Keto shakes are low-carb drinks intended to help people on the keto diet meet their specific nutritional needs.
Keto shakes typically have less than 5 grams of carbs per serving as well as beneficial fats, protein, and other vital nutrients.
There are an ever-growing number of keto shakes on the market today. Our team of experts has determined that the following are the 10 best keto shakes of 2020.
1. Team Keto Meal Replacement Shake
Team Keto hits the nail firmly on the head with their Keto Meal Replacement Shake. If you’re on the keto, Atkins, or another low-carb diet, you’re going to appreciate what this shake has to offer. It’s well-rounded nutrition by any standards, and a flavorful step above the competition.
What we like: At only 1 gram of carbs per serving, Team Keto leads the low-carb parade. The very agreeable taste complements the 20 grams of beneficial fat, grass-fed protein, and impressive array of vitamins and minerals.
Flaws: A little more sodium than we’d like to see.
2. Ketologie Keto Shake
A Ketologie Keto Shake is an excellent way for low-carb dieters to get the calories and nutrients they need without bumping themselves out of ketosis. The carb load is low, beneficial fats are high, and high-quality bovine protein fills in the blanks of the caloric picture.
What we like: This is a nutritious, versatile keto shake powder that mixes equally well with cold or hot water. Fats are provided by way of MCT oil. While health-conscious women will appreciate the modest doses of calcium and iron.
Flaws: No antioxidant vitamins.
3. Ample K Ketogenic Shake
Ample K Ketogenic Shake has one of the most impressive ingredient lists of any keto shake. From essential vitamins and minerals to prebiotics, probiotics, and MCT oil, it hits all the nutrient bases while staying delightfully low-carb.
What we like: If you’re looking for a full-service keto shake, here it is. Antioxidants, branched-chain amino acids, a mix of beneficial fats, prebiotics to ensure digestive health, fat-fighting polyphenols, and more. It’s all here.
Flaws: It would be nice if there was more than one flavor. The packaging can fool some people into thinking it’s pre-mixed.
4. Keto Chow Keto Meal Replacement Shake
The makers of Keto Chow take a slightly different approach to keto shakes. They provide you a low-carb, nutrient-rich powder, and then leave it up to you to add the fats of your choosing.
What we like: The type and amount of beneficial fats you add to this shake are up to you. But beyond that, the company has gone to great lengths to supply precisely 1/3 of the recommended macro and micronutrients for keto dieters.
Flaws: Pretty expensive and you have to buy the fat source separately.
5. Smirk Keto Protein Powder Shake
Smirk Keto Protein Powder Shake may have a smug persona, but there’s nothing off-putting about the quality of the nutrients it provides. It’s a well-considered blend of vitamins, minerals, protein and more.
What we like: With 4 net grams of carbs, 15 grams of fat and 10 grams of protein, Smirk Keto Protein Powder comes as close as any keto shake to recommended keto nutrient proportions.
Flaws: The taste is nothing to write home about.
6. SlimFast Keto Chocolate Shake
SlimFast practically invented the meal replacement shake more than 40 years ago. Because of that, they enjoy unequaled market penetration today. Fortunately, their products – like this Keto Chocolate Shake – are more than just marketing hype.
What we like: Each SlimFast Keto Shake contains only 2 grams of carbs, while providing 14 grams of fat via MCT oil and 8 grams of protein. This shake also has an impressive array of micronutrients and doesn’t need to be mixed.
Flaws: Chocolate and mocha are great. The vanilla flavor needs some work.
7. Keto Science Ketogenic Meal Shake
At 3 grams per serving, Keto Science is not the lowest of the low-carb keto shakes, but this is one of the most well-balanced keto shakes you’ll find. It’s a true meal replacement shake that also happens to be keto, paleo, and Atkins-friendly.
What we like: From the 20 grams of beneficial fat to the grass-fed bovine protein and impressive array of antioxidants, the Keto Science shake provides true low-carb nutritional balance. There’s also calcium and iron for the ladies.
Flaws: Does not mix as well as some other shakes.
8. Perfect Keto Protein Powder with MCT Oil
Perfect Keto is a big name in the keto diet space. And with products like their Protein Powder with MCT Oil, it’s easy to see why. With only 2 grams of carbs and beneficial fats derived from MCT oil, these shakes whisper sweet nothings to low-carb dieters.
What we like: Medium Chain Triglycerides are quickly and thoroughly absorbed by the body and put to use. Combine them with a scant 2 grams of carbs and 10 grams of collagen protein, and you have a highly effective keto shake.
Flaws: The per serving cost is pretty high.
9. Nature Fuel Keto Meal Replacement Powder
Whether you’re on the keto diet, Atkins diet, or just want an incredibly well-rounded meal replacement shake, consider this one from Nature Fuel. MCT oil, antioxidants, calcium, magnesium, and iron are all here. And not a trace of sugar.
What we like: Nature Fuel Keto Meal Replacement Powder has a couple of more grams of carbs than we think are ideal. However, the rest of the nutrient profile here is too impressive to ignore.
Flaws: 7 grams of carbs is a bit high. Just a bit.
10. Designer Protein LITE
Not everyone who wants or needs a low-carb meal shake is on the keto diet. Some folks just don’t like feeling groggy after eating breakfast or lunch. For them, there’s Designer Protein LITE. It’s not rich in beneficial fats, but it’s rich in everything else.
What we like: Calcium, iron, antioxidants, potassium, protein, and more are here to help power the health-conscious individual through their day. With less than 1 gram of carbs, it should get the attention of keto and Atkins dieters too, despite its lack of fats.
Flaws: Can leave an unpleasant aftertaste.
Who Needs Keto Shakes?
The keto diet was devised by doctors, is based on simple physiological truths common to every person, and is guaranteed to work. If you stick to it. And there’s the rub. Because sticking to the keto diet means giving up those big plates of spaghetti, those large pizzas, ice cream, bread, bagels and cream cheese, and all but the occasional beer. Just to name a few things.
Not many people have the willpower to do that for extended periods of time. And one of the reasons why is because of the lack of viable alternatives. Enter the keto shake. The keto shake is a low-carb liquid meal that contains necessary vitamins and minerals, protein, and other vital macro and micronutrients. The best keto shakes also taste good. And that’s important for people who’ve been starved of their favorite tasty treats.
But keto shakes are not a one-trick pony. They’re well-rounded enough to appeal to anyone who is pressed for time and isn’t able to stop for or prepare a proper meal. And they can provide first-rate sustenance to seniors who are often unable to food shop or cook for themselves due to mobility issues or other reasons.
How We Ranked
Because keto shakes are intended first and foremost for the growing number of people on the keto diet, ranking them starts with a close examination of ingredient lists.
Achieving and maintaining ketosis requires eliminating all but 30-50 grams of carbs per day from your diet. That might seem easy enough but when you consider that one bagel with cream cheese will put you over your limit for the day, you start to understand the magnitude of the challenge.
So when it comes to keto shakes, we want to see carbohydrate loads of two or three grams. Maybe, four or five tops, if the shake has enough other things going for it. Once we eliminated shakes that had too many carbs, it was time to look at fats.
It’s recommended you eat a mixture of saturated fats, unsaturated fats, and monounsaturated fats on the keto diet. So that’s what we want to see in our shakes. As for the amount of fat in a given shake, the common wisdom is that a person on the keto diet should get around 70% of their calories from fat. That boils down to about 15-20 grams of fat per shake on average.
Protein is another important consideration, but one that can get a little iffy for some folks, specifically those who are lactose intolerant. Almost all keto shake makers will use whey protein, which is derived from milk. So read the label carefully if dairy is an issue for you.
Finally, we considered mixability and taste. If a keto shake powder did not blend easily or settled too quickly, it didn’t make our list. And if it tasted like dragging your tongue across a dirty sidewalk, it didn’t make our list either. The keto diet is hard enough. You shouldn’t have to give up taste too.
Keto shakes help you stay keto-compliant. The keto diet (1) is guaranteed to work if you stick with it. Trouble is, sticking with it can be very difficult, since it requires giving up almost all carbs. (You know, those things you love like pasta, potatoes and pizza, to name a few.) Keto shakes can help you stay on the straight and narrow with your keto diet by providing a tasty, but low-carb, alternative to high-carb foods.
Keto shakes help you maintain a healthy weight, diet, or no diet. There is no doubt that keto shakes can be a valuable addition to a keto-dieter’s routine. But they’re not just for those on the keto diet. Busy professionals and students pressed for time, seniors unable to fix themselves a proper meal, and others will find keto shakes a fast, convenient way to fill the dietary void.
Keto shakes are low in sugar. The best keto shakes are sugar-free, and here’s why. Maintaining a state of ketosis depends on a person limiting carb intake to 30-50 grams per day. But a single teaspoon of sugar is about 5 grams. So, if you have two cups of coffee during the day with a teaspoon of sugar in each, that’s as much as 1/3 of your carb total for the entire day. As you can imagine, things can get out of hand pretty quick.
Keto shakes are good for your brain. Speaking of sugar… scientists have known for decades that too much sugar in the blood can interfere with cognitive function (2). This is one reason people often feel groggy after eating. It’s called ‘postprandial spike’ (3), and it affects both diabetics and non-diabetics alike. Because keto shakes are low in sugar and carbs, they help you avoid blood glucose spikes and maintain cognitive health.
Keto shakes can get your keto diet back on track. People on the keto diet often find that some little unintentional slip will bounce them out of ketosis. In which case, they have to buckle down and be extra vigilant to get back into ketosis and stay there. Keto shakes can help by providing a predictable amount of carbs that can be easily tracked and weighed against other foods they eat.
Keto shakes provide a viable meal replacement option for seniors. Too many senior citizens are not getting the nourishment they need to maintain optimal health (4). In many cases, it’s because they cannot cook for themselves like they used to. Some rely on family or friends to help out. But even then, they are sometimes forgotten. Keto shakes can be a viable option for older folks when the chips are down, or any time for that matter.
Keto shakes provide much-needed energy. By restricting carbohydrate intake, you are denying your body its default energy source. It then has to shift to its backup plan, which is to produce ketones it can use to metabolize fat. Keto dieters depend on healthy fats to power basic bodily functions. Keto shakes provide those healthy fats. As such, it is not unusual that after enjoying a keto shake, a keto dieter will also enjoy a boost in energy.
Keto shakes are low in calories. Because most people who consume keto shakes are trying to lose weight, the calorie count is deliberately kept low (typically below 400 calories per shake). Most of those calories also come from beneficial fats rather than carbs to ensure the person drinking the shake does not bump themselves out of ketosis. However, if you are not dieting, you can always augment the shake with fruit or something else.
Keto shakes produce almost no side effects. Keto shakes are typically well-tolerated by healthy people of all ages. In rare instances, when side effects do occur, they are almost always the result of a food allergy, or a person drinking only shakes at the exclusion of other foods. People who are lactose intolerant, for instance, will often react poorly to keto shakes since many of them use whey protein.
Keto shakes provide other vital nutrients. Keto shakes usually provide more than just healthy fats and protein. Most also provide antioxidants that fight oxidative stress, calcium for strong bones and teeth, magnesium (5), which is crucial for protein synthesis, zinc (6), which bolsters the immune system, vitamin B12 (7), which is crucial for cell metabolism, and much much more.
Keto shakes are good for your skin. Keto shakes promote healthy skin in a couple of ways. First, they can help reduce inflammation, which is responsible for chronic skin conditions like eczema, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis. And second, many keto shakes contain a generous dose of antioxidants. Antioxidants are our primary defense against oxidative stress (8), which is responsible for cell death and a loss of skin integrity.
Keto shakes help you keep healthcare costs down. A healthier person who is not beset by weight-related maladies (9) including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and joint degradation, is someone who will not be spending as much money on healthcare. Not only do healthier people make fewer trips to the doctor, they also get a break on health insurance premiums. So they save on both ends of the healthcare spectrum.
Keto shakes can help stabilize blood glucose levels. When people routinely eat more carbohydrates than they need, the body begins to build insulin resistance. That means it is no longer able to adequately handle the tsunami of blood sugar. The most common outcome is type 2 diabetes (10). Doing nothing will help ensure that is the case. You don’t have to adapt the keto diet to cut carbs and reduce your risk of diabetes. Keto shakes can help you achieve that goal.
Keto shakes are good for your heart. Many keto shakes contain some combination of B-complex vitamins as well as vitamins A, C, D, E, and K. All of these vitamins have some degree of anti-inflammatory capabilities. Inflammation is a major contributor to heart disease (11). As such, reducing chronic inflammation is one of the primary goals of any wellness plan. And that goes for the keto diet too.
Keto shakes are low in carbs. The obesity epidemic sweeping the globe (12) could accurately be called the ‘carbohydrate epidemic’. Because at the heart of it is the fact that people are consuming way more carbs than their bodies need to function. All those excess carbs end up around waistlines worldwide, prompting people to seek effective solutions, like the keto diet. Keto shakes are low in carbs, making them a smart choice for people trying to control their weight.
Keto shakes won’t leave you feeling sluggish. After a carb-heavy meal, people often drag themselves away from the table, feeling like they’re carrying a sandbag around their waist. That won’t happen with a keto shake. They’re formulated to fill you up without weighing you down. That way, you can get back to what you were doing feeling energized and light on your feet.
Keto shakes are affordable. It’s not cheap to eat out (13). Dinner at a nice restaurant (white tablecloths, etc.) can cost you upwards of $75 (per person, plus taxes and tip). Even drive-through burgers and fries will run you on average about six bucks. By comparison, the keto shakes on our list will cost anywhere from one to three dollars per shake. And you won’t get all the sugar, salt, and empty, waist-expanding carbs you get with the burgers and fries.
Keto shakes fight inflammation. Research suggests there is a link between excessive carbohydrate intake and inflammation (14). Why is that important? Because chronic inflammation is believed to contribute to numerous diseases (15), including heart disease and cancer. Low-carb keto shakes enable you to get the nutrients you need without the excessive carbohydrate load associated with so much of the food we eat today.
Keto shakes are portable. You can take any of the keto shake – whether pre-mixed or powder – to work with you. You can mix up a shake and take it with you when you go to the park. You can take a tub of keto shake meal replacement powder with you when you go camping or on a road trip. Wherever you want to go (except maybe on an airplane), your keto shake can go with you.
Q: What is a keto shake?
A: A keto shake is a low-carb drink intended to provide people on the ketogenic diet with the nutrients and beneficial fats they need. The keto diet requires a person to drastically reduce their carbohydrate intake in order to induce and maintain a state of ketosis. So keto shakes are, by definition, low in carbs. And since those in ketosis burn fat for fuel instead of carbs, keto shakes provide modest amounts of beneficial fat as well.
Q: Do I have to be on the keto diet to drink a keto shake?
A: No. Anyone can enjoy the many benefits of the keto shake. Keto meal replacement shakes make a great alternative lunch for busy professionals or college students. They provide all the nutrients a person needs to get on with their day, without weighing them down or burdening them with a carb-driven blood sugar spike (16). Seniors who aren’t always able to cook for themselves would also benefit from keeping keto shakes or shake mix at the ready.
Q: How do keto shakes impact the keto diet?
A: At the core of the keto diet is the ironclad requirement to limit carbohydrate intake. Typically, this means consuming no more than 30 to 50 grams of carbs per day. Once starved of its preferred fuel source for several days in a row, the body starts to produce ketones (17) that metabolize fat for energy instead. Any carbs consumed by way of keto shakes will need to be counted against the daily allotment.
Q: Why are some keto shakes called ‘meal replacements’?
A: Because that is what they are intended to be: replacements for a traditional breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They are formulated to provide a quantity and variety of nutrients sufficient to replace those you would obtain from a traditional meal. For the record: note that they’re called ‘meal’ replacement shakes, and not ‘food’ replacement shakes. That’s because they’re not intended to replace everything you eat. But, instead, to substitute for a sitdown meal here and there.
Q: Are keto shakes safe?
A: There is nothing in a keto shake that poses a danger to the average, otherwise healthy person with no food allergies. Keto shakes are actually much safer than lunch at a fast food joint, where you’ll be bombarded with salt, sugar, MSG, and empty carbs from your burger and fries. However, individuals who are lactose intolerant (18) may have an issue with the whey protein used in some keto shakes. So read the label.
Q: Will a keto shake put me into ketosis?
A: A person transitions to a ketogenic state only after their body has been denied carbohydrates for several days in a row. At that point, the body stops waiting for you to provide it with carbs and shifts into ketosis so that it can burn fat for fuel instead of carbs. As you burn off your fat reserves, you lose weight. That is the essence of the keto diet. But you can’t get there just by drinking the occasional keto shake.
Q: Do keto shakes produce side effects?
A: By itself a keto shake will not produce much by way of side effects. Unless, as we mentioned, a person is lactose intolerant. Then they may react negatively to the presence of the whey protein found in some keto shakes. The keto diet, and by extension, ketosis, can produce some side effects, however. These include bad breath, a sense of fatigue, irregular bowel movements, and flu-like symptoms (19).
Q: Can you add things to a keto shake mix?
A: If you are on the keto diet and in a state of ketosis, it’s probably wise not to tinker with your keto shakes. However, if you are not on a keto diet and just enjoy the low-carb nutrition you get from a keto shake, then you can toss whatever you like into the blender with your keto shake powder. Although, if you add things that are carb-heavy, you’ll be defeating the purpose of having the keto shake to begin with.
Q: Can I live on keto shakes alone?
A: You might be able to get by for a couple of days on keto shakes alone. But it’s not advisable. Humans need many different types of food to maintain optimal health. That includes protein, all the essential vitamins and minerals, omega-3 fatty acids (20), phytochemicals (21), antioxidants, and much more. You will get some of these in a typical keto shake. Maybe quite a few. But you won’t get everything you need to survive long-term in any one meal or one keto shake.
Q: Will keto shakes give me the ‘keto flu’?
A: A keto shake by itself is not enough to cause ketosis. Therefore, it’s not enough to bring on the so-called ‘keto flu’. The keto flu typically only happens in the first week or so after making the transition to ketosis. And it’s not really a flu. It’s just a collection of symptoms that can be similar to what a person experiences when they have the flu: headache, fatigue, brain fog, irritability etc.
Q: How can I tell if I’m in ketosis?
A: If you have dramatically restricted carb intake for several days in a row (max 30-50 grams per day), your body will slip into ketosis. No buts. Some people may experience no obvious symptoms. Others, however, may feel more alert, have less of an appetite, pee more often, or have a slight metallic taste in their mouth. Just keep in mind that, as we mentioned, a keto shake alone isn’t going to put you into ketosis.
Q: Will keto shakes interfere with my medication?
A: It is highly unlikely that a keto shake would interfere with any type of prescription medication. There are no active ingredients in a keto shake, just vitamin, minerals, fiber, protein, and perhaps amino acids. There is an extremely remote possibility that the vitamin E in a keto shake could interfere with blood-thinning medications. But you would have to drink several shakes in rapid succession to consume enough vitamin E to produce a reaction. Even then, chances are you would not.
Q: Can keto shakes be useful for intermittent fasting?
A: Many people not on a keto diet engage in intermittent fasting (22) as a way to cleanse their system. And keto shakes can certainly be useful for this purpose. They are low in carbs so they won’t violate your fast, and they contain important nutrients the body needs to keep firing on all cylinders while you’re restricting food intake. Intermittent fasting while in ketosis really isn’t necessary, since you are already limiting carb intake and burning fat.
Q: Do keto shakes cause constipation?
A: Not usually. Especially if you only have one now and then. However, it is not unusual for the keto diet itself to cause constipation. If that happens, try eating more fiber, drinking more water, or taking a magnesium supplement.
Q: Will a keto shake help my workout?
A: Keto shakes are not intended to power your workouts. They’re formulated to provide a person on the keto diet with the nutrients they need (including beneficial fats) to power their system. Keto shakes almost never contain caffeine, which is the essential ingredient in workout supplements and energy drinks. That said, many people on the keto diet feel like they have more energy than they used to. And this can sometimes be channeled into workouts. But it’s not like a coffee rush.
Q: Can I take a keto shake on an airplane?
A: The TSA maintains strict limits regarding how much liquid a person can carry onto an airplane (23). Most keto shakes will easily exceed this amount. So, in most cases, the answer is no. Things are not so cut and dry when it comes to keto shake powder. Although, there is a pretty good chance that TSA agents will cast a very suspicious eye on it and may well force you to leave it behind.
Keto shakes may be pre-mixed drinks or powders you mix with water or another non-carbonated beverage. Some are intended to provide a quick pick-me-up, while others are intended to replace an entire meal.
Keto shakes are low in carbohydrates but high in beneficial fats to satisfy the caloric requirements of those on the keto diet. Many keto dieters make keto shakes a part of their regular dietary routine.
Because they are rich in vitamins, minerals, protein, and other micro and macronutrients, keto shakes are often used by non-dieters too. That includes people on the go, who don’t have time to stop and prepare a meal for themselves. And seniors, who find keto shakes a handy way to maintain proper nutrition.
For cpoe.org’s #1 recommended keto shake, click here.