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Meal replacement shakes and protein shakes have become increasingly common in the health and fitness world. While the taste may be similar, there are some important distinctions between the two that are important to know, so you can choose the right product for your fitness goals.
Protein shakes are designed to fuel the body with protein. Typically they are consumed by those who are strength training, often following a workout. Typical examples of protein powders include Quest, Sun Warrior,
A meal replacement shake is designed to do just that – replace an entire meal through the nutrition in the shake. They can be consumed at any time throughout the day, with the intention of replacing another meal (such as breakfast). Shakeology, Vega One, Raw Meal, and Skinny Gut are examples that fall into this category.
Protein shakes are typically lower in calories than a meal replacement shake. Meal replacement shakes were designed to be filling and contain more calories to sustain you until your next meal. In fact, protein shakes typically have about half of the calories than a meal replacement shake, as it is only fulfilling one purpose (protein).
Macros (aka protein, carbohydrates, fats)
With a protein shake, you are looking at getting a higher amount of protein than you would in a meal replacement shake (although protein is also important for meal replacement shakes). However, the meal replacement shakes will have more carbohydrates and fats to keep the macros equivalent to what you would find in an actual meal.
Vitamins and Minerals:
Protein shakes do not typically contain any added vitamins or minerals. If the protein powder contains whey, then it will contain calcium as a result, but there won’t be much else in the shake from the vitamin standpoint.
While it is not guaranteed that every meal replacement shake will have vitamins and minerals, many of them do contain that extra nutrition. For example, drinking Shakeology each day would replace the need to take a multi-vitamin and various other supplements.
For the most part, protein shakes are going to be much less expensive than a meal replacement shake. There are many protein powders out there you can get for around $1/serving. (Such as Sunwarrior Blend on Amazon.com). Meal replacement shakes are going to be more expensive because they provide more. Shakeology runs as low as $3.90/serving (See HERE for more information on how to save money on Shakeology). Some of the better meal replacement shakes (See HERE and HERE for a couple of alternatives) still run around $2.80/serving.