Do Weight-Loss Shakes Really Work? (2023)

Do Weight-Loss Shakes Really Work?

Do Weight-Loss Shakes Really Work? (1)

Weight-loss shakes, also called liquid meal replacements, are calorie-controlled beverages that replace one or more meals or snacks as part of a weight-loss program. Commonly consumed weight-loss shakes include SlimFast, Medifast, Atkins and Health Management Resource (HMR).

So, are there any benefits and drawbacks to consuming weight-loss shakes? We interviewed several dietitians for their input.

Related: What's the Best Protein Powder for Weight Loss?

(Video) Shakes for Weight Loss | Do they work?

The pros of weight-loss shakes

Weight-loss shakes are used in weight-loss programs because they are portion-controlled and convenient. "They have a fixed number of calories, usually 160 to 290 calories per shake and contain key nutrients found in a healthy meal or snack," says Linda Delahanty, M.S., R.D., chief dietitian and director of nutrition and behavioral research at the Massachusetts General Hospital Diabetes Center.

"Using weight-loss shakes helps simplify the decisions you need to make about what to eat and can reduce [the] time needed to prepare meals," Delahanty adds.

Weight-loss shakes also work in the short term. "People who use these portion-controlled foods to replace two meals per day can lose about 50 percent more weight than those who don't," Delahanty says.

This is because the shakes provide fewer calories than someone normally consumes at a meal. "A caloric deficit, regardless of how it is achieved, can stimulate weight loss...and many individuals find that replacing meals and/or snacks with weight-loss shakes allows them to do that," says Cara Harbstreet, M.S., R.D., L.D., of Street Smart Nutrition.

A 2018 study found that weight-loss shakes might lead to more weight loss than a meal with the same number of calories. When obese individuals replaced all their meals with weight-loss shakes for three weeks, they lost more than twice the amount of weight as obese men and women who consumed the same number of calories but through food. Those who drank the shakes also had reduced food cravings. Weight-loss shakes can also help individuals with type 2 diabetes lose weight.

Jenn LaVardera, M.S., R.D., owner of Hamptons RD, says, "Weight-loss shakes can be beneficial for short-term weight loss because they help with calorie control while providing all the essential nutrients your body needs."

However, while weight-loss shakes can be used to help you lose weight fast, LaVardera says don't expect to maintain the loss. "Once you are off the shakes, you are likely to return to your old eating habits and gain the weight back," she says.

Do weight-loss shakes work long-term?

If you consume weight-loss shakes for the rest of your life, you might be able to sustain your weight loss long-term. The problem is that most people don't (and shouldn't) subsist on weight-loss shakes forever. People typically return to eating real food as soon as their weight-loss program or diet is over.

"Weight-loss shakes do not offer a long-term solution because they are usually not sustainable for more than a few months," Harbstreet says.

This is because they take the fun and pleasure out of eating, says Kara Lydon, R.D., L.D.N., R.Y.T, intuitive eating counselor and blogger at The Foodie Dietitian. "We often forget that food is meant to be pleasurable; it's what helps us to survive as humans. Imagine if the food wasn't pleasurable. We probably wouldn't be as compelled to eat to survive. Over time, people are going to start seeking out pleasure from food again because they aren't going to get it from a weight-loss shake."

(Video) How Effective Are Protein Shakes For Weight Loss? | Nutritionist Explains... | Myprotein

Research shows that weight regain is a problem after most, if not all, diet programs—due to biological and hormonal responses that increase appetite, alter metabolism and promote weight gain. "One research article...[suggested] that dieting is actually a predictor of weight gain," says Lydon.

This may seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be all-or-nothing. "Using one weight-loss shake per day can help keep off the weight you have lost long-term or be a tool to help refocus on weight loss if you regain some weight over time," Delahanty says.

Weight-loss shakes can be one of many tools in your nutrition toolbox to help you maintain a healthy weight over time. Tracking food intake, weighing regularly and exercising are other tools that have proven effective in helping people keep the weight off long-term. Professional insight from a registered dietitian is also recommended to help you find a plan that works best for your preferences and lifestyle.

Don't Miss: Make-Ahead Smoothie Freezer Packs

The downside of weight-loss shakes

Besides not being sustainable long-term, there are other downsides to drinking weight-loss shakes.

"The severe restriction in calories can create unintended side effects, such as suboptimal intake of certain nutrients, slowed metabolism and loss of connection with hunger or satiety signals," Harbstreet says. She adds, "The liquid nature of this diet also can remove fiber from one's diet, potentially altering gut health or creating a less-filling eating, or, in this case, drinking-experience."

Fiber helps increase satiety and can help with weight management long-term.

(Video) HOW TO USE THE MAN SHAKE - EASY WEIGHT LOSS with no exercise!!

Weight-loss shakes can also leave people in a dieting mentality—seeing foods as good or bad and feeling guilt over eating "bad" foods. This often leads to a cycle of restricting food, bingeing and then restricting again.

It also doesn't set you up for success in the real world. What do you order if you're eating at a restaurant? What do you eat at a party if you don't have your shake? It makes the transition from weight-loss shakes to solid food difficult.

What to eat instead of weight-loss shakes

Roasted Salmon with Smoky Chickpeas & Greens

Do Weight-Loss Shakes Really Work? (2)

Featured Recipe:

(Video) Are smoothies a good way to lose weight?

Weight-loss shakes lead to temporary weight loss, but they aren't sustainable long term. They leave people in a dieting mentality, take the pleasure out of eating and can be expensive. You can maintain a healthy weight long-term by eating real food. Here are three tips on making weight loss work without the shakes.

Focus on Whole Foods

Studies show that high-fiber breakfast cereals can be as effective for weight loss as weight-loss shakes because the fiber increases satiety. Eating breakfast has also been associated with maintaining weight loss long-term.

Fiber is also found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. LaVardera teaches her clients to make half their plate vegetables and eat smaller portions of starches and animal proteins. "Vegetables add fiber and water content to help keep you full and are packed with nutrients. I want my clients to be able to make food decisions in the real world-at the store, at a dinner party, at a work lunch-so they need to know how to choose whole, real foods and not rely on shakes," LaVardera says.

Eat in a Sustainable Manner

Harbstreet agrees that the best way of eating is one that you can keep up for the long term.

"What is most important is identifying sustainable behaviors that allow flexibility and adaptation," she says. "Sticking to a rigid or strict diet promotes dieting behaviors and replaces someone's innate sense of trust in their body with an external cue, such as a meal plan, diet or list of approved foods."

Lydon echoes this advice. "Once we let go of the external cues telling us what and how much to eat, we can free up space to tap into the innate wisdom of our own bodies, also known as intuitive eating," Lydon says. "And that is a 'plan' that's sustainable. It's what we were born doing."

Related: 7-Day Diet Meal Plan to Lose Weight: 1,200 Calories

Find a Plan You Can Trust

Still, some people do better with structure. Working with a dietitian can help you find the best long-term eating plan for you and your goals. Many health care professionals recommend an 80/20 approach—80 percent of the time, aim to make your plate half vegetables, one-quarter whole grains and one-quarter healthy protein; the other 20 percent of the time, allow yourself to indulge, but do it mindfully. Following this method eliminates the all-or-nothing dieting mentality and the restrict-binge-restrict cycle that many people fall into when trying to eat healthy 100 percent of the time.

Bottom Line

Weight-loss shakes work in the short term but aren't sustainable in the long run. Focus on adding more fiber to your diet through fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Check out our weight-loss meal plans for real food with real benefits.

(Video) Meal Replacement Shakes For Quick Weight Loss + Best Weight Loss Shakes


Do weight loss shakes actually work? ›

Weight-loss shakes lead to temporary weight loss, but they aren't sustainable long term. They leave people in a dieting mentality, take the pleasure out of eating and can be expensive. You can maintain a healthy weight long-term by eating real food.

How much weight can you lose on weight loss shakes? ›

Proven weight loss.

One study tracked two groups of people as they tried to lose weight over the course of 3 months. At the end of the study, the group that did not use meal replacement shakes lost only 1.5% of their initial body weight. The group that used replacement shakes lost 7.8%.

How much weight can you lose with 2 meal replacement shakes? ›

Here's proof: Participants in a Diabetes Spectrum study who replaced two meals a day with a shake, hot chocolate, or soup lost 7.8 percent of their body weight after three months. The group with more leeway over what they ate lost just 1.5 percent of their body weight while consuming the same amount of calories.

What is the number one rule to losing weight? ›

Since food equals calories, in order to lose weight you must either eat fewer calories, exercise more to burn off calories with activity, or both. Food that is not used to fuel the body is stored as fat. A major component of losing weight is to make smarter food choices.

Why am I not losing weight on meal replacement shakes? ›

Eating solid food may cause excess weight to return if you don't make smart food choices. And if you rely too much on protein shakes to replace daily meals, you'll miss out on the healthy benefits of whole foods. Since protein has calories, consuming too much can make it harder to lose weight.

What is the best shake for losing weight? ›

20 Best Protein Shakes for Weight Loss in 2023
  • MomentousEssential. ...
  • Garden of Life Organic Vegan Sport Protein Powder. ...
  • Vital Proteins. ...
  • Orgain Organic. ...
  • Legion Plant+ Vegan. ...
  • TRU Plant. ...
  • Vega Sport. Vega Sport Protein Powder is a plant-based protein powder that contains 30 grams of protein per serving. ...
  • Isagenix IsaPro.
Jan 2, 2023

Can you live off weight loss shakes? ›

Following a protein shake diet encourages weight loss by curbing appetite and reducing the total calories a person consumes in a day. Although these diets can be effective in the short term, healthcare professionals do not recommend living solely or primarily on meal replacement shakes.

What happens if I only drink meal replacement shakes? ›

If used as a meal replacement, shakes do not typically carry enough calories to equal your caloric needs from a traditional meal. Insufficient caloric intake can lead to muscle loss, decreased metabolism and fatigue, so you'll need to make up those missing calories if you're replacing a whole meal.

How much weight can you lose if you only drink protein shakes? ›

The protein shake groups lost an average of about 9.5 pounds whereas those who ate their regular dinner only lost about 0.5 a pound. However, eating more protein doesn't necessarily mean you'll lose weight since any excess calories will end up stored as fat.

Can meal replacement shakes really replace meals? ›

While many brands of meal shakes provide important nutrients, they cannot completely replace a healthy diet full of whole foods. In addition to vitamins and minerals, whole foods contain antioxidants, plant compounds and enzymes that are difficult to put into a bottle.

Can I lose weight by drinking 2 protein shakes a day? ›

Protein shakes support muscle growth and repair after exercise and they can be a quick meal replacement when you're on the go. Drinking two protein shakes instead of full meals daily may help you lose weight, but it isn't really a long-term weight management solution.

What meal is best to replace with a shake? ›

This makes breakfast an ideal time for a meal replacement shake. Shakes are simple and light, yet nutritious, with a great supply of vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients (protein and carbs) to promote energy early in the day when you need it most.

How can I drop 20 lbs? ›

Here are the 10 best ways to quickly and safely drop 20 pounds.
  1. Count calories. ...
  2. Drink more water. ...
  3. Increase your protein intake. ...
  4. Reduce your refined carb consumption. ...
  5. Start lifting weights. ...
  6. Eat more fiber. ...
  7. Follow a sleep schedule. ...
  8. Set reasonable goals and stay accountable.
Aug 13, 2018

What are the 3 keys to weight loss? ›

Cardio work, strength training and counting calories and macronutrients (protein, carbs and fat) are the three big components of weight loss. You should be doing all three, but each of these is not created equally when you're trying to lose weight.

What to avoid while losing weight? ›

11 Foods to Avoid When Trying to Lose Weight
  • French fries and potato chips. French fries and potato chips are often very high in calories and fat. ...
  • Sugary drinks. ...
  • White bread. ...
  • Candy bars. ...
  • Some fruit juices. ...
  • Pastries, cookies, and cakes. ...
  • Some types of alcohol (especially beer) ...
  • Ice cream.
Jun 3, 2017

How long can you stay on diet shakes? ›

Usually, this involves replacing all meals with meal replacements — except for the addition of a small bowl of salad or vegetables each day (to boost fibre and other nutrients) and a small amount of oil (to keep your gall bladder working) — for approximately six weeks.

Why aren t i losing weight on the lady shake? ›

You're Eating Too Much of One Food Group

A healthy diet requires a balanced mix of the main food groups – protein, carbohydrates and fats. You may have been counting calories, but if 90% of your calories are made up of carbohydrates then you are unlikely to lose weight.

Can weight loss shakes make you gain weight? ›

If you eat more than what your body needs, you are likely to gain weight. But, no, protein shakes as part of a healthy, balanced diet will not make you fat on their own. In fact, boosting your protein intake can be a handy way to help control your weight and reach your goals, including increasing lean muscle mass.

What is the difference between a protein shake and a weight loss shake? ›

Protein products and meal replacements differ in nutritional composition and are designed for different goals. To put it simply, meal replacements are designed to help with weight control, while protein drinks are more often used for athletic performance and muscle gain.

Why am I not losing weight on 310 shakes? ›

You're Adding Too Much to It

The thing is, everything you add to a meal replacement shake is going to add calories as well as flavor. If you've gotten into the habit of adding stuff, even healthy stuff, to your shakes, you may be increasing your caloric intake more than you realize.

Which protein shake is best for belly fat? ›

Whey protein is a type of protein powder made from milk. It's one of the best sources of protein for weight loss and can help you lose belly fat specifically.

What are the side effects of weight loss shakes? ›

Although not necessarily bad for you in small quantities, additives can add up quickly (especially if you drink a meal replacement shake every day) and cause gastrointestinal (GI) side effects like bloating, constipation, diarrhea, gas, and stomach pain.

What happens if you drink protein shakes without eating? ›

Health Risks

Replacing multiple meals per day with protein shakes over a long-term period could result in nutrient deficiencies, digestive distress, nausea, bloating, headaches, fatigue or negative interactions with certain medications. Additionally, many protein shakes get up to half their calories from sugars.

Is it okay to drink shakes everyday? ›

It is safe to drink protein shakes every day, but be sure to obtain the majority of your protein and other foods from whole food sources. Without whole food sources, you'll be missing out on other valuable nutrients that are vital for health and supporting your workout performance and recovery.

Can you lose weight fast with meal replacement shakes? ›

It might be worth tracking calories to stay on top of any extra snacks or food that's consumed. Research published in Current Nutrition and Food Science (opens in new tab) has also found that swapping a meal or two each day with a meal replacement shake can speed up weight loss.

What can you eat on a shake diet? ›

A standard protein shake diet meal plan may look like this:
  • Breakfast- protein shake (200-300 calories)
  • Snack- a high-protein or high-fat food under 100 calories, e.g., 1 cup of Greek yogurt.
  • Lunch- protein shake (200-300 calories)
  • Snack- 1/2 cup blueberries.
  • Dinner- one full meal of your choice (400-500 calories)

How much weight can you lose in a week drinking only protein shakes? ›

Replacing meals with high protein shakes eliminates excess calories and fat from your diet and leads to weight loss. When you reduce calories and remove the option of food, you can expect to lose three to four pounds a week.

How to lose 10 pounds in a week? ›

To lose 10 pounds in one week, you'll need to burn between 3,500 and 5,000 calories more than you consume each day by restricting your diet to small portions of nutritious yet low-calorie foods, and significantly increasing your aerobic exercise with interval training, sports, and other vigorous activities.

Is meal replacement or protein shake better for weight loss? ›

Protein shakes can be used for fat loss too, but this isn't their primary purpose. Meal replacement drinks are a better choice for those trying to lose weight. Another difference between the two lies in their nutritional value. Meal replacement shakes provide more nutrients compared to protein shakes.

Are meal replacement shakes better with milk or water? ›

When building mass and muscle, mixing your protein with milk will yield better results. For lean builders, trimmers and toners, water is the way to go. It comes down to nutrition, as that's exactly why you are drinking protein shakes in the first place.

Are Premier protein shakes good for losing weight? ›

Although Fairlife shakes have more calories and protein per serving, making them slightly better for those with muscle-building goals, Premier shakes are low in fat, so they're excellent for anyone looking to lose weight.

Can I drink 3 protein shakes a day to lose weight? ›

Yes. It's safe to have more than one protein shake a day, but the experts we spoke with recommended capping your consumption at three.

When should I take protein shakes to lose weight? ›

If you're looking to lose weight, a great time for you to drink your protein shake could be in the morning. That's because protein is one of the most crucial nutrients for fat loss. Starting your day with protein can give your metabolism a boost and keep it raised all day long.

What is the number one meal replacement in the world? ›

#1. PhenQ Complete Meal Shake: Best Diet Shake for Weight Loss. PhenQ is our top pick for the best meal replacement shake for weight loss. PhenQ is designed to help you shed pounds naturally, without the need for diet pills.

Is it OK to just have a protein shake for breakfast? ›

Is It a Good Idea to Drink a Protein Shake for Breakfast? Protein shakes can be an easy breakfast option for those short on time in the morning. In addition to being quick, portable, and nutritious, protein shakes are highly versatile and can be tailored to fit your specific tastes and preferences.

Why am I still hungry after a meal replacement shake? ›

Most packaged “meal replacement” shakes or fruit smoothies won't keep you satiated for long. So, if you start every morning with a protein shake, that could explain why you're always hungry. The reason is because liquids empty out of your stomach in less than an hour, says gastroenterologist Scott D.

How do I drop weight drastically? ›

15 Expert-Backed Tips for Safe and Sustainable Weight Loss
  1. Implement Long-Term Lifestyle and Behavior Changes. ...
  2. Focus on the First 5% to 10% ...
  3. Reduce Your Intake of Ultra-Processed Carbs and Sweets. ...
  4. Eat More Plants. ...
  5. Pump Up Your Protein. ...
  6. Drink More Water. ...
  7. Eat a Well-Rounded Breakfast. ...
  8. Stand Up and Move More.
7 days ago

What is the easiest way to drop weight fast? ›

  1. Cut back on refined carbs. One way to help lose weight quickly is to cut back on sugars and starches, or carbohydrates. ...
  2. Eat protein, fat, and vegetables. Aim to include a variety of foods at each meal. ...
  3. Move your body. Exercise, while not required to lose weight, can help you lose weight more quickly. ...
  4. 9 weight loss tips.

Can Apple cider vinegar help you lose weight? ›

Apple cider vinegar isn't likely to be effective for weight loss. Proponents of apple cider vinegar claim that it has numerous health benefits and that drinking a small amount or taking a supplement before meals helps curb appetite and burn fat. However, there's little scientific support for these claims.

What is the number one thing that burns fat? ›

Cardio, also known as aerobic exercise, is one of the most common forms of exercise and is defined as any type of activity that increases your heart rate. Adding cardio to your routine may be one of the most effective ways to enhance fat burning.

What is the number one thing to lose weight? ›

One of the best ways to lose body fat is through steady aerobic exercise — such as brisk walking — for at least 30 minutes most days of the week. Some people may require more physical activity than this to lose weight and maintain that weight loss. Any extra movement helps burn calories.

What vitamin is good for weight loss? ›

Vitamins B, D, iron, and magnesium are four well-known weight reduction vitamins. Vitamin B helps the body to convert food into energy. It also plays a role in metabolism and cell function. A lack of vitamin B can lead to fatigue and weight gain.

What fruit is best for losing weight? ›

Many fruits are low in calories yet rich in fiber, which could benefit weight loss.
  1. Grapefruit. ...
  2. Apples. ...
  3. Berries. ...
  4. Stone fruits. ...
  5. Passion fruit. ...
  6. Rhubarb. ...
  7. Kiwifruit. ...
  8. Melons.
Jan 2, 2019

Which fruit is not good for weight loss? ›

Tropical fruits like pineapple and mango may have hidden calories that can hinder your weight loss plans. It is best to avoid these fruits that are excessively sweet too.

How can I lose tummy fat fast? ›

  1. Eat plenty of soluble fiber. ...
  2. Avoid foods that contain trans fats. ...
  3. Don't drink too much alcohol. ...
  4. Eat a high protein diet. ...
  5. Reduce your stress levels. ...
  6. Don't eat a lot of sugary foods. ...
  7. Do aerobic exercise (cardio) ...
  8. Cut back on carbs — especially refined carbs.

Why am I losing weight but my stomach is still big? ›

This is because when you are stressed, cortisol levels in the body rise, resulting in storage of fat around the belly area. Another reason responsible for a stubborn belly fat is genetics. It has been noticed that if your parents have belly fat, you might also have the same body type.

How many protein shakes should I drink a day to lose weight? ›

For example, the American Council on Exercise recommends that people who are trying to lose weight consume 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight (or about 54 grams for a 150-pound person). This means that you would need to drink one or two protein shakes per day to meet your protein needs.

How to lose 20 pounds of belly fat in 2 weeks? ›

Below are the strategies for losing 20 pounds in 2 weeks:
  1. Make A Commitment. ...
  2. Cut Your Caloric Intake. ...
  3. Up Your Protein Intake. ...
  4. Eat More Fibre. ...
  5. Plenty Of Sleep. ...
  6. Avoid Refined Carbs. ...
  7. Increase The Intensity Of Your Workouts. ...
  8. Drink More Water.

What drink burns belly fat overnight? ›

What Drink Burns Fat Overnight? Drinking turmeric milk, chamomile tea, cinnamon tea, green tea, protein shake, green veg smoothies, and fiber-rich juice helps you burn significant fat overnight.

Does 310 shake really work? ›

310 shakes may help with weight loss in the short-term. This is because they're not only low in calories, but high in protein, which has been shown to reduce appetite and cravings. Several 310 shakes customers have reported impressive weight loss results of up to 25 lbs over a matter of months.

How many 310 shakes per day? ›

As part of a continuous healthy lifestyle plan, we recommend that you replace 2 meals per day with a 310 Shake for weight loss, and 1 meal per day for weight maintenance.


1. The 30 Day Shake Diet Experiment / Ep 1
(Gordon Greenhorn)
2. Doctor Fact-Checks POPULAR Weight Loss Tips
(Doctor Mike)
3. How to Use Whey Protein for Weight Loss
(The Health Nerd)
4. Does Protein Powder Work? (Spoiler: YES, but there's a catch)
5. Her Weight-Loss Video Went Viral On TikTok. Here's What She Learned.
6. The Best Supplements For Weight Loss That Actually Work | Nutritionist Explains... | Myprotein


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Arielle Torp

Last Updated: 10/06/2023

Views: 6236

Rating: 4 / 5 (41 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Arielle Torp

Birthday: 1997-09-20

Address: 87313 Erdman Vista, North Dustinborough, WA 37563

Phone: +97216742823598

Job: Central Technology Officer

Hobby: Taekwondo, Macrame, Foreign language learning, Kite flying, Cooking, Skiing, Computer programming

Introduction: My name is Arielle Torp, I am a comfortable, kind, zealous, lovely, jolly, colorful, adventurous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.