Meal Replacement vs Protein Shake

Protein Powder Shake

Have you wondered about meal replacement vs protein shake, and which is better for you? And which should you pick based on your goals and end game? Is one inherently better than the other?

Both options have grown in popularity over the last few years, and countless people wonder which one might be better for them. And just how different are they when it’s all tallied up.

To that end, we’ve put together this post to outline the two options and help you make the right choice.

Let’s dive in.

What Is ‘Meal Replacement’?

Meal replacement refers to products (dietary supplements and such) designed to replace the nutritional value of a typical meal. Such replacements provide a healthy blend of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Some of these products also provide dietary fiber, which is necessary for the gastrointestinal and cardiovascular systems. (1)

Meal replacements are typically prepared as shakes that you can enjoy on the go. They work particularly well for busy individuals who don’t have the time to cook nutritious meals.

What Are Protein Shakes?

Protein shakes can also be seen as a form of meal replacement. These are typically made by mixing protein powder with a liquid (water, milk, juice, etc.).

You can also include other things in the mix, such as oats, bananas, nuts, dried fruit, and more. Some protein shake recipes don’t need protein powder and instead rely on other high-protein sources.

The most notable benefit of protein shakes is that you get a concentrated dose of the nutrient (protein), making it easier to reach your daily goals. 

Instead of eating yet another steak, serving of scrambled eggs, or another high-protein meal, you can drink a quick shake and go about your day, knowing that your body has the amino acids it needs.

So protein shakes typically have a higher dose of what it’s intended for…protein!

Meal Replacement

Meal Replacement vs. Protein Shakes: Who’s The Winner?

As you can see, meal replacement and protein shakes are similar in some ways but differ in their objectives. A protein shake is designed to provide a concentrated protein dose, which can be helpful for getting enough of the nutrient each day. So it’s a great supplement for your workout routines.

Protein shakes can also be beneficial, thanks to their convenience. Instead of worrying about having a meal after a demanding training session, you can mix some protein powder with water or milk and enjoy. Plus, you can cover your protein needs without having to eat yet another steak or serving of scrambled eggs with cottage cheese.

Another option is to double dose the protein intake. So you can mix a powerhouse 100% Tri-Protein powder from CrazyNutrition with a liquid protein drink, like Muscle Milk or Core Power. This is a powerful dose of protein, and relatively lean on the calories. 

And doing this mix after a workout will not only fuel your growth and recovery, but it’s also a delicious reward for a great workout!

Crazy Nutrition Tri-Protein

Crazy Nutrition 100% Tri-Protein

  • 3X More Effective Than Standard Wheys
  • 6 Proteins for Max Protein Synthesis
  • Made With Digestive Enzymes
  • Appetite Suppressant for Long Periods
  • Delicious Flavors
  • All Natural Ingredients
  • 60-day Money Back Guarantee

Meal replacement shakes are similar to protein shakes in that you don’t have to worry about sitting down for a meal, but can get some needed nutrients in your body on the go. And we all have days when the schedule is tight, so having these option in your wheelhouse is a great way to supplement your diet and health.

The key in selecting the right meal replacement shake really comes down to the ingredients, the cost, and of course the taste. We all like to prioritize the healthy side of the equation, but the reality is, if it does not taste good then you likely will look for a different shake.

The primary difference is that a meal replacement shake provides a more balanced dose of all the necessary nutrients your body needs. As such, it might not be ideal for covering your daily protein needs. (2)

So when purchasing a meal replacement shake, make sure that it covers the spectrum in terms of nutrition. These are some important factors to look for:

  • A strong dose of vitamins and minerals.
  • Watch the sugar content – not more that 10-15 g of sugar, and under 10 grams is ideal.
  • A good serving of protein.
  • Gluten-free and Non-GMO is key.
  • A few grams of fiber is good to have.
  • Watch the calories, and not more than 300 calories is ideal

Our favorite meal replacement shake is PhenQ. They have all the bases covered, and a delicious taste to boot.

PhenQ Complete Meal Replacement Shake

PhenQ Complete Meal Shake

  • Replaces one full meal
  • Assists with natural weight loss
  • Will boost your energy levels
  • Helps you to control cravings
  • 16 grams of whey protein
  • 13 key Vitamins & Minerals
  • 3 delicious flavors


Meal replacement vs protein shakes is not always cut and dry. Like many things fitness-related it depends on your goals and preferences. 

Meal replacement and protein shakes are similar in many ways. Both are liquids you consume to replace a meal and supply your body with essential nutrients. 

The primary difference is that protein shakes provide more protein and less of everything else (carbs, fats, vitamins, etc.). In contrast, a meal replacement shake aims to replicate the nutritional value of a typical meal.

And there are several options for meal replacement shakes depending on your goals and preferences. For keto, checkout or keto meal replacement shakes. And for vegan, we have our top vegan meal replacement shakes.

You should pick the one you need based on your goals, overall diet, and lifestyle.

Can a protein shake replace a meal? Click here to learn more. If you want to use meal replacement shakes to lose weight, click here to learn more.

Click to see best meal replacement shakes and the benefits of meal replacement shakes.

Vegan 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. MediLexicon International. (n.d.). Dietary fiber: Why do we need it? Medical News Today.
  2. Contributors, W. M. D. E. (n.d.). Meal replacement shakes: Are they good for your health? WebMD.

Click to see our medical disclosure.