Following a low-carb diet in a high-carb world can be tricky. That's why most keto dieters prefer making their meals at home.
But in our fast-paced society, cooking every one of your meals isn't always an option. And on keto, neither is eating out and relying on store-bought snacks.
That's where keto meal replacement shakes come in handy. These products offer the nutrition of a whole meal in a gulp or two.
Besides convenience, keto meal replacement shakes help the keto diet in many other ways. But to get the promised benefits, quality matters. You need to separate the good from the bad when choosing a shake to replace your meals with.
Below is the scoop on keto meal replacement shakes and our pick of the top best product on the market.
What are Meal Replacement
Shakes Made of?
Different brands of keto meal replacement shakes differ in the type of ingredients. Most are made using a combination of the following: plant oils, MCT oil, protein powders, fiber, vitamins, minerals and even natural sweeteners.
Some may also contain probiotics or powdered food (eggs, cream, butter, etc.). Those designed to support weight loss will contain fewer calories and include appetite suppressants.
- The ingredients in these shakes are carefully measured to result in a nutrient balance, that can replace a whole meal.
- Shakes designed to complement a standard diet will have a macronutrient balance for said diet.
- But keto shakes will primarily have macronutrient ratio of high fat, moderate protein and low in carbs – a ratio necessary for ketosis and fat loss.
Benefits of Meal
By far, the biggest benefit of meal replacement shakes is convenience. A nutritious sit-down meal is always best, but not always possible.
So, if you're too busy to plan and make all of your meals and also calculate their nutrient content, a meal replacement shake will make your life easier. They contain the nutrients of one complete keto meal to help get all the guesswork out of macros counting.
Besides that, most meal replacement shakes are designed to help with weight loss, so they may be lower in calories than your typical meal. However, there's no need to reduce your calorie intake on a keto diet too much. That's why keto meal replacement shakes should hover around the 300-calorie mark, if not more.
Shakes may also help you avoid nutrient deficiencies. Many are enriched with micronutrients and fiber that are hard to obtain on a keto diet. But they still are supplements in this regard, rather than substituted for real nutrition.
As Katherine Zeratsky explains for Mayo Clinic, when you rely solely on shakes, "you'll miss out on the nutritional benefits of whole foods ."
Do Meal Replacement Shakes
Help You Lose Weight?
There is solid evidence these products help with weight loss.
- For example, a study published in a 2013 issue of Obesity (Silver Spring) found that meal replacements combined with a weight-loss diet led to less weight regain . The study was supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
- An earlier study from The Diabetes EDUCATOR found that more subjects on a meal replacement diet lost weight and kept it off than subjects on a standard weight-loss diet . One fairly recent study compared three different weight-loss programs, one of which combined behavior therapy with meal replacements. The study found that all programs lead to weight loss .
- And to round it all up, a systematic review and meta-analysis published in January 2019 concluded that, "programmes incorporating meal replacements led to greater weight loss at 1 year than comparator weight loss programmes ." This review examined only studies with a low risk of bias and the review itself has no conflict of interest.
When to Go for A Meal
If you can avoid using meal replacements of any kind, then it would be best to do so. There are a couple of scenarios, however, where these products may be helpful and even necessary. Below are such cases explained.
- When you're too busy - Try to make two portion-controlled meals yourself and use one meal replacement shake for when you cannot eat homemade meals or when you're too busy to calculate your keto macros. Nutrition experts recommend sticking to 1-2 protein/meal replacement shakes per day .
- When you're struggling with portion control - If you cannot trust yourself with portion control, then use a keto replacement shake when starting your diet. The calories and nutrients in these shakes are precise and easy to measure. If they contain hunger-curbing ingredients, all the better.
- For workouts - If you're working out and following a keto diet, a keto meal replacement shake is a better option than a protein shake. It provides enough protein and carbs for recovery and plenty of ketogenic oils. And speaking of ketogenic, if it contains MCT oil and exogenous ketones, it's a plus.
- To avoid unhealthy choices - It's not uncommon for people to make bad food choices when starting a weight-loss diet. In an attempt to reduce your calorie intake, you may reach out for poor-quality food. Meal replacement shakes are better from a nutritional standpoint.
- For fail proof ketosis - For many keto beginners, ketosis is the ultimate goal. Sometimes, getting there can seem impossible, and dieting mishaps are all too common. Using shakes designed to replace keto meals can make entering ketosis way easier in the beginning simply because they take the guesswork out of meal planning.
How to Choose the
You're convinced a keto meal replacement shake is exactly what you need. But how do you choose one on a market oversaturated with replacement shakes? Here's what you need to look for in these products:
- Calories - Read the label and see how many calories are in a serving. If you need to take two servings to reach a meager 300 calories, then the product will prove too expensive in the long run. Go for products with 300-600 calories per serving.
- Ingredients - If the label includes a long list of difficult-to-pronounce ingredients, it may not be the best thing on the market. Look for real ingredients like plant oils, MCT oil, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
- Keto macros - Check if your choice of shake has keto macronutrient ratio - depending on your experience and goals it should be somewhere around 60-75% of fat, 15-30% of protein and 5-10% of carbs (the less the better).
- Fiber - A good keto meal shake should contain fiber. Fiber helps slow down digestion and reduce appetite. A keto-friendly fiber to look for is Konjac glucomannan (KGM), a soluble fiber that studies show reduces hunger and food intake .
- Keto ingredients - MCT oil is always good to see in a keto meal replacement shake, but it's not indispensable. Other bonus ingredients include exogenous ketones and collagen protein.
- Trustworthiness - Aim to make all your purchases from trustworthy brands that have been in the business for a while and has positive reviews. Brands you know are trustworthy are those with transparent labels and known whereabouts.
Best Keto Meal
Below are some of the most popular keto meal replacement shakes on the market. While some tick all the right keto nutrition boxes, others provide other benefits that you may find noteworthy.
1. Ancient Nutrition Keto Feast (our favorite)
Calories: 270 Total fat: 20g Net carbs: 3g Protein: 17g
Serving size: 1 Heaping Scoop (48g)
Ancient Nutrition is known for it's high quality bone broth, but it also produces a kickass meal replacement shake.
Why kickass? Because the ingredients list is impressive.
Among other things it includes MCT oil (helps to stay in ketosis) and bone broth (replenishes electrolytes).
Although its made for keto, it works as a great shake for anyone in need for a quick meal on the go.
PS! It doesn't taste like bone broth, you don't even know it's there.
- Creamy chocolate flavor
- Whopping 20g of fat per serving
- Supports healthy skin, gut, joint function, and muscle recovery
- Includes bone broth - replenishes electrolytes
- Includes MCT oil - helps to stay in ketosis
- Contains approximately 50mg of caffeine per serving from organic coffee cherry
- Organic Chicken Bone Broth Oil
- Chicken Bone Broth Protein Concentrate
- Organic Chicken Protein Concentrate
- Organic Egg Yolk
- Chia Seed Protein
- Organic Tiger Nuts
- Coconut Milk
- MCT oil
2. Ketologie Keto Shake
Calories: 300 Total fat: 25g Net carbs: 0g Protein: 14g
Serving size: 2 scoops (60g)
Ketologie is another great keto shake option out there. It features only quality ingredients and supports ketosis.
It features real dutched cocoa, coconut oil, grass-fed bovine collagen protein, and sea salt.
Ketologie Keto Shake can be blended into matcha tea latte, keto pancakes, or even mochas.
PROTIP: I sometimes like to add nut butter to the shake to take it to the next level. Don't ask, just try that.
- Uses natural sweeteners like Erythritol and Stevia
- Whopping 25g of fat per serving
- Contains bovine collagen protein
- Less than 2% of net carbs
- Hiqh-quality brand
- Mixes well with a wide range of drinks, puddings, and baked goods.
- Real dutched cocoa
- Coconut oil
- Grass fed bovine collagen protein
- Pinch of sea salt
- Organic Erythritol
- Organic Stevia
- Natural vanilla flavor
3. Kegenix Keto Meal
Calories: 160 Total fat: 10g Net carbs: 5g Protein: 10g
Serving size: 2 Scoops (38.2g)
Kegenix is the first keto meal replacement shake to include exogenous ketones (BHB) alongside protein and MCTs.
Kegenix has actually patented the BHB+MCT formula, so they really believe in this combination.
It also contains essential micronutrients to make for a complete meal.
I think it works best with unsweetened almond or coconut milk with ice in a blender. Makes your belly full and satisfies cravings.
- Contains patented BHB+MCT formula
- Promotes digestive health
- Contains electrolytes which are essential during keto
- Contains 12 essential vitamins and minerals, great for nutrient deficiencies
- Is sweetened with natural Stevia
- You can also cook with that (brownies)
- Whey protein isolate
- MCT oil
- Exogenous ketones (BHB)
- Natural chocolate flavor
- Vitamin & mineral blend
- Organic Stevia
4. Ketond Ketogenic Meal Replacement
Calories: 400 Total fat: 33g Net carbs: 5g Protein: 20g
Serving size: 2 Scoops (75g)
The Ketond Meal Replacement is high quality, calorie-dense shake.
The macro ratio is by the keto book - 75g fat, 20g of protein and 5g of carbs.
Their main "unique" ingredients is their own goMCT formula, which is basically high-quality MCT oil.
Depending how active you are, one serving should keep you full around 5-6 hours.
- Contains custom goMCT formula
- Contains essential micronutrients and fiber
- Provides adequate calories to make for a whole meal
- Comes with the right keto macronutrient ratio
- Has 100% label transparency
- Does not contain any sweeteners
- Free of artificial ingredients, flavorings, colors, and preservatives
- Coconut milk powder
- Macadamia nut oil
- Whey protein isolate
- Whole egg powder
- Prebiotic Acacia fiber
- goMCT (c8 & c10)
- Cocoa powder
- Vitamin blend
5. Dr. Berg's Meal Replacement Shake
Calories: 80 Total fat: 3.5g Net carbs: 1g Protein: 11g
Serving size: 1 Scoop (25g/0.89oz)
Dr. Berg is definitely known in the keto community, so is his meal shake.
This shake contains MCTs sourced from coconut oil and BCAAs from organic pea protein to help with ketosis and muscle recovery.
The serving size is quite small and not enough calorie dense for a meal. Also the macro ratio is not quite keto ideal.
But it works as a great protein shake with no aftertaste or gritty texture.
- A vegan source of complete protein (pea)
- Blends easily with water or plant milks for a quick on-the-go meal
- It's completely gluten-free, non-GMO, and soy-free
- High-quality MCTs from coconut oil
- Comes in a large container, which is better for the environment
- Organic Pea Protein Supplying BCAAs
- Organic pea protein
- MCT powder
- Organic Erythritol
- Organic Stevia
- Acacia gum
- Brown rice syrup
- Natural flavors
- Xanthan gum
- Guar gum
The winner here is definitely Ancient Nutrition Keto Feast. Compared to all other keto meal replacement shakes, Keto Feast provides more than adequate nutrition and all necessary macros coming from real foods and quality proteins as well as valuable micros. It's also enriched fiber and prebiotics.
While the price of this product can be pricy for some, it's definitely justified. You will not only get the nutrition you need to feel full but also health benefits from its antioxidant ingredients. Other products listed here also provide unique benefits, but most cannot truly replace a regular keto meal.
Alex is editor in chief of Bodyketosis, an author, low-carb enthusiast and a recovering chubby guy who reclaimed his health using the ketogenic lifestyle. The need for the keto life began after his aunt and cousin were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and he was next in line. Through personal experience and extensive scientific research, Alex offers insightful tips for everything keto.