Weight Loss Shakes: How Much Sugar Are They Hiding?

By now, many people understand the effect that sugar can have on weight loss. Sugar that is not burnt up in your system is very easily converted into fat cells, meaning that if you’re looking to lose weight, you should try to limit your sugar intake for best results.

With that in mind, you may be very surprised to find out that weight loss shakes, meal replacement shakes, and protein shakes – all of which dieters turn to for quick and easy weight loss options – can be hiding quite a bit of sugar in them.

How much? Some of these numbers may shock you. Here is a list of some popular meal replacement shakes, along with their added sugar content.

Plexus P96 – 0 g Sugar

So far, so good. We’ve checked, and Plexus has no added sugar per serving. However, it’s also important to point out that a serving of their shake is only 100 calories. That’s far too low to be considered a true meal replacement and may be better suited as a snack substitute.


Shakeology Chocolate – 9 g Sugar

Shakeology shakes come in at the lower end of the added sugars list, but 9 grams is still a significant amount – in fact, it’s nearly a third of an adult’s recommended daily intake. You could eat a cherry popsicle instead, and save yourself an extra gram of sugar (cherry popsicles only have 8 grams).

Atkins Strawberry – 2 g Sugar

The Atkins diet is marketed as a very low carb and low sugar diet, and it shows. A strawberry shake only contains 2 grams of sugar, making it a good meal replacement, especially for those monitoring blood sugar. Of course, always check low-carb or sugar-free products for “sugar alcohols,” as these can sometimes affect blood sugar, not to mention cause stomach distress.


Muscle Milk Strawberry Banana Greek Yogurt Smoothie – 21 g Sugar

At 260 calories, this shake may make a good meal replacement, but that sugar content is pretty alarming. At 21 grams, you could eat an entire KitKat bar instead, and it would still come in lower on calories! (A KitKat bar only contains 210 calories.)

Herbalife Formula One Shake – 9 g Sugar

Again, 9 grams isn’t terrible, but it isn’t great either. This meal replacement shake has the same sugar content as half a Hershey’s Cookies and Cream bar. For some, it still might be better than an average meal, but it’s still worth bearing in mind if you’re trying to cut down your sugar intake.

Ensure Plus Nutrition Shake – 20 g Sugar

Ensure is marketed as a nutritional supplement, providing you with extra protein, vitamins, and minerals. While it does include these, it also has a huge amount of sugar (nearly twice as much as the protein content). To put it into everyday terms, that’s like adding five teaspoons of sugar to your drink. Totally unnecessary.


Boost Very Vanilla High Protein – 23 g Sugar

This shake is a great example of why you should never confuse the terms “high-protein” with “low sugar.” In many cases, if you are following a high-protein diet recommended by your doctor, this single shake will overshoot your carb and sugar count for the day. You would get the same amount of sugar from eating an entire Nestlé Crunch bar, something your doctor would probably want you to avoid.


Odwalla Strawberry Protein Shake – 33 g Sugar

With 25 grams of protein, it’s fair to say that this 300 calorie drink is appropriate for recovery after a hard workout (think extended weight lifting, or running for 60+ minutes). But for weight loss? That’s an entirely different story. You could actually have a slice of apple pie à la Mode for the same amount of sugar. They don’t often hand those out after a 10k!

SlimFast Originals – 18 g Sugar

Perhaps the granddaddy of weight loss shakes, SlimFast Originals is reminiscent of a time when we weren’t quite clear on the role of sugar in weight loss, and instead were more focused on fat content. You’d be better off eating a whole serving of frozen yogurt than you would drinking one of these shakes, as froYo only has 16 grams of sugar per serving.

The most important thing you can do when trying to cut down on sugar is to become a good label reader. Remember that added sugars aren’t always listed as simply “sugar.” You will also want to check for high fructose corn syrup, sucrose and cane juice. These all add up to more sugar than you probably need.

If your weight loss has stalled despite your use of these meal replacement shakes, hidden sugars might be to blame. Check your cupboards, and read those labels.

Read: What is the difference between Weight Loss and Protein Shakes >>


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