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Protein Powder and Meal Replacement Shakes: Pros and Cons

meal replacement shake

If you did not live under a rock for the past twenty years, you know that in today’s world, there are lots of food supplements available on the market. You can get your hands on protein powders to supplement your protein intake or grab a gainer or meal replacement shake if you are too busy for lunch.

The quality of these supplements varies from brand to brand, but in general, there’s quite a lot of scientific evidence of their benefits.

Let’s check more details on how protein powder and meal-replacement shakes can fit into your diet.

Protein Powder: Extra Addition For Muscle Growth

While there are also other benefits of protein powder than just extra protein for muscle growth and repair, today, that’s its primary purpose for most sports enthusiasts.


  1. Super convenient: No need to lie, we are all lazy sometimes, you, me, and everyone else. With protein powder, all you need to do is add water or milk, shake it like you’re on the dance floor, and voilà, instant nutrition.
  2. Easy to digest: For those of us with sensitive stomachs, protein powder can be a godsend. It’s like baby food for adults, minus the puréed peas.
  3. Built-in portion control: If you struggle with portion sizes, protein powder can help keep your overindulgences in check. Just scoop, mix, and drink. No more “accidentally” eating an entire pizza.


  1. Taste: Remember that chalky drink your mom made you drink when you were sick? Protein powders can sometimes taste like that. Granted, there are some flavors that taste like dessert, but they often come with a side of questionable ingredients. As a wise man once said, you can’t go wrong with chocolate flavor.
  2. Cost: I feel like this can be a pro and a con at the same time. Protein powder cost varies a lot, mainly because there are various types and brands available and one is not like the other. But there are also some great budget-friendly options there. Remember, not everything good must be expensive.
  3. Incomplete nutrition: Yes, protein is essential for muscle growth and repair, but our bodies need more than just protein to thrive. You can’t live off protein shakes alone (trust me, I tried). Don’t forget about fruits, veggies, and other whole foods.

Of course, if you are lactose intolerant, whey protein might be problematic for you, but worry not, there are some great alternatives available.

Meal Replacement Shake: The Choice of Busy Lives

Meal-replacement shakes can be done either completely on your own from scratch, or by purchasing a supplement called weight-gainer or by using the combination of the two.


  1. Time-saving: Meal replacement shakes can save you precious minutes in your busy day. No more meal prepping, cooking, or waiting in line at the salad bar. Plus, you can drink them on the go – who doesn’t love multitasking?
  2. Balanced nutrition: Unlike protein powders, meal replacement shakes are designed to provide a balanced mix of protein, carbs, fats, vitamins, and minerals. They’re like a buffet in a bottle, minus the food coma.
  3. Weight management: If you’re trying to lose, gain, or maintain weight, meal replacement shakes can make tracking your calories a breeze. Just replace a meal or two with a shake, and let the magic happen.


  1. Taste and texture: While some meal replacement shakes taste like a milkshake, others can be gritty, chalky, or downright disgusting. It’s a gamble, and you may have to kiss a few frogs before finding your shake prince.
  2. Hunger pangs: Let’s be honest; there’s something unsatisfying about drinking your meals. You might find yourself daydreaming about actual food or raiding the office snack drawer an hour later. Solid food, we miss you!
  3. Social aspect: Meal replacement shakes can make socializing around food a bit awkward. Try explaining to your friends why you’re sipping a shake at a dinner party while they’re enjoying a gourmet meal.


Protein powder and meal replacement shakes can be great tools for those with busy lives, specific nutrition goals, or just a general aversion to cooking. But like all good things, they have their drawbacks.

You don’t need to necessarily choose between the two, remember, this is not a “versus” article. One is not like the other. Protein powder has a low amount of calories and supplies protein (and amino acids with some types, like whey). Meal-replacement shake or gainer can contain any amount of protein, along with carbs, fats, and vitamins, but it is also packed with calories.

With that being said, just consider both as supplements. Yes, I know, one is specifically called “replacement” but trust me, your body needs whole foods as well. You can use both products in moderation and still enjoy their benefits and steal a few hours of time that can be used otherwise.

Jake Dennon

I am an avid sports enthusiast who has been fortunate enough to train with some of the best athletes and coaches in the world.

As a child, I had a keen interest in martial arts (karate). I've trained with one of the best trainers in my home country.

Moving into my teenage years I tried everything from calisthenics to weight lifting to Taekwondo and everything in between. While I do love all kinds of sports, my passion still lies in martial arts.

The combat sport coaches I have been trained by have also trained some of the top fighters in the industry. All of these brilliant trainers (and all the ones in between) have shown me just how rewarding keeping fit and healthy can be.

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