13 Best Meal Replacement Shakes for Muscle Gain (2021)


When you’re working hard to build muscle, it’s essential to make sure you’re getting all the right nutrients. It can be challenging to find the time to cook and eat healthy if you have a busy schedule.

Fortunately, there are several healthy options for muscle building meal replacement shakes that you can drink if you don’t have time to cook.

The best meal replacement shakes for muscle gain should be high in protein and contain a decent amount of carbs and fat. You need a balance of protein, carbs, fat, vitamins, and minerals if it’s going to replace a meal. Protein helps with muscle gain, so look for a shake that is higher in protein.

There are many options on the market you can choose from to suit your needs. Remember that it’s always a good idea to consult a doctor or dietician if you’re uncertain about which shake is right for you. Now, let’s get into what makes a meal replacement shake ideal and look at the best options.

Meal Replacement Shake Requirements

Meal replacement shakes need to include the following:

  • Protein
  • Carbs
  • Fat
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Fiber

If a shake is going to replace a meal, it needs to have carbs and fat to keep you full and plenty of protein to help you gain muscle. It also needs vitamins, minerals, and fiber to allow your body to activate the metabolism and digestion.

Now, let’s take a look at the best meal replacement shakes for muscle gain.

Top Pick: 1. LABRADA Nutrition – Lean Body High Protein Meal Replacement Shake (Chocolate)LABRADA Nutrition – Lean Body High Protein Meal Replacement Shake (Chocolate)

  •  Serving Size: 2 scoops
  • Calories: 290
  • Protein: 35 grams
  • Carbs: 21 grams
  • Fat: 7 grams
  • Flavors: Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cinnamon Bun, Molten Dark Chocolate, Power Latte, Salted Caramel, Strawberry, Vanilla

This is our top pick because it has a balanced amount of macronutrients but is packed with protein.

Carbs are what make you feel full, and this meal replacement shake doesn’t skimp out on them. It also has a high amount of protein along with carbs, making it the perfect mix.

The product is gluten-free and contains 21 vitamins and minerals. It also has 7 grams of fiber, which is essential for digestion.

It’s available in 8 different flavors, so there’s sure to be something available for everyone. The nutrition information above is for the chocolate flavor, so the information might vary between flavors.

The most common complaint about the chocolate flavors is that they are too sweet. Some say that a couple of flavors like Vanilla and Cinnamon Bun are chalky and don’t taste great.

However, they do keep people full for a long time.

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2. Authentic MRP Meal Replacement Powder (Smores)Authentic MRP Meal Replacement Powder (Smores)

  • Serving Size: 60 grams
  • Calories: 230
  • Protein: 26 grams
  • Carbs: 20 grams
  • Fat: 6 grams
  • Flavors: Smores

This is another great replacement shake because its macronutrients are well-balanced.

Although the amount of protein is slightly lower than the top pick, it’s still a great amount for someone looking to build up muscle mass.

For comparison, one large egg has about 6 grams of protein, and three pieces of bacon have about 12 grams of protein.

A breakfast of 2 eggs and three slices of bacon has two fewer grams of protein compared to this shake.

Remember that carbs keep you full, so 20 grams of carbs is a great amount to keep you satisfied throughout the day until your next meal.

Many reviews say that this Smores flavor tastes great and that the powder mixes well.

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3. MET-Rx RTD 51 Protein Shake (Frosty Chocolate)MET-Rx RTD 51 Protein Shake (Frosty Chocolate)

  • Serving Size: 1 can
  • Calories: 250
  • Protein: 51 grams
  • Carbs: 6 grams
  • Fat: 2 grams
  • Flavors: Cookies & Creme, Creamy Vanilla, Frosty Chocolate, Peanut Butter Cup

This Frosty Chocolate meal replacement shake is an excellent choice for muscle gain because it has a large amount of protein in just one can.

Why is it not our top pick? Meal replacements need to have carbs to keep you full. This particular drink is low in both carbs and fat, so it might not keep you as full as other options.

The biggest complaint about this product is that it ships poorly.

Some buyers have received damaged cans or packaging, causing their drinks to be undrinkable.

The taste, however, is better than most other meal replacement shakes out there.

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4. Orgain Grass Fed Clean Protein Shake (Chocolate)Orgain Grass Fed Clean Protein Shake (Chocolate)

  • Serving Size: 1 carton
  • Calories: 130
  • Protein: 20 grams
  • Carbs: 11 grams
  • Fat: 2 grams
  • Flavors: Chocolate, Vanilla

This is the best product to buy if you have dietary restrictions or are conscious about where your food comes from.

The dairy comes from grass-fed cows, and the product is gluten-free, kosher, non-GMO, and soy-free.

The cartons are easy to carry around with you in a bag and easy to store in the refrigerator. The flavor options are limited compared to other brands, as this one is only available in Chocolate or Vanilla.

This drink is thinner than other meal replacement shakes and isn’t as sweet. It only has 3 grams of sugar and is sweetened with stevia and agave.

If you prefer a sweet chocolate flavor, you might be disappointed with this product.

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5. Garden of Life Meal Replacement (Chocolate)Garden of Life Meal Replacement (Chocolate)

  • Serving Size: 1 scoop
  • Calories: 130
  • Protein: 20 grams
  • Carbs: 13 grams
  • Fat: 2.5 grams
  • Flavors: Chocolate, Lightly Sweet, Vanilla, Vanilla Chai

This is a good meal replacement shake because it has carbs to keep you full and a good amount of protein.

It’s a bit low in protein compared to other shakes, so it might not be the best option for muscle gain.

However, it made it on the list because it’s still a good amount of protein, and feeling full is important, which this shake is sure to do for you. Feeling full will prevent you from snacking and overeating later.

This is another great choice if you have dietary restrictions. This protein shake is vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and doesn’t have added sugars.

Since it doesn’t have added sugar, you might find this shake to be a little disappointing if you were expecting something similar to a chocolate milkshake.

The ingredients are organic and clean, though, so it’s a healthy option.

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6. Muscle Milk Genuine Protein Powder (Strawberries ‘N Créme)Muscle Milk Genuine Protein Powder (Strawberries ‘N Créme)

  • Serving Size: 2 scoops
  • Calories: 280
  • Protein: 32 grams
  • Carbs: 21 grams
  • Fat: 9 grams
  • Flavors: Banana Créme, Cake Batter, Chocolate, Cookies n Créme, Natural Chocolate, Peanut Butter Chocolate, Strawberries ‘N Créme, Strawberry Banana, Vanilla Créme

This Muscle Milk meal drink is sold as protein powder, but it could be a meal replacement shake.

It’s full of protein, carbs, and a higher amount of fat than most of the other recommended products.

It also has plenty of vitamins and minerals in each serving. It has all the components of a meal replacement shake, so you can certainly treat it as one.

This product is versatile. If you don’t want to drink it, you can add it to food like pancakes or granola bars. Several flavors are available, so there’s sure to be something for everyone.

Get the Best Price for Muscle Milk Genuine Protein Powder Here

7. Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass Weight Gainer Protein Powder (Vanilla)Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass Weight Gainer Protein Powder (Vanilla)

  • Serving Size: 2 heaping scoops
  • Calories: 1.250
  • Protein: 50 grams
  • Carbs: 253 grams
  • Fat: 4 grams
  • Flavors: Banana, Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cookies & Cream, Strawberry, Vanilla

This mass-building protein powder is sure to keep you full and help build muscle. Be aware that this powder is meant for both weight gain and muscle gain.

Each serving has over 1,000 calories and over 200 grams of carbs. That’s the equivalent of a whole day of low-calorie eating. If you want to use this powder, you should only use it once a day and be sure to exercise.

It’s best to consult a dietician first since this powder has high levels of vitamins and minerals. It has very high levels of Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Biotin, and Chromium.

Vitamins and minerals are essential but are best taken in moderation.

With a proper intense workout routine and healthy meals with whole foods, this should be a great supplement if you’re looking to gain weight and muscle mass.

Get the Best Price for Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass Weight Gainer Protein Powder Here

8. Protein Powder with Vitamin C by Nature’s Bounty Optimal SolutionsProtein Powder with Vitamin C by Nature’s Bounty Optimal Solutions

  • Serving Size: 2 scoops
  • Calories: 120
  • Protein: 15 grams
  • Carbs: 13 grams
  • Fat: 2 grams
  • Flavors: Chocolate Protein & Vitamin Shake Mix, Unflavored Collagen Beauty Blend, Vanilla Collagen Beauty Blend, Vanilla Protein & Vitamin Shake Mix

This protein shake promotes muscle gain and also has a variety of other benefits.

The vitamins and minerals in this shake can help improve or support healthy skin, hair and nails, immune health, digestive system, bone health, energy and metabolism, and hydration.

It’s a suitable meal replacement shake because of its carb and protein levels.

It doesn’t contain as many vitamins and minerals as other products on this list, so it’s important that you eat healthy meals throughout the day so you can be sure to get all the nutrients you need.

Many buyers say this product has a superior flavor compared to other vanilla-flavored products and that it mixes well, especially if you mix it in a blender.

You can add frozen fruit and almond milk to make a healthy, great-tasting smoothie for breakfast.

Get the Best Price for Protein Powder with Vitamin C by Nature’s Bounty Optimal Solutions Here

9. MuscleTech Nitro Ripped Ultra Clean Whey Protein Isolate Powder (Chocolate Fudge Brownie)MuscleTech Nitro Ripped Ultra Clean Whey Protein Isolate Powder

  • Serving Size: 1 rounded scoop
  • Calories: 170
  • Protein: 30 grams
  • Carbs: 4 grams
  • Fat: 4 grams
  • Flavors: Chocolate Fudge Brownie, French Vanilla Swirl

If you’re looking to lose weight and gain muscle, look no further. This protein powder is made with these two goals in mind.

The low carb formula promotes weight loss while the whey protein peptides promote lean muscle.

As mentioned before, few carbs mean it won’t keep you satisfied for very long. However, if your goal is to have a low carb diet, this product should work for you.

This product is low in sugar, only 2 grams, and is caffeine-free, so you can replace any meal of the day with this product and not have to deal with the negative effects of consuming sugar or caffeine so late in the date.

This is a flexible option for those who have busy schedules.

Get the Best Price for MuscleTech Nitro Ripped Ultra Clean Whey Protein Isolate Powder Here

10. Yes You Can! Complete Meal Replacement (Strawberry)Yes You Can! Complete Meal Replacement

  • Serving Size: 2 scoops
  • Calories: 200
  • Protein: 20 grams
  • Carbs: 15 grams
  • Fat: 7 grams
  • Flavors: Chocolate, Strawberry, Vanilla

This low-sugar meal replacement is packed with vitamins and minerals. It’s a well-balanced shake that’s high in protein, so it will be a good choice for you if you want to build muscle.

With this product, you can replace up to two meals each day. If you’re busy and need something quick, this can be the right option for you.

This product is also meant to lose weight. Pair this product with vigorous exercise, and you will likely lose weight and build muscle in no time.

Remember to eat healthy foods during the meals you don’t replace and consult a dietician if you have any doubts.

The biggest complaint about this product is that it needs to be blended for it to taste well.

Get the Best Price for Yes You Can! Complete Meal Replacement Here

11. Bariatric Advantage Meal Replacements (Banana)Bariatric Advantage Meal Replacements

  • Serving Size: 2 scoops
  • Calories: 150
  • Protein: 27 grams
  • Carbs: 7 grams
  • Fat: 2 grams
  • Flavors: Banana, Chocolate, Cookies & Cream, Creme, Iced Latte, Orange Cream, Strawberry, Vanilla

This meal replacement shake is lactose-free. If you’re lactose intolerant, you should be able to consume these shakes without any problems.

This product is a low carb meal replacement that’s high in protein. It should keep you full for a while, although probably not as long as some of the high carb options. There are eight different flavors to choose from, so there should be something for everyone.

This shake boasts partial servings of 23 different vitamins and minerals.

If you replace one meal a day and have one or two other meals filled with fruit, veggies, and protein, you should be able to receive all of your nutrients in a day.

Many say the flavors aren’t as good as other brands out there, so that is something to be aware of. Try mixing the powder with milk and frozen fruit to create a smoothie if you don’t quite like the flavor.

Get the Best Price for Bariatric Advantage Meal Replacements Here

12. MET-Rx Natural Whey Protein Powder (Chocolate)MET-Rx Natural Whey Protein Powder

  • Serving Size: 1 scoop
  • Calories: 160
  • Protein: 25 grams
  • Carbs: 10 grams
  • Fat: 2.5 grams
  • Flavors: Chocolate, Vanilla

This protein shake supports building lean muscle. It’s meant to be a supplement used once or twice a day, but it can also be used as a meal replacement since it has high protein and a fair amount of carbs.

This product is gluten-free and non-GMO. It’s low in sugar with only 4 grams and contains 12 different vitamins and minerals.

This product contains plenty of Vitamin C and Vitamin D, which helps with immune health.

Recent reviews say that this product has changed what formula it uses and no longer has the same taste that it used to, but it still mixes well and has a good consistency.

Get the Best Price for MET-Rx Natural Whey Protein Powder Here

13. RSP TrueFit Meal Replacement Protein Shake (Grass-Fed Unflavored)RSP TrueFit Meal Replacement Protein Shake

  • Serving Size: 1 scoop
  • Calories: 160
  • Protein: 25 grams
  • Carbs: 10 grams
  • Fat: 3 grams
  • Flavors: Chocolate, Cold Brew Coffee, Grass-Fed Chocolate, Grass-Fed Cinnamon Churro, Grass-Fed Unflavored, Grass-Fed Vanilla, Vanilla

This is another great choice if you’re looking for something sustainable for both you and the planet. This meal replacement is high in protein and has a decent amount of carbs, so it should keep you full until your next meal.

This product is unflavored, but they also have several flavors available, many of them made with grass-fed whey protein.

This is a flexible product that you can put in almost anything since it has an unflavored version.

You can put the powder in many different recipes if you don’t want to drink it as a shake. Or, you can make a shake with your own flavors and not have to rely on the flavor of the powder.

It isn’t recommended to drink the unflavored powder by itself. If you don’t plan on adding fresh or frozen fruit or a drink flavoring powder to it, it’s recommended that you buy a flavored option.

Get the Best Price for RSP TrueFit Meal Replacement Protein Shake Here

How to Gain Muscle

If you’re looking for muscle gain, it’s important to know where to start. It’s important to focus on well-balanced meals, exercise, and proper hydration for general health.

However, to gain muscle, you have to do a few things differently.

Eat Protein

Protein is essential for muscle gain. You’re more likely to see results if you eat protein with each meal to make sure you’re getting enough.

For muscle gain, it’s recommended that you eat 1 gram of protein per pound of your weight (2.2 grams of protein per kilogram).

So, if you weigh 150 pounds (about 68 kilograms), you should eat 150 grams of protein throughout the day.

Eat Healthy Fats

Trans-fat is an unhealthy fat found in margarine and oil. You can also find this fat in fast food and packaged foods since many of these items are fried or contain margarine. They can be found naturally in meat and milk in small quantities.

Trans-fats have been deemed unhealthy by the World Health Organization and shouldn’t be consumed. Small amounts are okay if you only eat them in the natural products they’re found in, but you shouldn’t consume too many of them.

Healthy fats, on the other hand, are highly beneficial to your overall health. They can make you feel full so you’ll eat less.

Trying to lose weight or gain muscle? Healthy fats will benefit you.

You can find healthy fats in avocados, olives, nuts, seeds, soy products, and tofu. Try to include healthy fats in all of your meals and, as always, keep a balance between healthy fats, carbs, and protein.

Most meal replacement shakes are low in fat. If you replace one meal a day with a shake, make sure your other two meals have fats in them.

Try mixing up an avocado or peanut butter in with your shake to include fat in the drink.

Eat Breakfast

Starting the day out with a protein-packed breakfast will jumpstart your day with energy and help keep you full until lunch. If you start your day out with a healthy meal, you’re more likely to eat healthily for the rest of the day.

Meal replacement shakes can be a great substitute for breakfast. Find the shake that’s right for your lifestyle.

Whether you want a low carb diet or not, a meal replacement shake should have some carbs to keep you satisfied for more than just an hour or so.

With lots of protein and some carbs, a shake can start your day right and encourage you to continue eating healthy throughout the day.

Don’t Leave Out Fruits and Vegetables

Protein is necessary for muscle gain, but you can’t leave out everything else. As you eat protein with each meal, be sure to get plenty of fruits and vegetables, too.

These whole foods provide vitamins and minerals and are necessary to sustain life. Try eating fruit with breakfast, greens with lunch, and a variety of vegetables with dinner.

You can also add fruits and vegetables to your meal replacement shake.

Several shakes on the market have plenty of vitamins and minerals, but it doesn’t hurt to pack in more nutrients, especially if you’re the type of person who tends to skip out on lunch.

Try adding blueberries or strawberries to your shake with spinach or kale. Berries and greens are always a healthy addition to shakes, and they don’t impact the flavor too much. Greens are usually undetectable.

Drink Plenty of Water

Water is the source of life. Staying hydrated will maintain muscle mass and prevent you from feeling hungry since it will help you keep your stomach full.

Many people mistake thirst for hunger. Tiredness, dizziness, and nausea are symptoms of both hunger and thirst. If you feel these things, your first instinct might be to grab a packaged snack.

Drink plenty of water, so you don’t end up eating when you’re actually thirsty. Drink water consistently – don’t just wait until you feel thirsty.

Consistent drinking will prevent you from feeling thirsty. If you’re full from your last meal and aren’t thirsty, you won’t snack as often, which will help you keep your weight down so you can focus on building muscles.

Protein Sources

If you need a lot of protein to build muscle, it’s important to know where to get it from. The following are good sources of protein:

  • Dairy and eggs
  • Fish, poultry, red meat
  • Lentils, nuts, seeds, tofu
  • Whey

High protein meal replacement shakes are a great source of protein. Replacing one meal a day can help you get some protein that you wouldn’t otherwise eat.

If you don’t cook meat at home very often or rely on a plant-based diet, it can be difficult to achieve high amounts of protein if you don’t eat a lot or frequently skip meals.

A protein shake with around 30 grams can be beneficial to your muscle gaining efforts.

If you need ideas for how to get enough protein each day, consider a meal plan like this:

  • A high protein shake and an egg or two for breakfast
  • A salad with extra chicken, nuts, and seeds for lunch
  • Chili with beans and cheese for dinner

If you have to greatly change your diet to get enough protein, speak to your doctor or dietician before making major changes. It can be easy to leave out carbs when you want to focus on protein. However, leaving out carbs could be dangerous to your health.

The Healthiest Way to Use Meal Replacement Shakes

Meal replacement shakes can be a great way to get your nutrients if you’re unable to cook. While trying to gain some muscle, it can be difficult to get all the protein you need, especially if you have a full schedule.

Meal replacement shakes are named appropriately because they can actually replace a meal in a pinch.

However, it’s not recommended to use them for every meal. The nutrition that comes from fruits, vegetables, and meat can’t truly be replaced by shakes, even if they’re loaded with vitamins and minerals.

It’s best to only use a meal replacement shake once a day. Replacing 2 or 3 meals can cause you to miss out on the variety of nutrients necessary for gaining muscle.

There are 13 essential vitamins and 16 essential minerals. Many meal replacement shakes will list how many vitamins and minerals they have. The amount they have usually range around 12 to 20. Sometimes they have more or less.

If there are 29 essential vitamins and minerals, but your meal replacement shake only has 15, it isn’t recommended or safe to rely on these shakes for two or more meals each day.

Replacing one meal won’t be too much of an issue and might give you some nutrients your regular diet is missing.

If you’re turning to meal replacement shakes because you’re prone to skipping meals or eating poorly, then the shakes might bring you some excellent benefits in the long run.

If you feel that your diet lacks key nutrients, speak to a health care provider to see what direction you need to take your diet.

Summary

There are several different meal replacement shakes that help with muscle gain on the market. Whether you want to add weight loss or weight gain to the mix, there’s a product out there for you.

The key thing to remember is that protein is the most important macronutrient for muscle gain.

Carbs will keep you full, so look for a meal replacement powder that doesn’t have too few carbs. Many meal replacement shakes will have between 10 – 20 carbs, which is generally a good range.

A balanced diet and exercise are the two main ways you’ll gain muscle, so make sure you’re eating healthy meals full of protein, fruits, and vegetables and are following an exercise routine that will help you gain muscles.

Sources

Julio

Before using meal replacement shakes and exercising, I was obese and on track to having high blood pressure at the age of 25. I'm glad to say I lost 50 pounds and am living a healthier lifestyle than before. Now I like sharing what I learned when I first researched what meal replacement to drink and the best way to lose weight. Learn more about me here...

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