IdealShape Weight Loss Shake

What’s Really In Your Weight Loss Shake?

Protein shakes for weight loss… we know them by different names but drink them for the same reasons — to replace a meal or snack; boost our protein intake, especially in conjunction with a workout; and to promote our weight loss efforts with protein, fiber, and vitamins and minerals.

While we may guzzle them for universal reasons, not all shakes are created alike. Unfortunately, we have a tendency not to be very discerning…

Rather, we often base our choice on the packaging, marketing or celebrity endorsement rather than the actual product. And I used to be one of those people. That’s a pretty-colored label, and look — 10g protein and 24 vitamins and minerals! Clunk. Into the shopping cart.

Beyond that, the only other factor I considered before buying a shake was taste (the dessertier, the better).

But once I started reading the nutrition labels, imagine my surprise to find that the companies making these “healthy” shakes didn’t seem to care at all about whether I slim down, get stronger or improve my muscle tone.

Here I was consuming protein shakes for weight loss, while their ingredients — the ones not touted in their marketing — were canceling out any benefits I might be getting, and then some.

So join me in an ingredient comparison of five popular protein shakes for weight loss, including the IdealShape meal replacement shake. We’ll scrutinize their protein, calories, vitamins and sugar content, and see which really fit with our goals.

Note: most of these shakes are 8-oz. servings (with nonfat milk), while some are closer to 10-oz., but honestly, you’re going to drink a full serving whether it’s 8 or 10 oz., so let’s compare them across the board.

Kirkland Signature Weight Loss Shake
  • Calories: 230
  • Protein: 10g
  • Sodium: 360mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 44g
  • Dietary fiber: 4g
  • Sugar: 38g

You’ve probably picked this one up while trolling the Costco aisles, and at under a dollar per shake it’s certainly a bargain. But this is one of those instances where you get what you pay for. It packs vitamins and minerals, yes, along with decent amounts of protein and fiber. But here’s where this ready-to-drink number is not doing your nutrition plan any favors: it has 360mg of sodium and 38 grams of sugar. (38g? That’s practically a Coke!)

Ensure Nutrition Shake
  • Calories: 250
  • Protein: 9g
  • Sodium: 200mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 41g
  • Dietary fiber: 1g
  • Sugar: 18g

This one tastes pretty good and I used to drink it before switching to IdealShape’s protein shake. But now I realize why it always tasted like a milkshake: it was a milkshake. While it packs a good portion of your RDI of vitamins and minerals, plus 9g of protein, the benefits seem to stop there. It contains a measly 1g of fiber (no wonder it never filled me up), 18g of sugar, and 250 calories — the most out of all five protein shakes for weight loss here.

SpecialK Protein Shake
  • Calories: 190
  • Protein: 10g
  • Sodium: 220mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 29g
  • Dietary fiber: 5g
  • Sugar: 18g

Don’t be fooled by this breakfast cereal maker’s protein shake — it ain’t breakfast. In fact, it probably shouldn’t be any meal, or even a snack. It does contain plenty of vitamins (including a full 100% of your daily vitamin C, which is unusual), along with a good amount of filling fiber. But, like Ensure, it packs 18g of sugar — putting it in the milkshake category as far as I’m concerned. Least appealing? Its 10g of protein is delivered in the following “protein blend”: water, nonfat milk, whey protein concentrate and soy protein isolate — in that order. Would water be the first ingredient in a high-quality protein blend? I wouldn’t think so.

Slim-Fast Shake Mix
  • Calories: 200
  • Protein: 10g
  • Sodium: 240mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 30g
  • Dietary fiber: 4g
  • Sugar: 22g

Here again we have a decent amount of protein and dietary fiber, and this shake also includes a good portion of your daily vitamins and minerals. But we’ve climbed up to 22g of sugar, which is a lot of sweetener for an 8-oz serving. This shake is probably not one to have every day, since — as its marketing suggests with the attributes “rich” and “decadent” — we’re drinking dessert.

IdealShape Meal Replacement Shake
  • Calories: 110-120
  • Protein: 11-12g
  • Sodium: 210-270 mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 12g
  • Dietary fiber: 5g
  • Sugar: 3g or less

Out of all five shakes, IdealShape’s nutrition formula has the fewest calories (by half) and the most protein. The protein blend consists of whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate and isolated soy protein — a high-quality protein mix. It also contains 19 vitamins and minerals, and 4-5g of fiber. I like it because it tastes good and mixes up smooth for a powder, and best of all: just 3g of sugar or less. When you add skim milk, you’re drinking 13g, which is still just half the sugar the others contain.

Choosing your protein shake

I have to say it: if it tastes too good to be true — say, an instantly-slimming muscle-boosting version of fudge cake — then it probably isn’t true. That doesn’t mean protein shakes for weight loss can’t be healthy and taste delicious. It just means you need to scrutinize the ingredients more closely.

Bottom line: don’t lose sight of your goals when comparing shakes. Read the nutrition labels as well as the advertisements, and narrow it down to the shakes that really will bring you closer to your weight loss and fitness goals. Then, pick the best tasting among them.

Chelsea Ratcliff

Chelsea Ratcliff

Writer and expert

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