Protein Shakes vs. Meal Replacement Shakes

Protein is said to the the macro that builds muscle, so it’s no surprise that protein shakes are one of the biggest sellers when it comes to supplements.

One question I hear all the time is “Should I get a meal replacement?”

The answer is NO. Don’t “get” a meal replacement. If you need to replace a meal with a shake, you’re better off making your own.

Before we dive into ‘whys and hows’ to do that, let’s go over what your caloric needs might be and the the difference between a quality protein shake and a meal replacement.

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A protein shake is usually low in calories (100-130/serving), consists of about 20g of protein per serving, and is on the lower side when it comes to carbs and fat content.

Simply put, it’s main source of calories comes from protein and it’s main purpose is to create a convenient way to add more protein to a guys daily nutrition when they may not get enough from their diet alone.

When searching for a protein powder, look for a product that does NOT use hype-marketing, is hormone-free, and uses whey from grass fed sources.

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A ‘meal replacement’ shake is a little bit different, and is supposed to replace a meal. This means it will have a higher carb content, and possibly have higher fat content. What you end up with is a shake that contains 300-400 calories.

While replacing a meal with a meal replacement shake might seem like a great idea, you have to keep in mind it’s NOT whole food and the carbs in it are usually junk. Maltodextrin and dextrose are cheap, processed carb sources that don’t have the nutritional value (or low glycemic index) of something like oats.

What you’re left with is a poor replacement for a meal that you can probably make yourself, for MUCH cheaper, with better ingredients.

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“So which one should I use?”

I would choose a solid protein shake over a meal replacement any day – here’s why.

The cornerstone of any meal replacement shake is still the protein content. This means you can buy a really good protein product and (**after doing a little leg work to figure out the calories of your meals) make your own meal replacement based on the nutrition program you’re on, or your current macro break down.

For example:
If you’re training to add muscle mass and eating more carbs to bulk up, you can make a carb-heavy meal replacement by blending your quality protein powder and adding dry oats, fruit, berries, or a combination of quality carb sources.

If you’re training and eating to cut fat, and using a higher-fat/lower carb approach, you can use your quality protein powder and add thinks like natural peanut butter, coconut oil or olive oil to keep calories high, but carbs low.

**If you’re on a specific nutrition plan, you should have an idea of your carb, protein, and fat breakdown per meal, and should be able to add the correct amounts of each by reading the nutrition labels and adding your carb or fat sources accordingly.

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You’ll have more control over the quality of your meal replacement shake if you use your own protein and build it from scratch by adding the ingredients you want to it, instead of buying a product that is pre-loaded with calories from poor sources.

Remember, the more control you have over what you put in your body the better your results will be – and if you’re using shakes, your nutrition is no different.

If you’re looking for a complete supplement solution to help plug the holes in your current nutrition, increase daily protein intake, keep you hydrated during the day, and help you recover better by improving sleep quality check this out.

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