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Meal Replacement Protein Powder: 5 Best Products That Work

Best Vegan Meal Replacement Protein Powder Product

Unlike ordinary protein powder that’s mostly just protein, meal replacement protein powder delivers additional macronutrients, like healthy fats and vitamin-rich carbohydrates. 

They’re also substantial in calories, providing adequate substance to properly replace a meal without leaving you hungry or bonking on energy.

Most meal replacement powder is still heavy on protein. Yet, the overall nutrient makeup varies widely from product to product (and so does the taste).

Because life’s too short to drink a bad-tasting, nutritionally inadequate meal replacement powder, I’ve done much of the research and experimentation for you. 

Here I share some of the best meal replacement powders on the market and what makes each an effective product for curbing hunger, nourishing your body, and facilitating your weight loss goals.

What Makes a Good Meal Replacement Powder for Weight Loss?

Best vegan meal replacement protein powder plant-based

One of the biggest reasons people utilize meal replacement powder is to help them lose weight. 

While some products may be branded as weight loss meal replacements, they may contain added ingredients that do the opposite–stimulate appetite and ignite your sweet tooth cravings.

To help you make an informed decision, here are some of the qualities that make for an effective meal replacement powder for weight loss.

  • No artificial sweeteners: Several studies suggest that artificial sweeteners may be counterproductive for weight loss and could be associated with weight gain.[1, 2] The World Health Organization advises against using artificial sweeteners for weight control, as long-term use is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and mortality.
  • No sugar alcohols: Like artificial sweeteners, studies have found sugar alcohols to have potential drawbacks for weight loss. While they have zero calories and a reduced glycemic effect compared to sugar, some sugar alcohols like maltitol can elevate blood sugar and insulin levels. Additional research has found a link between the use of erythritol as an added sweetener and cardiovascular health risks, such as stroke and heart attack.[3]
  • Fewer gums more food: You may be surprised to learn that certain gums, like acacia gum and guar gum, are primary ingredients used in meal replacement powders. While these gums help preserve the integrity, consistency, and mixability of the powder, they don’t offer much in the way of nutritional value.
  • Plant-based: Some people prefer whey protein powder for its naturally complete amino acid profile. However, more people are gravitating toward plant-based meal replacement proteins for their nutrient density, digestibility, and fiber. While this is a matter of personal preference, we emphasize vegan meal replacement powders in this article for their high nutritional value.
  • Diverse amino acid profile: Protein is characterized by its amino acid profile. With vegan meal replacement powder, it’s important to consume a variety of sources (e.g. pea, brown rice, chia seed, etc.) Because different plants complement each other’s amino acid profiles, diversity is key. Look for meal replacement products with a variety of amino acids, particularly branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) which are especially important for muscle recovery.
  • Soy-free: Soy protein has been a topic of debate, with some concerns about its potential drawbacks. Soy contains isoflavones, which are estrogen-like compounds. While this has raised concerns about hormonal disturbances, the evidence is not conclusive.[4] Still, many brands are phasing soy out of their meal replacements and protein powders as other plant proteins are found to be superior.

The perfect meal replacement powder would check all of these boxes. But unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Many popular protein powder brands still use ingredients like sugar alcohols and gums, so it’s important to read labels carefully to know what you’re consuming.

5 Best Meal Replacement Protein Powders

best meal replacement protein powder that's plant-based

Based on the criteria above, I’ve narrowed down the best meal replacement protein powders to these five products. There are a couple of ‘honorable mentions’ mentioned at the end, but unfortunately, they didn’t make the cut.

1. MRM Veggie Meal Replacement Protein Powder

MRM Veggie Meal Replacement Protein Powder

MRM Nutrition is not the most popular brand, but it deserves attention for its simple and effective protein powder products. Its Veggie Meal Replacement powder is no exception.

Free from artificial ingredients, MRM’s Veggie Meal Replacement is a simple blend that’s largely fueled by pea protein isolate and organic brow rice concentrate. While it has just 1g of sugar, it’s primarily sweetened with stevia leaf extract and monk fruit extract, two natural options that won’t spike blood sugar.

A single-scoop serving provides 22g of protein, as well as 4g of fat and 16g of carbohydrates (4g of which is fiber). There are only 190 calories in a scoop, so it’s modest on the side of caloric density but delivers on nutrient density.

In addition to a complete amino acid profile with 4.2g of BCAAs, MRM’s Fruit & Veggie blend packs a variety of vitamins and minerals thanks to blueberry, raspberry, broccoli, and spinach, among others. 

Topped off with a digestive enzyme blend and probiotic blend, MRM Veggie Meal Replacement is a true hunger mediator that provides a nourishing dose of fruits, vegetables, and protein.

Find it on Amazon

2. Ka’Chava Superfood Whole Body Meal

Kachava Whole Body Meal Replacement Protein Powder

Ka’Chava is arguably the most nutrient-dense meal replacement powder on the market. It’s abundant in vitamins and minerals, and provides energizing adaptogens derived from maca root, shiitake, reishi, and cordyceps mushrooms, to name a few. 

Ka’Chava contains a highly diverse plant-based protein powder blend, a fiber blend, an antioxidant/super-fruit blend, an adaptogen blend, a super-green/vegetable blend, and pre/probiotic and digestive enzyme blends. In short, it packs a serious punch.

In terms of macronutrients, a two-scoop serving contains 25g of protein, 7g of fat, and 25g of carbs (7g of fiber, 6g of sugar.) This provides 240 calories from real food ingredients, nothing artificial about it.

With only 15 servings per 2lb package, Ka’Chava comes at a premium price. But it’s recognized for its premium ingredients and premium meal replacement properties. If left with only one product to consume for the rest of your life, Ka’Chava would be a wise choice.

Find it on Amazon

3. Garden of Life Raw Fit High Protein for Weight Loss

Garden of Life Raw Organic Fit High Protein Powder for Weight Loss

Although this product isn’t branded as a meal replacement powder, Garden of Life Raw Fit High Protein Powder for Weight Loss, or just “Raw Fit,” checks all of the boxes. 

This organic, clean product packs 28g of protein per scoop made from a wide variety of raw/sprouted plants. This delivers a whopping 5g of BCAAs. It has less carbs (about 10g, with 4g of fiber) and fat (only 3g), so it leans more on the side of a protein powder with 170-180 calories, depending on the flavor.

Raw Fit has just <1g of sugar and also comes equipped with a superfood blend, probiotic blend, and enzyme blend. It’s digestion-friendly as well as diabetic-friendly, and it comes in four flavors (Original being my favorite for its smooth, not-overly-sweet taste.) But all flavors are sweetened with organic stevia leaf.

But what makes this product especially effective is the weight loss and stress management blend. This contains a combination of Svetol® (a decaffeinated green coffee bean extract) and ashwagandha, designed to stimulate metabolism while curbing hunger. 

Skeptical about these ‘weight loss blends,’ I put this product to the test. In short, this stuff works. To learn more, read my review of Raw Fit protein.

Find it on Amazon

4. Sunwarrior Lean Superfood Shake

Sunwarrior Lean Meal Replacement Protein Powder

Another not-your-ordinary meal replacement powder, Sunwarrior Lean Superfood Shake is a low-calorie option at just 120 calories per serving, providing 15g of protein, 4.5g of fat, and only 6g of carbs (5 of which is fiber!) 

Sunwarrior Lean Superfood Shake is a sugar-free protein powder that packs loads of nutrients and adaptogens, making it suitable for meal replacement. You may want to double up on the serving size if you’re looking for more protein and fill.

Loaded with vitamins and minerals, this meal replacement protein powder contains a mushroom blend, vitamin blend, fruit blend, and vegetable blend. Collectively, these blends provide nutrition from over 25 plants.

Available in three flavors–Caramel, Chocolate, and Snickerdoodle–Sunwarrior Lean Superfood Shake uses organic stevia leaf for sweetness. The one downside is that acacia gum is the third ingredient and guar gum is the fifth ingredient.

Sunwarrior is an all-organic brand that invests heavily in third-party testing for purity. It’s own of the few brands that fully trust for its transparency and commitment to producing clean protein powder products.

Find it on Amazon

5. Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal Replacement Shake

Garden of Life Plant Based Meal Replacement Protein

In addition to Garden of Life’s Raw Fit protein powder mentioned above, the company makes an actual meal replacement shake that’s even more loaded with nutrients.

It comes in a stevia-free, “lightly sweet” flavor that uses 5g of organic cane sugar. I like this option not only because it tastes good, but because the other flavor options use erythritol, which is a no-go for me.

This flagship meal replacement powder from Garden of Life contains 20g of protein, 2g of fat, and 13g of carbs (including 6g of fiber). It goes without saying, but Garden of Life is organic, non-GMO, certified vegan, and certified NSF.

While I prefer the Raw Fit protein powder due to its higher protein and low sugar content, you can’t compete with the sheer volume of plant foods packed into this meal replacement powder.

The ingredients list is massive, but in a good way with real plant foods you can pronounce; no artificial additives or synthetic ingredients. For more input on this product, see my review of Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal.

Find it on Amazon

Honorable Mention Meal Replacement Powders

Best Meal Replacement Protein Powder Honorable Mentions

There are a couple of products that don’t quite qualify as the best meal replacement powders but are still worth mentioning. While they seem like great options on the surface, both contain erythritol, which is a notorious sugar alcohol that poses some health concerns.

Because the studies revealing erythritol’s health risks are relatively new (as of 2023), it’s possible brands like Orgain and PlantFusion will find a way to eliminate this sugar alcohol from their products. Because as it stands now, I will not be consuming their meal replacement powder.

Bottom Line

It doesn’t matter if you’re buying protein powder that’s plant-based or animal-based, always read the ingredients and keep an eye out for artificial ingredients and sugar alcohols. 

Except for natural options like stevia leaf and monk fruit extract, zero-calorie sweeteners are especially problematic and can stifle your weight loss goals. It’s shocking how many meal replacement powders I researched before narrowing it down to the products highlighted above. 

Do you have a favorite meal replacement product powder? If so, I’d like to know about it. Drop a comment below or contact me directly to reach out. 

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About The Author

tyler tafelsky vegan protein powder review editor

This article was written by Tyler Tafelsky, the lead editor here at Tyler is an experienced writer in the health, nutrition, and athletic space. Over his lifetime, he’s tried hundreds of plant-based nutritional products and writes about his favorites here on this blog. Learn more about Tyler by viewing his full author bio or by following him on social media platforms like LinkedInTwitterFacebookPinterest, or Instagram. Also, visit his website to learn more about what he’s up to.

Scientific References:

  1. Pang MD, Goossens GH, Blaak EE. The Impact of Artificial Sweeteners on Body Weight Control and Glucose Homeostasis. Front Nutr. 2021 Jan 7;7:598340. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2020.598340. PMID: 33490098; PMCID: PMC7817779.
  2. Yang Q. Gain weight by “going diet?” Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings: Neuroscience 2010. Yale J Biol Med. 2010 Jun;83(2):101-8. PMID: 20589192; PMCID: PMC2892765.
  3. Witkowski, M., Nemet, I., Alamri, H. et al. The artificial sweetener erythritol and cardiovascular event risk. Nat Med 29, 710–718 (2023).
  4. Sukalingam K, Ganesan K, Das S, Thent ZC. An insight into the harmful effects of soy protein: A review. Clin Ter. 2015;166(3):131-9. doi: 10.7417/CT.2015.1843. PMID: 26152621.