7 Best Meal Replacement Foods

Your best bets for ready-made shakes and bars to help you lose weight fast

September 20, 2010
BumbleBar Chai bar
1/8 Jeff Harris
Bumble Bar Chai with Almonds

With "a light, sweet hint of chai spices" and "crispy sesame seeds, almonds, and flax," this bar won over most WH testers in one bite. We also love what it lacks: high fructose corn syrup, which scientists say gets socked away as fat more easily than other sweeteners. Instead, the 210-calorie Bumble Bar uses organic brown rice syrup, which the body digests more slowly than the corn-derived kind, steadying energy levels and helping to tame cravings. Which means you won't be hungry again for hours.

Make It a Perfect Meal Chase with 4 ounces of canned pineapple in natural juice and an equal amount of Breakstone's 2% Small Curd Cottage Cheese for a generous dose of vitamin C and 12 additional grams of protein. Total calories: 370

Mojo Clif Bar meal replacement
2/8 Jeff Harris
Mojo Peanut Butter Pretzel

We'd hate to play favorites, but talk about Mojo: One tester called this crunchy, salty, peanut brittle-like bar "yummier than a Nutter Butter." Another staffer grabbed as many of these babies from the taste test supply box as she could get her hands on. Besides its addictive qualities, the Mojo has the perfect ratio of carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and fat--all for just 200 calories a pop.

Make It a Perfect Meal Round out those calories with three servings of fruits and veggies in the form of 1/2 cup of grape tomatoes and 1 1/2 cups of red grapes. Total calories: 380

Odwalla Bar
3/8 Jeff Harris
Odwalla Nourishing Food Bar Chocolate Chip Peanut

Chewy as a fresh-baked cookie, this bar tastes like it should be totally fattening. But the 7 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber add up to a slim 230 calories. Our tester was shocked: "I can't believe how dense and filling it is." The number one ingredient is heart-healthy organic rolled oats. On top of that, Odwalla packs in a ton of peanuts, organic chocolate, dates, and plums. Yum!

Make It a Perfect Meal Balance the chocolate-nut combination with a handful of vitamin-rich dried vegetables, like Just Crunchy Carrot Bits ($8.50 for 0.5 lb, justtomatoes.com). They'll keep in your desk drawer a lot longer than Bugs' standby. Total calories: 330

Optimum Energy Bar
4/8 Jeff Harris
Nature’s Path Optimum Pomegran Cherry Energy Bar

Chomping through dozens of bars, we found several "low-carb" types sweetened with sugar alcohols like sorbitol and xylitol. Watch out for these. Weight-loss experts say that sugar alcohols can actually cause weight gain (just like, um, sugar). Plus, our bodies struggle to digest them, creating gas, bloating, and other delightful symptoms. All of our picks are sugar-alcohol free, but this 230-calorie bar still tastes as sweet as cherry pie, thanks to organic pomegranate juice concentrate.

Make It a Perfect Meal Add a pear for another hit of fruit and fiber and an Organic Valley Stringles mozzarella stick for 7 grams of protein. Total calories: 440

BoltHouse Vanilla Chai bottle
5/8 Jeff Harris
Bolthouse Farms Perfectly Protein Vanilla Chai Tea

Sorry, Starbucks. We're trading up our morning Frappuccino. Not only does 16 ounces of this creamy Bolthouse tea have about 100 fewer calories and 16 grams more protein, but testers declared it the richest, smoothest, best-tasting shake of the bunch. "It's sweet and seems more natural than other drinks like this," one tester says. It also beats your daily vitamin C, B6, and B12 needs and comes in coffee flavors too.

Make It a Perfect Meal With 20 grams of protein (that's more than a third of what you need all day) and 320 calories per bottle, this morning eye-opener is almost the whole package. Just add a banana for 3 grams of fiber and another 105 calories. Total calories: 425

Naked Protein Zone drink
6/8 Jeff Harris
Naked Protein Zone

A piña colada lunch doesn't sound half bad. Pop this top, close your eyes, lift your face toward the fluorescent lights, and sip. Tester says: "It's smooth, satisfying, and not too sweet, and it doesn't have that funky soy taste." Bushels of bananas, pineapple, coconut, apples, and oranges make it a beach picnic in a bottle.

Make It a Perfect Meal If you think there's no way a 15.2-ounce bottle is any match for your raging appetite, this super-filler is the one you should try. With  32 grams of whey and soy protein (on par with 5 ounces of boneless chicken), it filled up our taste testers for about 4 hours. But at 440 calories, this Naked shake also weighs in as our heaviest hitter. That means no extras. Total calories: 440

Stonyfield Farm Smoothie Bottle
7/8 Jeff Harris
Stonyfield Farm Wild Berry Smoothie

Swap the spoon for a straw--here's a commute-friendly breakfast for multitasking yogurt lovers. This lightweight shake is just one heart-healthy 230-calorie serving per 10-ounce bottle. One tester called it "sweet and creamy, like a thin strawberry milkshake." But since it's yogurt based, it packs more nutrition--including, 10 grams of protein and nearly half your daily calcium needs.

Make It a Perfect MealPair it with a golf ball-size serving of almonds for a dose of good fat, 6 more grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and an additional 180 filling calories. Total calories: 410

8/8 Mitch Mandel
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