Low Carb Meal Replacement Shakes: A Complete Guide

8 min read

What you'll LEARN:
  • Why most meal replacement shakes make you gain weight.
  • How many carbs most shakes actually have.
  • The #1 nutrient problem in meal replacement shakes sabatoging your progress.
  • The hidden carb in most shakes that comes from corn.
  • The only shake I recommend for people on low carb.

In a world where health-conscious consumers are on the lookout for balanced nutrition — low carb meal replacement shakes provide a valuable solution.

Are you on the hunt for a low carb meal replacement shake but feeling overwhelmed by the plethora (or lack) of options out there?

Look no further!

In this complete guide to low carb meal replacement shakes, we will unravel the mystery behind finding the perfect option for your needs.

Discover the numerous benefits these shakes offer, understand why it's so challenging to find the right one, and uncover the hidden carb that plagues most shakes - corn maltodextrin.

We'll also delve into the impact of tapioca vs.corn maltodextrin on blood sugar levels and answer frequently asked questions.

Your quest for the ideal low carb meal replacement shake starts here!

Just one important reminder before we dive in…

Before you consider a meal replacement shake — low carb or otherwise — you need to hear this first:

  1. A meal replacement shake won’t fix your weight problems (but it can help).

  2. A meal replacement shake can’t (fully) replace whole foods.

Okay with that out of the way, let’s get into low carb meal replacement shakes and why they might be a good option for you.

Why it's so hard to find a low carb meal replacement shake

Surprisingly, finding a high-quality low carb meal replacement shake can be quite a challenge.

And this is because they are created using outdated assumptions such as:

   1. A meal needs to be 500 calories or more
   2. You must consume a balanced ratio of macros at every meal
   3. Carbohydrates are the only form of energy our bodies can use

As you can see, the reason why so many meal replacement shakes are high in carbs is simply because they don’t actually use modern nutritional science to create the formulations.

And that makes sense.

It’s a lot easier (and cheaper) to simply add a generic mix of vitamins and minerals to a protein powder and call it a day.

The problem with this approach, however, is that it fails to consider a few things:

  1. On average, Americans consume more calories than they burn throughout the day. This makes high-calorie shakes a poor substitute for regular meals, especially anyone looking to improve metabolic health or lose weight.

  2. All carbs, calories, and nutrients are NOT equal. Quality of ingredients matters more than you think.

  3. More people have gravitated toward low-carb and keto diets as a way to control blood sugar and burn fat.

  4. Nowhere in nature will you find a perfectly balanced “meal” with an even distribution of 20% RDI of vitamins & minerals.

Additionally, the demand for low carb meal replacement shakes is still relatively niche compared to the overwhelming popularity of traditional high carb options.

This limited demand makes it harder for manufacturers to invest in producing and promoting low carb alternatives.

As a result, finding a reliable and quality low carb meal replacement shake can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack.

Since you’re reading this, I’m guessing that you already understand some of the reasons why a meal replacement shake that is packed with carbs probably isn’t the best idea.

Unless, of course, your goal is to put on weight or you’re training at a high level with a lot of intense physical daily activity.

Then you really do need the extra carbs and calories to compensate for all the extra calories you’re burning off.

The Problem with Most Meal Replacement Shakes

Are you trying to gain weight?

It's an honest question.

Because most meal replacement shakes can work for you if trying to bulk and put on muscle mass (with a little bit of fat).

If you already live a pretty active lifestyle and workout regularly then you may need the extra calories and carbohydrates that most meal replacement shakes provide to replace the carbs and calories that you burn during exercise.

Especially because it’s really hard to build muscle in a calorie deficit.

But if you’re trying to lose belly fat — without feeling hungry all day?

Then most meal replacement shakes are a terrible option.

Meal replacement shakes claim to help you lose weight by getting you in a calorie deficit while keeping you full through the morning.

Plus there are the added benefits of being quick and easy to make and drink.

No clean up required either.

Let’s look at how many carbs the most popular meal replacement shakes have…

BrandCarbsFiberNet CarbsSugarProtein
Huel Black24g8g16g4g40g
Form Nutrition37g6g31g7g34g
310 Nutrition6g5g1g0g (stevia)15g

You might have noticed how 310 Nutrition is the only brand of meal replacement shakes that’s truly low carb.

But they can only achieve this because of using stevia — which is not a taste everyone can tolerate.

And this is exactly the problem with most shakes - too many carbs.

Not to mention all the calories you’re getting from these shakes that are supposed to help you lose weight.

But there’s another problem with these shakes…cheap ingredients.

The Problem With Cheap Ingredients

When you see that all of these meal replacement shakes have a ton of carbs, you might expect it to be from high quality sources right?


They use the cheapest ingredient possible.

I’m not trying to throw shade at any of these companies.

But just one look at their ingredient list tells you everything you need to know.

Huel BlackSoylent
Pea Protein, Ground Flaxseed, Brown Rice Protein, Tapioca Flour, Cocoa Powder (6.4%), Sunflower Oil Powder, Organic Coconut Sugar, Natural Flavors, Maltodextrin, Medium-Chain Triglyceride Powder (from Coconut), Xanthan Gum, Potassium Citrate, Potassium Chloride, Corn Starch, Calcium Carbonate, Sodium Chloride, Steviol Glycosides, Green Tea Extract Powder, Kombucha Powder, Ascorbic Acid, Bacillus Coagulans MTCC 5856, Niacinamide, Lutein, Calcium-D-Pantothenate, Lycopene, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Retinyl Acetate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Zeaxanthin, Menaquinone-7, L-Methylfolate, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D2, Plant-Derived Vitamin D3, Cyanocobalamin.Soy Protein Isolate Vegetable Oil (Canola And/Or Sunflower), Isomaltulose, Maltodextrin
Cocoa Powder (Processed With Alkali), Modified Food Starch, Soluble Corn Fiber, Vitamin And Mineral Premix
Natural & Artificial Flavors, Soy Lecithin, Salt, Xanthan Gum, Sucralose

Contains: Soy

Seed oils and maltodextrin?

Cornstarch and corn fiber?


Ingredients don’t get cheaper than this.

I don’t think anybody wants to eat more seed oils and fillers like corn fiber and corn maltodextrin in their diet.

Which brings me to my next point…

Essentials nutrition SHAKES

Curb hunger and get complete nutrition on the go. The ultimate low carb meal replacement shake for health-conscious humans.


Corn Maltodextrin - the problematic (and hidden) carb in most meal replacement shakes

Many manufacturers use corn maltodextrin as a cheap filler ingredient, which significantly increases the carbohydrate content of the shake. Oftentimes, it’s hidden within the ingredients section or sometimes not listed at all.

Maltodextrin is typically used to facilitate the process of real whole foods into a powder format. Maltodextrin serves a dual purpose in the food industry, commonly employed to both enhance the texture and bulk of processed foods while also acting as a preservative to extend the shelf life of packaged products.

But, there’s a distinct difference between corn maltodextrin and tapioca maltodextrin.

Corn maltodextrin is a problematic and hidden carbohydrate commonly found in most meal replacement shakes.

While it may not sound harmful, corn maltodextrin can actually have a negative impact on blood sugar levels and hinder weight loss progress. This is a major concern for individuals following a low carb diet, as they rely on meal replacement shakes to regulate their blood sugar and promote fat loss.

The main issue with corn maltodextrin is that it is a high-glycemic carbohydrate, meaning it is quickly broken down into sugar in the body. This rapid increase in blood sugar levels can lead to spikes and crashes, making it difficult for individuals to maintain stable energy levels throughout the day. It can also contribute to cravings and hunger, undermining weight loss efforts.

In contrast, tapioca can be used as a healthier alternative to corn maltodextrin.

Tapioca is a low-glycemic carbohydrate that doesn't cause the same blood sugar fluctuations, making it a better option for those looking to control their carbohydrate intake.

To ensure you're selecting a low carb meal replacement shake without corn maltodextrin, it's important to carefully read the ingredient list on the packaging. Look for shakes that explicitly state they are free from corn maltodextrin and opt for those that use tapioca or other low glycemic ingredients instead.

By being aware of the hidden carb culprit in most meal replacement shakes and choosing low carb options, you can better support your weight loss goals and maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout your journey.

Huel and Soylent are the worst offenders of this cheap ingredient problem. But even “better-for-you” brands like Ka’Chava, Form, and 310 Nutrition haven’t yet caught up with the science.

Sure, some of these brands use better ingredients by leaving out the cheap seed oils and artificial fillers, but they run into another problem…Not enough micronutrients.

The Best Solution (In My Opinion)

Based on the problems I’ve mentioned above about the high carbohydrate content, cheap ingredients, and sub-optimal micronutrient profiles…

You require a complete nutrition shake shake that’s:

   ●  Low in carbs
   ●  High in protein
   ●  Doesn’t use cheap ingredients
   ●  Prioritizes missing micronutrients

And, for that, there’s only one answer: LyfeFuel’s Essential Nutrition Shake.

This isn’t exactly the shake I would’ve wanted when I was playing as a fullback in the NFL blocking 250 pound linebackers and protecting my quarterback. I remember how hard it was to get enough protein to build muscle mass and get enough calories on the daily.

For that, I would have been better off when one of the generic meal replacement shakes on the market that are high in carbohydrates and high in calories.

But, now that I’m retired and no longer need to eat to maintain the 240 pounds of bodyweight I packed on as an athlete, this is the shake that I drink every single day. It keeps me nourished and satiated without consuming too many carbs and getting fat.


I’m biased.

I’m the one who created this meal replacement shake, after all. But this is also the shake I give to my wife and my parents because that’s how much I believe in it.

So, if you’re looking for a low carb meal replacement shake made from the highest quality ingredients that does more to nourish your body than any multivitamin or greens powder out there…

Check out the Essentials Shake - it’s the most complete solution to daily nutrition.


Disclaimer: The LYFE Fuel blog is for informational purposes only. The information does not serve as a replacement for professional medical advice or treatment. We kindly ask you not to ignore professional medical advice because of any information you’ve read on https://lyfefuel.com/. If you have any concerns about your health, please consult a physician or appropriate health care expert.