Meal Replacement Powders
Meal Replacement Powders (MRP) are protein supplements in powdered form, although there are meal replacement products in liquid form, usually in 0.5 liter plastic bottles. MRPs are great solution for anybody in the hurry wanting quick and healthy meal.
As usual with powders, I must warn you – real food is real food. I use MRPs a lot, even more than Post Workout Meal (PWMs) shakes, so I am really serious about avoiding MRPs, whenever I can, and eating a proper food.
Best Protein Powder?
Today, practically every supplement company offers several MRPs, with different taste, content and price.
Most of the powders have natural and artificial aromas and sweeteners. Those that come on the market with neutral flavor (with no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners) usually taste horribly :o) Others are more or less very tasty, but whenever possible ask for samples, just to be sure regarding taste, flavor, texture etc. I prefer chocolate flavors, although there are fruit flavors that taste really great.
MRPs are usually based on several protein and fiber sources. Some of them also have higher amounts of carbs and fats, so they can be used for adding calories for ectomorphs or for creating more balanced meals for all body types. Proteins come from combining sources like different whey proteins (digested quickly), egg protein (digested slower than whey), casein protein (digested very slowly), or even beef or soy protein.
Egg protein powder is produced from eggs. It is processed so content of fats and cholesterol is very low, especially when compared with protein/fat (cholesterol) ratio in egg yolks.This is great, but on the other hand, not all cholesterol is bad.
Egg protein powder is great for breakfast and for daily snacks. For bed time, I prefer casein based powder (or milk protein powder with high content of casein), but if you make shake or smoothie with low-fat or cottage cheese, you have great bed time meal that promotes feeling of fullness and provide steady nutrient flow to hardly gained muscles during long hours of sleep.
Egg protein powder can be found in many MRPs as part of protein blend, or can be found as pure egg protein powder supplement.
Milk protein isolate is produced from fresh skim milk. It is mix of different proteins – whey and casein protein, usually in 20% - 80% ratio. This 20/80 ratio is important, because some supplement companies are adding cheap whey concentrate or similar cheap whey to milk protein isolate to achieve more volume and mass for less money. Personally, I often buy 100% casein protein powder and when I consume it during the day, I add some whey protein in it, but not much. For bedtime shakes, I consume only 100% casein proteins - or, in most cases, I try to eat real food :)
Milk protein isolate is more slowly digested than whey, so it is excellent for daily snacks, for making breakfasts with oats or other cereals and for making shakes and smoothies with fruits, low-fat and cottage cheese, almonds, walnuts etc. It is also very good for bedtime shakes, although 100% pure casein is somewhat better - and casein is also more expensive.
Milk protein isolate is often used in Meal Replacement Powders as slow(er) component. Also, some companies are selling milk protein isolate as 'casein' or 'micellar casein'.
More about casein supplements can be found in Top 5 Best Casein Protein Powders: How to Pick the Right One article.
What you have to do is to read labels - it is better to buy good milk protein isolate maybe even called 'micellar casein' at good price, then milk protein isolate with 70% whey and 30% casein at cheaper price - it is not milk protein isolate any more ...
Which protein blend is the best? We are all different, so it is very hard to point the finger at one specific product and say 'this one is the best'. Anyway, we all have different macro and micronutrients requirements, not to mention that there are no two humans with the same taste :o)
if you are endomorph, you will prefer MRPs with low fat and carb content and with high protein content (with fibers, too). Ectomorphs should go for MRPs that are more balanced regarding all macros.
Meal Replacement Shakes
Making meal replacement shakes is very easy - just put powder in DRY shaker and bring it with you. When you want to have a meal, add water or even milk (if you are not lactose intolerant), shake it for few seconds and drink it. And that is all...
Of course, there are other ways that MRPs can be used - often I use them for making various smoothies with cheese, fruits, nuts and similar.
Using MRPs after the gym? Well, quick digesting whey protein in combination with fast carbs (and creatine, BCAA, glutamine etc) is better solution, but better something than nothing to consume after workout and help the body with regeneration and recovery.
Since quality casein protein is not cheap, MRPs containing casein protein are more expensive, but they are also digested very slowly, avoiding hunger for longer. MRPs containing mostly whey and egg protein, with casein protein only in traces digest quickly and after eating them, one can get hungry in no time (2-3 hours most).
If you are vegetarian, vegan or just sensitive to gluten or lactose, you should check Vegan Protein Powders.
Of course, on the market, there are many others companies and MRPs, so feel free to check the Amazon Search Results at the bottom of review pages.
Anyway, never buy a sport supplement (MRPs included) before reading the labels and never fully trust the marketing of supplement companies.