Do Meal Replacement Shakes Actually Work?

A person drinking a meal replacement shake while researching: Do meal replacement shakes work?

It’s no surprise that meal replacement shakes have experienced a surge in popularity in recent years. Living and working on-the-go can make it pretty difficult to find time to prepare nutritious meals every single day. As a result, convenience has become a top priority when it comes to choosing how to fuel our bodies. 

Though many of us might already incorporate meal replacement shakes into our routines, some still might question the long-term sustainability and effectiveness of these shakes when it comes to overall satisfaction and nutritional benefits. It's reasonable to ask: Do meal replacement shakes work? And if they do, how do I determine which are best for my health?

Below, we explore the research behind these popular beverages as well as the importance of choosing the right shakes to support your nutrition.


What Are Meal Replacement Shakes?

As the name suggests, meal replacement shakes often act as liquid substitutes for full meals. You can also incorporate them into your diet as snacks or drinks, depending on your individual goals. Packed with protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, these shakes contain balanced nutrition in a convenient form.

Meal replacement shakes typically come ready-to-drink or as powders that you can mix with your choice of milk or water. (You can even bake with some!) Their portability and ease of preparation make them a wholesome upgrade from other efficient meal options like greasy fast food or sugary snacks.

Depending on your goals, meal replacement shakes can serve a variety of purposes, including:

  • Losing weight
  • Gaining weight
  • Upping protein intake
  • Reaching the U.S. Recommended Daily Intake (USRDI) of vitamins and minerals


The Simple Science Behind Meal Replacement Shakes

Meal replacement shakes are known for supporting healthy weight loss, typically because they reduce overall caloric intake when used as a meal. Since weight loss depends on maintaining a caloric deficit, shakes can make the process more efficient and easier to track. 

Meal replacement shakes are also proven to pack in protein. Considering the average American adult consistently gets only 16% of their daily calories from protein, shakes can serve as a simple way to transform your health beyond weight loss goals.


Do Meal Replacement Shakes Work? Meal Replacement Shakes and Weight Loss

One study by the Nutrition Journal found that meal-replacement shakes resulted in significantly increased weight loss and improved body composition compared to food-based diets. The study also determined that participants who ingested meal replacement shakes didn’t experience a difference in satiety from those in the food-based group.

Other studies have found improvements in biochemical markers–specifically levels of C-reactive protein, a biomarker of systemic inflammation–when nutrient-dense meal replacements were used as part of a hypocaloric diet. When one 12-week study compared drinking shakes twice a day to a standard diet with the same number of calories, it found that the meal replacement group lost 10% of their body weight on average compared to only 6.7% for the conventional diet group.

But why are shakes so effective for weight loss? Convenience and nutritional quality play key roles. Having an affordable, portable, and nutritionally balanced option makes it simpler to control calories and increase protein when life gets overwhelming.


5 Key Benefits of Meal Replacement Shakes

1. Convenience

Meal replacement shakes are quick and easy to prepare. Just mix with your favorite beverage (water, milk, almond milk, rice milk, juice, etc.), and you have a nutritious meal in seconds. This makes them handy for busy mornings or when you're commuting.


2. Targeted Weight loss

Meal replacements are a calorie-controlled way to reduce calorie intake, especially when combined with exercise. The protein also helps you feel fuller for longer.


3. Enhanced Nutrition

Meal replacements provide a balance of protein, carbs, and other essential nutrients in each serving. The best meal replacement shakes are fortified to provide a significant portion of your recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals.


4. Portion Control

With meal replacements, you know exactly how many calories you are consuming, which can help eliminate guesswork and overeating at mealtimes.


5. Variety

Meal replacement shakes can be made from scratch starting with whey or plant proteins using flavors like chocolate, vanilla, berry, etc. These can be combined with a variety of whole foods and liquids such as spinach, almond butter, chia seeds, oat milk or juice, etc. to provide a variety of different macro-balanced meals. Some protein powders also serve as complete, macro-balanced meals in a scoop like SQWARE MEALS, where all you need to do is add water, milk and or ice to blend into a creamy shake.  This makes it easy to satisfy your tastebuds and keep your meals interesting and FAST!


A person drinking a meal replacement shake in their kitchen.


8 Tips for Choosing High-Quality Meal Replacement Shakes

Not all meal replacement shakes live up to their nutritional claims. With the market full of products boasting delicious flavors and tempting health promises, how do you identify truly effective shakes? 

We recommend using these simple tips:

  1. Check the protein amount. Though everyone’s protein intake is unique to their lifestyle and biology, research suggests incorporating around 15-30 grams of protein per meal, particularly for those who are supporting weight loss with muscle maintenance.
  2. Look for whole food ingredients. Whole foods are packed with phytochemicals and natural compounds that can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular and other diseases.
  3. Seek at least 4 grams of fiber. The fiber in shakes aids in digestion and helps you feel satisfied between meals. Fiber also helps regulate the body’s use of sugars, keeping blood sugar in check.
  4. Select shakes with around 200-400 calories. This gives you the flexibility to use them as snacks or meal substitutes while controlling calories if need be.
  5. Avoid added sugars. Opt for shakes that are naturally sweetened with fruit or are low in sugar overall.
  6. Pick shakes with essential vitamins and minerals. Quality shakes should provide a good portion of your daily nutrient needs.
  7. Consider organic and plant-based options when possible. These provide extra assurance of wholesome ingredients and a broader range of phytonutrients.
  8. Watch out for overly processed or artificial ingredients. Shakes should feel clean—not chemical-laden. All swiig products, for example, use high-quality, clean ingredients sourced in the USA whenever possible.

The SQWARE MEALS Difference

At swiig, we believe wholesome nutrition should be clean, convenient and delicious. That’s why we love SQWARE MEALS Complete Meal System, which is: 

  • Clean, lean nutrition from a blend of 47 organic raw, enzymatically alive superfoods
  • Full of complete protein from clean organic sources with all essential amino acids
  • Loaded with antioxidants, phytonutrients, and probiotics, as well as 50% of the USRDI on over 20 vital nutrients
  • Tasty and comprised of natural flavors
  • Free of GMO’s, hormones, antibiotics, gluten, soy, artificial and synthetic ingredients
  • Made in the USA from Organic quality ingredients

With super proteins, super fruits, super veggies, super adaptogens, and super probiotics, SQWARE MEALS aims to help with muscle building, antioxidant benefits, alkalization, probiotic gut health and stress reduction. 


SQWARE MEALS Complete Meal System Chocolate, Plant-Based.


Nourish Your Body with swiig

At swiig, we believe that food is medicine. We're on a mission to help people eat clean, feel good, and thrive. Our values set us and our products apart:

  • Whole Foods: We use only high-quality, organic superfoods and natural ingredients. No artificial or processed junk.
  • Clean Sourcing: We vet our suppliers carefully to ensure our ingredients come from ethical, sustainable sources.
  • Complete Nutrition: Our products deliver balanced macros, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to nourish your whole body.
  • Delicious Taste: We use natural flavors to create shakes and snacks that taste great without added sugar.
  • Lifestyle Support: Our meal plans, recipes, and tips help you form healthy habits for life. We don't just sell products.
  • Transparency: From our locally-sourced ingredients to our manufacturing practices, we believe in complete transparency.
  • Commitment to Quality: We proudly make our products in the USA and stand behind them 100%.

We're also picky about what we won't use. No GMOs, antibiotics, hormones, toxic pesticides or additives. If we don't feed it to our own kids, it won't go into our products.

Our meal replacement shakes are no exception: no gluten, no dairy, and no added sugars. Just real food and clean ingredients you can pronounce.

Check out our range of nutritious whole foods and see the infinite goodness of swiig for yourself.




The Journal Of Nutrition - Meal Replacements Are as Effective as Structured Weight-Loss Diets for Treating Obesity in Adults with Features of Metabolic Syndrome

Colin Cambell Center for Nutrition Studies - How Common is Protein Deficiency?

Yahoo Finance - Meal Replacement Shakes Market to Reach $7.0 Billion, Globally, by 2032 at 9.1% CAGR: Allied Market Research.

Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition - How effective are meal replacements for treating obesity?

National Library of Medicine - What are Biomarkers?

Mayo Clinic - Are you getting too much protein?

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    Nutrition (per serving)