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Can a Protein Shake Replace a Meal?

by Mara Welty March 04, 2023 6 min read

 woman drinking a protein shake

3/4/23 

Diet is an essential part of weight loss and muscle growth. What you eat (or drink) is who you become — it’s the sustenance that fuels you.

Maintaining a healthy diet, with proper portion control, is possible through one convenient option: the protein shake.

But can a protein shake replace a meal? 

Let’s find out.  

So, Can I Use a Protein Shake as a Meal Replacement?

Can protein shakes replace meals? Whether you can use a protein shake as a daily meal replacement depends on interrelated factors like your fitness levels and goals, dietary needs, quality of protein and, most importantly, the specific ingredients in your preferred protein shake.  

Body Type, Fitness Levels, Age and Sex  

Different people require varying levels of nutrients in their diets. According to the USDA, approximately 10% to 35% of an adult’s daily caloric intake should be from proteins, with a general recommendation of 1 gram of protein for every 2 pounds of body weight.

However, the exact percentage will differ according to factors like age, sex, size and physical activity rates. 

For instance, consider two people:

  1. A 6’4, 250 lb, 20-something male who engages in intense daily physical activity
  2. A 5’2, 110 lb teenage girl who only engages in moderate daily activity  

Naturally, a bigger, more active male will require much more protein intake to fuel their lifestyle. So, depending on their caloric burn, a protein shake may not provide enough sustenance to fully replace a meal. 

Fitness Goals 

Do protein shakes help you lose weight? Protein powders and shakes can be a convenient and easy way to increase protein intake, but whether or not they can serve as a sufficient meal replacement will also depend on your fitness goals. 

For example, for someone trying to lose weight, a protein shake could be a suitable meal replacement since they tend to contain fewer calories than full meals. Therefore, substituting a protein shake for a normal meal could aid in weight loss. 

On the flip side, if you’re in a bulking phase or trying to add lean muscle mass, a protein shake may not be a suitable meal replacement. 

Although protein powders and shakes offer a concentrated source of protein, they may lack other essential nutrients vital for lean muscle growth and recovery like carbs, healthy fats and micronutrients. This can make it difficult to consume enough calories to support muscle growth and recovery. In fact, it could inadvertently cause a person to run at a caloric deficit, which could inadvertently facilitate weight and muscle loss.

Put simply, you must carefully consider your specific nutritional needs and calorie requirements when determining whether or not protein shakes can be an effective meal replacement.

Discover more about how protein powder vs protein shake products compare.

Dietary Requirements 

Along these lines, certain people may require different levels, or even types, of protein to satisfy their dietary needs. 

For example, a pregnant mother who needs increased daily protein intake to support both herself and her unborn child may not receive enough protein, calories and other essential nutrients from a protein shake to fully replace a meal.

Conversely, if you have food allergies or are vegetarian, a protein shake may be a necessary meal replacement to ensure that you have enough protein in your diet. 

Quality of Protein

Protein is an all-encompassing term that refers to a group of essential nutrients — made up of amino acids — that play a vital role in many bodily functions, such as: 

  • Growing and repairing body tissues
  • Producing enzymes, hormones and other chemicals
  • Maintaining fluid balance
  • Supporting the immune system
  • Fueling metabolic processes 

As such, different proteins serve unique purposes and can come from a variety of sources, including beef, poultry, pork, fish, eggs, dairy products, beans, nuts and soy protein products.

That said, you should stay away from processed protein sources. And, when it comes to protein shakes, whey protein tends to be the optimal protein source.  

The Type of Protein Shake 

Here is where the rubber truly meets the road. 

It should go without saying, but not all protein shakes are created equal. A conventional protein shake may have adequate protein levels, but still, contain fewer total nutrients than a complete meal. As SFGate notes:

“1 cup of sweet potato chicken curry with 1 cup of long-grain brown rice has about 415 calories, 5.75 grams of fat, 28 grams of protein, 62 grams of carbohydrates and 7 grams of fiber. A shake made with water and 1/4 cup protein powder has 180 calories, 7.5 grams of fat, 20 grams of protein, 8 grams of carbohydrates and 3 grams of fiber.”

So, if you want a protein shake to be a sufficient meal substitute, you need to find the right protein shake formula. 

For example, at INVIGOR8, our Superfood Shake was precisely designed to be a complete meal substitute with zero gluten, soy or artificial ingredients. Our formula is comprised of 8 essential nutritional complexes, including: 

  1. Total protein complex – 20g of premium grass-fed whey protein.
  2. Cognitive complex– 200mg of l-theanine and bacopa monnieri.
  3. Digestive enzyme complex – 653mg of amylase, lactase, neutral protease, lipase, bromelain and papain.
  4. Essential fatty acid complex – 2g of flaxseed, chia seed and coconut.
  5. Green veggie complex – 2.5g of chlorella algae, alfalfa grass, spinach leaf, kale leaf and broccoli head.
  6. Immunity support complex – 500mg of bovine colostrum.
  7. Prebiotic-fiber complex – 3g of chicory root extract.
  8. Probiotic complex – 1.2 billion lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium bifidum. 

How Often Should You Drink a Protein Shake?

Can you drink protein shakes every day? The frequency of consumption will vary according to an individual’s dietary needs, fitness goals and lifestyle. 

Generally speaking, the right protein shake can be consumed as a meal replacement as needed. However, it’s important to first consult with a dietician or doctor to determine the appropriate frequency and serving size. 

Even then, you must be careful not to include too much protein in your diet. Excessively high protein intake or processed proteins can contribute to several health risks, including:

  • Poor kidney function
  • Dehydration
  • Weight gain
  • Bone loss

Benefits of a Protein Shake as a Meal Replacement

So, what are the arguments for replacing your lunch with a protein shake? 

Advantages may include: 

Cost

Whether you’re making food at home or going out for a meal, maintaining a healthy and balanced diet can be expensive and time consuming, especially if you have dietary restrictions or demanding nutrient requirements. And, when you add inflation to the mix, both cooking and eating out have become even more expensive on average over the last two years. 

Fortunately, a high-quality protein shake can be a boon to your budget, saving you money. 

For instance, INVIGOR8’s Subscribe and Save (4 pack) provides 60 meals at an average of just $3 per meal. 

Let’s say you eat out for lunch every day, spending approximately ten dollars a meal. If you replaced your normal lunch with a protein shake, you would save $420 on lunches over the course of 60 days.  

Convenience 

Even if you’re a skilled cook and have all of the items on hand — between shopping, prepping and cooking — making a meal can be a significant time drain. 

And, sometimes, you simply don’t have an hour to spare. 

For busy individuals with limited free time, a protein shake can be made and consumed on the go, thus saving you valuable time.

For example, INVIGOR8’s Superfood Shake takes less than 2 minutes to make. Simply:

  • Fill a glass or shaker with (2) scoops of protein powder and 8-12 fl oz of cold water or milk.
  • Add any other ingredients of your choice. 
  • Stir in glass, blend or shake for 30 seconds.  

That’s all there is to it. In the span of 90 seconds, your protein shake will be ready to drink. 

Satiation

Sudden cravings or late-night snacking are diet killers. Saying no to a food urge, especially junk food, can be difficult.  

For people who want to lose weight and fight cravings, a protein shake can help them feel full and satisfied. Protein has been demonstrated to have a greater impact on feelings of fullness and hunger compared to carbohydrates and fats.

When consumed as a meal replacement drink, a protein shake that contains adequate protein percentages can keep you feeling full and satisfied, thus aiding in weight loss or weight management by reducing overall calorie intake.

Customizability

One of the best aspects of protein shakes is customizability. They can be tailored to accommodate your individual dietary needs and preferences. 

For instance, you can add another scoop of protein or fruits, veggies, nuts or seeds to add to the overall nutrient density. 

INVIGOR8 All-In-One Superfood Shake — A Total Meal Replacement 

Simple protein drinks have long been used for weight loss support, management and muscle growth. 

But they were typically a supplement, not a replacement. 

Today, however, there are some specially formulated superfood shakes— packed with high-quality proteins, superfood greens and digestive enzymes — that can be a total meal substitute. 

So, if you are looking for the best meal replacement shake, INVIGOR8s All-In-One Superfood Shake is just that and more. Our premium products are crafted with natural ingredients and can help promote whole-body health and deliver the results you’re looking for. 

Interested in our products? Shop INVIGOR8 today for natural appetite suppressant, unflavored collagen peptides and more. 

Sources:

US Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

SF Gate. Drinking Protein Shakes to Replace Meals.

Healthline. Are There Dangers to Eating Too Much Protein?

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Protein, Weight Management and Satiety. 

About the Author

 Mara Welty
Mara Welty

Mara Welty is a copywriter who specializes in health, wellness and CBD topics. With a background in journalism, she aims to deliver engaging, research-based content that builds trust and engages readers through informative storytelling.

The INVIGOR8 Weight-Loss Family

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