In a world where people are busier than ever, always having a food choice that is nutritional and fits your diet needs can be a hard task to pull off. This is where people turn to meal replacement shakes or protein bars for a convenient stand in.
In this article, I’ll explain the pros and cons of meal replacement shakes and protein bars and the importance of trying to implement a diet consisting of all whole foods.
Should You Use Meal Replacement Shakes And Protein Bars
Unlike protein shakes, meal replacement shakes (MRP’S for short) are intended to provide roughly the same amount of calories and vitamins a full meal would give you.
Most MRPs will have anywhere from 200 to 800 calories per serving with a generous amount of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
For this reason MRPs are a very convenient way of getting a healthy meal on the go. However, their ingredients and nutrient compositions can vary greatly, with different amounts of carbohydrates, proteins and fat in different brands.
Make sure to do your research and to purchase the best fit for the current goal you are trying to reach.
In this article we’re going to discuss the best kinds of MRPs to add to your supplement plan for building muscle.
Meal Replacement Shakes vs. Whole Foods
Before we continue I want to make it clear, that there isn’t any substitute for a prepared meal of natural whole foods. You will always be able to cook or blend a more nutritional meal yourself using your favorite proteins, carbs and fats.
Yes this will entail some preparation on your part but it will give you the best control of what goes into your body in the end. I like to take a couple of hours Sunday morning and make all my shakes and lunches for the week, this may sound like a lot of time but you will have an easier time sticking to your diet this way rather than eating on a whim and hoping a nutritional meal is available.
It’s almost guaranteed that preparing your own food will taste much better than a pre packaged product will. My favorite shake contains natural peanut butter, oatmeal, banana, almond milk, oatmeal and strawberries. It’s a thousand times more delicious than any product I have ever bought.
Also, if you were to break down the cost per serving of a MRP compared to food you would buy at the grocery store, the MRP will be considerably higher.
Most importantly, if you are trying to create new habits to change your lifestyle you will be better off in the long run to put in the preparation and make your own meals rather than using a crutch such as a MPR. Weighing out and preparing your food may seem daunting at first but over time it will become a much simpler and easier activity, I promise.
The point I’m trying to reach here is to only use a MRP if it is necessary due to time restrictions due to being very busy or if you just want a few extra calories in any given day. If used properly and not taken advantage of, it can have a place in your diet.
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Best Meal Replacement Shakes For Building Muscle
There are different types of MRPs for different goals, you wouldn’t use the same MRP if you’re trying to build muscle that you would use if you are trying to burn fat.
Here are the MRPs I would recommend to help with a calorie surplus (building muscle) diet plan.
1 RTN Meal Replacement
If it was up to me I would stop the list right now with this one product. This is actually the only meal replacement shake I recommend to other people
What makes this product stand out is where it gets its ingredients from, the protein is derived from high quality whey and the carbs come from a combination of oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potato and cocoa and a stevia blend with added digestive enzymes. This product makes hitting your macronutrients easy and tastes amazing.
What other brands use for a carbohydrate source is maltodextrin or waxy maize, these are just a simple sugar with absolutely no nutritional value. These are the type of ingredients you want to stay away from when buying MRPs.
- 278 calories per serving
- 35 grams of carbs
- 24 grams of protein
2 Optimum Nutrition Whey and Oats
Optimum nutrition is one of the best supplement companies out there, they own and operate their own production facilities. This gives them complete control over their product from start to finish.
This is a complete whey protein with all the essential amino acids to support muscle recovery. The oats give you a complex carbohydrate source that will provide energy to support strength and endurance.
With the flavor options they took a breakfast theme with chocolate glazed donut, blueberry muffin and vanilla almond pastry but can obviously be used at any point of the day.
- 190 calories per serving
- 30 grams of carbs
- 27 grams of proteins
- 4 grams of fiber
High Quality Protein Bars
Go to any grocery store in the country and you’ll find a wall of protein bars of all flavors available to you, they typically advertise anywhere from 6 to 30 grams of protein along with a good amount of fiber.
The question is, are they a good choice to add into your diet and which one’s should you purchase?
The first thing you need to decide is this a snack or a meal replacement. Don’t let the size fool you, some of these bars can have as much as 400 calories which is way to much for a snack, make sure you always look at the calorie count.
If you are using it as a meal replacement I would suggest picking a bar that has between 300 to 400 calories, if it’s a snack find one around 200 calories. Just make sure it fits into daily macronutrient count.
Another aspect you have to be aware of is the amount of sugar in the bar your choosing. It’s common for them to have up to 30 grams of sugar, which is way too much. While you’re looking at the sugar count pay attention to the rest of the nutrient label. Some bars will have only 4 or 5 ingredients which is what you want. Others like the supreme protein bar has over 56 ingredients.
Don’t be fooled by the packaging or advertising gimmicks, you need to treat protein bars just like you would any other food and don’t outsmart your common sense. If there is a bunch of ingredients that you can’t pronounce or never heard of than do yourself a favor and put it back on the shelf.
I recommend these bars because they have a protein content derived almost entirely of whey. They’re high in fiber and healthy fats and they don’t contain any low quality fillers or binders. They also taste great.
- 21 grams of protein
- 4 grams of carbs
- 1 grams of sugar
- 12 grams of fiber
- 190 calories
Perfect Bar is a convenient dose of vitamin and mineral dense nutrition thanks to the 20 organic ingredients like kale, spinach, lemon and honey. With a good balance of healthy fats, whole food proteins and carbs these bars are low GI which means they will cause a lower, slower rise in your blood sugar.
- 13 grams of protein
- 25 grams of carbs
- 18 grams of sugar
- 4 grams of fiber
- 305 calories
22 days protein bars
Made of real whole foods ingredients plant based proteins. This is an organic option with no GMO’s, vegan, gluten free and soy free. Being naturally sweetened with cacao and cocoa butter it allows them to have a low sugar content. Great flavors like peanut butter chocolate chip, salted caramel, fudge brownie and chunky peanut butter are available.
- 15 grams of protein
- 19 grams of carbs
- 5 grams of sugar
- 8 grams of fiber
- 160 calories