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Pros And Cons Of The Best Weight Loss Shakes; How Effective Are They?

Apr 22, 2024
Pros And Cons Of The Best Weight Loss Shakes; How Effective Are They?

Meal replacement shakes are often used as an alternative to eating solid foods. An example is a daily meal replacement with weight loss shakes to decrease a dieter’s overall calorie and fat intake. When used to replace a meal, these shakes should offer the same nutrient requirements (e.g., protein, fats, and carbohydrates) that a regular meal would fulfill. Manufacturers claim their products reduce body fat and promote weight loss. But do these products work? What are the pros and cons of meal replacement shakes, and what are the best weight loss shakes?

What Are Meal Replacement Shakes?

‌A meal replacement shake is a drink that comes in either a powdered form (to mix with liquid) or as a ready-to-drink (RTD) product. Often, these shakes contain higher nutrient levels but fewer calories than a person would usually consume during a meal. High protein shakes are a meal replacement beverage often recommended for weight loss. 

Do Protein Shakes for Weight Loss Work?

Losing weight occurs when you burn more calories than you consume. Although replacing meals with weight-loss beverages, such as protein shakes, may help reduce your daily caloric intake, there are a few things to know, such as:

Healthy foods
  • Protein has calories, so you can still gain weight by eating too much protein.* 
  • Drinking daily protein shakes while eating three meals per day could lead to weight gain from too much protein intake, particularly if you are not lowering your caloric intake or exercising.1  
  • Insufficient nutrition: over time, it’s essential to start eating regular meals again to prevent nutrient deficiencies.1 
  • Regaining excess weight after returning to three solid meals, particularly if you don’t choose healthy foods.

*Americans’ recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of protein can vary depending on a person’s overall health and weight, but most adults need approximately 46 to 56 grams per day.2 

Healthy food choices include:

  • Whole grains (e.g., brown rice, oats, barley, quinoa, and whole wheat)
  • Bright-colored fruits and vegetables (e.g., red berries, broccoli, and sweet potatoes)
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • High protein foods (i.e., skinless chicken, cold-water fish such as salmon, eggs, legumes, nuts, and seeds are foods with some of the best protein for weight loss).
  • Avoid trans-fat, saturated fats, highly processed foods, and fried or sugary foods
Woman holding a plate of salad

Effectiveness of High Protein for Weight Loss

High protein meal replacement shakes are thought to lower body fat while promoting a feeling of fullness to help decrease your appetite.2

A high-protein diet can help you lose weight while preserving your lean body mass. This type of eating plan is thought to prevent obesity and obesity-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disorders.2

What Are the Best Weight Loss Shakes?

It’s certainly easy to substitute weight-loss shakes for a quick snack or meal. But with so many brands and options available, choosing which one is right for you can be difficult.

a woman making an antioxidant smoothie

Experts at Forbes.com compiled a list of the best shakes for weight loss in 2024. Below are their top four selections.3

1. BOOST High Protein with Fiber Complete Nutritional Drink

BOOST was selected as one of the best weight loss shakes because, according to the product label, it contains just 250 calories and provides 20 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and 27 vitamins and minerals (e.g., key nutrients to support immune health such as vitamins D, C, and zinc).  

Pros– contains 60% of the RDA for vitamin D and only 10 grams of sugar per serving

Cons– not a good choice for those who are lactose intolerant or want to avoid soy because it contains soy and cow’s milk 

Cost per shake – $1.48

Chocolate Best Weight Loss Shakes

2. Orgain Vegan Organic Nutrition Plant Based Nutritional Shake

These weight-loss shakes have 16 grams of protein, only 230 calories, 2 grams of fiber, and over 20 vitamins and minerals.  

Pros – plant-based, organic, no soy or lactose, and low in sugar (only 10 grams per serving)

Cons – it has less protein and fiber and is more expensive than some other brands

Cost per shake – $2.25

3. OWYN Meal Replacement Shake

OWYN was selected as one of the best protein shakes for weight loss because it provides 20 grams of plant-derived protein, 3 grams of fiber, 23 vitamins and minerals, and plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids.  

Pros – good for vegans because it’s plant-based; dairy, soy, and gluten-free; and it is low in sugar  (only 4 grams per serving) 

Cons – higher cost than many other brands

Cost per shake – $3.08

Smiling Friendly Athletic Middle-aged Man Standing Holding A Bottle

4. Fairlife Core Power Protein Milk Shake

Fairlife was selected as one of the best protein shakes for weight loss because it offers either 26 or 42 grams of protein, nine essential amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), 1 gram of fiber, and only 5 grams of sugar.

Pros: It’s a good choice for lactose-intolerant people, and the higher protein option is good for athletes and people who are very physically active.

Cons – it’s more expensive than some other brands.

Cost per shake: $2.73

A Word From Invigor Medical

Meal replacement shakes have the potential to help with weight loss on a short-term basis, but it’s important to know that nutrition-wise, whole foods are preferable to shakes, particularly in the long term. It’s essential to consult your physician before starting on weight loss shakes to ensure there are no contraindications with certain health conditions or medications.1

If you want to find out about a safe and effective product for long-term weight loss, check out Invigor Medical. We offer medically supervised weight loss treatments like prescription weight loss medication. Our one-stop, convenient services involve medical consultations, treatment plans, and, if approved, prescription delivery to your door—all in one convenient package. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Which protein shake is best for belly fat loss?

There isn’t a specific protein shake that targets belly fat loss exclusively. However, protein shakes can be a convenient option for supporting weight loss goals when incorporated into a balanced diet and exercise regimen. Look for protein shakes with a balanced nutrient profile, low sugar content, and sufficient protein to help promote satiety and muscle recovery.

What is the #1 meal replacement shake?

The “#1” meal replacement shake can vary depending on individual preferences and nutritional needs. Some popular options include brands like Shakeology, Ensure, and Herbalife. It’s important to choose a meal replacement shake that aligns with your dietary goals, tastes good, and provides essential nutrients while keeping added sugars and artificial ingredients to a minimum.

Will I lose weight on 3 shakes a day?

Consuming three shakes a day may lead to weight loss initially due to calorie restriction. However, relying solely on shakes for nutrition may not provide all the essential nutrients your body needs for long-term health. Additionally, such a restrictive approach to eating may not be sustainable or enjoyable in the long run. It’s important to prioritize a balanced diet that includes a variety of whole foods along with meal replacement shakes for weight loss.

Do weight loss shakes work?

Weight loss shakes can be effective as part of a structured weight loss plan when used in combination with healthy eating habits and regular exercise. They can help control portion sizes, reduce overall calorie intake, and provide convenient nutrition on-the-go. However, weight loss shakes alone are unlikely to lead to sustainable weight loss if not combined with other healthy lifestyle changes. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider or nutritionist before relying solely on weight loss shakes for long-term weight management.

While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.


  • Zeratsky, K. Mayo Clinic. I’m trying to lose weight. Could protein shakes help? https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/expert-answers/protein-shakes/faq-20058335
  • Moon J, Koh G. Clinical Evidence and Mechanisms of High-Protein Diet-Induced Weight Loss. J Obes Metab Syndr. 2020 Sep 30;29(3):166-173. doi: 10.7570/jomes20028. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7539343/
  • Burdeos, J. Carley Prendergast, C. Forbes. Best Meal Replacement Shakes of 2024, According To Experts. https://www.forbes.com/health/supplements/best-meal-replacement-shakes/


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