Are Meal Replacement Shakes The Same As Protein Shakes?

Replacement Shakes

Are meal replacement shakes the same as protein shakes? Nope, they’re not. They are different products indeed, and serve a different purpose although there is some overlap.

Protein shakes cannot be used as meal replacements, since they don’t have the minerals and vitamins need to make them fully nutritious. So in other words, they are not the complete package. They are more a supplement to your existing diet.

What are Meal And Protein Replacement Shakes?

Meal replacement shakes are products intended to substitute the nutritional value of food, but with lower calorie intake. They can be used while trying to cut weight by substituting a meal, or if you’re on the go and don’t have time for a full meal. They contain minerals, fats, vitamins, and proteins for weight maintenance.

A meal replacement shake has a balanced nutrient profile that provides a portioned meal in the form of a shake. They are made with varied flavors such as chocolate, vanilla, chia, and mocha. They are beneficial since they are easy to prepare (really, no prep), help in weight loss, and are quick to drink. (1)

Protein shakes are drinks intended to add protein to a diet. They are mostly used for muscle gain and athletic performance. They are available in different flavors including strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate. Protein shakes can be high in sugar (but not necessarily), have no essential vitamins and minerals, and can be taken as snacks before and after workouts. (2)

Protein shakes have the following advantages:

  • They increase your metabolism
  • They help you to cut weight
  • Helps in building lean muscle after weight training
Best Meal Replacement Shakes

What Are the Differences Between Meal and Protein Replacement Shakes?

Meal replacement and protein shakes are designed for different purposes and contain different components. 

Some of these differences include:

Protein Shakes

  • They should be taken before or after the workout
  • They generally contain low carbohydrates
  • They are intended to supplement a regular diet
  • They have limited added minerals and vitamins apart from those provided by protein sources.
  • Typical make up to 25-40 grams of protein per serving. (3)
  • Protein shakes are used for muscle gain and athletic performance
  • They can be used for both weight gain and weight loss
  • Allows for a boost of protein intake to ensure muscle strength and growth
  • Reduces calorie consumption
  • Focuses on protein consumption

Meal Replacement Shakes

  • They contain more carbohydrates and fiber
  • They are used as substitutes for a meal
  • They contain minerals, vitamins, and proteins
  • They are intended to keep you full longer
  • They generally contain more calories per serving than a protein shake
  • They are designed to help with weight control
  • Focus on well-balanced meal replacement and generally packed with nutrition
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Can Protein Shakes Be Used as Meal Replacements?

Protein shakes cannot be used as meal replacement shakes since they don’t have the range of vitamins and minerals required to make them fully nutritious. Instead, they are used to complete a meal and as amino acid supplements for a person.

Final Thought

Both proteins and meal replacement shakes have their uses, and both likely fit into you weekly diet.

For example, if your goal is to increase your diet’s minerals, vitamins, and general nutrition, you should go for a meal replacement shake. And there are many varieties, such as keto shakes and vegan shakes.

On the other hand, if your goal is to add more weight and muscle mass, choose protein shakes since they are great for building and repairing muscle tissues.

Can you use protein shakes to replace a meal? Click here to learn more. Click to learn how meal replacement shakes are used for weight loss.

Click to see the benefits of meal replacement shakes. Click to see our guides and recommendations on the best meal replacement shakes.

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  • Plant-based Meal Replacement Shakes
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Philip Stefanov

Philip is a fitness writer, blogger, certified personal trainer, and the founder of He has spent the last nine years writing fitness content and training men and women in the gym, as well as online. His passion is fitness and exercise, and helping others improve their fitness and wellness.

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  1. Gornall, L. (2022, June 16). Should you use a meal replacement shake to lose weight? LiveScience.
  2. Walle, G. V. D. (2021, November 2). Should you have a protein shake before or after your workout? Healthline.
  3. Deczynski, R. (2021, August 4). The 8 protein shakes registered Dietitians actually recommend. Health.

Click to see our medical disclosure.