5 Best Meal Replacement Smoothies to Make and Buy

We're all about trying to have three homemade, whole food meals a day, but sometimes it's just not feasible. Plus, in a sea of weight loss claims and competing meal replacement products, what's real and what's a marketing myth? We rounded up the top five meal replacement shakes as defined by experts.

Wendy Bazilian, DrPH and author of The SuperfoodsRX Diet, told Prevention.com that finding the perfect meal replacement shake or smoothie can be a lot easier than it seems. In fact, she says the highest quality ones consist of 325 to 400 calories, 15 to 25 grams of protein, and at least 5 grams of fiber — a good set of guidelines to consider, whether you're buying a pre-made drink or mixing your own.

And while meal replacement beverages might not be for everyone (because nothing can replace a solid-food dinner), one 2001 study found that women who drank one meal replacement shake per day maintained their weight loss after a year. So while there's evidence these beverages can help you reach your weight loss goals when used correctly and healthily, they're also a huge time saver.

Make: Dairy-Free Oat Avocado Smoothie

Loaded with protein, this easy-to-make smoothie fits the bill for a meal-replacer — it harnesses "healthy fat" from avocados, subtle sweetness from dates, and the energy-boosting power of chia seeds to create a compelling combo. Bonus: its dairy-free ingredient list and roster of superfoods may just help clear your skin, too.

Buy: Orgain Organic Nutritional Shake

One of the most touted shakes in the health and fitness world, Orgain is a great pick for those who are too busy to make a homemade shake. However, each 11-ounce shake has only 255 calories, 7 grams fat, and 2 grams fiber — which means you'll need to give your shake a little boost to meet the experts' standards. Try chasing your shake with a handful of nuts to even things out.

Make: Beet Superfood Shake

This shake recipe from via Men's Health hits the marks and then some for a filling, delicious meal replacement. Cherries and berries lend some sweetness to this beet-hued, bright beverage. Drink it after a tough workout to help with muscle recovery.

Buy: CalNaturale Svelte Protein Shakes

Admittedly, our love for these shakes stems from the above-average flavors on offer: spiced chai and banana creme go a long way to differentiate these shakes from the run-of-the-mill chocolate and vanilla versions we pass up time and time again. That being said, these shakes don't meet Bazilian's recommended calorie count, and are lacking in the protein sector as well — meaning you'll need to get creative and pair them with a follow-up snack. Still, they're an easy favorite.

Make: Almond Butter and Jelly Smoothie

Not only does this smoothie sound delicious (it's basically an adaptation of a favorite childhood lunch, after all) but it's also packed with protein-rich almond butter. As an added tip, this smoothie is great at disguising the taste of veggies — so go ahead and add some spinach or other greens if you need a boost.

Photo Credit: Blender Babes