Ranking the best keto shakes of 2020

Ranking the best keto shakes of 2020
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A keto shake is a powderized supplement that you can mix with water to create a high-fat, low-carb meal on the go.

Traditional shakes are incredibly convenient for getting a well-balanced meal with virtually no prep work, no clean-up, and a high nutrient and energy density.

Unfortunately for people on a keto diet, most traditional meal replacement shakes are high in carbs, high in protein, and low in fat.

That’s not what you need when you are on a ketogenic diet. The power of a keto shake lies in its ability to deliver a fast, convenient, and nutritionally dense meal that still meets the needs of the strict keto diet restrictions.

Don’t think that keto shakes are only for people on the keto diet, though: anyone looking to keep carb intake low and replace it with higher fat intake can benefit from a high quality keto shake.

We’ve ranked the best keto shakes on the market right now, plus taken a look at the science behind keto shakes.

Rankings

1. Team Keto (Keto shake)

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Prefer your keto shakes to be delicious and well-balanced? Team Keto nailed it with their aptly named Meal Replacement Shake.

Each serving provides 20 grams of healthy fats, 12 grams of grass-fed protein, and only 1 gram of net carbs. You won’t find any sugar alcohols, artificial sweeteners or other corners cut either. That’s music to our keto ears.

In fact, Meal Replacement is 100% natural with the chocolate edition flavored completely with cocoa, stevia and Himalayan sea salt.

If you’re looking for a smooth and creamy keto meal replacement shake that isn’t oily and nails your macros just right, look no further.

2. Ample K (Ketogenic formula)

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Ample K makes it easier than ever to stay in ketosis with its delicious pre-proportioned meal replacement.

They put together an amazing formula of rich fats, proteins, organic greens, prebiotics, probiotics, and targeted micronutrients to keep your body charging through the day with little effort from your part. Just add water or a cold brew coffee and you’re ready to go, no measuring needed.

They managed to do this with only 3 grams of carbs per 400 calorie bottle making it one of the lowest carb pre-proportioned meal replacements on the market today.

It’s gluten-free, soy-free, and has no sugar alcohols that are found in so many keto products. It has a mild, all-natural, sweetness that comes from the coconut, vanilla, and macadamia, spiced up with cinnamon to make it taste great.

Ample K makes eating a keto diet easier and more delicious than ever, which makes it a great choice for anyone with a busy lifestyle.

3. Ketologie Keto Shake

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Ketologie Keto Shake is the best keto shake on the market thanks to its super-high fat content, strong fiber content, and lack of any sugar.

The primary source of fat energy in Ketologie Keto Shake is coconut oil, which provides plenty of MCT oils. Protein comes from hydrolyzed collagen powder, derived from cow bones.

Erythritol is the sweetener of choice, along with cocoa and vanilla which gives it a smooth, sweet, chocolatey flavor without any sugar. Thanks to the high nutritional quality and great taste, it’s a great pick.

4. Top Notch Nutrition Keto Super Collagen

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Even though it looks a lot like a protein powder, Top Notch Nutrition Keto Super Collagen delivers quite a lot of its caloric content (well over half) from fat.

Moreover, the fat content is from creative sources, like avocado oil powder and grass-fed butter powder. It’s got only a single gram of carbohydrates per serving, making it a great choice.

Thanks to the innovative fat sources, most of the fat isn’t even saturated fat, so if you are specifically looking for a keto shake based around unsaturated fats, this is a superb choice.

5. KetoLogic Keto Meal

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KetoLogic Keto Meal delivers slightly less fat than some other keto shakes, but it’s got a few distinct advantages.

First, it has several sources of fat energy, including MCT oil, coconut oil, and milk-derived fats. Second, it includes several vitamins and minerals that give it a leg up when it comes to addressing your micronutrient intake.

Many keto shakes, even top-rated ones, don’t provide much in the way of vitamins and minerals, which can already be a concern on a keto diet.

6. American Metabolix Keto Meal

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American Metabolix Keto Meal is designed to be a keto-focused entire meal replacement. It’s very energy dense thanks to its use of whole egg powder and dehydrated butter, which provide pretty much all of the caloric, protein, and fat content.

All of the other ingredients exist either to add flavor, like monk fruit extract and stevia, or to make the product more easily stored in powder form, like silica and vitamin C.

The primary downside is the very high cholesterol content, but recent research suggests that cholesterol may not be the boogeyman it was once thought to be, at least for some people.

7. LevelUp Grass-Fed Keto Protein

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Though billed as a keto protein powder, LevelUp Grass-Fred Keto Protein contains a surprisingly large amount of fat.

Protein still dominates the macros, at 10 grams per serving compared to 6 grams of fat, but the ingredients are of particularly high quality.

The protein is from a mix of grass-fed whey protein and grass-fed bovine collagen. The fat comes from a mix of grass-fed butter and MCT oil, which gives it a leg up on MCT oil-only keto shakes.

If you want high-quality grass-fed ingredients, LevelUp Grass-Fed Keto Protein is a great choice.

8. Slimfast Keto Meal Shake

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Slimfast Keto Meal Shake contains a lot of calories from fat, a modest amount from protein, and plenty of vitamins and minerals.

The ingredients list is not quite as clean as some of the other competitors on the market, but it does deliver a very energy-dense meal replacement that’s appropriate for people on ketogenic diets.

9. Perfect Keto Collagen

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Perfect Keto Collagen is a good keto-friendly source of protein, and provides MCT oil to boot.

However, it can’t function well on its own as a full keto meal replacement unless you’ve got room to spare in your macro ratios for extra protein.

The fat content is fairly low, which is a consequence of using MCT oil as the only fat source.

Too much MCT oil causes gastrointestinal side effects, hence the fairly low levels of fat in Perfect Keto Collagen. Still, it’s good for adding to keto shakes, or as a standalone low-carb protein supplement.

10. Kiss My Keto Keto Protein

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Kiss My Keto Keto Protein is another keto protein source that uses collagen protein and MCT oil as dual fuel sources.

Again, the primary downside is that you’ll need to clear up some space for extra protein in your keto diet.

However, if you aren’t actually aiming to start in ketosis, it’s a pretty solid pick thanks to only three grams of carbohydrates per serving.

11. Primaforce Keto Shake

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Primaforce Keto Shake uses MCT oil as its first ingredient and provides a hefty amount of fat, but purists may scoff at the wide range of ingredients.

Granted, many of these are providing vitamins and minerals, but you can get many of the same benefits in a higher-quality keto shake.

12. Garden of Life Keto Meal

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Garden of Life Keto Meal uses grass fed butter powder alongside whey protein for its protein and fat contents.

While it doesn’t have quite the same healthy fat profile as some of its competitors, it does have the added bonus of probiotic bacteria, still with only one gram of sugar per serving. Though it is a tiny bit heavy on protein, it’s still a solid pick.

Who should buy a keto shake?

One of the biggest inconveniences of the keto diet is the difficulty of finding keto-friendly foods when you are on the go. Almost every pre-packaged food has a substantial amount of carbs, or is designed to be low-fat.

If you are trying to stay in ketosis, or even if you are just on a low-carb diet that isn’t specifically intended to be ketogenic, a keto shake can be a great way to have a healthy meal while you’re traveling or on the go.

A keto shake has a high fat content, often from healthy sources of fats like avocado, coconut, or olive oil. A good keto shake will also supply a moderate amount of protein from a low-carb source, like bone broth, egg white, or collagen powder. 

Keto shakes make a great meal replacement if you are on a diet. They have a well-controlled amount of calories, and leverage the ability of fats and particularly protein to fill you up to a greater extent than an equivalent amount of carbohydrates.

Unlike meal replacements that are carb-heavy, a keto shake won’t spike your blood sugar and insulin levels, only to result later in a crash in energy levels and an increase in hunger. Instead, you’ll get a slower, controlled release in calories that will help you go longer before your next meal.

While keto shakes are most attractive for people on a ketogenic diet, anyone trying to cut out carbs can benefit from an occasional keto shake in lieu of their typical carb or sugar-loaded breakfast or lunch. Whether your goal is weight loss or weight maintenance, a keto shake can help you get there. 

How we ranked

When we were formulating our keto shake rankings, the first criteria we examined was the overall macronutrient content: if you are trying to stay in ketosis, your total intake of fat, protein, and carbohydrates is all-important.

To make our rankings, a keto shake had to provide the majority of its calories from fat, with protein taking second and only a small fraction of calories from carbohydrates (a few grams of carbs at the very most).

Even though there are plenty of great meal replacement shakes and protein shakes that don’t meet these strict criteria, they didn’t make our keto rankings due to the importance of macro ratios.

After making sure the macros were on point for all of our keto shake candidates, we looked at the specific quality of the fats and protein. For fats, we wanted high-quality sources like MCT oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil.

These provide great medium chain triglycerides that are associated with numerous potential health benefits. These are preferable to cheaper, lower-quality sources of fat calories like palm oil.

On the protein front, we were looking for keto-friendly sources of protein that provide a robust, complete amino acid profile, like collagen protein, bone broth protein, egg white or whole egg protein.

These proteins provide a better balance of amino acids than you can generally get in a vegan protein powder. For keto shakes in particular, you want to squeeze out the highest quality protein per gram, because too much total protein content can actually pull you out of ketosis, as your body will convert protein back in to carbohydrates. 

Since adherence to the diet is one of the biggest limiting factors in the ketogenic diet, we also considered the taste and texture of a keto shake.

We wanted to avoid at all costs the stereotypes about keto shakes and meal replacement shakes in general—that they are chalky, gritty, and bland. We looked for smooth, great-tasting keto shakes, but we required that products achieve this taste and texture without excessive amounts of sugar or synthetic sweeteners, colors, and flavoring agents. We had a strong preference for keto shakes that used stevia, cocoa powder, and other natural sources of sweetness and flavor. 

Finally, we looked to see which products had added perks, like extra vitamins and minerals. These can make a difference if you are relying on a keto shake as a meal replacement shake on a regular basis.

If you are swapping out a full meal for a keto shake and you aren’t replacing the vitamins and minerals that you would’ve gotten in real food, you could put yourself at risk for a deficit over the long run. 

After weighing all of these factors and sorting the remaining products by overall score, we were left with our final list of the top keto shakes on the market. 

Benefits

A high-quality keto shake is the perfect way to keep yourself in ketosis when you need a meal that’s easy to prepare when you’re away from home. Most keto shakes are at least 60-75% fat, in terms of their caloric content, and the high-quality keto shakes use sources like powdered grass-fed butter, MCT oil, coconut oil, and powdered avocado oil to deliver their fat content.

The protein, which makes up the remainder of the calories, comes almost exclusively from high-quality sources like collagen peptides or whey protein. Here are some of the benefits of a top-rated keto shake.

The right keto shake can help keep your body in a state of ketosis. The entire point of a ketogenic diet is to force your body to produce and burn ketone bodies for energy instead of carbohydrates.

Many people trumpet wide-ranging health benefits from ketosis, but one of the toughest parts about the keto diet is actually staying in ketosis.

Your fat intake must be very high: in the classic ketogenic diet (originally developed to treat epilepsy in children), the proportion of your calories that must come from fat is a stunning 90% (1).

Many people report being able to stay in ketosis with less than this proportion of total calories from fat, but the fact remains that your fat intake must be very high and your carbohydrate intake must be very low—classically, below 20 grams total in a day (2).

It can be very hard to find premade foods that meet these criteria if you are not at home and can’t make your own food, but this is exactly where a keto shake can come in handy.

With many of the top keto shakes delivering 75% of their calories or more from fat, with a few or even zero grams of carbohydrates, they are great for helping to keep you in a state of ketosis.

Staying in ketosis can help you lose weight. One of the most surprising findings in initial research into ketogenic diets was that they were both more effective and easier to follow than traditional low-fat weight loss plans.

One landmark study comparing the ketogenic diet to a standard low fat diet was published in 2004 in the Annals of Internal Medicine (3).

This study randomly assigned 132 obese adults, many of which also had metabolic syndrome, to either an unrestricted ketogenic diet with less than 20 grams of carbohydrates allowed per day, or a low fat diet targeted at a 500 calorie per day reduction in energy intake and less than 30% of calories coming from fat.

The results showed that, after a year of followup, the participants who were in the ketogenic diet had better adherence to their diet and greater amounts of weight loss.

One reason for this might be that ketogenic diets are usually unrestricted in terms of caloric intake: as long as you are staying within the macronutrient ratios of the diet, you can eat however much you want.

The hunger-suppressing effects of ketosis may also play a role in the greater success of the ketogenic diet, so chalk one up for keto shakes over a traditional meal replacement shake in that category too.

A keto shake may help improve performance in long endurance events. On the other end of the health and performance spectrum, ketosis has been explored as a potential method of boosting endurance performance.

It’s not well-suited for explosive, anaerobic sports like sprinting, which rely on burning carbohydrates exclusively, but in events like cycling races and ultramarathon running, some athletes have found that using keto shakes to stay in ketosis improves their performance.

Scientific research suggests that some athletes may benefit from ketosis in long endurance events too: A study published in the journal Cell Metabolism in 2016 using 39 elite cyclists found that some athletes performed better thanks to the metabolic shift towards burning ketone bodies instead of carbohydrates (4).

A keto shake is the perfect solution for athletes, since it’s easily transportable and consumable.

Side effects

In terms of immediate side effects of keto shakes, the only concerns would be for people who are severely lactose intolerant or who have dairy allergies, as many keto shakes use milk-derived ingredients as sources of fat and protein.

Aside from these special cases, keto shakes are very well-tolerated. The real concern is adverse effects from staying in ketosis for a long time.

According to the Mayo Clinic, these side effects can include headaches, bad breath, weakness, cramping, and gastrointestinal problems (5).

Indeed, even the clinical trials for weight loss that have used ketogenic diets have noted a higher rate of mild side effects in people on a ketogenic diet.

Notably, though, this does not prevent adherence from being better among study participants in the ketogenic diet, nor does it result in worse weight loss results—quite the opposite on both counts. For many people, the risk of mild side effects is worth the benefits of the ketogenic diet.

Recommended dose

For regular use as a meal replacement or caloric supplement, you likely want a keto shake that provides between 250 and 450 calories per shake. That should be enough to get you through the morning or the afternoon without hunger pangs, but also not providing so manly calories that you defeat the intent of your diet.

In terms of macronutrient content, you can tilt your macros slightly more towards protein with your keto shake, but you should still hew close to the generally accepted recommendations of 70-75% of your calories coming from fat, 20-25% coming from protein, and the remainder coming from carbs.

Since you’re likely to pick up carbs elsewhere in your diet (such as from healthy vegetables), it’s best to keep the carb content of a keto shake as close to zero as possible.

This is easy with great products on the market that offer as little as one gram of carbs per serving. A keto shake with minimal carb content not only frees up carbs for elsewhere in your daily caloric intake, but also prevents the insulin spike and crash that happens after taking something like a normal sports drink or a sugar-heavy energy drink

A good-quality keto shake can be taken every day as an alternative to, or in addition to, a standard meal. Most often, people swap out their typical breakfast or lunch for a keto shake, or use it as a post-workout supplement to recover after hitting the gym. 

FAQ

Q: How do you make a keto shake? 

A: To truly work as a part of a keto diet, a keto shake needs over half of its caloric content to come from fat. To this end, you’ll want to start with a good base of fats, like MCT oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and/or avocado oil.

Then, you’ll want a good source of protein that’s low in carbs and has a well-balanced amino acid profile. This might be something like collagen peptides, bone broth protein, or another low carb protein powder.

Then, you need to boost the nutrition quality of the shake; this is where green drink powders can come in very handy, as they add both antioxidants as well as essential vitamins and minerals.

Finally, you need to make sure the keto shake tastes good, but without adding any extra carbs. If you are making your own, you can try adding ingredients like stevia or cocoa powder to give it some sweetness without kicking up the carbohydrates and sugar content.

Q: What is the best kind of keto shake? 

A: The best keto shakes are those that provide high fat content, moderate protein content, and minimal or no carbohydrate content.

These were the most important criteria that our research team used when formulating our rankings of the top keto shakes on the market.

According to our team, the best keto shakes out right now include Team Keto, Ample K, Ketologie, and Top Notch Keto Super Collagen, as these all meet this most important criteria. 

Q: Can you drink protein shakes on the keto diet? 

A: Protein shakes should generally be modified if you are on a keto diet, because the standard protein shake formulation is low or completely devoid of fat, has a moderate amount of carbohydrates, and is very heavy on protein.

This is fine if you don’t care about ketosis, but if you do want to keep your macronutrient ratios in check, a keto shake is a better option. That’s because a keto shake is designed to be higher in fat, lower in carbohydrates, and keep the protein content in check.

Keto shakes are still a strong source of the same amino acids you’d get in a typical protein shake, but they won’t throw off your macro ratios the same way an off-the-shelf protein shake will. 

Q: How many calories are in a keto shake? 

A: Most keto shakes, by design, have around 250 to 450 calories per serving. The aim with this caloric content is to replace the calories you would be getting in a meal, perhaps slightly undershooting to help with weight loss.

If you are specifically trying to bulk up while staying in ketosis, you may need to make some custom modifications to your keto shake (or just take more servings of it)—the vast majority of people who take keto shakes are trying to lose or at least maintain their weight. 

Q: Can you have a meal replacement shake on the keto diet? 

A: Meal replacement shakes are fine for a keto diet as long as they are specifically formulated to stay within the macronutrient ratios prescribed by the diet.

Unfortunately, most pre-made meal replacements are not even close to being in line with keto diet recommendations. Typically, these off the shelf meal replacements are very high in protein, have a modest amount of protein, and very little fat.

A keto shake is a better option, as these are specifically formulated to have more fat, modest amounts of protein, and almost no carbohydrates of any kind.

It’s far easier to swap out a meal with a keto shake and still stay within keto diet guidelines; indeed, many of the products we reviewed are specifically designed as meal replacements, with vitamins and minerals added to boost the nutrient content of the shake. 

Q: What should you look for in a premade keto shake? 

A: Macro ratios are by far the most important aspect of a keto shake. If the proportion of calories from fats, protein, and carbohydrates aren’t around the magic 75:20:5 ratio, the product likely isn’t worth your time.

A keto shake works best when it uses high quality sources of fats and proteins: great sources of fat include coconut oil (and its derivative, MCT oil), olive oil, and avocado oil. Avoid products that rely on palm oil or other low-cost oils.

For protein, you want a complete amino acid source: that’s usually going to be an animal-product protein source like collagen powder, bone broth, whole egg or egg white, or milk protein derivatives (such as whey or casein protein).

Our research team preferred collagen, bone broth, or egg white proteins when we made our rankings, because the protein content is very high and these proteins contain all of the essential amino acids.

Finally, don’t neglect flavor and texture: if a keto shake tastes awful, it doesn’t matter how good the nutrient quality is; you aren’t likely to drink it on a regular basis. 

Q: What can you mix with a keto shake? 

A: Keto shake go great with green superfood drink powders, as these powders add a huge amount of antioxidants but almost nothing in the way of carbohydrates.

These can help get some of the nutrition quality you would get in a traditional smoothie made from fruits and vegetables, but without the high carbohydrate content.

A keto shake is also a great way to incorporate a fiber supplement like psyllium husk. Because traditional sources of dietary fiber, like fruit, oatmeal, and whole grains, are restricted on the ketogenic diet, many people doing keto have lower than optimal fiber intake.

Because fiber supplements aren’t digestible, they add practically nothing in terms of carbs, but can really help with some of the gastrointestinal side effects that cause people trouble when adjusting to keto. 

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Recap

A keto shake is a pre-made powder that you mix up in water to replace a meal while still staying within the boundaries of what is allowed on the ketogenic diet.

These keto shakes provide the lion’s share of their calories from high-quality sources of fat, with a judicious amount of protein as well.

They are great for staying in ketosis when you are not able to make your own keto-friendly meals at home, and are beneficial for both weight loss and for long endurance performance.

Keto shakes themselves are very well-tolerated, but you do have to watch out for potential side effects from ketosis.

In all, though, many people find that ketosis is well worth it for the benefits, and a keto shake is a great way to ensure you stay in the confines of the ketogenic diet.

For BodyNutrition‘s #1 keto shake recommendation, click here.





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