Editor’s note: this is a list made by Johnny, Latestfuels’ US writer. He’s plenty of knowledgeable about the topic, but the opinions stated here are his owns. You can check my podcast with my top picks for 2021. Otherwise, all my pics are covered on the best meal replacement shakes for 2022 list. Enjoy the reading!
Well ladies and gents, another year in the books. The rocky start to this decade continues, but I’m thankful that myself and our readers are still in the fight, weathering the storm.
Having the wonderful opportunity to be a contributor here on LatestFuels, has provided me access to many products that I otherwise may have not had a chance to try. That said, I have compiled a summary of the good, the bad, and ugly of 2021 in the complete food space.
Now to be clear, this isn’t a ranking of which products you should absolutely include/exclude from your diet, but an evaluation by yours truly of the ones I found to be really good, or otherwise, so my bias will be on full display.
Also keep in mind that I’m in the US, so there are many products that don’t make it to these shores, or are prohibitively expensive to do so, therefore it’s a relative list.
I’m aiming for a top three, including those that just missed the cut, but are still noteworthy.
Now that expectations are in place. Let’s recap 2021’s best and worst!!
Best RTD in 2021
- Mana Drink – High marks for nutrition. Not bad tasting, but I felt the powder was better in this case. Still worthy of purchase though.
- Orgain’s Chocolate Organic Nutrition – Found this to be pretty tasty, and seems to check most of the nutrient boxes too.
3. Sated – A great keto product! Both flavors were very good and easy to drink. You can also plan on being fairly full after consumption.
2. OWYN – Plant based, low allergen and great tasting. They definitely get the award for the cleanest drink, as it contains nothing of issue. OWYN is also quite affordable compared to other products!
And the Winner Is……
Soylent – The king has yet to be dethroned. Lots of flavors, easy to buy almost anywhere, price competitive. Not a perfect product, but really hard to mount an argument against Soylent being #1.
- Sated – Best thing about their powder, is that it’s very consistent, and is just as good as their RTD. Something that’s tough to accomplish.
- Super Body Fuel (Milk Fuel) – Inexpensive, lots of flavors, bulk & single serve packaging. Also, some of the best customer service around. They have a thriving community with an engaged owner to complement its solid product.
- Plenny Shake – Affordable, and most of their flavors are tasty. A bit looser than I’d prefer, but still very drinkable and can keep you coming back for more. Beware recent supply issues in the US.
3. Kachava – Probably one of the best formulated products around. No stone is left unturned with this product. Two delicious flavors that pack a TON of nutrition per serving. Nutrition derived from the best the planet has to offer.
2. ManaDrink Original – One of my daily drivers. By far the best tasting original flavor out there. Mixes well with literally ANYTHING! And is also quite tasty on its own. Also the hands down best mixing shake around!
The Best Meal Replacement Powder in 2021
Huel Black – The most filling shake I’ve ever had. Felt like I needed a nap afterwards. Nice amount of flavors to choose from, and they are good! Tons of protein, and macros are complete. Huel is more of a meal, than a meal replacement. Five stars!!!!!
Best Non-Drink Complete Food
Vite Ramen – Many have been clamoring for something solid, yet complete. This has given rise to bars, oatmeal/porridge, and even a few hot stew-like meals. But Vite has taken something everyone is familiar with, and made it a healthy complete meal….instant noodles.
Flavors are accurate, just as easy to make as store brands and the company is always tinkering to try to make it better. It’s a fun and innovative way to enjoy a nutritionally complete meal without having to chug a thick shake, and gives you the feeling of eating junk, without actually eating junk.
The “Worst Meal Replacements” in 2021
Now as you know, if you’ve been following our content, it’s definitely not all sunshine and roses. Some products were less than stellar, and some were a downright chore in order to finish.
You know it’s bad when you’re looking for someone else to try something just because you can’t stomach it anymore, yet you have to finish writing about it. I won’t name names, but it’s happened more than once.
This section has no specific order or worst of the worst title. Then again you may like some of these. I’ll just say proceed with caution with the list below. You’ve been warned!
- CTRL Drink – They actually had me interested, being marketed towards gamers and formulated to taste like cereal. But too being far too sweet, with hit or miss flavoring made this a pass for me. FaZe Clan needs to phase this out! See what I did there? Lol.
- Exante – The worst aftertaste of 2021! Each flavor tasted like you put coins in your mouth! It completely overrode the flavor of each. Hard pass!
- Huel RTD – Probably the biggest disappointment. Huel is a very dependable company, capable of making very good products. But honestly, they dropped the ball with this one. None of them were particularly good, they were a chore to drink beyond halfway, and though they are supposed to be good for nearly a year, after a couple months in my fridge, they turned into a flavorless pudding. I just pitched them all.
- All the store-bought shakes (Atkins, Carnation, Slim Fast) – I wanted to explore what you could get from any drugstore or department store anywhere in the US without having to order anything and wait for shipping. The answer was questionable containers of sugar and unwanted additives. Just bite the bullet and order something from our top 3, because things get downright ugly down around these parts
Note: Huel RTD had a redemption story. I recently tried the v2.0 and it’s MUCH better than the v1.0. Discover all my thoughts in the Huel RTD review.
Conclusion – Johnny’s Picks for the Best & Worst Meal Replacements of 2021
In closing, this is just a fun way to cap off the year, and if you want a deep analysis of each of the products listed, please consult their respective articles, we have posts available for all of them.
Meal replacements have come a long way, and appear they will continue that momentum. Many established brands will be rolling out new flavors and new products, while new startups will seek to innovate in the space and carve out their own niches.
Just know that we will be at the front of the line letting you all know which will be worth your hard earned money, and which will be a hard pass.
Happy New Year everyone!!