Meal Replacement Shakes: Drink BEFORE or AFTER Workout?

meal replacement shake - before or after workout

Meal replacement shakes are growing in popularity, so you might consider using them. However, what if you want to use them as fuel for your exercise? Should you use them before or after?

Meal replacement shakes can be used both before and after exercise. If you take them before exercise, you will get the energy you need to perform well. If you take a meal replacement shake after exercise, you will aid your post-workout recovery process.

To learn all about the benefits of drinking meal replacement shakes before and after your exercise and some other useful information, read on.

What Happens if You Drink a Meal Replacement Shake Before Exercise?

While you can drink a meal replacement shake before exercise, it’s important that you understand how the body processes and uses food before deciding to do so.

Your body needs food to work. Many people believe that if they don’t eat and they exercise, they can lose weight more quickly. However, you need to eat to perform and achieve healthy weight loss.

If you are well-fed, you can exercise more and spend more calories. Being hungry will just make your exercise shorter and less intense.

While you exercise, especially when working on your strength, your muscles will do more work than normal. They will need food to help them go through the exercise without getting any damage.

However, eating too much and too heavy could also slow you down. So, how do you give yourself the nutrients you need without going overboard?

Well, your muscles need protein the most, but they also need fats and carbs.

  • Protein will repair your muscles and allow you to build more muscle mass.
  • Fats will make you feel full and help your other nutrients get absorbed.
  • Finally, carbs can help you with your energy levels.

All three are equally important, and you should make sure that you take all three before working out.

You could take these in the form of regular food, as long as it’s healthy food.

However, you could also take them in the form of a meal replacement shake, especially if you think that a full meal could make you feel heavy and sleepy.

Meal replacement shakes will contain the protein in the form of protein powder, healthy fats like the ones coming from coconut oil, and complex carbs.

They shouldn’t have any sweeteners, but you can add healthier sweeteners if the taste is not good enough. Meal replacement shakes that also have vitamins and minerals will also help with your exercise routine.

All of these nutrients will help you make the most of your exercise. However, make sure that you are not just drinking meal replacement shakes. This will not help you get stronger or lose weight faster.

Meal replacement shakes are great when you are in a rush or as a snack, but the majority of your diet should be regular food if you want to maintain or grow your strength.

If you want to take meal replacement shakes before your workouts, to give you that extra strength, take them at least an hour before your exercise session, or more, for ideal results.

What Happens if You Drink a Meal Replacement Shake After Exercise?

After exercising, you’ll probably feel tired and hungry. This is because you use a lot of energy while working out, especially after a strength exercise.

Your body also needs to heal itself from all the stress you’ve caused to muscle tissues. The faster your recovery, the more you’ll be able to exercise.

But to recover, your body needs nutrients.

Most importantly, your body needs protein and carbs. While you would have digested some protein and carbs with your meal replacement shake before a workout, you would also use up a lot of those nutrients while exercising. So, it’s important to replenish those nutrients.

Eating a meal replacement shake after a workout will help your body recover much faster, and it will also allow you to feel energetic.

The protein in the meal replacement shake will give your body amino acids, which will then repair your muscles, and carbs will give your body glycogen, which will help you feel better.

You need to make sure that you get a shake, which has both, with some additional vitamins and minerals, which will boost your recovery.

You can take a meal replacement shake immediately after a workout — although you should give your body a few moments to cool down and relax.

In general, meal replacement shakes give you an easy way to get enough nutrients. You should still eat solid foods and ensure that you get your vitamins, protein, carbs, and fats that way.

However, in a pinch, a meal replacement shake can give you enough of everything so that your body can start repairing the muscle tissues. They can help you stave off hunger as well.

Even if you don’t take them immediately before or after an exercise, they can still be beneficial for your muscles and strength.

Other Best Times to Take a Meal Replacement Shake

Meal replacement shakes aren’t just something to take before or after exercise — although it is beneficial.

You can also enjoy taking them and reap all of the benefits of taking meal replacement shakes if you eat them at other times, especially if you are trying to lose weight or improve your strength.

Here are some of the best times to take a meal replacement shake:

At Breakfast

One of the biggest myths of weight loss is that not eating will help you lose weight faster, especially skipping breakfast.

It’s the easiest meal to skip since many people work in the morning and often don’t have time to eat. However, this is also one of the biggest mistakes people make when on a weight loss journey.

For one, you fail to kickstart your metabolism if you skip breakfast.

You also put yourself at risk of snacking on something unhealthy or binge eating later during the day.

In those situations, people usually crave junk food, and no one is really going to be satisfied with a piece of fruit or something similar. So skipping breakfast will probably slow your weight loss down.

However, if you take a meal replacement shake in the morning, you avoid all of these issues, and you set yourself up for a good day.

The best thing about meal replacement shakes is that they are quick to make and carry. So, even if you are super busy in the morning, you can find a few moments to whip up a meal replacement shake and drink it on your way to work.

You will not overeat or feel too full to work after taking them since they are quite light and easy to consume.

Plus, you are getting all of the micro and macronutrients that your body needs. You’ll be more energetic and in a better mood if you eat in the morning, even if it’s nothing more than a meal replacement shake.

Instead of Lunch

girl drinking early morning meal replacement shakeWhile people tend to skip breakfast, everyone loves a good lunch.

However the problem is, most people are at work during lunch, for the majority of the week. No one has the time or the resources to make something healthy at work, and making meals at home to bring to work can get boring pretty quickly.

So, what’s left are vending machines, junk food, meals at restaurants with friends, etc.

None of these options are healthy, and all tend to throw people off track when it comes to weight loss and a healthy lifestyle.

Plus, coming up with new meals for every day of the weak that are both going to keep you full and that taste great — while being light and healthy — is difficult.

So, meal replacement shakes can be a decent solution. Of course, you don’t have to make them every day of the week, but they are great for those days when you can’t think of anything or just need something quick since you don’t have the time.

Meal replacement shakes can keep you full, but they are also low in calories and full of nutrients. They are quick to eat, easy to make and carry.

They will also keep you full enough until later in the day when you get home to avoid ordering a ton of junk food because of hunger.

And if you tend to work out before or after work, having a shake handy will help you reap all of those benefits mentioned above.

As a Snack

On a busy schedule, most people will forget about their snacks. Or, they will cave in and get something unhealthy for a snack, such as a chocolate bar, chips, or something similar.

However, you are not doing yourself any favors with this. A snack should be healthy and filling enough to take you from one meal to another without issues.

And while meal replacement shakes can be full of nutrients as any full, regular meal, you can also make them lighter, so they can be used as a snack.

Anything that is below 200 calories can be an excellent snack. For this, you can just use your shake mix with water, for instance. However, make sure that you are taking equal parts protein and carbs.

Instead of Sweets

Another time when people are tested is when they have a craving for something sweet. We all have those, and it can create a bit of a problem in your weight loss journey.

Sweets are usually very caloric, but they don’t give you almost any healthy nutrients. Plus, you can easily spend your entire calorie budget with a few doughnuts or cinnamon rolls.

If you want to avoid these cravings, give yourself something sweet that will not make you gain weight. Meal replacement shakes will give you an excellent chance to get the sugar that you need without going overboard.

For example, when you start to feel a craving, make half of a shake or a full one, if you want to, with some vanilla extracts or a bit of chocolate taste. Throw in some ice, and you’ll feel just like you’re eating an ice-cream.

Or you can blend some bananas with a bit of cocoa and get an excellent sweet treat without all of those pesky calories.

Benefits of Meal Replacement Shakes

Meal replacement shakes are an excellent option for people who are on a diet or just want to improve their lifestyle. They are very popular, and many people take them instead of snacks or some meals.

Here are a few reasons that explain why they’re so popular:

Full of Protein

People on a diet are often hungry — there’s nothing new about this.

However, it’s this hunger that often makes them stop their weight loss journey and takes them back to junk food. This is not good, especially when the possible solution for that hunger is so simple.

The biggest reason why many people feel hungry when dieting is that they don’t take enough protein. Protein is a nutrient that can help you feel full for a longer amount of time.

Junk food doesn’t have a lot of protein, but it is quite heavy, so it keeps you full without giving your body what it needs, so you’re always craving more.

However, protein will keep you full, and it won’t add more weight to your body. Meal replacement shakes are full of protein, so you’ll have a much easier time sticking to your diet.

At the same time, protein is healthy for many other things in your body, mainly when it comes to your muscles and muscle repair.

Full of Nutrients

Most people don’t take enough macro and micronutrients through their regular meals — sometimes, those levels are hard to reach, taking a lot of dedication.

To reach the levels of these nutrients that your body needs to work in the best way possible, you would need to spend a lot of time developing new recipes and making these meals. However, most people don’t have time for that.

So we often get meals that don’t give us enough vitamins, minerals, protein, carbs, and good fats.

This is where meal replacement shakes can be helpful. In a small amount of food, you get everything that you need in a meal.

This can improve your health, as long as you still take regular meals and strive towards a healthy lifestyle.

Easy to Make

One of the biggest reasons people give up on their path to a healthier lifestyle is the lack of time. Healthy, filling meals take a lot of time to make, and when you have a busy schedule, that time is often unavailable.

Even when you do have time, people are often too tired to spend a few hours in the kitchen.

Junk food, on the other hand, is always easy to get. You just have to stop by a cart on the street or call up the delivery guy.

A good solution for this is, again, taking meal replacement shakes. They take only a few moments to make, and they can easily fit into any bag.

They are easy to consume as well — you won’t need any cutlery or plates. Take it in a cup on your way to work or while you’re at your desk.

They Can Prevent Cravings

Binge eating happens to all of us. It can happen when we haven’t eaten enough that day, and we are too hungry to stop or when it’s a lazy Sunday afternoon, and there’s something fun on TV.

However, the main point is that binge eating happens, and most likely to the people who want to lose weight.

Meal replacement shakes can help you with this issue. When you’re not hungry, there’s no need to binge eat, and you’ll have a much easier time resisting the cravings.

With all of the nutrients that they provide, your body won’t ask for anything more.

Perfect on the Go

Many people spend a lot of time traveling for work, which can mean plenty of unhealthy food — whatever is easiest to get. If you travel to new destinations, you could also be tempted by local food without knowing how healthy or unhealthy it really is.

However, if your goal is to stay healthy, this is not a good way to go. So, instead of reaching for the easiest snack while traveling for work, take a meal replacement shake.

It’s easy to make, and it will fit into any form of transportation. What you need to make meal replacement shakes are easy to store in any hotel room that you stay in. Often, all you need is a shaker cup.

You will get all the nutrients that you need if you can’t stop to take a full, healthy meal. This means enough protein, carbs, fats, and various micronutrients that will keep you feeling full while you travel. This way, you can continue to travel, work, and still form healthy eating habits.


As explained, meal replacement shakes are a good addition to your healthy lifestyle. They can help you get through hunger between meals, serve as an excellent snack at work, and help your body perform better during and after exercise.

They usually offer a complete profile of nutrients that most people don’t take with their regular meals, so a shake could be exactly what you need.

shakeology chocolate flavorAdditionally, don’t eat a large meal directly before an exercise since you could start feeling sick, or you could feel heavy, preventing you from working out to the best of your abilities.

If you need something before you exercise, keep it as a light solid meal or drink a meal replacement shake.

If you’re looking for a nutrient dense meal replacement shake, then check out the Beachbody Shakeology shake.

This meal replacement shake offers the following core nutrient groups: Protein, Superfruits & Antioxidants, Prebiotics & Probiotics, Adaptogens, Supergreens & Phytonutrients, and Vitamins & Minerals.

With so much nutrition, Shakeology easily out performs any other meal replacement on the market because they focus more so on protein, carbs, fiber, and some vitamins & minerals.

If you’re looking for a powerful meal replacement shake, read this Shakeology review

Our Top Recommended Meal Replacement Shakes




Beachbody Shakeology


Shakeology is our most recommended meal replacement shake because it's a nutrient dense shake that includes:

  • Protein
  • Digestive Enzymes
  • Prebiotics & Probiotics
  • Adaptogens
  • Superfoods
  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamins & Minerals
  • Omega-3 From ALA

Thus, making it perfect for weight loss, increased energy, digestive health, reduced cravings, and overall better health.

Plus, Shakeology has stood the test of time as it has been around since 2009 without compromising its whole food ingredients. Instead, Shakeology has improved their flavors in taste and potency, and has even added vegan and gluten free options.

Learn More About The Clinically Tested Shakeology Shake Here


Ample Meal

Ample Meal

Ample Meal is an interesting meal replacement as it focuses more on healthy fats. Ample Meal includes:

  • Healthy Fats with Coconut & Macadamia Nut Oil
  • Prebiotics & Probiotics
  • Antioxidants
  • Electrolytes

With Ample Meal, you can get a nice fulling 400 calorie meal with 2 scoops or do a single scoop of 200 calories if your goal is weight loss. Similar to Shakeology, it’s free of all the artificial junk that most meal replacement shakes have today.

Learn More About Ample Meal Here


Macro Meal


MacroMeal is another interesting meal replacement shake as it contains a blend of fast, medium, and slow digesting protein that delivers sustained energy. MacoMeal also includes the following core ingredients:

  • Coconut Oil Powder
  • Antioxidants
  • Probiotics
  • Multivitamins & Minerals

Although not technically a meal replacement as it’s low in carbohydrates, people have found it to be filling because of the MCT oils and slow digesting proteins.

Learn More About MacroMeal Here



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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