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best ready to drink protein shakes for weight loss

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Getting enough protein in your daily diet promotes weight loss and builds sexy, lean muscle. But it’s not always easy meeting your daily protein targets for weight loss unless you’re very intentional. Because of this, knowing how to choose the best ready-to-drink protein shakes for weight loss can help supplement your protein intake deliciously and conveniently.

My clients often ask me what the best protein shakes for weight loss are that will fill them up. To answer this question, I will share the best ready-to-drink protein shakes for weight loss that are nutritionally balanced and fill you up.

Especially when you have back-to-back meetings or responsibilities, having healthy, balanced protein shakes on hand during meets or on the go can be a lifesaver.

Let’s dive into five dietitian-approved premade weight loss shakes to try. 

The 5 Best Ready-to-Drink Protein Shakes for Weight Loss 

Note: The nutritional facts for these 5 protein shakes are for the chocolate flavors. The other flavors have very similar nutritional profiles, so I chose chocolate for consistency sake.

1. Orgain Clean Protein

Orgain is one of my favorite protein shakes and powders brands, as their products contain quality ingredients and taste good. I like the chocolate flavor on its own but prefer the vanilla flavor as a liquid base for a smoothie.

Nutrition facts:

  • Calories: 130 kcal
  • Carbs: 11 g
  • Fat: 2 g
  • Protein: 20 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Added sugar: 3 g 

These shakes are an excellent, weight-loss-friendly choice with a relatively low calorie and fat content. Orgain Clean protein shakes deliver 20 grams of satiating protein from grass-fed whey with only 3 grams of added sugar.  It contains natural calorie-free sweeteners such as stevia.

Whey protein is one of the highest-quality proteins from milk and has been shown to help curb appetite, build muscle, and aid in workout recovery.

Dietitian tip: If you’re sensitive to whey protein or dairy, Orgain also makes a plant-based protein shake made from pea protein with no added sugars. 

2. Fairlife Protein Shake

Fairlife Protein shakes are another great premade shake choice that doesn’t have the typical aftertaste of many protein shakes.

“I like fairlife protein shakes. They taste like chocolate milk and have 30 grams of protein. They’re low in calories and low in sugar. They make for a great post-workout shake and are super convenient because they don’t require refrigeration, says Kathryn Piper RDN, LD of the Age-Defying Dietitian. 

Nutrition facts:

  • Calories: 150 kcal
  • Carbs: 4 g
  • Fat: 2.5 g
  • Protein: 30 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Added sugar: 2 g

Fairlife shakes are weight-loss-friendly as they are low in calories and added sugars, with only 150 calories and 2 grams of added sugar per shake. Their high protein content helps you meet your daily protein needs while staying within a calorie deficit for weight loss.

Dietitian tip: Make sure to choose the Fairlife Protein Shake, not the Fairlife Core Power Performance, which contains much more added sugar.

3. Evolve Plant-based Shake

These shakes are also great for vegetarians as they are 100% plant-based and made from pea protein. Because they are plant-based, they are also higher in fiber at 10 grams per bottle, which can add to the fullness factor after drinking it.

Nutrition facts: 

  • Calories: 140 kcal
  • Carbs: 16 g
  • Fat: 2 g
  • Protein: 20 g
  • Fiber: 10 g
  • Added sugar: 4 g

“I like the Evolve plant-based protein shakes. The shakes are made with pea protein and provide 20 grams of protein along with 10 grams of fiber. The shakes are delicious and filling – making them a great addition to a weight loss diet, says Mandy Tyler, M.Ed., RD, CSSD, LD of NutritionByMandy.com.

It also provides 20% of the daily requirements for calcium and iron and contains natural stevia extract as a sweetener.

Dietitian tip: If you’re sensitive to fiber, try just drinking half of a bottle first to ensure you tolerate it. Since it contains 10 grams of fiber, it can take time for sensitive people to adjust to it without bloat.

4. Owyn Protein Shake 

This vegan-friendly shake has only 180 calories and a blend of allergen-friendly plant proteins. These provide all nine essential amino acids and 20 grams of protein. In addition to typical protein shake ingredients, this contains superfood greens and vegan omega-3s from flax oil.

It is also free from the most common allergens, such as soy, wheat, dairy, gluten, tree nuts, and sesame.

Nutrition facts: 

  • Calories: 180 kcal
  • Carbs: 8 g
  • Fat: 7 g
  • Protein: 20 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Added sugar: 4 g

Many of my clients like this supplement for its more well-rounded approach, containing greens and omega-3s in addition to being solely a protein shake.

Dietitian tip: While this shake contains a superfood greens blend, it is listed low on the ingredients list. This means it is likely not present in large amounts, so getting enough leafy greens like spinach, kale, and broccoli in the diet is still necessary.

5. Lean Body Protein Shake

I first learned about this shake from a client, and therefore, I took a deep dive into it. Lean Body’s ready-to-drink protein shakes are incredibly high in protein, providing 40 grams of protein with 0 grams of added sugar.

It contains sucralose, an artificial sweetener in Splenda, and acesulfame potassium, the active ingredient in Equal, but they are listed at the bottom of the ingredient list. This means even though they are present; it is likely to present in small amounts that are unlikely to pose a health risk.

Nutrition facts:

  • Calories: 280 kcal
  • Carbs: 9 g
  • Fat: 9 g
  • Protein: 40 g
  • Fiber: 5 g
  • Added sugar: 0 g

While these shakes are an excellent sugar-free choice, they contain artificial sweeteners and should not be consumed excessively. 

Dietitian tip: I’d recommend these shakes as more of a meal replacement since the calorie count comes in at 280 calories per shake, which is a bit higher than the others on the list.

How to choose the best protein shake for weight loss

I chose the best ready-to-drink protein shakes for weight loss based on the following criteria:

Calories – I chose shakes with less than 300 calories. If you’re having the shake as a snack, it should be less than 200 calories.

Protein – I chose ones with at least 20 grams of protein so it is more filling and keep blood sugar levels steady.

Added sugar content – I chose shakes with 4 grams or less added sugar. Too much-added sugar is associated with inflammation and weight gain, so it’s best to keep your intake as low as possible. 

Artificial sweeteners – Some research shows that too many artificial sweeteners may alter the gut microbiome and lead to more sweets cravings, so it’s best to keep these to a minimum. Only one shake on this list contains the artificial sweetener sucralose. However, it is at the end of the ingredient list, which means it is present in a minimal amount.

When shopping in the store or online, feel free to screenshot this list and use it as a guide to save you time and reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Why is protein important for weight loss?

Protein offers several benefits for weight loss, so it seems to be all the rage. But remember that an excessive amount is not needed – it’s more about the consistency of eating enough protein with every meal that matters.

Here are a few of the top benefits of prioritizing protein with your meals and snacks:

  • Protein keeps you full
  • Reduces cravings
  • Lowers body weight
  • Can prevent weight regain after weight loss
  • It helps build muscle to support a faster metabolism

The current RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. However, many newer studies have found this amount inadequate for most people to maintain lean muscle, especially those trying to lose weight or are active. 

Therefore, in my practice, I consistently recommend my clients to take in significantly more than the RDA, and protein shakes as well as protein powders can help you meet that higher requirement.

My overall take on protein shakes as a dietitian

While the best ready-to-drink protein shakes for weight loss can be a valuable adjunct to a weight loss regimen, they shouldn’t be a continuous meal replacement. This means that enjoying protein shakes a few days a week, especially on extra busy days, is fine and can support your goals, but they shouldn’t necessarily be consumed daily. 

This is because protein shakes still need to be as nutritious or filling as a real meal. Even the best protein shakes contain some level of processing and, therefore, tend to hold you over less than chewing real food does.

My key takeaway – use protein shakes to supplement your protein intake, not to replace your meals.

Need more guidance on getting more protein in your diet? Here are a few other blog posts that may help!

FAQs

When to drink protein shakes for weight loss? You can drink protein shakes in the morning as part of your breakfast, as a snack, or as an occasional meal replacement if the shake is at least 300 calories.

What are the best pre-made protein shakes for weight loss? The five best are Orgain Clean Protein Shake, Fairlife Protein Shakes, Owyn Shakes, Evolve Shakes, and Lean Body Shakes.

Is it good to drink protein shakes if you’re trying to lose weight? Yes, incorporating protein shakes into a weight loss plan can help you meet protein needs for weight loss, fill you up between meals, and enhance muscle-building capacity after exercise.

What’s the best meal replacement shake for weight loss? Leanbody is one of the best meal replacement shakes, as it contains 40 grams of protein, a more significant amount than most. This will help make the shake more filling and satisfying when used as a meal.

Are premade protein shakes good for you? In moderation, yes. While they shouldn’t be taken daily because they contain processed ingredients and are not as filling, they can provide balanced nutrition as an occasional meal substitute or snack.