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Protein Shake as a Meal Replacement: Do’s and Don’ts


In this article

More and more people are discovering the convenient benefits of using (vegan) protein powders as an ingredient in oatmeal (protein oats), in yogurt (proyo), in baked goods, but also in meal replacing shakes. In this article, we take a closer look at this topic and discuss how protein shakes can serve as a healthy and convenient meal replacing option.

Written by A.L. Oosterling BSc sports dietitian, NSCA-CPT, ISAK anthropometrist

blender with protein shake

Can protein shakes be used as a meal replacement?

Protein shakes are essentially not created to replace meals, but to easily add extra protein to a healthy diet. While protein shakes are not meant to replace a full meal by themselves, they can serve as a liquid meal if you include the necessary nutrients typically found in a balanced, healthy meal. Think of grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fat sources. This way your protein shake not only contains proteins, but also carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals, which makes it a complete meal.

Protein shakes vs. Traditional Healthy Meals

Comparing protein shakes to traditional meals is essential. This way you can find out exactly what is missing so you can add it to your shake or eat it at a later time.

Nutritional values per servingVegan protein shakes with waterTraditional healthy meals
40g SUPPLEAM vegan protein powder in O.G. Vanilla
350-400ml water

122 kcal | 31g protein | 2.1g carbohydrates | 0.3g fats | 0g fiber
Example stir-fry with:
75g uncooked weight brown rice
150g smoked tofu
50g red onion
150g bokchoi,
15g ginger
30ml soy sauce
30ml vegan oyster sauce
lime juice

550 kcal | 33g protein | 66g carbohydrates | 10g fats | 3g fiber
Calories122 kcal400-700 kcal
Protein 31g 20-50g
Carbohydrates 240-80g
Vitamins and Minerals mixnot presentpresent

protein shake for breakfast, meal replacement

Protein shake as a meal replacement that fits within a healthy lifestyle

Vegan protein shakes can serve as convenient meal replacements, especially on busy days or when you’re on the go. To turn your shake into a complete meal, you only need to add healthy fats such as avocado or nut butter, but also fruit or vegetables for extra fiber and micronutrients. Last but not least, you need a carbohydrate source to make it a balanced protein shake, such as oatmeal and strawberries. This way you can adapt your shake to your specific nutritional preferences and ensure a balanced meal replacement.

Protein shake to healthy meal shakes checklist

meal replacement protein shake checklist

Protein Shakes as a Quick Meal; No time for a blender

In a time-driven world, finding quick and nutritious meal options can be a real challenge. This is where protein shakes can come to the rescue. Combined with fresh fruits, vegetables and nutritious grains, they provide a convenient solution for hectic days. But what if you don’t even have the time to use a blender? In such cases, a simple protein shake (shake water or milk with a scoop of protein powder in a protein shaker) can serve as a bridge to a moment when you do have the opportunity to prepare a more extensive and complete meal.

The idea is not to think of the protein shake as a complete meal replacement, but rather as a protein-rich snack or partial replacement. This strategy can help you bridge those periods when extensive meal prep is simply not feasible. In the end, a well-rounded meal featuring everyday foods will be served later in the day to ensure that the protein shake plays its part in a thoughtful and intentional eating plan.

Homemade Meal Replacement Shakes vs. Ready-Made Meal Replacement Shakes

In a world where everyone is busy and time is precious, meal replacements have become increasingly popular as a convenient option for people on the go or who don’t have time to prepare elaborate meals. However, the choice between homemade meal replacements and ready-made meal replacements raises many questions. What is the difference between these two? Which is healthier? Here the pros and cons:

Pros homemade meal replacement shakesCons homemade meal replacement shakes
– Can be adapted to specific nutritional needs and avoid allergens
– Healthier than a ready-made meal replacement,
because in addition to a vegan protein powder, you’re also using basic whole foods.
– Making homemade meal replacement shakes takes more time than a ready-made meal replacement shake.
Pros and Cons of homemade meal replacement shakes.
Pros ready-made meal replacement shakesCons of ready-made meal replacement shakes
– Ready-to-use meal shakes excel in convenience. They often only need to be mixed with water.
– They are useful for people who are not skilled in cooking or who are on the go.
– Ready-made meal replacement shakes sometimes contain preservatives and added sugars
that reduce the overall nutritional value.
– No control over the ingredients
– Contains only processed food, so less healthy than a homemade meal replacement shake.
Pros and Cons of ready-made meal replacement shakes

Protein shake as a diet shake for weight loss

Protein shakes can help with weight loss because they are relatively low in calories and high in protein. To lose weigh of which mostly body fat you need to take in fewer calories than you need and eat more protein. A simple protein shake contains relatively few calories and a lot of protein. A protein shake therefore can fit perfectly in a period when it’s your goal to lose weight. A balanced plan with protein shakes and healthy meals can produce lasting results. Here are some tips:

female pouring vegan protein shake from blender
  1. Choose a vegan protein powder with high-quality proteins. A vegan protein powder with at least 70% protein per 100g of product, extra essential amino acids and no added sugars, fats or other carbohydrates. A protein powder should mainly provide protein.
  2. Consider enriching your protein shake with fiber. Fibers are found in whole grains (oats, wheat bran, cooked brown rice, cooked quinoa, cooked legumes), vegetables (such as spinach, beetroot, kale) and/or fruit. This helps to increase the nutritional value and will help you feel fuller for longer.
  3. Maximum 1 simple protein shake as a meal replacement. A simple protein shake with 40g of high quality vegan protein powder and water contains 122 kcal and 30g of protein. This means that a protein shake fits well within a low-calorie diet, but if you replace several meals with a simple protein shake, you run the risk of lacking nutrients. By definition, a diet with fewer calories (energy restriction) produces deficits. When you eat only one type of food, you’re depriving your body of even more essential nutrients. Do you want to replace another meal? Then make sure to add vegetables, fruit, grains and healthy fats.
  4. Protein shake as a snack. Consider using a protein shake as a snack when having cravings or feel most hungry, for example between lunch and dinner.
  5. Combine protein shakes with regular exercise. Exercising not only burn calories, but also helps maintain muscle mass during weight loss. The latter is particularly true when it comes to strength training.
  6. Listen to your body. If you’re feeling hungry or if your energy levels are low, it may be time to eat a full meal instead of a shake.
  7. Vary the flavors and ingredients to keep your protein shakes interesting and varied.
  8. Remember that it is important to follow a balanced and sustainable diet that suits you. Protein shakes can be a useful addition, but they should never be the sole source of nutrition. Consult with a (sports) dietitian to tailor a plan that meets your needs and produces healthy long-term results.
best vegan protein

How to make an easy vegan protein shake as a meal replacement for weight loss?

Do you want to lose weight? Then calories are the most important thing. This is why we’ll show you 3 easy protein shake recipes from the least kcal to slightly more kcal, but more satiating. With frozen strawberries, unsweetened almond milk, vegan protein powder and healthy additions like spinach, you get a delicious and nutritious shake that will help you reach your goals.

BasicBasic with (red) fruit As a meal replacement
– 40g SUPPLEAM vegan protein powder, flavor of your choice
– 400 ml unsweetened almond milk (or water, then -50 kcal)
– 40g SUPPLEAM vegan protein powder, flavor of your choice
– 400 ml unsweetened almond milk or water
– 200g (frozen) strawberries or ½ banana (±60-70g)
– 100g (frozen) mango or ½ banana (±60-70g)
– 400ml unsweetened almond milk
– 40g SUPPLEAM vegan protein powder, flavor of your choice
– 10g oats
– 10g nut butter of your choice or chia seeds
– optional 1 handful (±50g) of fresh spinach leafs
or 1 cube of frozen leaf spinach
With almond milk: 175 kcal & 32g protein 235 kcal & 34g protein350 kcal & 40g protein
Vegan protein shake recipes for weight loss

How to prepare: mix all ingredients in a blender until creamy consistency. These shakes are low in calories but high in protein, making them a perfect choice for weight loss.

Protein shakes as a meal replacement for gaining weight (weight gainer)

A protein shake in a concentrated source of protein and essential amino acids. It is not necessarily made to gain weight. To gain weight, you need to take in more calories than you expend. If you want to gain muscle mass in a targeted manner, you will also have to pay attention to protein and strength training in addition to the total amount of calories. To transform a protein shake into a meal replacement that provides sufficient protein and calories to support weight gain, you’ll need to incorporate additional ingredients. A shake that focuses on gaining weight is often referred to as a “weight gainer” in fitness. Here are some tips:

vegan natural weight gainer
  1. Do not choose water, but vegetable milk with the most calories.
    The liquid is the basis of your protein shake that can already provide a lot of calories. Plant-based milks with the most calories are:
  • coconut milk (not to be confused with coconut water or coconut drink) contains approx. 160 kcal per 100g. A simple shake with 350-400ml coconut milk provides 560-640 kcal. On top of this comes the kcal of the vegan protein powder (approx. 122 kcal per 40g protein powder)
  • Full fat oat milk contains approx. 60 kcal per 100gr. A simple shake with 210-240ml coconut milk provides 560-640 kcal. On top of this comes the kcal of the vegan protein powder (approx. 122 kcal per 40g protein powder)
  1. Add extra calories.
    If you want to turn a protein shake into a meal replacing shake for weight gain with as many calories as possible, it is important to know which ingredients contain the most calories:
Vegan foods high in caloriesCalories per 100gr
for example, avocado oil, sunflower seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, flax seed oil
Average 900 kcal per 100g
Nuts and nut butterAverage 690 kcal per 100g
Peanut butterAverage 640 kcal per 100g
TahiniAverage 650 kcal per 100g
AvocadoAverage 200 kcal per 100g
Seeds, for example pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seed, Average 600 kcal per 100g
Dates Average 290 kcal per 100g
Dried coconut (coconut flakes)Average 675 kcal per 100g
BananaAverage 90 kcal per 100g
High calorie vegan foods for a natural weight gainer
  1. Timing: Drink you’re shake when you are least hungry.
    If you have trouble gaining weight, for example because you are full quickly, it is useful to drink a liquid meal when you experience the least amount of appetite. A liquid meal is easier to digest and get it in compared to a meal that requires chewing.
  2. Add small amounts of fruits and vegetables.
    Fruits and vegetables are good for you. They are rich in essential vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. It is of course crucial to eat a lot of different fruits and vegetables, since no single vegetable contains all the necessary nutrients in optimal amounts. Unfortunately, not all fruits and vegetables are suitable ingredients in a shake. If you want to gain weight, you’ll also have to deal with more food in general. If you have trouble eating more, fruits and vegetables can become a problem. The fibers of these products can be filling. Our advice is therefore to divide small amounts of fruit and vegetables over the day. Including in your shake. Yes, vegetables can also be used (raw) in your shake. Here are some fruits and vegetables that are perfect for a homemade weight gainer:
  • Spinach leafs (also from the freezer)
  • Kale (also from the freezer)
  • Beetroot
  • Banana (also from the freezer)
  • Mango (also from the freezer)
  • Pineapple (also from the freezer)
  • Orange
  • Kiwi

How do you make an easy vegan protein shake as a meal replacement for weight gain? (vegan natural weight gainer)

Do you want to gain weight? Then calories are the most important. This is why we show 2 recipes for a vegan natural “weight gainer” protein shake.

male drinking vegan protein shake from blender
Basic vegan weight gainer; protein shake as a meal replacementvegan weight gainer; protein shake as a meal replacement
– 400ml coconut milk
(add extra water if you find it too thick)
– 2 bananas (approx. 220g)
– 40g SUPPLEAM vegan protein powder, flavor of your choice
– 400ml coconut milk
(add extra water if you find it too thick)
– 2 bananas (approx. 220g)
– 45g SUPPLEAM vegan protein powder, flavor of your choice
– 75g spinach leafs
980 kcal and 41g protein1000 kcal & 43g protein
Recipe vegan natural weight gainer (vegan meal replacement for weight gain).

How to prepare: mix all ingredients in a blender until creamy consistency. These shakes are relatively high in calories and packed with vegan protein, making them a perfect choice for weight gain and muscle mass building.


Protein shakes can serve as convenient meal replacements, but they should be used wisely and tailored to your personal goal. They can contribute to weight management, muscle building and time saving, but should not be a complete substitute for all nutritious meals.

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