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Healthy Weight

​​Meal Replacement Shakes: Can They Help You Lose Weight?​

​​Susan Bowerman, M.S., R.D., CSSD, CSOWM, FAND – Sr. Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training​ July 24, 2023

Meal replacement shakes are a nutrient-dense way to manage your weight by providing what your body needs while taking out the guesswork of measuring. They’re delicious, convenient and simple to prepare anywhere, making them a sustainable option for healthy nutrition.

How to Lose Weight With Meal Replacement Shakes

We’ve all been there. Trying to lose weight by counting calories and controlling portions, only to feel discouraged when the scale refuses to budge. But it’s not your fault! Being accurate with calorie counting and estimating portions are two of the biggest obstacles to successful weight loss. It’s even hard for experts to get it right.

That’s where meal replacements offer a real solution. When prepared according to the instructions on the label (excluding additional ingredients), the portion size is already accounted for. They’re packed with great nutrition and stay within a defined number of calories. Plus they’re easy to work into your busy lifestyle.

How Do Meal Replacements Work?

So how do they work for weight loss? Portion size is the main reason meal replacement shakes are so successful in controlling calorie intake. Many people don't take the time to weigh and measure foods – or if they do, they stop after a while, thinking they can estimate fairly well. That’s when portion sizes tend to creep up and weight loss slows down.

Then there are the practical issues – some may not realize that the 3-ounce portion of meat specified in a meal plan is the size of a deck of cards. Or maybe they forget that everything counts, including fats used in cooking, condiments and foods eaten while standing at the sink or driving the car. Those little omissions add up and can derail your progress over the course of a week.

Meal replacement shakes take the guesswork out of estimating calorie content and portion size. They deliver healthy ingredients, convenience and great taste. A number of clinical studies have shown that using meal replacements as part of a weight-loss plan can be more effective than counting calories with an all-food plan. In fact, research shows that replacing two meals with protein shakes is an effective way to lose weight and help keep it off.* 

How Much Weight Can You Lose With Meal Replacement Shakes?

Of course, the amount of weight you can lose depends on other factors, too. Developing a healthy, active lifestyle is an important part of reaching and maintaining a healthy body composition. 

Are Meal Replacement Shakes Healthy?

Meal replacement shakes are nutritious when prepared as directed. They’re packed with protein, vitamins and minerals. They help you feel full and provide what your body needs to thrive.

How to Make Meal Replacement Shakes

They’re also simple to prepare. Just mix them up according to package directions (some are designed to be mixed with water, others are designed to be mixed with milk or milk alternatives) and add ice if you like. Or take things up a notch and customize your shake.

By mixing with any type of milk, adding a favorite fruit, or tossing in some extra protein powder, your shake can satisfy your cravings and meet your needs in minutes. Convenient, delicious, healthy, portion-controlled meals – what more could a dieter ask for?


*Not all these studies used the same meal replacement strategy as commercial products. And none of these studies were conducted using the current U.S. Herbalife Formula 1 shake product according to current label instructions.

#Treyzon et al. Nutr J. 2008 7:23.