There are two essential questions that need to be answered before the reviews. Those are:
- What makes a good replacement shake?
- What does “organic” really mean?
To be a good meal replacement a shake must:
- Be of adequate calories. The average person should consume between 1200-2000 calories per day. There are many factors that determine the actual number, but for the sake of argument, these are our numbers. If you eat three meals per day, you should aim for 400 calories or so at the lower end and around 600 at the upper end. You can do the math for more or less meals based on needs. Meal replacement shakes that are under 200 calories are probably not going to be enough to keep you very full for long and may be used as “part” of a meal rather than as a meal itself. Ridiculously low calorie counts will probably do nothing more than leave you feeling unsatisfied and probably a little cheated.
- Have balanced nutrition. All three of the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) should be included. Vitamins and minerals should be in abundant supply as well.
- Should leave you feeling happy, energized and ready to take on the day rather than sluggish, sick and bloated.
The term organic can be very confusing. A product can be wholly organic but not certified because of certain processes or because the process of getting certified is unnecessarily difficult and can be expensive for smaller companies. To get certified as organic there are standards that must be met for every type of product from produce to alcohol. Produce, for instance, must be grown on soil that has not used any of the prohibited substances for the three year period before harvest. Those substances can mean everything from fertilizers to pesticides and more.
For products that have many ingredients, it can get a little confusing because there are several categories. To be labeled “100% organic” every ingredient has to be certified as organic. There are restrictions on the types of processing that can be used. The certifying agency has to be listed on the label or in the accompanying paperwork.
To be listed as “organic” All agricultural ingredients (including milk and similar products, meat and produce) have to be certified as organic. All other ingredients can be “not” organic as long as they are on a list of allowable items and can only make up to 5% of the overall content of the product. In this case, salt and water as ingredients do not count toward the 5% total.
To be listed as “made with organic ingredients” the majority (at least 70%) of the ingredients must be certified organic. Agricultural ingredients do not have to be organic in these products, but they have to have been produced in approved ways regardless. All other ingredients must still come from the approved list.
In each of these cases, artificial ingredients like artificial flavors and colors as well as preservatives will keep the item from being certified as organic at all, and they may not use the term in their marketing. However, they can state that they have used some “organic” ingredients.
Best Organic Meal Replacement Shakes
Ample uses organic greens and probiotics in the pre-measured dry powder that it sells. You can add either water or milk (or other beverages) as you wish and then shake. It blends fairly well, and the flavor is described as creamy vanilla with a slight taste of cinnamon.
With a 400 or 600 calorie per serving option, you can have the right size meal replacement shake to fit your needs. Every serving has 27% of your daily protein needs and 54% of the fats. Each serving also has around 10 grams of fiber as well. It is gluten and soy free, Non-GMO and has no artificial sweeteners.
Pros and Cons
- Conveniently pre-measured powder in a BPA free bottle. Just add the beverage of your choice, shake and go.
- Thirty day taste and quality guarantee
- Several different versions available for every dietary need including Ample V the plant based meal replacement shake, Ample K, the ketogenic version which is perfect for diabetics.
- Pricier than other meal replacement shakes on the market.
- Only 1 flavor is currently available for all of the various formulas.
- This is a newer company that only started a few years ago.
- There is a limited spectrum of nutrients here so it may not be fully balanced.
Orgain Organic Plant Based Protein Powder
Several of the ingredients in this meal replacement shake can be problematic including the organic acacia gum, erythritol, and guar gum. There are reports of foreign objects being found in the containers. Not enough calories to be a real meal replacement
Orgain Organic protein powder is vegan, gluten and dairy free, Kosher and has no GMO ingredients at all. It comes in four flavors: creamy chocolate, pumpkin spice, vanilla, and vanilla almond. There are 21 grams of protein per serving, 5 grams of fiber and around 150 calories.
The protein is a blend to make it more easily digested. There are no artificial sweeteners used. Instead, stevia extract is used for sweetness. Stevia is an all natural plant that is hundreds of times sweeter than sugar. It is currently believed to be safe for consumption, however, there are newer studies that are being conducted and have not yet completed.
Several of the ingredients here can cause problems with nausea, gas, bloating, diarrhea, indigestion, and painful cramping. Stevia itself has been associated with an increased risk of migraines.
Pros and Cons
- Created with a protein blend of organic pea/brown rice and chia
- Third party certification and rated A+++ in regard to heavy metals including lead, cadmium, arsenic, and mercury
- USDA certified organic.
- Several of the ingredients in this meal replacement shake can be problematic including the organic acacia gum, erythritol, and guar gum.
- There are reports of foreign objects being found in the containers.
- Not enough calories to be a real meal replacement
Garden of Life Organic, Raw Plant Based Meal Replacement Shake
It also comes in three sizes: small, large and 10 count packets. It is gluten free, Star-K kosher certified, vegan, dairy and soy free and has no GMO ingredients. The plant based protein is not heat processed in any way.
Each serving has 20 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber and 1.5 billion live colony forming units (CFUs) of probiotics. There is 115 calories per serving.
Pros and Cons
- 4 flavors for variety
- Probiotics for digestive health
- 21 vitamins and minerals
- Tends to separate into layers if not consumed quickly enough.
- Taste is unpleasant.
- Not enough calories to count as an actual meal replacement
Crucial Four Superfood Organic Meal Replacement Shake
The company promises that their blend will restore all of the missing nutrients in a person’s life including neurotransmitters, antioxidants, growth factors, prebiotics, and beta glucans.
While the company cannot promise to diagnose and/or treat any conditions, they do say that they can “help” with stress, sleep problems, gut health, and weight loss, immune system issues, thyroid and food sensitivities.
There are dozens of products available on the website with most of them dedicated to a group of conditions. Each product can be used with others in that group and various ways.
Pros and Cons
- 100% organic
- Uses plenty of ingredients, all natural and all beneficial
- Targets a wide range of common conditions and problems by addressing the nutritional deficiencies that cause them.
- Can be used in a wide variety of ways including in making several different recipes
- To the average person, the marketing and information for Crucial Four products may sound like mumbo jumbo.
- There are more than a few ingredients that are likely to cause allergic reactions in people who are sensitive
- There is little talk about what the flavor of the Meal Replacement shake is.
- The actual full ingredient list is difficult to find and does not list common things like calorie count, protein grams or anything that some people look for when choosing a meal replacement shake.
RSP True Fit Lean Meal Protein, Fiber and Probiotics Powder
RSP True Fit Lean Meal Protein powder has 25 grams of whey protein with 5 grams of Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) and 4 grams of glutamine.
Each serving has 8 grams of fiber, 12 Non-GMO fruits, and vegetables and provides 16 essential vitamins and minerals including calcium and Vitamin B. It is gluten free.
There are 4 flavors: chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon churro and unflavored in two styles, original formula and grass fed. Cinnamon churro and unflavored are available in grass fed while the chocolate and vanilla are the original formula.
Pros and Cons
- No added sugar, artificial colors or flavors, and no preservatives
- 8 grams of fiber per serving
- 4 flavors, 2 in original formula and 2 in grass fed formula
- Whey protein with BCAAs and glutamine
- This is hard to blend
- The texture is grainy
- Despite all of the health claims, this product uses sucralose which may be linked to migraines as well as other side effects.
- Not enough calories to be a true meal replacement
Complete Start Plant Based Meal Replacement Shakes
Increasing fiber is a good thing, however, if you increase your intake too much, too quickly it can lead to bloating, constipation, painful gas, and cramping. Be aware of how much fiber you are currently taking in and then slowly work your way up. It is best to consume the Complete Start Meal Replacement shakes slowly so that you can stop before you feel overly full.
Complete Start Meal Replacement Shakes come in several flavors: peanut butter and banana, rich mocha and super greens which has a vanilla flavor. You can also buy a variety pack so that you can sample each flavor without committing to one without tasting it first.
Each serving has around 250 calories, 20 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber. Each flavor is sweetened with coconut sugar and contains 5 grams or less. It is glute, soy and dairy free and has no GMOs. All ingredients were selected by a nutritionist.
The founder of the company started making these plant based shakes after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2012. Crohn’s disease is a painful, chronic and sometimes life threatening condition that causes a wide range of symptoms that include abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, and anemia.
People can go through periods with no symptoms at all, or they may have very mild symptoms that are mistaken for other conditions. Serious complications can arise including dehydration and electrolyte imbalance and even death. There is no cure for this condition.
Pros and Cons
- 100% USDA certified organic
- Supplies nearly half of a day’s fiber per serving*
- Available in several flavors and options including a bonus starter back that includes 9 shakes plus a free blender bottle
- May have an unpleasant taste
- Is naturally very grainy which some people may not enjoy
- The mocha flavor may have too much caffeine for people who are sensitive.
Amazing Grass Organic, Plant Based Vegan Protein Superfood Powder
Amazing Grass Organic Plant Based, Vegan Protein powder uses a blend of organic pea protein, organic quinoa, organic hemp and chia for a total of 20 grams of protein per serving.
Calorie counts range from 110-190 depending on the flavor. Those flavors include original, chocolate peanut butter, peanut butter, rich chocolate, and vanilla. You can choose either a small or large tub or 10 single serve packets instead.
Pros and Cons
- USDA certified organic with No GMOS, gluten, dairy and grain free
- 7 alkalizing greens, 9 fruits and vegetables and 6 carbs per serving
- 5 flavors
- Protein from 4 sources
- Not enough calories to be a full meal
- Way too much stevia for most people
- Flavor is described as “oversweetened grass.”
Kate Farms Komplete Meal Replacement
At 290 calories it is just above snack and just under light meal so it may be perfect for the midday slumps. Each serving has the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants of 29 super foods providing up to 35% of your recommended daily allowance of most of these.
Kate Farms Komplete meal replacement shake is gluten free, dairy free and nut free. It uses organic plant protein and no chemicals or artificial sweeteners at all.
Pros and Cons
- High in vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants
- Ready to drink, no need to mix or add anything unless you want to.
- Uses all natural ingredients with no chemicals and zero non-nutritive sweeteners
- Very thick, almost like pudding
- Chalky texture with a strange aftertaste
Skinny Blend Weight Loss Meal Replacement Shake for Women
Skinny Blend Weight Loss Meal Replacement shakes promise to decrease appetite and to help speed fat loss using medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) and protein. At only 90 calories these are not even enough to be a light snack especially for someone who is trying to get through a tough workout or a busy day.
There are several flavors to choose from including banana, chocolate, cookies and cream, creamy cappuccino, strawberry, and vanilla. Protein sources include whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, milk protein isolate, egg whites, micellar casein, calcium caseinate, and lecithin.
Pros and Cons
- Uses a blend of 7 different protein sources
- Several flavors to choose from
- Not enough calories to count as a meal replacement or even a light snack
- Too many ingredients, too many artificial ingredients
- The taste is terrible
- These are expensive shakes for very little real benefit.
Choosing a meal replacement shake can be difficult. Trying to find one that fits your needs and is organic may be even more difficult. There are so many options to choose from, and some try to seem like they are organic when they are not, stopping short at making claims that could be construed as false advertising. Getting certified organic is not an easy task for the company, but careful shoppers demand to see that effort being made.
Whether you are using meal replacement shakes for weight loss or just out of sheer convenience you want to choose the ones that have the best and healthiest ingredients. In most cases, it is worth a bit more money to go with the organic products especially when it comes to plant based protein.
All plants have trace amounts of heavy metals in them. Organically grown plant proteins will have the least amount of these heavy metals however, the number will not be zero. Traditionally grown plant proteins will have higher amounts with some sources having an unacceptable level of heavy metals in them.
Look out for plant proteins that are sourced from countries that have reduced regulations regarding food safety as well as for countries with known contaminated soils. Most companies do have third party testing reports and should make them available.
The best companies have these reports on their web sites and make mention of this fact in their marketing information. Others may have the reports, but they must be requested. Never be afraid to request this information because your health is very important.
You want good tasting, nutritionally balanced and organic meal replacement shakes so that you have the energy and strength to get through whatever you need to get through.