Meal replacement shakes are typically used for one of three purposes.
- To lose weight
- To build muscle/add mass
- As a post-workout recovery.
If the right nutrients are included, the shake can serve all three of these purposes. However, the nutrients including macros and micronutrients have to be in the right balance and right amounts and the shake has to contain enough calories to even be worth it.
As a snack, a protein shake should have between 90 and 200 calories for the average sized man. As a meal the calorie count should be higher. Meal replacement shakes that comes as a powder can be mixed with other ingredients which will up the calorie count but will also change the nutritional profile. Premixed protein shakes are less flexible.
Before you start using a meal replacement shake as part of your fitness routine, it is essential that you keep these things in mind:
- Read all ingredients carefully. Even if the label says “sugar-free” you might find some sneaky ingredients. No matter what type of diet you follow, careful reading should be done so that you can avoid nasty surprises.
- Make sure that you are considering overall calorie counts. A diet that is too low in calories will fail you at some point as the body decides to hold on to everything that comes in instead of burning fat for fuel.
- You should only be using meal replacement shakes to replace 1 meal and 1 snack unless they are very high quality.
- Consult a doctor before starting any extreme weight loss/gain routine.
We have compiled a list of some of the best meal replacement shakes for men with all of the information you need to find the perfect one for you. Get ready for the best you possible.
Best Meal Replacement Shakes for Men
Iconic Grass Fed Protein Drink
The 20 grams of protein in the Iconic protein drink comes from grass-fed cows. Because it is complete with all amino acids it is the perfect drink to use for a recovery drink. During a hard workout your muscles sustain small tears. During rest, those small tears are repaired which results in gains and bigger muscles. The fuel your body uses during that time is mostly the amino acids which are the building blocks for great muscles.
At only 130 calories per serving, this is a good snack between meals or as part of a smaller meal but should not be used alone to replace meals.
Pros and Cons
- Compatible with a wide range of diet plans including paleo, keto and weight loss
- Complete amino acid profile which helps with muscle recovery perfect as an after gym drink.
- No artificial ingredients, gluten, soy, lactose or artificial sweeteners
- Company does not accept returns for any reason.
- Newer company without an established history
- Some concerns about possibly spoiled products.
Huel Starter Kit, 2 Pouches of 100% Vegan Powder plus Extras
One of the best meal replacement shakes for men who need to increase their fiber, Huel gives you an incredible 7.9 grams per serving. While this can be hard for some people to digest at first a little careful planning and slowly easing your way up to that amount should give you problem free results.
Made of a combination of pea and rice protein plus oats, flaxseed, sunflower seeds and coconut Huel is low carb for men who are following those types of diets. It can also be used as a flour which is discussed in the recipe booklet. Learn to make lower carb, high protein, high fiber cakes and cookies and still stick to your diet plan.
For people who do not know, the glycemic index is a rating for foods based on how much that food raises the blood sugar after eating it. The higher the rating, the higher the blood sugar is raised. Typically used by people who are doing extremely low carb or diabetic style diets, this index may not be typically referenced in protein shakes.
Pros and Cons
- Bonuses include: scoop, shaker cup and recipe booklet
- Comes in a gluten-free formula as well
- Low on the glycemic index
- Increasing fiber too quickly can lead to stomach upset including nausea, stomach cramping and diarrhea.
- Labeling can be confusing. Calorie count is for the powder before anything is added to it.
MET-RX Extreme Chocolate Meal Replacement Packets
At just 240 calories, MET-RX Extreme Chocolate Meal replacement packets may not be enough to count as a full meal depending on what you mix it with. If you like a thinner, more drinkable shake you will want to mix this with plenty of ice-cold water because mixed as directed it can be pretty thick. On the other side of this coin are the people who mix it with a little unsweetened almond milk and chia seeds to make chia pudding. Whatever you mix it with make sure that it is not sweet because the formula here is already sweet enough. The overwhelming sweetness is one of the top complaints for this particular shake.
The packets are nice especially if you like to have a handy snack ready to go. Throw them in a gym bag, put some in your glove box or stash a few in the drawer at work and you are always ready whenever the need to eat shows up without warning.
Pros and Cons
- High in calcium providing nearly a full day’s worth in 1 serving
- 36 Grams of protein for muscle building power
- Branch chain amino acids for muscle recovery, perfect after a hard workout
- Very thick- nearly pudding consistency
- Taste may be too sweet for some
RSP TrueFit Lean Meal Protein plus Fiber and Probiotics
Available in 4 flavors plus a grass-fed version, this lean protein shake has plenty of nutrition despite its low-calorie count. With both whey and BCAA this is a good protein drink for muscle recovery. Fiber and probiotics are both vitally important to good digestive health and can improve immunity, increase energy and improve gym performance. Increasing fiber may also help to decrease appetite and help you avoid between-meal snacks and binges.
All-natural without artificial flavors, colors or preservatives this formula may give you a good start on the nutrients that you need for the day.
Pros and Cons
- 25 grams of protein, 5 grams of branch chain amino acids, 4 grams of glutamine and 8 grams of fiber
- Gluten free, no added sugars, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
- 16 essential vitamins and minerals including calcium.
- Formula may be very hard to mix, even with a blender
- Contains sucralose which can cause digestive upsets.
Labrada Lean Body Ready to Drink Meal Replacement Shake
One of the best meal replacement shakes for men for weight loss, Labrada Lean Body uses whey protein to deliver 40 grams per serving. A milk derivative some people may assume that lactose-free means dairy free and that is just not the case. There are 8 different flavors to choose from and each will help with appetite control as well as providing nutritional support.
Calorie counts are not listed for each flavor but range from 160-260 per serving. Even at 260 calories this may be too low of a calorie count to replace a full meal especially on its own.
Pros and Cons
- High protein (40 grams per serving)No sugar, lactose and gluten free8 flavors
- Weird aftertaste
- Leaky bottles, easily broken bottles
- Incomplete calorie count information
- Many incidents involving expired products.
Garden of Life Organic, Raw Plant Based Meal Replacement Shake
Available in 4 flavors and 3 sizes, Garden of Life Organic Raw has a decent amount of protein at 20 grams per serving as well as 6 grams of fiber. Increasing fiber is good not only for weight loss (it keeps you feeling full) but to help with the digestive system. Adequate fiber intake can lower your risk of certain kinds of cancers. Sadly, the average person does not get enough fiber in the typical diet so this shake can go a long way toward remedying that.
Like many on this list, the calorie count for this shake is too low to be an adequate full meal replacement but would work well as a snack. It can be paired with other foods to work as a meal replacement.
Pros and Cons
- Gluten-free, kosher certified, vegan, dairy free, soy free and non-GMO formula-20 grams of protein, 21 vitamins and minerals plus probiotics-Fuel from 44 superfoods
- There is some confusion about the amount of fiber in this product as it is listed at 3-4 different levels in the same posting.-Previous fans are upset with the new formula following the buyout by Nestle brands.-Separates after mixing which is unappetizing at best.
Soylent Meal Replacement Shake
One of the best meal replacement shakes for men (vegan formula), Soylent boosts energy with the same amount of caffeine as a strong cup of coffee counterbalanced with the amino acid L-theanine to help lessen the risk of feeling jittery. This shake also provides around 3g of fiber which can help keep you feeling full for longer if you are using this as a weight loss tool.
Available in 4 flavors, Cafe Coffiest is one of the best sellers for the brand. If you interact with anyone from the company on social media and consumer forums you will find that they have a great sense of humor and are very approachable.
Pros and Cons
- Prepackaged in 14 oz. bottles for convenient serving.
- 400 Calories per serving, 20 grams of protein, 150 mg of caffeine.
- Plant-based, vegan-friendly with no dairy or gluten.
- May not be very easy to digest at first.
- Some flavors are more popular than others, may need to sample to find your favorite.
Kate Farms Komplete Vitamin and Mineral Meal Replacement
Kate Farms Komplete is a ready to drink meal replacement shake for grab and go convenience. It is all-natural with no chemicals and no non-nutritive sweeteners. At 290 calories it is still on the low side for a meal replacement but has enough nutritional value to make up for it.
Some people may find this shake to be too thick while others like it that way. If you do find yourself struggling with consistency you can water it down slightly. Remember, if you mix it with anything other than water you will change the nutritional values and the calorie count.
Pros and Cons
- Gluten free, nut free, dairy free
- Ready to drink
- Super nutritious with 24 key vitamins and minerals plus the antioxidants from nearly 30 superfoods.
- Consistency might be a problem for some people.
- Flavor is described as “chalky”.
310 Chocolate Plant Protein and Meal Replacement Shake
Using brown rice and hemp protein, this is higher protein fuel for leaner muscles. There are plenty of amino acids in both brown rice and in hemp so you are getting solid nutrition here. The problem though is the low-calorie count. If you are using this as a true meal replacement you will not be getting enough calories per day and your results and gains will take the hit eventually. Pairing this with side items to increase calories in a positive way could make it beneficial.
It could also work great as a post-workout recovery booster or as a between meal snack. Having plenty of flavors means that you can always find the one that you like the best and lets you have plenty of variety.
Pros and Cons
- Gluten and dairy free with no soy and no added sugars
- Decrease appetite and boosts energy
- Comes in 7 flavors
- Chalky taste in some of the flavors
- Calories are far too low to count as a meal replacement
Chosen as one of the best-tasting meal replacement shakes for men, the Ample Meal Replacement shake is creamy and almost sinfully delicious. Natural vanilla and cinnamon blends well whether you are using water or the milk of your choice. Each serving is pre-measured in its own bottle, just add liquid, shake and go.
Available in two sizes (400 and 600 calories), Ample Meal is balanced to deliver the right macronutrients to men who are looking to lose weight, gain muscle and improve their fiber uptake all at the same time. Available as a subscription service which brings costs down, the company also offers two other formulas. Ample V is plant-based and Ample K is keto friendly.
Pros and Cons
- Gluten free, No soy, GMOs or artificial sweeteners
- 30 Day taste and quality guarantee
- Delivers 27% of daily protein needs plus 10 grams of fiber.
- Newer company (started in 2015)
- Has no vitamins or minerals.
- Higher price per serving than most in this category
Choosing the best meal replacement shake for men was not an easy task. The nutritional values and suggested caloric needs for men varies based on a number of factors. What works for one group of men may not work for another. It is important that you base your own choices and decisions on what you need. If you are looking to lose weight your needs will be much different than someone who is looking to gain muscle mass.
Be aware of potential allergens as well as what type of diet plan that you are following and read the ingredient lists carefully. As a general rule, steer clear of any company that does not list their ingredients along with their marketing information. Make sure that you are also reading the label to see if information is based on serving or scoop. A dry scoop of powder will have a very different calorie count after it is mixed with other ingredients plus a liquid unless you use water.
You can successfully use protein shakes as meal replacements if they are of adequate calories/nutrition or if you are using them as part of a smaller meal plan. An example of that would be 5 small meals instead of 3 larger meals. Determine your overall daily caloric needs and divide by the number of meals you plan to have per day and you will have a suggested number for each meal’s calorie count.
Nearly every shake on this list can be used in other ways as well. Smoothie bowls are an interesting way to not only get the protein and other nutrients in the shake but to add other ingredients and get to a solid meal replacement calorie count. Add the blended shake to a bowl with sliced banana and top with nuts or seeds and eat with a spoon.
As you can see from this review, there are many options and flavors. If you find that you don’t like a particular flavor, experiment with mix-in ingredients or liquids. If you still do not like it, try another brand. Find the option that works for your needs and your taste and get all the gains that you are striving for.