Are the Meal Replacements and the Protein Shakes the Same?

meal replacements


If you are a novice in the world of diet supplements, you may not notice the difference between the protein shakes and the meal replacements. In fact, even the experienced users often suggest that these are the same product. However, a profound evaluation of the properties and functions of these supplements reveal both similarities and distinctions.

It is not easy to distinguish a regular meal replacement like Slim Fast from a protein shake. The content of the both diet products contains the essential nutrients like protein, sugar, carbohydrates, fiber, fats etc. The intended purpose of a meal replacement is to provide energy and supply nutrients to the body. The intended purpose of a protein shake is narrower – to supply protein for the muscle building.

The key differences between the two diet supplements lie in the detailed analysis of the content.


The protein is the core ingredient in both the MR shakes and protein shakes. However, the amount of protein may significantly differ. Since the protein shakes are aimed at supplying protein to the muscles, the regular amount of protein is around 25g per serving. This value in a meal replacement is lower due to the broader scope of functions. The meal replacements may be used for different purposes including a full meal substitute, hunger suppression, and a weight loss supplement. Thus, the protein value may fluctuate depending on the target use of a meal replacement. The average protein content in a meal replacement is around 10 grams. However, you may find some brands with the protein value exceeding 30 grams per serving.

Energy Value

The energy value of the protein shakes is not high because their intended purpose differs from the meal replacements. Thus, the caloric content of the majority of the meal replacements is around 250 calories. The MR products need to replace a full meal, therefore the calories should be higher. This value in the protein shakes is twice lower (around 120 calories) while this diet product is designed to supplement the diet and training programs.


The MR shakes are designed to supply a nutritional value of a full meal. For this reason, the content of carbohydrates is higher than in the protein shakes. The regular amount of carbs in the protein shakes does not exceed 5 grams. Besides, if some MR products contain a dietary fiber that promotes a healthy digestion and reduces the consumption of calories.


You might be thinking that the content of fat in the both types of the diet supplements is low as possible. It is not exactly the truth. The fat amount in the meal replacements depends on the content of carbs. If the carbs amount is low, the fat amount is high and vice versa. The content of fat in protein shakes is regularly lower than 3 grams.


Usually, the protein shakes are not fortified with vitamins and minerals. The protein is the main source of vitamins in the protein shakes. The meal replacements are usually fortified. However, some brands provide the MR products with the rich-in-vitamins ingredients.