Best meal replacement shakes: Great tasting diet drinks to help with weight loss

Easy and convenient dieting solutions

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Protein Works
Ellie Davis2 minutes ago

It seems so farfetched in the health-conscious era that we live in now that ‘The Special K Challenge’ was such a prolific diet.

Launched in 2004, the cereal brand encouraged its followers to eat solely their goods in a calorie-slashing practice that would help you 'drop a jean size in 2 weeks'. Marketing at its finest.

Of course, this is an incredibly unhealthy way to lose weight. It lacks essential vitamins and minerals, fibre and protein and quite frankly, it doesn’t tickle the taste buds. But the idea of having a cost-effective, convenient and easy-to-follow routine appealed to the masses – and we can understand why.

When you’re dieting, every meal requires thought, planning and research. Alongside a full-time job, family and general life enjoyment, this is not always possible. Enter the shake-based diets that detail your daily meals in easily transportable packaging.

How do shake-based diets work?

Expert Nutritionist, Mark Gilbert explains that it’s more of a catch-all idea. “The term “shake-based diets” is misleading as most have a great deal more to them than just shake products. For example, the 1:1 Diet by Cambridge Weight Plan has 52 different products including pasta, curries, soups, bars, bites, and more. The common attribute across these diets is that their products are made up of low-calorie, nutritionally complete foods”.

What makes these products stand out from the crowd and makes them so popular is their grab-and-go nature. “Most products (including shakes) can be prepared easily and quickly and carried around in a pocket or handbag. This gives them the advantage that, unlike a prepared meal, they are just as convenient as junk food. However, unlike junk food, they are lower in calories and highly nutritious, so they eliminate the ability to use convenience as a reason to eat unhealthy food”, Gilbert confirms.

Do diet shakes work for weight loss?

In short, yes. The nutritionist goes as far as to say that “So-called diet shakes (as well as other nutritionally complete, low-calorie foods) are arguably the best solution for weight loss”. He does stress that they are most effective “when paired with proper support and a proven plan to transition back onto typical food”.

Gilbert references the fact that “Studies looking at popular diets typically average about 10 pounds of weight loss over 12-26 weeks. By contrast, dozens of studies on The 1:1 Diet demonstrate a minimum of 20 to over 40 pounds average weight loss in eight to 12 weeks”.

What are the nutritional benefits?

As a meal replacement, it is important that diet shakes offer all the nutrients that the body needs, all while offering lower-calorie solutions. According to Gilbert, some even find an improved vitamin status and it makes sense. “Most people, across every age and gender category in the UK, are deficient in at least one essential nutrient and those who are overweight or obese are even more likely to be deficient. The proteins and fats in the products are also of a specific quality and come from sources that deliver optimum amounts of the essential elements the body needs”.

Are diet shakes bad for you?

“This is a common myth”, says Gilbert. “In fact, these diets have an array of benefits when given with adequate support. They rapidly cause blood pressure to reduce, and cholesterol and other blood fat levels usually improve too. Two studies (which both used The 1:1 Diet products and plan) have shown the diet to reverse diabetes in a little over half of patients. This was despite them being taken off their diabetes medication at the outset of the study”.

He also refers to the University of Oxford DROPLET study that “showed improvements in cardiometabolic health, which means that the diet improved heart health risk and improved several other measures of a healthy metabolism. Other studies show that The 1:1 Diet leads to improvements in sleep, inflammation, skin conditions, quality of life, fertility, and reduces excess fat in the liver and pancreas”.

How long should you use them for?

While the Special K Challenge was designed to be a short-term solution, “MRP (Meal Replacement Products) can be used indefinitely to replace a meal or two per day, provided the dieter is still eating regular food alongside them”, explains Gilbert. “However, make sure that the product you choose complies with regulations, which ensure that it contains all the important nutrients our bodies require”.

On the other hand, “TDR (Total Diet Replacement) products are a bit different. This means all of your meals are nutritionally-complete, low-calorie food products. The guidance is to use them for a maximum of 12 weeks. However, there is no specific research supporting this as a maximum timeframe”.

Shop the best diet shakes below

Cambridge Weight Plan The 1:1 Diet

Cambridge Weight Plan

When curating the 1:1 Diet, Cambridge Weight Plan placed just as much importance on keeping the weight off as it has on losing it in the first place. This is made possible by offering meals that can be continually consumed over a long period of time. You start by replacing your three-a-day in its entirety and gradually wean off to use once or twice. With the likes of Golden Syrup Flavour Porridge, Chicken Flavour Noodle Soup and Cherry & Strawberry Flavour Smoothie, the products are surprisingly satisfying. The taster pack containing six of the dieters’ favourites are £9.99.

Buy now£9.99, Cambridge Weight Plan

SlimFast Balanced Meal Shake


SlimFast is no doubt a name you will recognise as it’s a hugely popular diet shakes label that is almost synonymous with the style of eating. The shakes are designed to be incorporated into your day as either one or two meals. They are high in protein (14g) and fibre and have no added sugar. Totalling at just 225 calories, it’s a quick and easy weight loss alternative that requires just two scoops of the powder followed by 250ml of milk. There is an extensive selection of flavours available, from Café Latte to Vanilla but for one that won’t make you feel like you’re depriving yourself, stick to Strawberry.

Buy now£7.20, Amazon

USN Diet Fuel UltraLean Strawberry Meal Replacement Shake


USN is one of the leaders in the fitness food space renowned for its protein powders and performance-boosting supplements. To pair alongside exercise, you can shake up this flavoured meal replacement from the brand in order to cut calories, while still incorporating all the necessary nutrients that the body requires, especially when it comes to building muscle. There are four flavours; chocolate, banana caramel, vanilla and the most popular, strawberry.

Buy now£35.09, Amazon

Bulk 1™ Complete Food Shake


Packed with protein, high in fibre and low in sugar, it’s hard to beat Bulk’s trademarked 1 Complete Food Shake if you’re looking for health and flavour at the same time. The vegan-friendly ingredients list never seems to end on this meal replacement shake - in a good way.

Each shake includes a rainbow of superfoods including sweet potato, avocado, coconut, pumpkin seeds and peas as well as added essential vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes and live cultures to rack up your nutritional intake.

Buy now£19.49, Bulk

SCI-MX Diet Meal Replacement Shake


SCI-MX takes a science-first approach to the formulation of its meal replacement shakes. Each serving is just 209 calories but you are getting a nutritionally rich and balanced combination of all the key vitamins, including calcium, zinc, magnesium, copper and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E and K. This ensures that while you may be forgoing your typical meals, you should still feel energetic and healthy. Just two scoops are required and you can take them on the go for easy convenience. This is one to replace the odd meal rather than a total replacement.

Buy now£15.99, Amazon

Shake That Weight Strawberry Shake

Shake That Weight

Whether you choose to shake it up with skimmed milk, plant-based alternatives or simply water, you should still be able to find some joy in the strawberry flavouring of this meal alternative. Offering 206 calories a serving, you can be content in the knowledge that you are treating your body to over 20 essential vitamins and minerals, all without nasties or artificial sweeteners.

Buy now£1.75, Shake That Weight



OPTIFAST is another well-known brand in the diet space that will take the daily ‘what to eat’ dilemma and switch it up with nutritional, speedy and low-calorie options. In each of the sachets, there are 216 calories, while still remaining chock full of vitamins and minerals. The best tasting is the chocolate but there are many others available including caramel, banana and coffee.

Buy now£20.49, OPTIFAST

Protein Works Diet Meal Replacement Shake

Protein Works

When you have a hectic lifestyle, it can be challenging to be healthy with faster food options. But Protein Works is here to change that by offering a protein-dense solution that comes in six flavours and at just 250 calories per serving. Not one of those overly artificially flavoured options, this meal replacement takes its composition from real food ingredients that offer slow but steady energy release to prevent that diet slump. The most popular is the Chocolate Silk.

Buy now£39.90, Amazon