4th February 2019

What to Look for in a Shake

While we think that real food is normally best, there are times when meal replacements and shakes can be great in kickstarting a diet, for a quick breakfast or a convenient meal when short of time.

After decades of focus on low fat first, sadly not all meal replacements shakes are great for supporting Mediterranean style lifestyles – here are some areas to watch out for:

  • No Added Sugar – Many meal replacements contain quite a lot of sugar or simple carbs to improve the taste and offset the low-fat content in them. This makes them cheap to produce but we think that going low carb is more helpful for dealing with hunger and weight loss. We therefore recommend you look for a shake that contains a relatively low level of sugar and simple carbs.
  • Protein and Fat – higher levels of protein and quality fats are key in keeping you fuller for longer, providing taste and avoiding the extra sugar trap. These are key in avoiding cravings shortly after. Decent levels of quality protein are also essential for preserving muscle mass. Shakes containing nuts, olive oil and similar high quality fats and proteins are helpful.
  • Fibre – key to any diet is fibre and other complex carbs, so make sure that the shakes you choose are high in fibre to maintain balance. Aim for between 25-30g per day*.
  • Micro Nutrients– there is much more to a meal than just macro nutrients – so when looking for the right meal replacements, make sure it contains good quantities of the minerals and vitamins needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The recommended minerals and vitamins should be available on the label of the shakes and you can find out what recommendations are here.

And, importantly, try not to aim for full meal replacements, but eat as a snack or a replacement meal from time to time, for example when you’re too busy to cook for yourself. Remember, in the long run real food is always best.

*If you have an inflammatory bowel condition, talk to your regular GP as an increase in fibre can have an impact on your condition.

The content on the Fast 800 is meant to be informative in nature, but it shouldn’t take the place of qualified medical advice. If you’re looking to make a significant change to your diet and training regimen, or to replace a significant percentage of your food with shakes, please consult your medical professional first.

So, what shakes are out there?

1) Slimfast

Slimfast are one of the largest meal replacements companies out there today. They offer a shake powder aimed at helping people lose weight by regularly replacing up to two of their meals a day.

Nutritional Info

1 serving = 36.5g (137.5 kcal)

  • High sugar – 23g per 100g
  • High carb – 69g per 100g
  • Low fat – 2.9g per 100g
  • Lower Protein – 6.2g per 100g (improved using milk to mix it)
  • Fibre – 2.1g per 100g
  • Good Micro-nutrients  – Contain good quantities of 23 key vitamins and minerals (in 800 kcal)

Available in the UK & Australia

Estimated based on SlimFast Summer Strawberry Flavour Meal Replacement, with the nutritional info of 250ml of skimmed milk removed for a consistent comparison

2) Elle Belle

Elle Belle provide whey-based meal replacement shakes – aimed to support both regular meal replacements and also as part of a fasting day.

Nutritional Info

1 serving = 30g (101 kcal)

  • Very High Sugar – 43g per 100g
  • High Carb – 49g per 100g, most of which is sugar
  • Good Fat – 16g per 100g
  • Ok Protein – 26g per 100g
  • Fibre – 4.4g per 100g
  • Micro-nutrient Profile – unclear – described as nutritionally balanced, but with limited details.

Available only in the UK

Based on Elle Belle Meal Replacements

3) Exante Diet

Exante provide shakes aimed at both weight loss and also for people aiming to gain muscle in the gym. The core of the diet consists of 600 calories a day.

Nutritional Info

1 serving = 51g (202 kcal)

  • High Sugar – 27g per 100g
  • High Carb – 33g per 100g
  • Ok Fat – 13.3g per 100g
  • High Protein – 34.9g per 100g
  • Fibre – 8.5g per 100g
  • Good micro-nutrient profile – 100% of most the vitamins & minerals required (in 800 kcal)

Available only in the UK

Based on Meal Replacement Unflavoured Shake

4) Optifast

Optifast are a milk-based meal replacement shake owned by Nestle and intended to provide a ‘liquid only’ diet. They aim to provide nutrition in under 800 calories but are intended only for the significantly obese and often require prescription from a doctor.

Nutritional Info

1 serving = 43.5g (160 kcal)

  • Low sugar – 9g per 100g (all additional added sugar)
  • High in carbs – 41g per 100g
  • Relatively low fat – 8g per 100g
  • High protein – 37g per 100g
  • Fibre – 8g per 100g
  • Very good micro-nutrient profile – 100% of most the vitamins & minerals required (in 800 kcal)

Available in the UK, Australia and New Zealand

Based on Optifast VLCD Chocolate Shake

5) Huel

Huel are an oat-based shake, aimed at providing complete nutrition in 2000 kcal. They aim to provide all the nutrition that the body needs if you switch entirely to Huel and eat 2000 calories of it a day.

Nutritional Information

1 serving = 100g (400 kcal)

  • Very low in sugar – 1g per 100g
  • High in carbs – 37.4g per 100g (as mostly powdered oats)
  • Ok fat – 13.4g per 100g
  • Good protein – 30.1g per 100g
  • Fibre – 7.7g per 100g
  • Good micro-nutrient profile in 2000 kcal – with 100% of 26 key minerals and vitamins. However, if on a fasting day, would require additional supplements.

Available in the UK

6) Celebrity Slim

Celebrity slim provide shakes that aim to help sustain energy for weight loss and are provided alongside their weight loss programme. They are aimed to help support ongoing weight loss and healthy living in line with their principles.

Nutritional Info

1 serving = 55g (217 kcal)

  • Very high in sugar – 47.1g per 100g
  • Very high in carbs – 50.9g per 100g (most of which are sugar)
  • Very low in fat – 5.1g per 100g
  • Ok protein – 34.7g per 100g
  • Almost no fibre – 0.5g per 100g

Available in the UK, Australia and New Zealand

Based on the Strawberry Flavour Shake

7) My Protein

Initially focussed on protein powder for gym bunnies, My Protein have started creating milk and whey-based meal replacement shakes to help support weight loss.

Nutritional Info

1 serving = 51 g (205 kcal)

  • High in sugar – 24g per 100g
  • Relatively high in carbs – 35g per 100g
  • Ok fat – 13g per 100g
  • High protein – 36g per 100g
  • Fibre – 4.4 g per 100g
  • Good micro-nutrient profile – with 100% of 26 minerals and vitamins included in 800 kcal

Available in the UK and Australia

Based on the Meal Replacement Blend

8) Fat Blaster

Fatblaster is one of the most widely sold Australian shakes, who aim to help people lose weight with their nutritionally complete weight loss shakes. They have now started to sell 30% less sugar shakes.

Nutritional Info

1 serving = 33g (348 kcal)

  • High sugar – 24.5g per 100g
  • High carbs – 52.6g per 100g
  • Medium fat – 7.2g per 100g
  • Lower protein – 17.8g per 100g
  • Fibre – 8.5g per 100g
  • Good micro-nutrient profile – covering the key vitamins and minerals

Available in Australia.

Based on the FatBlaster Weight Loss Shake Chocolate 30% Less Sugar

9) Biggest Loser

A meal replacement shake brand based off the TV show ‘The Biggest Loser’. These milk-based shakes are intended to be a full meal replacement, replacing 2 meals a day with the shakes. However, they can contain a number of additives.

Nutritional Info

1 serving = 55g (208 kcal)

  • High sugar – 40.9g per 100g
  • High carbs – 44.9g per 100g – however almost all of these are added sugar (fructose)
  • Low fat – 4.4g per 100g
  • High protein – 36.9g per 100g
  • Fibre – 3.8g per 100g

Available in the UK, New Zealand and Australia

Based on the Double Choc Flavoured Shake Pack

10) The Cambridge Weight Plan

The Cambridge Weight Plan offers both meal replacement shakes combined with a consultant. The core of their plan revolves around meal replacement shakes to help with low-calorie plans.

1 serving = 144kcal

  • High Sugar – 33.5g per 100g
  • High Carb – 36.0g per 100g (mostly sugar)
  • Low Fat – 6.3g per 100g
  • High Protein – 35.5g per 100g
  • Fibre – 8.3g per 100g
  • Good Micro-nutrients – 100% of 26 key vitamins and minerals (in 800 kcal)

Available in the UK & Australia

Based on Banana Flavour Shake

11) The Fast 800 Shakes

And of course, last but not least, our own shakes. Due to the prevailing low-fat guidance out there, we found very few shakes that really met what we were looking for – so decided to help provide the option of higher fat, nutritious and natural shakes, for those busy days when you can’t quite face cooking. But don’t just take our word for it!

1 serving = 50g (196 kcal)

  • Low sugar – 7.6g per 100g (all naturally occurring in the whey and nuts)
  • Low carbs – 12.5g per 100g
  • Good fat – 18.9g per 100g
  • High protein – 44g per 100g
  • Fibre – 13.1g per 100g
  • Good micro-nutrient profile – containing 22 key vitamins & minerals in 800 kcal

These shakes are available as both original (whey based) and vegan.

Available in the UK and Australia here

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