A Beginner’s Guide to Meal Replacement Shakes for Breakfast

Last Updated 26th September 2019

You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Yet, we’re clearly not paying enough attention to the advice our parents and grandparents gave us, because it’s believed that only two thirds of adults eat breakfast regularly. Tut tut, guys…

Breakfast is named literally, as it’s to break the fast that we experience overnight. While asleep, our body doesn’t take in any nutrition, yet uses up lots of energy stores to grow and repair. Waking up and eating a balanced meal first thing allows the body to build up energy for the day ahead, as well as restore the protein and calcium which has been depleted overnight.

This, of course, isn’t always as easy as it sounds. In a society where we wake and work, few of us have time to make and consume a balanced meal before we need to leave and get on with a busy day. This makes meal replacement shakes an easy and convenient on-the-go option for optimum nutrition at the beginning of the day.

woman holding vegan berry meal replacement shake

Meal Replacement Shakes for Breakfast: The Essentials

Are Breakfast Meal Replacement Shakes Right for Me?

If you’re the kind of person who rushes on with work or errands in the morning and doesn’t have the time or capacity to source, prepare and create a balanced nutritious meal, then meal replacement shakes are the best breakfast to suit your lifestyle.

They can be taken with you and drunk on-the-go and despite their quick prep, they deliver a wholesome and complete meal that has all the vitamins and minerals you need. The Nutribuddy Breakfast Shake, for example, is packed with 100% organic nutrition but takes just seconds to prepare.

Even if you do have time, lots of people feel like they don’t want to eat something bulky in the morning. If you’re one of those people then a meal replacement shake can make a great alternative and can be sipped at slowly as you feel you need it!

Woman sat on bed about to weight herself on scales

Is it Best to Buy or Make a Meal Replacement Shake for Breakfast?

As a rule of thumb, if you have time to make a meal replacement shake for breakfast, you have time to make a balanced breakfast – do consider which you’d prefer. Buying meal replacement shakes, generally, isn’t more expensive than sourcing fresh ingredients – so the convenience normally comes as a result of time rather than money.

If you have access to a wide range of wholesome and balanced ingredients, as well as the knowledge and expertise to prep and cook them, then making your own meal replacement shakes is perfectly feasible.  But as most people aren’t qualified dieticians or chefs who also have half an hour to spare each morning, buying high-quality, nutritious breakfast meal replacement shakes is the next best option.

Two smoothie bowls with banana with two iced coffees

What are the Benefits of Breakfast Meal Replacement Shakes?

Meal replacement shakes are able to offer a nutritionally complete meal at a calorie deficit compared to a typical solid food meal. This allows you to receive a healthy and nourishing dietary supplement without having to invest the time and effort into cooking or preparing food.

Breakfast meal replacement shakes, in particular, allow the body to wholly replace the energy stores used up during sleep the night before, as well as top up the vitamins and minerals needed to best fuel the day ahead. Breakfast is a time where many struggle to fit in a full meal, so a shake makes for an ideal opportunity to start the day on a bright and positive note, no matter what happens for the rest of it. Of course, ideally, any other food and drink consumed will also be healthy, but at least it sets the consumer up with the best chance to continue on positively!Meal replacement shakes have long been a popular dietary supplement as they’re quick, easy and have proven time and time again to aid weight loss and fitness building.

Nutribuddy Vegan Breakfast Shake with jar

Are Breakfast Meal Replacement Shakes Healthy?

When you’re making the decision of which shake to purchase, it’s important to remember that there’s lots of marketing jargon to wade through, some of which may not be quite as honest as they seem.

Do your research before buying a breakfast meal replacement shake and make sure you know exactly what’s in the shake before you drink it. Lots of meal replacement shakes are made up with artificially-created (synthetic) ingredients as it’s a cheap and easy way to balance out the numerous vitamins and minerals required in a meal. These may give the consumer an initial boost of energy, but this is often short-lived and not as beneficial for the body as natural wholefoods.

You wouldn’t eat chocolate for breakfast but you can opt for a chocolate flavoured breakfast meal replacement shake – just be sure that it’s healthier than the real thing. Making an informed purchase decision stands you in the best possible stead to start your day the right way.

Yellow wooden spoons with chia seeds, sunflower seeds and nuts

Are Breakfast Meal Replacement Shakes Filling?

There are a million and one breakfast juices and smoothie recipes online, but for most of us, a thin liquid isn’t filling enough to substitute a whole meal – let alone to fuel you for a full day!

The benefits of such dietary supplements seem to be unproven and just anecdotal, but the dangers of them are vast. Generally, juices are unable to maintain a healthy blood sugar level, which can cause dehydration, headaches and serous fatigue.

Breakfast meal replacement shakes are, of course, also liquid – but are designed to be thick and nutritious. Combined with the thorough variety and balance of ingredients within, as well as the fact that they’re purpose-designed to replace meals (albeit no more than two a day!), means that they are as filling as they can be. The balance of nutrition alongside a thick texture keeps users full until lunchtime and doesn’t compromise on blood sugar or other energy levels.

If you’re consuming a healthy and well-rounded breakfast meal replacement shake, you should find it filling enough that you don’t need to snack or consume anything else (bar a form of a hydration; ideally water) until your next meal. If a breakfast meal replacement shake doesn’t keep you going without having to eat again before lunch, it’s probably a sign that it’s not the shake for you. If you’ve found yourself in this situation with previous meal replacement shakes, check out the Nutribuddy Shake Complete – the high protein content is sure to fill you up until lunch.

Women in grey jogging bottoms holding a tub of Nutribuddy Shake Complete
Nutribuddy Shake Complete. Photo by Laura Lucas.

How Many Calories are in Breakfast Meal Replacement Shakes?

If a breakfast meal replacement shake is being introduced into an individual’s diet with the intention of contributing toward a healthy lifestyle and nutritional balance to help aid weight loss, then the calories within a serving should be less than those which would be contained in a breakfast meal.

Generally speaking, most breakfast meal replacement shakes contain between 200-400 calories. This is enough to sustain a person until their next meal without the need for additional calorie intake, while also allowing the individual to consume less calories than they would if they were to eat solid food. This is the ideal range for calorific intake at breakfast; allowing the consumer to eat their other meals as usual and still remain in a calorie deficit for the day.

Breakfast meal replacement shakes containing over 400 calories are unlikely to contribute to weight loss, as in most cases, the consumer wouldn’t eat that many as part of a breakfast meal anyway. Breakfast meal replacement shakes containing less than 200 calories once mixed with milk are unable to be properly nutritionally-balanced and so are likely just a faux ‘detox’ product. Whilst these products may produce weight loss results quickly, their results are unsustainable and over time can cause serious health risks: including dehydration and even cardiac stress.

woman researching products and ingredients

Can Breakfast Meal Replacement Shakes Help Weight Loss?

Research has shown that those who eat breakfast have a tendency to be slimmer than those who don’t, because they don’t snack later on in the day. However, those with busy lifestyles often grab a convenience food or fast food during the morning when they get hungry, which ups their sugars, fats and carbohydrates without gaining much useful nutrition.

Breakfast meal replacement shakes can help weight loss as it nutritionally balances those who drink them first thing in the morning; setting them up for the day and reinforcing a positive, healthy habit early on.

Strawberry Meal Replacement Shake for breakfast

How to Choose the Best Meal Replacement Shakes for Breakfast

What Ingredients are Best for a Breakfast Meal Replacement Shake?

It’s important to know exactly what you’re putting into your body, so be sure that you have a thorough read over the label and understand the ingredients list on a breakfast meal replacement shake before you buy and drink it.

In a breakfast meal replacement shake, protein is an ideal ingredient as it provides energy that slow-burns for many hours in the body post-consumption. This gives an energy boost that can last well into the afternoon, making the morning the perfect time to get it into your system. You may not consider protein intake with your normal morning meal, but the breakfast foods most think would contain a decent level of it – primarily sausages and bacon – have so much salt and grease to boot that its effect is normally negated. Breakfast meal replacement shakes allow you to get a great dose of protein in without having to balance it with negative, unhealthy elements. The Nutribuddy Shake Complete, for example, contains and impressive 7.1g of plant protein per serving.

The word ‘fat’ can seem counterintuitive when you’re trying to lose weight, but fatty acids are actually very good for you. Whilst there are foods that naturally contain high levels of omega fatty acids, there’s only a limited amount of them about, so getting in a good measurement of them before you eat any actual food saves you from lots of repetition with your meals.You’ll likely have seen fibre listed as an ‘added’ ingredient on breakfast cereal boxes, and it’s no coincidence. Fibre contributes to a healthy gut and digestive system, so consuming it at breakfast time will help you maintain regular, well-metabolised digestion for the whole day.

Nutribuddy Shake Complete tub on beach

Should I Look for High-Protein Breakfast Shakes?

Protein is a key nutrient in a healthy diet, and there are lots of meal replacement shakes on the market advertised as ‘high protein’. Whether or not you should choose a high protein breakfast meal replacement shake depends on what your goals are in drinking meal replacement shakes, but there are certainly lots of benefits to taking in a good shot of protein early in the day.

Protein keeps you feeling fuller for longer, so you’re able to avoid overeating throughout the day by drinking it before anything is eaten. Modern diets tend to include the most protein at dinnertime, so consuming it at breakfast balances out a diet nicely to fuel the body more consistently.

Green Vegan Breakfast Shake

Which is Best, Vegan or Non-Vegan Breakfast Meal Replacement Shakes?

The nature of meal replacement shakes is that they’re balanced with all of the essential vitamins and minerals that the body needs and that often, realistically, it wouldn’t receive from eating a meal. This means that provided the shake is well made and honest in its claims, with no synthetic or unhealthy ingredients, it should set you up for the day ahead and help to promote good health.

There are now both vegan and non-vegan breakfast meal replacement shakes widely available, each with their own pros and cons. If you’re following a vegan diet, then the former would be better suited to your needs – but if not, consider all of your options. It’s likely that the best breakfast meal replacement shake for you will be based around its individual ingredients and your own health –         not necessarily on its animal content.

For more information, have a read through our comprehensive guide to vegan meal replacement shakes.

Woman with curly hair holding tomatoes

Our Verdict

Meal replacement shakes are an increasingly popular product with those looking for a healthy and nourishing breakfast even when ‘on-the-go’. If the product is well-constructed and properly balanced with the right mix of nutritional content, the morning is the perfect time to drink meal replacement shakes. You’ll get a healthy antioxidant boost to prep you for the day ahead… and still leaves room for fun with lunch and dinner!

Our Breakfast Shake and Shake Complete have been formulated to contain all the necessary components of a healthy breakfast, but are 100% free from chemicals, laxatives, emulsifiers, thickeners and artificial flavourings. Buy our meal replacement shakes as part of the great value Grab ‘N’ Go Goody Box.

Nutribuddy Grab N Go Goody Box - Breakfast Shake & Shake Complete

Stock image credit: UnsplashPexels & Pixabay

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Nutribuddy Ltd.

Author Bio!

Post by Lex

I’m a full-time Marketing Manager and Copywriter but also a qualified yoga teacher and keen runner; so I know a thing or two about maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a good dose of fitness! My previous roles include marketing and social media for the likes of the household names including the Cabinet Office and Aviva. Outside of work, I’m a Mum, passionate social rights campaigner and bookworm.