your self up for long-term success in reaching your physique-related goals, you’ll wish to select a sustainable dietary plan. For a lot of athletes, meal substitute shakes might merely not be one thing they wish to keep on with over an extended interval.

Athlete with a meal replacement shake.
Credit score: ALL finest health is HERE / Shutterstock

Whereas it might work properly to part shakes out and in based on your training season needs and goals, energy athletes may wish to keep away from fast weight biking. In case you anticipate losing interest along with your shakes or are vulnerable to binge consuming, you’ll probably wish to skip the meal substitute shakes in favor of stable meals.

Your Takeaways

Must you be swapping out a meal or two with shakes or protecting it stable? Listed below are your fast takeaways.

  • Meal substitute shakes may help you drop a few pounds, presumably due to the managed calorie consumption mixed with the high protein content of many of those shakes. Together with weight reduction can probably come lowered blood stress and different cardiometabolic danger elements.
  • Weight reduction that accompanies meal substitute shakes could also be short-term, as folks could also be extra more likely to gain the weight again after just a few months than with typical consuming habits.
  • If you wish to use meal substitute shakes for weight reduction, swap out one or two meals a day for just a few weeks to a couple months. If you wish to proceed utilizing these shakes, scale it again to solely changing one meal a day over the long run. You can snack and have your different meals as desired and wanted.
  • Utilizing meal substitute shakes in collaboration with healthcare professionals may assist make weight reduction extra sustainable.
  • In case you assume you may be inclined to binge consuming, you might wish to keep away from meal substitute shakes. They’ve been related to potential will increase in binge consuming.

To Swap or Not?

Whenever you’re crafting a sustainable nutrition plan to match your targets, meal substitute shakes may pop up as an choice. On the finish of the day, can meal substitute shakes assist you drop a few pounds? Sure — and likewise, that weight reduction may not be sustainable over the long run (particularly with out help from healthcare professionals).

With or with out meal substitute shakes, be sure to’re getting loads of selection in your weight loss plan. That approach, you’ll be certain that to get all the things you want all through your day. Your workouts will thanks for the gas.


  1. Ditschuneit HH. Do meal substitute drinks have a job in diabetes administration? Nestle Nutr Workshop Ser Clin Carry out Programme. 2006;11:171-181.
  2. Halle M, Röhling M, Banzer W, Braumann KM, Kempf Okay, McCarthy D, Schaller N, Predel HG, Scholze J, Führer-Sakel D, Toplak H, Berg A; ACOORH examine group. Meal substitute by method weight loss plan reduces weight greater than a life-style intervention alone in sufferers with chubby or weight problems and accompanied cardiovascular danger factors-the ACOORH trial. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2021 Apr;75(4):661-669.
  3. Ayton A, Ibrahim A. The Western weight loss plan: a blind spot of consuming dysfunction analysis?-a narrative overview and proposals for remedy and analysis. Nutr Rev. 2020 Jul 1;78(7):579-596.
  4. Davis LM, Coleman C, Kiel J, Rampolla J, Hutchisen T, Ford L, Andersen WS, Hanlon-Mitola A. Efficacy of a meal substitute weight loss plan plan in comparison with a food-based weight loss plan plan after a interval of weight reduction and weight upkeep: a randomized managed trial. Nutr J. 2010 Mar 11;9:11.
  5. Balliett M, Rasmussen O, Burke JR. Results of tea mixed with high-protein meal substitute shakes on anthropometric measurements, lipid profiles, mobile biochemistry, neurochemistry, and microbial metabolism: a potential observational examine. J Chiropr Med. 2011 Dec;10(4):272-82.
  6. Astbury NM, Piernas C, Hartmann-Boyce J, Lapworth S, Aveyard P, Jebb SA. A scientific overview and meta-analysis of the effectiveness of meal replacements for weight reduction. Obes Rev. 2019 Apr;20(4):569-587.
  7. Heymsfield SB, van Mierlo CA, van der Knaap HC, Heo M, Frier HI. Weight administration utilizing a meal substitute technique: meta and pooling evaluation from six research. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003 Could;27(5):537-49.
  8. Kruschitz R, Wallner-Liebmann S, Lothaller H, Luger M, Ludvik B. Lengthy-Time period Weight-Loss Upkeep by a Meal Alternative Based mostly Weight Administration Program in Major Care. Obes Info. 2017;10(2):76-84.
  9. Guo X, Xu Y, He H, Cai H, Zhang J, Li Y, Yan X, Zhang M, Zhang N, Maddela RL, Nicodemus-Johnson J, Ma G. Results of a Meal Alternative on Physique Composition and Metabolic Parameters amongst Topics with Chubby or Weight problems. J Obes. 2018 Dec 26;2018:2837367.
  10. Oliveira CLP, Boulé NG, Berg A, Sharma AM, Elliott SA, Siervo M, Ghosh S, Prado CM. Consumption of a Excessive-Protein Meal Alternative Results in Larger Fats Oxidation, Suppression of Starvation, and Improved Metabolic Profile After an Train Session. Vitamins. 2021 Jan 5;13(1):155.
  11. Frestedt JL, Younger LR, Bell M. Meal Alternative Beverage Twice a Day in Chubby and Overweight Adults (MDRC2012-001). Curr Nutr Meals Sci. 2012 Nov;8(4):320-329.
  12. Gelberg HA, Kwan CL, Mena SJ, Erickson ZD, Baker MR, Chamberlin V, Nguyen C, Rosen JA, Shah C, Ames D. Meal replacements as a weight reduction instrument in a inhabitants with extreme psychological sickness. Eat Behav. 2015 Dec;19:61-4.
  13. Noakes M, Foster PR, Keogh JB, Clifton PM. Meal replacements are as efficient as structured weight-loss diets for treating weight problems in adults with options of metabolic syndrome. J Nutr. 2004 Aug;134(8):1894-9.
  14. Wadden TA, Foster GD, Sarwer DB, Anderson DA, Gladis M, Sanderson RS, Letchak RV, Berkowitz RI, Phelan S. Weight-reduction plan and the event of consuming issues in overweight girls: outcomes of a randomized managed trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Sep;80(3):560-8.
  15. Hartmann C, Keller C, Siegrist M. Compensatory beliefs, vitamin information and consuming types of customers and non-users of meal substitute merchandise. Urge for food. 2016 Oct 1;105:775-81.
  16. Strohacker Okay, Carpenter KC, McFarlin BK. Penalties of Weight Biking: An Enhance in Illness Danger? Int J Exerc Sci. 2009;2(3):191-201.
  17. Pattinson AL, Seimon RV, Harper C, Nassar N, Grech A, Santoso EA, Franklin J, Inan-Eroglu E, Gibson AA, Sainsbury A. Weight loss plan High quality following Complete Meal Alternative In contrast with Meals-Based mostly Weight-Loss Diets in Postmenopausal Ladies with Weight problems: A Secondary Evaluation of the TEMPO Weight loss plan Trial. J Nutr. 2021 Nov 2;151(11):3299-3312.
  18. Khoo CL, Chimoriya R, Simmons D, Piya MK. Partial meal substitute for folks with sort 2 diabetes: 2-year outcomes from an Australian basic follow. Aust J Prim Well being. 2023 Feb;29(1):74-80.
  19. Min J, Kim SY, Shin IS, Park YB, Lim YW. The Impact of Meal Alternative on Weight Loss In response to Calorie-Restriction Kind and Proportion of Vitality Consumption: A Systematic Assessment and Meta-Evaluation of Randomized Managed Trials. J Acad Nutr Weight loss plan. 2021 Aug;121(8):1551-1564.e3.
  20. Ogden, J. (2011). The psychology of consuming: From wholesome to disordered habits. John Wiley & Sons.

Featured Picture: Aleksey Korchemkin / Shutterstock

Trending Merchandise

Add to compare
IRON °FLASK Sports Water Bottle – 32 Oz, 3 Lids (Straw Lid), Leak Proof, Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel, Double Walled…
Add to compare
Add to compare
Water Bottle Insulated 32oz 40oz 64oz 128oz Straw Lid Spout Lid & 3 Lids, Leak Proof, Vacuum Insulated,Stainless Steel…
Add to compare
Add to compare
Venture Pal Large 64 oz/Half Gallon Motivational Water Bottle with 2 Lids (Chug and Straw), Leakproof BPA Free Sports…
Add to compare
Add to compare
Coldest Sports Water Bottle with Straw Lid Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Metal Thermos Bottles Reusable Leak Proof…
Add to compare
Add to compare
H2 HYDROLOGY Adventure Water Bottle with 3 LIDS | Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Wide Mouth | Sports Hot…
Add to compare
Add to compare
H2 Hydrology Water Bottle – 18 oz, 22 oz, 32 oz, 40 oz, or 64 oz with 3 LIDS Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless…
Add to compare
Add to compare
COKTIK 32 oz Sports Water Bottle With Straw,3 Lids, Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Water Bottles,Leakproof Lightweight…
Add to compare
Add to compare
HYDRARANK Half Gallon Water Bottle with Straw and Chug Lid – 2.2L Gym Water Jug with Storage Sleeve and Handle – BPA…
Add to compare
Add to compare
JoyJolt Borosilicate Glass Water Bottle with Strap, Silicone Sleeve and Lid (Grey). 20oz Water Bottles. Reusable Water…
Add to compare

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Register New Account
Compare items
  • Total (0)
Shopping cart