Meal replacements have become the holy grail for those who just can’t find time to supplement their nutrition with healthy meals as their days get busier. I, for one, have relied a lot on meal replacement drinks as my fuel source while I’m on the go!
In specific I have been using Ka’chava as my go to meal replacement.
Some mistake these drinks as an alternative to protein shakes but that’s where they’re wrong. A meal replacement, as its name suggests, is designed to contain all the calories and nutrients you can find in a complete and balanced meal.
Whether you’re trying to lose weight or you’re short for time and can’t shop or cook, there’s a meal replacement that’s suited for the healthy lifestyle you’re looking for.
Meal replacements’ popularity have certainly risen and I think it’s safe to assume they’re here to stay, thanks to our increasingly health and fitness-conscious society. If you’re starting to wonder which meal replacement you can benefit from most, we’ve got your back!
Meal replacements have been around for quite some time and one of the few well-established brands in the market is Ensure. Another brand that’s paved a new way for meal replacements is Silicon Valley’s favorite, Soylent.
We’ll be looking at these two giants in the health industry thoroughly to see if Soylent or Ensure can be the ideal meal replacement for you.
Soylent Vs Ensure – Gimme the Fast Facts
Soylent emerged in 2013 and was designed to be a meal replacement that can simplify nutrition while making it cost-effective and comprehensive; Ensure paved its way into the market in 1973 and claims to be the #1 Dr. Recommended Brand when it comes to nutritional products.
Soylent started out with a meal replacement powder but has since expanded to include premixed drinks and snack bars in their line-up; Ensure offers ready-to-drink nutritional shakes and powder mixes.
Soylent aims to provide a well-balanced meal replacement with a good amount of carbohydrates, protein, fat, and fiber. Soylent also contains 20% DV of various vitamins and minerals; depending on what product you get, Ensure’s protein content is around 10 grams to 30 grams, carbs around 6 grams to 50 grams, fat around 1.5 grams to 11 grams, and fiber between 0 and 1 gram. Ensure’s micronutrients depends on the product you get and can range from >1% to 50% DV.
Soylent is a blend of natural and synthetic ingredients. The brand uses GMO, dairy, soy, sucralose, and maltodextrin in their drinks; Ensure is not much different, but the company guarantees they are gluten-free and Kosher certified.
Soylent and Ensure’s prices vary based on what products you decide to choose. Although, Soylent’s products are priced a bit higher than Ensure’s products. Although in my opinion this is for good reason, as Soylent’s ready to go drinks are just awesome and that taste is amazing. The cost fo ensure is fairly cheap when compared to Soylent’s but I think that Soylent’s amazing taste definitely justifies the cost.
Soylent has started distributing its prepackaged shakes through select 7-11 stores but most orders are still done online; Ensure is widely available online and offline at major grocery stores and drug stores.
What is Soylent?
Soylent was the brainchild of a group of Californian startup entrepreneurs who wanted to cut time and effort with shopping, prepping, and consuming meals without compromising quality and nutrition.
The brand’s product line-up consists of prepackaged drinks, powder mixes, and snack bars. Recently, Soylent released a caffeinated version of their ready-to-drink shakes.
Soylent’s Powder Mix claims to be a complete meal that’s pocket-friendly, sustainable, and satisfying to every customer. Their meal replacements are nutritionally complete and perfect for those always on-the-go.
The brand states that its goal of crafting nutritious meal replacements optimized for the modern adult’s lifestyle and budget is aided by its rigorous screening and testing of the ingredients that go into its products.
What Products does Soylent Offer?
Soylent offers a few products on the table but guarantee consumers that every product contains all nutritional needs required daily by the average adult.
Soylent’s product line-up consists of the following:
a powder mix version of their ready-to-drink meals which you mix with water. All the recent versions of the powder mixes are vegan and contain no eggs, dairy, or other animal-derived substances. Soylent Powder is available in Original and Cacao flavors;
the company’s ready-to-drink meal premixed are stored in bottles for your convenience, it is available in different flavors such as Original, Cacao, Strawberry, Vanilla, and Mint Chocolate. The premixed drink has more fat and lesser carbohydrates than its powder mix counterpart.
the company dubs as “breakfast and coffee in a bottle.” It is a modified Soylent Drink blended with caffeine and L-theanine. Soylent Cafe is available in three flavors, namely, Mocha, Vanilla, and Chai. Interestingly, their Mocha version used to be called “Coffiest” as an homage to an addictive drink from a science fiction novel in the early 1950’s.
a smaller version of Soylent Drink Cacao, it’s designed to aid you in curbing unhealthy snacking habits. Instead of reaching for a bag of chips or a cookie from the pantry, Soylent Bridge can be a better alternative. It has fewer calories than the regular Soylent Drink with 15 grams of protein and 10-15% of most vitamins Soylent offers in its other products. It is only available in Cacao flavor.
Soylent’s line of nutritional bars that contain 100 calories and 5 grams of plant protein. Like Soylent Bridge, it’s intended more as a snack and is not recommended as a meal replacement unless you consume 3-4 bars. Soylent Squared is available in different flavors such as Chocolate Brownie, Salted Caramel, and Citrus Berry.
What’s Good About Soylent?
Soylent offers its consumers a well-thought out macronutrient profile, providing you with at least 20 grams of fat, 20 grams of protein, 37 grams of carbohydrates, and 26 essential micronutrients all in one drink.
The brand’s nutritional profile is consistent throughout their products and you only need to choose your favorite flavor without having to worry about whether you’ve chosen the right Soylent drink for your diet.
Soylent offers a decent amount of protein per serving of their meal replacement to fuel you throughout the day. In addition, it’s 100% plant-based.
The brand goes against the tide by adding more fat in every serving of their meal replacement. This lets you avoid having to take in more fat and calories as a supplement to a Soylent diet.
Soylent also tends to include more fiber in their products.
Instead of ordering fast food or grabbing junk food when you’re on the go, switching to a meal replacement like Soylent can improve your diet thanks to its products carrying essential macro and micronutrients which many don’t get enough of daily.
Who is Soylent Best Suited For?
Soylent is a good choice for anyone with a tight daily schedule looking for a meal replacement that won’t sabotage the healthy lifestyle they’ve worked hard to maintain.
The meal replacements are also suited for those in need of meal replacements that have higher protein content than other products in the market, so long as you’re not sensitive to dairy and soy.
If you don’t want to skip a meal or make a compromised nutritional choice when you’re chasing deadlines, Soylent can be a good option for you. Since it only takes less than 5 minutes to prepare it, it makes for a great meal when you’re on-the-go.
How Does Soylent Work?
The Soylent Diet recommends that you can replace a regular meal with their premixed drinks or powder mixes. However, the brand emphasizes that they don’t suggest replacing every meal with Soylent.
Soylent adds that those new to meal replacements should start using their products with a single meal or two every week and gradually increase their intake over subsequent weeks.
This is to help your body adjust to Soylent as a new food source.
What’s Not So Good About Soylent?
Although Soylent markets itself as a complete meal and formulated with all “building blocks” of food in mind, it can’t be denied that it’s missing healthy components that are only found in plant compounds and in whole foods.
But to their defense, can any meal replacement drink offer everything exactly as real food does?
It’s also not Gluten-free and GMO-free. The brand emphasizes that their choice of being pro-GMO is based on rapidly diminishing resources against the growing global population, making it hard for Soylent to be pro-sustainable without GMOs.
Does this bother me what so ever? Uh no…
Soylent uses synthetic ingredients in their meal replacements such as sucralose and maltodextrin. Sucralose is an artificial, non-nutritive sweetener while maltodextrin acts as a thickener.
I recently just did a comparison of Soylent & Huel to see which one was better and I can tell you without a doubt that having small amounts of sweeteners in your shake can make all the difference when it comes to actually enjoying your meal vs forcing yourself to down it – like I had to do with Huel after just a week.
A few other minor things that may turn you off from Soylent and its nutritional label is that its products lack omega-3s, phytonutrients, probiotics and digestive enzymes which could improve gut health.
- Many meal replacement users nowadays tend to look for products that have probiotics and digestive enzymes because of the benefits they provide to your overall health.
- When you’re loading a good amount of these two components into your body, you absorb more nutrients and give your body a cleansing tune-up. While Soylent products contain fiber, some prefer more for gut health or top keep digestive issues at bay.
Interesting Things to Know About Soylent
Why does Soylent Use GMOs?
As mentioned, Soylent uses GMOs in their meal replacement powder. The company states on its website the following reason for using GMOs:
“We believe genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be a safe and economic option for food production. GMO crops can provide nutritious, sustainable, and efficient yields that will help in maximizing the land in which they are grown.”
Is Soylent Good for Weight Loss?
Soylent does not advertise its products as designed to be weight loss tools, but may aid you in achieving a healthier and fitter lifestyle. Soylent states in its website that it is not an optimal meal replacement if you’re trying to lose weight.
How long does Soylent last?
In mixed powder form, Soylent can last for a year up to its expiration date. However, the second water or any liquid of your choice is added, it’s best to keep Soylent products cold and sealed for up to 48 hours.
When refrigerated after being mixed, the company recommends for you to consume it within 48 hours.
Is Soylent Better Than Ensure For Building Muscle?
For building lean muscle Soylent is an excellent choice, but it is not a better option than Ensure. Ensure contains on across its product more protein and less sugars, giving it the edge over Soylent for building lean muscle. But this is not what Soylent is designed for.
Soylent is designed to help you get healthy and stay healthy, and in the process, help you shed the extra pounds off in doing so.
What is Ensure?
Ensure is a meal replacement brand that’s established its place in the market since 1973. In general, Ensure is a nutritional supplement designed to be used in addition to a healthy diet.
A variety of ingredients are used in Ensure shakes to support one’s nutrition needs.
Ensure offers ready-to-drink shakes and powder mixes that’s categorized into three depending on your needs:
- Complete Balanced Nutrition
- Targeted Nutrition (High Protein, Vegan, and Diabetic) and
- Specialty therapeutic nutrition (pre-surgery, post-surgery, hydration)
What Products does Ensure Offer?
Unlike Soylent, you can choose from eleven different meal replacement powders and nutritional shakes with Ensure.
The brand offers a wide selection of products such as Ensure Original, Ensure Plus, Ensure® Original Milk Chocolate Nutrition Shake and Ensure High protein.
Ensure’s products are blended and formulated to address nutritional needs according to age and everyone from children to the elderly can enjoy their meal replacements. With a wide variety of product choices comes a big selection of flavors, too!
You can choose from vanilla, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, butter pecan, strawberry, and a lot more. Ensure’s meal replacements also have varying levels of protein, sugar and antioxidants.
What’s Good About Ensure?
Ensure’s manufacturing company claims that Ensure products can provide you with the right nutrition you need to stay healthy.
As stated in their website, Ensure can be a source of complete balanced nutrition, contains more than 20 minerals and vitamins for every serving, and can replace your regular breakfast or lunch and even serve as a satisfying snack.
For its macronutrient profile, it varies depending on the product. Protein content ranges from 10 grams to 30 grams, carbs around 6 grams to 50 grams and fat around 1.5 grams to 11 grams.
Ensure provides you with at least 1 gram of fiber in their meal replacements. The % DV of micronutrients present in Ensure products depends on the product you get and can range from >1% to 50% DV.
Ensure guarantees their products are gluten-free and the brand claims certain products from its line-up are 98% lactose-free.
In addition, a few Ensure products contain very low sugar levels, making them a good addition to a diabetic person’s daily meal plan.
Ensure products are readily available in grocery stores as well as online, making it more convenient to grab and go once you run out of stock.
With a decent range of products and flavors, you’re sure to find a product that will suit your tastes and dietary needs.
Who is Ensure Best Suited For?
As a well-established meal replacement brand, Ensure is used by many. From sporty teens, to young professionals on the go, and even patients trying to meet their calorie and micronutrient requirements, Ensure has a product designed for your needs.
Most Ensure products are best suited for anyone who is not diabetic or sensitive to lactose and soy protein.
If you are though or you are just someone who is sensitive to meal replacements or proteins, you can check out a recent round of my favorite protein & meal replacement powders for people with sensitive stomachs here.
Interestingly, Ensure is a good match for those trying to lose weight or looking to gain some.
As a meal replacement, certain Ensure products can provide you with complete nutrition with fewer calories and carbs aiding you to lose weight; as a meal supplement, Ensure products can aid in weight gain by helping you achieve nutritional balance.
Ensure may be a good fit for those going into surgery and recovering from it. Ensure guarantees to fill the nutritional gap that may not be met through a normal diet alone, especially after surgery.
How does Ensure Work?
Ensure is an all-around health brand and is intended to be used as a snack, meal replacement, and meal supplement. However, the brand recommends that replacing meals with Ensure be done on occasion only. As a meal supplement, Ensure is appropriate for long-term use.
Ensure suggests that only 1 to 2 meals be replaced with their products. It is also recommended that you check the nutrition label carefully before starting an Ensure Diet to make sure you get the maximum benefits to achieve your health goals.
Different Ensure products are formulated to cater to consumers with varying nutritional needs.
Products such as Ensure Original, Ensure Plus, and Ensure Enlive provide you with complete, balanced nutrition and targets those looking to maintain or gain a healthy weight. This is good for those experiencing malnutrition or involuntary weight loss.
Other products such as Ensure High Protein, Ensure Clear, and Ensure light have higher protein content and fewer calories, making them better options for those who want to lose weight.
What’s Not So Good About Ensure?
Like Soylent, Ensure adds maltodextrin and sucralose to their products to improve taste and texture. Maltodextrin is known as an artificial component that may cause allergies and make your blood sugar spike.
Sucralose, while FDA-approved, has been recently found to be toxic to the body and may increase the chances of worsening certain illnesses.
Ensure uses preservatives and other synthetic ingredients in their meal replacements. Their products are not vegan-friendly and not GMO-free.
Aside from the few products the brand carries that are designed to be an addition to the daily meal plans for those who are diabetic or diabetic-prone, all other Ensure products contain high levels of sugar in them.
Since Ensure is not specifically formulated for weight loss, if you’re careless in choosing a product from their selection, you might end up gaining pounds instead of losing them.
Interesting to Know About Ensure
Will Ensure carry a Vegan Meal Replacement Anytime Soon?
The brand released their Plant-Based Protein Shake in 2019 and is available for purchasing online and offline. The Ensure Plant-Based Protein Shake is certified vegan and wholly made with non-GMO ingredients.
Unlike other Ensure products, the brand assures its plant-based protein shake is safe for lactating and pregnant women to consume. It is available in Vanilla and Chocolate flavors.
Can You Add Milk Instead of Water to Ensure Powder?
As tempting as it sounds, Ensure recommends that its consumers follow instructions it has placed on the product label to ensure you’ve correctly prepared Ensure Powder drinks. For me personally I do like to use milk instead because I use this powder for my smoothies recipes and post workout shakes.
The brand further adds that adding milk may alter the nutritional profile that it is provided on the product label.
How do I Know Which Ensure Product is for Weight Loss/Weight Gain?
Ensure has provided its consumers an app on its website that can help you identify which product you can benefit from the most depending on your dietary needs.
Which is Better? Soylent Vs Ensure
Whether you’re new to meal replacements or have gone on and off in using them to reach your health goals, it’s always important to do a good amount of research before risking your wallet and your body.
Both meal replacement brands do have slightly higher sugar content (but also high nutrient profiles) than other products in the market but are cheaper especially when you buy in bulk.
Ensure and Soylent have synthetic ingredients which may turn some off but in all reality the nutrient profiles for both of these meal replacement is pretty impressive – with Soylent coming slightly ahead.
Ensure is more accessible than Soylent and is slightly cheaper than the latter. However, Soylent’s product sizes are larger than Ensure’s.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remind ourselves that we can’t force ourselves to all fit in one diet and that nutritional needs are unique for every person out there.
It’s essential we arm ourselves with the right information before starting on a diet plan.
Have you tried Soylent or Ensure before? Are you planning on trying any of the two in the future? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
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