Healthy Meal Replacements

Sometimes getting proper nutrition takes a backseat to a busy schedule. Health meal replacements can deliver balanced nutrition, vitamins, and minerals in place of a traditional meal when time is short. There are powder, ready-to-drink, and bar options, as well as meal replacement products specially designed for low-carb dieters and women.


Meal replacement powders (MRP) are designed to be consumed in place of a meal, and generally contain 200-600 calories per serving. MRPs generally have a high protein content (20-55 grams), a high-to-moderate carbohydrate content, and a low fat content, along with various vitamins and minerals. MRPs are available in tubs of varying sizes, or in individually portioned packets for convenience. These powders are ideal for individuals who are short on time and cannot prepare a full meal, but want a proper balance of nutrients. MRPs are also a great post-workout meal for athletes or bodybuilders – just mix with water, juice or milk

Ready to Drink (RTD)

RTD shakes are like MRPs but are already prepared and pre-portioned in individual cans or cartons.


There are many bars on the market that can be consumed in place of a meal. Look for bars that contain a decent amount of calories (200-400) and protein (15-30 grams), with a moderate amount of carbohydrates (25-40 grams) and a low amount of fat. Be aware that many bars contain saturated fat, which manufacturers add to enhance flavor. Also be sure to select a bar with vitamins and minerals if you are replacing a meal.

Low Carb

Low carbohydrate meal replacement products are intended for individuals who wish to limit carbohydrate intake, usually for weight loss purposes. Low carb products typically have a high protein content, a low carbohydrate content (watch out for “net carbohydrates”), and a moderate-to-low fat content. Be aware that many manufacturers of low carb products use sugar alcohols which, although the body does not absorb them, may cause undesirable gastrointestinal discomfort in sensitive individuals.

• Low carb powders to try: LABRADA Lean Body Carb-Watchers Shake

• Low carb RTDs to try: ATKINS Advantage Ready to Drink Shake

• Low carb bars to try: BALANCE BAR Balance Carb Well Bar,

Women (“Light” MRPs)

This category covers meal replacement products considered “light,” or lower in total calories than regular MRPs. Women have different caloric and nutritional needs than men, and these products are just right. The macronutrient profile is similar to regular MRPs (high-to-moderate protein, high-to-moderate carbohydrate, low fat), but the portion size and total number of calories is usually less. Plus, these products also contain healthy vitamins and minerals.

• Light powders to try: EAS Myoplex Lite Shake, LABRADA Lean Body for Her

• Light RTD to try:

• Light bars to try: ZONE PERFECT Nutrition Bar

* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
MSRP means Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price. There may not be substantial sales at MSRP
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