The Complete Guide to the Best Breakfast Shakes for Weight Loss

Last Updated 26th September 2019
Nutribuddy Breakfast Smoothie Bowl by @health_happiness_hannah

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And while modern day experts may disagree with the mantra, there’s no denying that the morning meal has a host of impressive health benefits.

From kick-starting your metabolism and helping you to burn more calories throughout the day, to keeping you focused at work and boosting your energy, eating a healthy breakfast is an essential step towards a balanced lifestyle.

Yet, between getting the kids ready for school and rushing to work without a second to spare, you may end up skipping the all-important AM meal. This can lead to the temptation of unhealthy, sugary snacks come 11 o’clock, increased calorie intake for the remainder of the day and, ultimately, weight gain.

So what’s the solution? Well, you need something healthy, energising and nutritionally complete which is also quick and easy to prepare. Thankfully, breakfast shakes for weight loss fit that bill perfectly! Let’s take a closer look.

Woman cutting organic fruit for vegan smoothie bowl

Breakfast Shakes for Weight Loss: The Lowdown

What are Breakfast Shakes?

Breakfast shakes are exactly what the name says – breakfast, but in the form of a shake! They’re formulated to contain the right amount of fibre, carbs, protein, healthy fats and vitamins of a healthy breakfast, but comes in an easy-to-make, powdered form.

All you need to do is mix it up with milk or water, shake it up and gulp it down on your way out the door. Sounds like a busy person’s dream, right? Definitely. And because they come in such a huge variety of textures, formulations and flavours, you’re sure to find one which tickles your taste buds, too!

strawberry breakfast meal replacement shake for weight loss in glass

What are the Key Benefits of Breakfast Shakes for Weight Loss?

  • Greater control over, and easy tracking of, calorie intake.
  • Boosted nutrition and increased energy, especially for those who previously skipped breakfast.
  • An easy way to include health-boosting superfoods into your diet.
  • Quick, convenient and easy-to-make, to complement busy lifestyles.
  • Can increase the feeling of satiety and therefore decrease snack cravings.

How do Breakfast Shakes Help with Weight Loss?

The idea behind breakfast weight loss shakes is really quite simple. A breakfast shake contains a set amount of calories so you know exactly what you’re consuming when you drink it. This makes the process of lowering calorie intake far simpler to track and keep on top of.

If you used to skip breakfast altogether, a low-cal breakfast shake will not only boost your daily nutrition and metabolism but also help you to resist unhealthy snacks come mid-morning. In turn, you could actually end up losing weight, despite actually adding another meal into your daily routine.

Combining it with a meal replacement shake for either lunch or dinner could speed up your weight-loss even further.

Woman weighing herself whilst sitting on double bed

Do Breakfast Shakes for Weight Loss Actually Work?

You’ve heard our take on breakfast shakes for weight loss, but we know what you’re thinking – where’s the evidence?

Well, meal replacement shakes, in general, are backed by countless scientific studies. A 2018 meal replacement shake trial concluded that weight loss achieved through the use of replacement diets can be maintained for a reasonable time and is, therefore, a good treatment option for anyone seeking support with weight loss.

Impressively, the first-ever systematic assessment on the safety and effectiveness of a meal replacement strategy for weight management deduced that meal replacement shakes can safely and effectively produce significant sustainable weight loss. Winner!

But what about breakfast specifically? While the importance of breakfast is heavily debated, skipping meals and eating no calories in the morning is often completely counter-productive in terms of weight-loss.

People who eat healthy, balanced meals – including breakfast – tend to feel fuller throughout the day and are generally less likely to pick and snack as the day goes by. Research suggests that front-loading your calories earlier in the day gives you a far better chance of shedding weight or maintaining a healthy weight. In fact, a 20-week study compared weight loss in ‘early eaters’ and ‘late eaters’ and discovered that late eaters lost far less weight in the defined period than the early eater.

Scales with apple and measuring tape on

Homemade vs Store-Bought Breakfast Shakes: Which is Best?

If you’ve got some spare time in the morning and enjoy preparing food, you might consider making homemade breakfast shakes for weight-loss – but are they the better option?

Not necessarily. Many of the homemade breakfast smoothies you come across online focus on merely blending together some fruit and a liquid. While fruit smoothies taste great and are by no means unhealthy in moderation, you’re likely to consume a lot of sugar but not a lot else in terms of nutrition. Therefore, if you do go the homemade route, we’d recommend including a source of protein such as nuts, seeds or a natural protein powder like the Nutribuddy High-Protein Sculpting Shake.

The great thing about pre-made breakfast shakes for weight loss is that they take the guesswork out of calorie intake and nutrition and come with little to no prep-time. Therefore, if you feel your nutritional knowledge is lacking or struggle to find time in the AM, you may be best opting for a pre-formulated healthy breakfast shake such as the Nutribuddy Breakfast Shake.

Nutribuddy breakfast jar and mixed berry breakfast bowl for weight loss
Smoothie Bowl using Nutribuddy Breakfast by MoreThanGreens

Picking the Best Breakfast Shakes for Weight Loss: The Ultimate Guide

So, now that we’ve covered the ins and outs of breakfast shakes for weight loss, you’re probably ready to make your choice and get started.

But you’ll soon come to realise that there’s a minefield of meal replacement shakes on the market, all of which come with varying benefits, ingredients and nutritional values.

Let’s take a closer look at breakfast shakes for weight loss, including common ingredients and compositions, to help you make an informed purchase.

Breakfast Shakes for Weight Loss Ingredients: The Do’s

Oats

If we had to crown an ingredient as the king/queen of breakfast, it’d have to be oats. As well as boasting countless health benefits, including cholesterol and blood pressure-lowering qualities and immunity-boosting effects, oats are packed with dietary fibre.

It’s this dietary fibre which makes oats so filling. In fact, numerous studies have proven that oats can suppress appetite and increase satiety, which is highly beneficial to those looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. And, of course, we can’t deny how damn satisfying and tasty they are!

Oats are used as the base of all Nutribuddy shakes, including our best-selling, 100% vegan Breakfast Shake.

Nutribuddy Vegan Breakfast Shake in glass jar

Chia & Flax Seeds

Tiny chia seeds come from a plant called the Salvia hispanica and, in recent years, have come into the limelight as a true superfood. But with their impressive nutritional profile (think omega-3 fatty acids, plant protein, antioxidants and high-fibre) yet low-calorie composition, it’s not hard to see why.

But what about weight-loss? Chia seeds expand inside your stomach, leading to a feeling of fullness with very little calorie intake. Over time, this may help you consume fewer calories and ultimately, reach and maintain a healthy weight.

On top of this, a tablespoon of chia seeds contains a whopping 5g of fibre – that’s 20% of your daily intake in just 50-60 calories. But what does that mean for your weight? Well, historically, rigorous studies suggest that high fibre diets are linked to healthy body weight.

And the story is similar for flaxseeds, also known as linseed. As a powerful source of dietary fibre at a low-calorie count, they can contribute to a healthy weight over the long-term, as well as help to keep your heart and body healthy.

Yellow wooden spoons with chia seeds and flaxseeds

Matcha Green Tea

Recently, it seems like the world is obsessed with matcha – and we hate to break it to you, but so are we!

This Japanese powdered green tea is highly regarded for its rich antioxidant content, the most prized of which being catechins. Catechins are not only linked to preventing cancer and heart disease but are also a proven metabolism booster and natural fat burner.

Too good to be true? Well, this miracle-like ingredient is completely backed up by evidence. A 2009 study discovered that the catechins found in green tea had a positive effect on weight loss and weight maintenance, while another undertaken in 2005 concluded that the daily consumption of tea containing 690 mg catechins for 12 weeks reduced body fat.

The problem with matcha green tea is that, often, people just can’t stand the taste. Admittedly, it does take some getting used to after all that English breakfast tea. Thankfully, many high-quality breakfast shakes for weight-loss, such as the Nutribuddy Breakfast Shake in smooth, list matcha green tea as an ingredient – so you can enjoy the benefits without the taste!

Frankie Gaff with Nutribuddy Breakfast Shake in pouch, shaker and jar

Milk

Okay, so milk doesn’t come with as many impressive weight-loss benefits as the ingredients we’ve already discussed – but as you’ll be mixing your shake up with the stuff, it is an important factor. Most breakfast shakes can be mixed with water or milk, but we’d generally recommend milk. Why? Well, milk – whether plant-based or dairy – can add an extra boost of nutritional value and calories to your shake.

And remember, calories aren’t always the weight-loss enemy. While it’s essential to remain in a calorie deficit if you’re looking to shed the pounds, consuming at least 200-400 at breakfast time can help you resist the snacks later on. But, when mixed with water, you may find that breakfast shakes for weight-loss come in at under 200 calories – which is likely lead to excessive hunger and fatigue.

Check out the nutritional values of milk and milk alternatives per 100ml according to the BBC, so you can opt for one which suits your nutritional needs:

  • Unsweetened almond milk: 13kcal, 1.1g fat, 0.4g protein.
  • Unsweetened soya milk: 33kcal, 1.8g fat, 3.3g protein.
  • Oat milk: 45kcal, 1.5g fat, 1g protein.
  • Coconut milk: 17kcal, 0.9g fat, 0.1g protein.
  • Semi-skimmed cow’s milk: 50kcal, 1.8g fat, 3.6g protein.
natural coconut and berry meal replacement shake in coconut shell

Breakfast Shakes for Weight Loss Ingredients: The Don’ts

Senna Leaves or Other Laxatives

You’ve seen it all before – the #teatox hashtag, the “drink this and lose 1 stone in a week”, and the “drink this and get a flat belly like me!”.

But detox teas and ‘cleansing’ shakes with miracle claims like this often contain senna, a medication prescribed by the NHS to treat constipation. Yep, let’s just be blunt about it – shakes with laxative ingredients make you go to the toilet. A lot.

Taking laxatives when you don’t actually need them for a medical reason can cause all sorts of damage – from a disrupted electrolyte balance, dehydration and cramps to long-term complications such as addiction, dependence (that means you’d have to take them, in order to ‘go’) and internal organ damage. Truthfully, laxatives can cause some serious problems and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

But laxatives are good for weight-loss, right? Well, you may technically see results in a relatively short amount of time with the use of laxatives, but it’s only water weight – and that’s totally temporary. Once your body is rehydrated, the weight will come right back.

Using laxative-based shakes or teas for weight loss is like playing with fire – avoid them at all costs and opt for healthy, gradual and sustainable weight-loss instead.

Woman looking concerned with pink background

Synthetic Vitamin Blends

The idea that artificially-produced, synthetic vitamins are inferior to natural vitamins from whole foods is a hotly-debated topic – so what’s the deal?

We firmly believe that natural is better – after all, our body was designed to consume food from nature rather than chemicals created in a lab! When you consume whole foods, your body will receive a whole range of naturally-occurring vitamins, minerals and enzymes that can be optimally used by the body. Synthetic nutrients, on the other hand, are highly unlikely to be absorbed by the body as efficiently as their natural counterparts and are widely believed to deplete the body of other vital nutrients.

A study undertaken on the physiochemical differences between certain natural and synthetic vitamins concluded that natural vitamins are nutritionally superior to synthetic ones, while further research discovered that the natural form of vitamin E is at least twice as effective physiologically than the synthetic form.

So, while shopping for breakfast shakes for weight loss, it’s in your best interest to opt for ones that provide vitamins through natural whole food ingredients alone. How can you tell? Well, if you see ‘vitamin C’ listed as an actual ingredient, it’s synthetic. If the shake boasts balanced vitamin values but only lists recognisable whole food ingredients – like the Nutribuddy Breakfast Shake – it’s probably naturally occurring.

Nutribuddy Breakfast Smoothie Bowl with strawberries and blueberries
Nutribuddy Breakfast Smoothie Bowl by @health_happiness_hannah

Artificial Ingredients

Take a look at the ingredients list of your breakfast weight-loss shake options and, chances are, you’ll find a handful which are overwhelmingly long, chemical-like and hard-to-pronounce. That’s because most of the ingredients which make up the shake aren’t actual food – they’re merely artificial chemicals.

Overly processed, artificial shakes are often chockablock with preservatives, colourants, flavourings and texturants to allow the shake have a longer shelf-life, make them taste sweeter and give them a smoother texture – but despite these positives, they come with a host of negative health effects.

As well as being low in essential vitamins, antioxidants and nutrients as we spoke about in the above section, food additives and preservatives have been linked to cancers, bowel problems, ADHD in children, antibiotic resistance, increased risk of heart disease and risk of weight-gain in animal trials – despite being deemed safe for human consumption.

It’s also worth being aware of artificial sweeteners and their associated risks. They do contain far fewer calories than sugar, meaning they are a good option for those who wish to lose weight and therefore do commonly appear on weight loss shake ingredients lists – but their safety is continuously debated. At the moment, the all-natural sweetener Stevia is believed to be, by far, the safest and healthiest option.

While it may be difficult to avoid artificial foods altogether, it totally makes sense to pick a meal replacement shake without them. The Nutribuddy Shake Complete, for example, is formulated with 100% whole food, clean ingredients which are better for your body and the environment.

Nutribuddy Shake Complete natural ingredient list
Nutribuddy Shake Complete’s natural ingredient list by Laura Lucas

High-Protein Breakfast Shakes for Weight-Loss: Vegan vs Non-Vegan

While sugar, carbs and fats remain heavily debated nutrients in terms of health effects, there’s one nutrient which everyone agrees is highly-beneficial – protein!

And when it comes to weight loss, protein is a mega game-changer, too. It can help to boost your metabolism, reduce your appetite and have a positive effect on your weight-regulating hormones. No complaints there!

But many people automatically deem vegan protein shakes as inferior to whey-based (a by-product of cheese, and therefore, an animal product) shakes as standard. But this is totally inaccurate and heavily outdated. Truth be told, plant-based proteins can be just as effective and often far easier on the digestive system.

The argument lies in amino acids. Of the 20 amino acids in existence, 9 are considered essential for human health and should be consumed every day. All animal proteins are complete proteins, meaning they contain all 9 essential amino acids. In comparison, some plant-based proteins, such as soy, chia seeds and hemp, are complete – but most aren’t.

However, if a high-protein vegan meal replacement shake combines multiple sources of complementary plant-based protein, it’s still able to deliver a complete range of essential amino acids and proteins. On top of this, as well as being completely cruelty-free, vegan protein powders also come with an increased dose of fibre and antioxidants.

Don’t overlook high-protein, vegan breakfast weight loss shakes such as the Nutribuddy High-Protein Sculpting Shake – even if you’re not following a vegan diet. They’re just as effective and can offer several other health benefits to boot!

organic produce for organic meal replacement shakes

Low-Calorie Breakfast Shakes for Weight-Loss: How Low is Too Low?

Despite a multitude of dieting fads and techniques, the most popular way to lose weight is, and has always been, to limit or lessen your calorie intake. But in a frantic bid to shed those pounds, it can be tempting to pick the lowest-cal shake you can possibly find – but how low is too low?

Well, GP’s, dieticians and physicians would all agree that no adult individual should consume fewer than 1,200 calories per day. It’d be rather difficult to obtain sufficient nutrition in this amount of calories, even when consuming nutritionally balanced shakes. This lack of nutrition could cause side-effects like fatigue, nausea, brain-fog and constipation – nope, not pleasant at all.

And to top it off, extremely low-calorie diets may actually put your body into starvation mode (yup, it’s a real thing) and, ultimately, slow down the rate of weight-loss.

For this reason, if you’re using weight loss shakes to replace a full meal, they should ideally contain around 200-400 calories per serving once mixed with milk. This way, you’ll still have room to enjoy healthy snacks, a home-cooked lunch or dinner (you should never replace all 3 of your meals) and beverages, whilst reaching the 1,200 minimum intake and still remaining in a healthy calorie deficit.

The take-home? Don’t be tempted to go for an uber-low-calorie breakfast weight-loss shake. As well as being totally unsustainable, you’d likely find yourself feeling lethargic, unmotivated and possibly poorly for the rest of the day.

woman sat on bed and typing on a laptop

Natural vs Organic Breakfast Shakes for Weight Loss

Natural and organic breakfast shakes for weight loss are the same thing, right? Well, you’re not the only one who thinks that – but we’re here to tell you that in terms of food labelling, they can mean very different things.

According to The Department for Agriculture and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), organic food is:

‘…the product of a farming system which avoids the use of man-made fertilisers, pesticides, growth regulators and livestock feed additives. Irradiation and the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or products produced from or by GMOs are generally prohibited by organic legislation.”

On top of this, according to the BBC, foods can only be labelled as organic if at least 95% of the ingredients are derived from organically produced plants and/or animals. And for even further credibility, the government reserves the right to inspect organic producers at any time without notice – yep, it’s a heavily regulated term.

So what about natural? Well, there’s not all that much to say. While labelling a weight loss shake as natural would lead you to believe it was free from chemicals, preservatives, pesticides and man-made ingredients, that’s not always the case. Unlike ‘organic, ‘natural’ has absolutely no regulation behind it. This means that a highly-artificial breakfast shake could bung in one single natural ingredient, yet label the entire product as ‘natural’.
Ultimately, the easiest way to separate these two terms is to think of organic as a guarantee, whereas natural comes with no guarantee whatsoever – in fact, food producers can just plonk it on any vaguely-natural product.

So, while (legitimately) natural breakfast shakes and organic breakfast shakes are both attractive in terms of their quality and health benefits, always make sure to read the label and make sure your natural weight loss shake is, in fact, natural.

As an example, take a look at the Nutribuddy Breakfast Shake ingredients. We can almost guarantee you’ll recognise each and every ingredient listed as a natural whole food and won’t be perplexed by any dubious chemicals – no matter what brand you opt for, this should be your goal.

Tiffany Watson with Nutribuddy breakfast weight loss shake

Breakfast Shake Reviews: Should You Believe Them?

When you’re stuck between a few different breakfast shake brands, it makes total sense to read around product reviews to see which receive positive testimonials and boast real-life results in terms of weight-loss. And if you head to a brand’s website or social media page, you’re likely to be bombarded with uber-positive quotes and testimonials touting their products.

But do remember that every meal replacement shake brand and diet supplement company ultimately want to sell you their product. This means that while the testimonials on their website may well be true, they’d never put their negative reviews up there – after all, this would negatively affect their sales. Basically, website reviews rarely give the full story.

So what should you do? Head to impartial review websites and see what people really have to say. Brands are unable to delete or edit reviews on these platforms; so if someone had a bad experience, it’ll be there to stay – unless, of course, it’s proven to be fake. TrustPilot, for example, has a host of measures put in place to ensure reviews are legitimate and reflect genuine buying experiences.

Breakfast Weight Loss Shakes for IBS Review
Nutribuddy Customer Testimonial by @blondepitaya

Best Breakfast Shakes for Weight Loss: The Final Say

With study after study proving their efficacy, there’s simply no denying that meal replacement shakes can be a handy weight-loss aid. 

And when it comes to breakfast shakes for weight-loss, the benefits are clear. If you currently fill up on sugar-packed, high-fat cereal, then switching to a nutritionally balanced, whole food breakfast shake is bound to lead to a calorie reduction and nutrition boost.

Similarly, if you currently skip breakfast altogether, drinking a high-fibre, low-calorie shake before you start your day is likely to lead to lower calorie consumption overall, as you’ll feel far less tempted to snack come 11am and may even opt for smaller serving sizes for lunch.

So while we can’t disagree over their weight-loss and health benefits, the problem with breakfast shakes for weight-loss is finding the right product for you. If weight-loss is your main goal, it’s scarily easy to get swayed by inaccurate marketing drivel and spend your hard-earned cash on unsustainable and unhealthy products.

In order to find the right breakfast shake for you, here’s what we’d recommend:

  • Focus on the ingredients list and nutritional values over marketing campaigns and claims.
  • Opt for wholefood ingredients over artificial and chemical-ridden shakes.
  • Question the ‘natural’ label and always double-check its legitimacy.
  • Ensure the shake contains at least 200 calories per serving with milk.
  • Avoid shakes which contain laxatives or senna leaves at all costs.
  • Read reviews through unbiased websites such as TrustPilot.

With that in mind, it’s time for you to get shopping! The low-calorie Nutribuddy 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. Yep – when we say natural, we actually mean it! Give them both a try by purchasing our 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!

Alice Nutribuddy Author Bio

Post by Alice

After graduating from University with a 1st class marketing degree, I ventured into the world of freelance marketing. I now work as Nutribuddy’s Marketing Assistant on all things content and social media! Originally from North Wales but now based in Chester, I spend my free time writing on my blog, hanging out with my sausage dog and travelling. As a self-confessed animal-lover who’s trying to lead an increasingly eco-friendly lifestyle, I’m super happy to be working with an ethical, cruelty-free and vegan brand like Nutribuddy!