Mana Drink Review | Scientific Nutrition at its Finest


Mana Review

This is the long overdue Mana Drink review; an in-depth look to the biggest brand in Central and Eastern Europe. One of the original brand in the old continent, that took inspiration from Soylent’s formula and success and brought it to Europe. So, where is Mana Drink now at? Is Mana the meal replacement that you have been looking for?

Opinion

Overall Feeling: Good, but I Want to See More

I end up this review with mixed feelings (yes, even though you might read this first, it is the last thing I work on). On one hand, I have been positively surprised by the website, the values of the brand and the general user experience. However, on the other hand, I cannot stop from thinking that Mana should have grown larger or should offer a more diverse portfolio.

I have no doubt that this last might not be the ideal business move, but from a customer standpoint, I feel like Mana has failed to offer a diverse enough portfolio until recently.

Nevertheless, looking at the recent positive sales figures and the founder’s ambitions; I have no doubt that Mana will expand and that it will be successful doing so.

Meanwhile, I will recommend you trying their products, but I will not deny that you might find better deals elsewhere.

What I like

1. RTD and Powder are identical. Often the customer is forced to made the choice between the powder and the ready-to-drink based on the flavours available or nutrition. I like the fact that this is not the case for Mana, freeing the buyer to buy what they want.

2. Affordable RTD. Ready to Drinks are often expensive; however, Mana’s RTD is among the most affordable. More so if you buy in the UK or in the Czech Republic.

3. Multiple omega-3 sources. Mana has one of the most comprehensive omega-3 profiles in the whole industry. Taking into account that the western diet is deficient in this essential fatty acid; this is a big deal.

4. Site navigation, looks and quantity of information. Looking good is important, and providing the user with a pleasant buying experience even more. Not many achieve so, but I think Mana’s site is easy to navigate; and on top of that you will be able to access a ton of information about the ingredients and the products.

5. Compact packaging. One of the main goals of Mana is to reduce the environmental impact of food; and they achieve so by providing with a very tight packaging.

What I dislike

1. Only one nutritional profile. In reality both Drink and Powder are the same product. While this enables the user to freely choose between the two, also limits who can purchase Mana.

2. Different pricing. This is a business decision, but the pricing and the shipping terms are “unfair” for the Europeans. It is particularly curious, since they have better shipping terms in the UK, when compared to the rest of Europe.

3. No shaker available. For a company as big as Mana, charging extra for the shaker is unusual, to say the least.

4. No option to subscribe. I feel very strongly that subscribers are essential for any complete food brand. Not only they provide a stable userbase, but allows the customer to grow a link with the brand, as well as, being rewarded by his loyalty.

Improvements

1. More products. The first thing I would like to see from Mana are more products; or more specifically, something different from a nutritional standpoint.

2. USA and CAN. After being promised in 2018, it seems that Mana is finally launching in the US in the fall of 2019. Looking forward to see what they offer. For Canada, things might be harder.

3. Actual “Starter Pack”. The “starter pack” Mana sells is a shaker and a scoop. That is not what I am looking for when I buy for a starter pack. What I want is an option to try all the different products at once.

4. Multiflavour box. In a similar fashion, in order to try all the different flavours you need to make a big commitment. I would like to have a box where, I can choose which flavours I want. NOTE: There is a limited edition box in the CZ, SK and DE sites that is basically a multiflavour option. This limited edition will become available in the EU store soon; and there is a multiflavour box (which will be similar to the limited edition) in the workings, according to Mana (ETA unknown).

What PRODUCTS does Mana offer?

Drink Mana products
All products that Mana sells.

Drinkmana is one of the oldest meal replacement brands in Europe. However, for the longest time, they only sold one flavour (original). Nowadays, Mana has a bigger product offering with 4 flavours of powder and ready to drink meal replacement options.

The flavours are the same for powder and the Mana RTD:

  • Dream: Cacao based.
  • Love: A mix of strawberry and raspberry.
  • Sunlight: Topical fruit flavoured.
  • Origin: The neutral flavour, similar to soy milk.

Mana Powder Mark 5

  • Meal Replacement
  • Powder
  • 400kcal/meal
  • 35C/21P/44F % of Energy from
  • 6.5g of sugars/2.0g of Saturated Fats per serving
  • Starting at: €1.77/400kcal
  • Cheapest: €1.44/400kcal
  • Allergen: Soy, Oat

Mana Drink Original single

Mana Drink Mark 5

  • Meal Replacement
  • RTD
  • 400kcal/meal
  • 35C/21P/44F % of Energy from
  • 8.4g of sugars/2.0g of Saturated Fats per serving
  • Starting at: €2.83/400kcal
  • Cheapest: €2.35/400kcal
  • Allergen: Soy, Oat

Brief Mana Powder (Mark 5) Review

mana powder review

In fact, both the Mana Drink and Powder are based on a very similar formula; even though, they have some differences due to the format.

Firstly, there is the price. Mana Powder starts at €1.77/400kcal (€1.57 if you go for the original flavour); and with the bulk discount it goes down to €1.61 per meal (€1.44 for Origin).

Secondly, there is the packaging. The color scheme is the same, but the powder comes in boxes with 7 pouches. Each pouch contains 5 meals of 400kcal (one day’s worth of food).

Mana Powder mark5 review
Mana powder variations and boxes.

Nutritionally, Mana Powder Mark 5 is very similar to its predecessors; with a high fat-low carb macronutrient profile. All the ingredients are shown below.

Mana Nutrition information
The back label of Mana Origin Mark 5.

Brief Mana Drink Review

Mana Drink all flavours
Mana Drink Dream, Love, Sunlight and Origin, from right to left.

Mana Drink was one of the first ready-to-drink products in Europe, based on Soylent Drink Original. It was out in the market even before Saturo, which is in my opinion, the closest to Soylent in Europe.

The current line-up has been expanded to add chocolate, tropical fruits and berry based flavours (although the names are different). Still, in essence, Mana drink is a very silky and smooth soy milk with some flavouring.

However, unlike soy milk, each Mana Drink serving will provide you with 1/5th of your daily needs (2,000kcal diet). One bottle is only 330ml, making it the most compact RTD (in comparison, Saturo’s 330ml has 330kcal).

In fact, 330ml is the only format that Mana offers (others have a 500ml option). It can be bought in packs of 12, with a starting price of €2.83/400kcal (€2.71 for original flavour). As a matter of fact, with Origin, you can opt to a bulk discount and get it down to €2.35.

Mana Drink Nutrition

Nutritional breakdown

Mana ingredients
Some of the ingredients that can be found in Mana.

As I might have mentioned multiple times, Mana Drink took inspiration in the American brand Soylent when developing their product. As such, Mana has a very scientific approach and this can be proven by all the details they provide about their ingredients.

Interestingly, Mana provides with multiple studies and lab certificates of their ingredients within their site. It is more information than what a regular user would need, but a great tool for those who want to know every little detail.

It can all be found here.

Energy

All Mana products use a recommended serving of 400kcal, which is 1/5th of the daily recommended for an average adult. Both Drink and Powder are heavy on fats and rather low in carbohydrate content.

More precisely, 44% of the energy comes from fats; which is 9 points higher than the recommended by the European Food and Safety Agency. As for carbs, they provide with 35% of the total energy; 10 points lower than the minimum for most health organizations.

Fats

Per serving (DRI based on EU recommendation for 2,000kcal):

Mana Powder
  • Total Fats: 19.0g. 27.1% of the DRI.
  • Saturated Fats: 2.0g. 10.0% of DRI.
  • Monosaturated (MUFA): 11.8g. This is 26.5% of the calories per serving.
  • Polyunsaturated (PUFA): 5.3g. This is 11.9% of the calories per serving.
  • Omega-3: 1.4g.
Mana Drink (Mark 5)
  • Total Fats: 20.0g. 28.6% of the DRI.
  • Saturated Fats: 2.0g. 10.0% of DRI.
  • Monosaturated (MUFA): 11.6g. This is 26.6% of the calories per serving.
  • Polyunsaturated (PUFA): 5.2g. This is 11.7 % of the calories per serving.
  • Omega-3 (ALA): 1.4g.

Plenty of Omega-3… from Sea Algae

Let’s start by stating that this is not an issue at all, but a curiosity. Very few brands provide you with omega-3 fatty acids from algae, since Soylent failed to do so.

In fact, the sea algae will provide you with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaeonic acid; which are the omega-3 fatty acids linked with benefitial health effects.

It is even more curious due to the fact that already provide you with alpha linolenic acid (ALA, omega-3 fatty acid) from canola oil (very common ingredient in the industry), which is the only “essential” omega-3. This is partially due to the fact that the body can synthetize both EPA and DHA from ALA.

Simplified EPA and DHA production process from ALA in the liver. The efficiency of the process varies with age, gender and other factors; but it is usually lower than 15%.

All original shakes have very similar fatty acid composition to that shown above (except coconut, see label). It is particularly interesting to see that MUFA and PUFA levels fall under the recommendations of WHO:

  • Energy from MUFAs between 15-20% of total calorie intake.
  • Energy from PUFAs between 6-11% of the total calorie intake.

All this while keeping the saturated fat content low; a formula thought to be metabolically benefitial.

Furthermore, omega-3 content is high and the omega-3/6 ratio is within the “ideal” range.

Sunflower, Canola and Coconut

Most of the of the fats will come from sunflower oil, source rich in omega-9 and omega-6 fatty acids. As mentioned before, canola oil is often used to provide with the necessary omega-3s, which are lacking in sunflower oil.

The addition of coconut fat is to get medium-chain fatty acids (MCTs). In ketogenic diets, coconut oil is seem as “subpar” choice, since most of the MCTs from coconut will be C12 (lauric acid). Lauric acid, while it has some antimicrobial properties, it is less efficient when creating ketone bodies. However, as you will not be entering ketosis by drinking Mana, this is not a problem.

MCT Coconut oil Mana
MCTs present in the coconut oil used by Mana are predominantly lauric acid (50%) and Myristic acid (18%); which have longer chains.

Carbs

Per serving:

Mana Powder
  • Total carbs: 33.6g, 12.9% of RI.
  • Sugars: 6.5g, 7.2% of RI.
  • Fibers: 6.7g, 33.5% of RI.
Mana Drink
  • Total carbs: 35.5g, 13.7% of RI.
  • Sugars: 8.4g, 9.3% of RI.
  • Fibers: 4.3g, 21.5% of RI.

Maltodextrin is the main carbohydrate source in both Mana Powder and Drink, paired with isomaltulose. In fact, maltodextrin is also the most abundant ingredient in both.

Maltodextrin + Isomaltulose, Key for Smooth Shakes

This combo is quite common on the industry because it allows for affordable shakes, with a thin texture and a sweet taste. However, they are often negatively seen in the community. Why?

Maltodextrin has a bad reputation due to its high GI (big impact in blood glucose levels). Even if it is a complex carbohydrate, it is broken down rapidly by the body causing a faster spikes in blood glucose than table sugar.

Isomaltulose, on the other hand, is a sugar with a low GI; thus, it is often paired with maltodextrin to add some sweetening and lower the GI.

Low Glycemic Index for both Mana Products

Despite what I said about maltodextrin’s GI in the previous section, the actual GI of Mana shakes is low due to the effect of fats and proteins. These slow down the absorption of carbohydrates and make the overall glycemic index low, as shown by 3rd party studies ask by Mana.

Mana Glycemic response
The glycemic index of Mana (Mark3) was set to be 29 by the study. This is considered low.

Oat Beta-Glucans, What are They?

Perhaps, the one unusual listing on the ingredient list is “oat beta-glucans”. “What are they and what is their function?” you might wonder.

They are polysaccarides that naturally occur on the walls of some bacteria, fungi and cereals (in this case oats). In fact, in this instance, they act as fiber, as well as, helping to improve high cholesterol and acting as immune-system enhancers.

It is not an ingredient that other shakes do not have, but it is usually not mentioned since it comes with the oats (when oats are used as carbohydrate source).

Protein

Per serving (400kcal):

Mana Powder – 20.4g (40.8% of RI).
Mana Drink – 20.8g (41.6% of RI)

Both Mana products provide with the same protein content, about 20g per 400kcal which is average in the industry. This would equate to 100g per 2,000kcal, above from the minimum recommendations; but perhaps short for more active people.

Soy protein isolate is the main source; a very standard vegan protein source due to its great amino acid profile and high PDCAAS score (Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score). In fact, it is one of the best plant-based proteins when taken in isolation.

Chemical analysis of the soy protein used by Mana. Original source.

Below I show the amino acid quantities that both Mana product have and how they compared to the recommendations by the World Health Organization. It is worth noting that the recommended intake by WHO is the minimum to avoid muscular atrophy (losing muscle by not consuming enough protein) and exact needs will vary upon activity levels and body composition (usually 0.8g of protein per kg of bodyweight or more).

Mana Amino acids
Amino acid quantities as per 5 servings for both Mana Powder and Mana Drink as provided by Mana.

Micronutrients

Powder and Drink will provide you with 20% of your daily micronutrients per 400kcal serving. These vitamins and minerals will come from a synthetic mix.

Vitamins and minerals in Mana.

Allergens

Mana products contain soy (from soy protein isolate) and soy lecithin; as well as oat (oat beta-glucans).

How does Mana Taste Like?

This is usually the part of the review that I dread the most, since I am not the best describing the taste of the products. Either way, here is what I thought of Mana drink and powder; and which I thought it was the best.

Mana limited edition multiflavour
Mana multiflavour boxes are the best way to start. Truly worth it.

The Mana Flavour

One thing I discovered while consuming Mana products was that they all have a distinct flavour. This is particularly true for the RTDs. They are very fatty, buttery, almost oily. This is what I call the Mana flavour.

On the RTDs, this flavour lingers in your mouth and you often end up reaching a glass of water to clear it. I think this is due to the compact format Mana RTDs have. In my opinion, they would taste better if they had more liquid.

Best Mana RTD: Origin

It came to me as a surprise, and it was the last one I tried, but it was the best out of the 4. The reason? The others had a salty background (probably from the vitamins and minerals) and very faint flavour.

On the other hand, Mana Origin has a nice sweetness to it with a vanilla touch that makes it pleasant to drink. It is like drinking an extremely thick glass of vanilla flavoured soy milk.

The Other RTDs: Dream > Love > Sunlight

For the other RTDs, there is one thing in common; saltiness. When I first drank Mana Dream (Cacao), it shocked me. It was like drinking salty cacao milk. It wasn’t unpleasant, and in my second Dream shake I did not notice it as much, but it is not something I would like on my RTD.

The other characteristic of the RTDs is that the flavouring is really weak. Particularly Love, it is hard to notice the berries. I wish it had more flavouring on it.

Mana Dream Taste
Mana is great to have at the office, due to the low space it requires.

These are my notes on them:

  • Dream: High viscosity, with lingering fatty flavour. Salty chocolate (weak).
  • Love: Very weak berry flavour, I wish there was more. You can notice soy and fat more than the others.
  • Sunlight: Pineapple with salt and butter.

Best Mana Powder: Origin

In short, a very similar story to the RTDs. However, the fattiness exists, but to a lesser degree. The shakes were fairly smooth, but I had some lump. These seem to be hold together with fat, just like when you have fatty lumps on your biscuit + butter dough (if you have ever done one).

One thing I would highlight is that Dream smelt amazing (fairly strong chocolate), but the taste was still not there. Similarly, the Love and Sunlight were fairly weak.

Thus, I would recommend Origin above the rest, and perhaps Dream, too.

Mana Dream Powder taste
Mana Dream powder is less salty.
Mana Sunlight Powder taste
Mana Sunlight.
Mana Love Powder taste
Mana Love powder was almost better than the RTD.

Mana Drink vs

ManaDrink is one of the main companies in Europe and as such it has very high standards. While in Central Europe Mana has taken a very advantageous position, when it comes to the western side, they face fierce competition; including two of the biggest brands (Huel and Feed.) and other RTD manufacturers with very similar products (Saturo).

In this Mana review I will compare the brand to:

  • Huel. The King of Europe and perhaps Mana’s biggest threat.
  • Saturo. The brand that like Mana took inspiration on Soylent.

Mana Drink vs Huel

This is a very interesting comparison, since they are both the most prominent brands in their regions (Mana- Czech Republic and Huel – UK), as well as, being giants looking to expand worldwide. However, they both have a different take on meal replacements, particularly on the nutritional side. So without further ado, let’s compare Mana vs Huel.

 ManaHuel
FromCZEUK
Ships toEUWorld
$/400kcal$$$$
C/P/F35/21/4440/30/30
AllergenSoy, OatGluten*
kCal/meal400400
Serv/day55
SuitableVeganVegan
Flavours47
Products24*
Subscription10%
Huel 2 bags
Huel Powder comes in bags of 28 meals of 500kcal.

Flavours Available:

Mana (both): Love, Dream, Sunlight and Origin.

Huel Powder: Vanilla, Original, Coffee, Chocolate Mint, Chocolate, Berry, and Unflavoured & Unsweetened.

Products Available:

Mana: Drink and Powder.

Huel: Huel Powder, Huel Powder Gluten Free, Huel Powder Professional, Huel Bar, Huel Granola, and Huel Ready to Drink.

Price:

Price
Huel Powder
Mana Powder
UK (£)
per 400 (expensive)1.281.4
per 400 (cheapest)1.161.15
EU (€)
per 400 (expensive)1.721.77
per 400 (cheapest)1.541.44
Price
Huel RTD
Mana Drink
UK (£)
per 400 (expensive)3.083.00
per 400 (cheapest)2.132.36
EU (€)
per 400 (expensive)4.422.83
per 400 (cheapest)3.292.35

Both offer free shipping in the UK, while only Huel offers free shipping above €54 in Europe and Mana above €100.

Nutrition

per servingMana PowderRI (%)
Huel Powder
RI (%)
Energy (C/P/F)35/21/4440/30/30
Energy (kCal)4002040020
Fats (g)19.027.113.119
Saturated (g)2.010.02.311.5
Trans fat (g)
0.00.0
MUFA (g)
11.82.7
PUFA (g)
5.37.4
O3 (g)
1.403.20
O6 (g)
3.1
Carbs (g)33.612.937.114.2
Sugars (g)6.57.21.22.0
Fiber (g)6.733.57.738.5
Protein (g)20.440.829.560
Salt (g)0.915.00.711.7

Nutritional values might vary slightly according to flavour. I will focus on the powder version, but Huel’s RTD, unlike Mana’s is different to the powder (nutritional info not displayed here).

One obvious thing is that both have a different macronutrient profile. In fact, most Huel products have above average protein content, the powder being the richest. In my opinion, this approach is particularly more interesting for more active people.

Not only Huel offers more protein, but it also uses a different approach. Huel products do not contain soy, and thus, they use pea + rice protein. In isolation, either of this have a less complete amino acid profile when compared to soy protein. However, when combining both, you will get all the amino acids you need.

The other big difference is in the carbohydrate sources. Mana favours isomaltulose and maltodextrin; while Huel uses oats. I personally like oats more, due to the fact that they are a more complex nutrient source (this is will provide you with more than just oats). However, Mana does avoid the oat taste this way.

Another point where they vary is the omega-3 sources. Huel relies on high quantities of ALA (thus the high omega-3 content on the shakes) to provide with EPA and DHA; whereas, Mana provides you with ALA, as well as, EPA and DHA from algae. A point for the Czech brand I would say.

Purchasing

In the UK, Huel will be the cheaper option (RTD as powder will be equal), as well as being able to offer the faster delivery. You will also be able to buy in some retail stores (Selfridges) unlike Mana.

If you are buying from the UK you might want to check our top shakes for the UK.

For the rest of Europe, the difference is even bigger. However, in the Czech Republic, Mana is more easily accessible (as it is present in stores) and might be cheaper than Huel, too.

Which one should I buy?

Honestly, it will depend on various factors. Mana will be able to offer you silky smooth shakes (particularly the RTD), which are more compact than Huel’s. Huel offers a bigger range, more flavours (in powder); but a grittier and less sweet shakes.

Mana

  • You are looking for a high fat, low carb shake.
  • You like thin and smooth shakes.

Huel

  • Looking for a high protein shake.
  • You are allergic to soy.
  • Unflavoured/Unsweetened is your thing.

Mana vs Saturo

This is an interesting comparison since both brands are very close to each other in the inception and location. Saturo is an Austrian brand that started by producing Soylent-like RTDs in various flavours. Only just recently, they have launched a powder product.

 ManaSaturo
FromCZEAUT
Ships toEUEU & US
$/400kcal$$$$
C/P/F35/21/4435/20/45
AllergenSoy, OatSoy, Gluten
kCal/meal400500
Serv/day54
SuitableVeganVegan
Flavours46*
Products24*
Subscription10%
Saturo all products
All products that Saturo currently offers.

Flavours Available:

Mana: Love, Dream, Sunlight and Origin.

Saturo: Vanilla, Original, Coffee, Chocolate, Banana, Coconut and Strawberry.

Products Available:

Mana: Drink and Powder.

Saturo: Powder (Whey based and Vegan), RTD (330ml and 500ml) and Bar.

Price:

Price (€)
Saturo Powder
Mana Powder
per 400 (expensive)1.101.77
per 400 (cheapest)0.991.44
Price
Saturo RTD
Mana Drink
per 400 (expensive)3.792.83
per 400 (cheapest)2.282.35

Saturo Powder is one of the, if not the cheapest meal replacements you can buy in Europe.

Nutrition

per servingMana DrinkRI (%)
Saturo RTD
RI (%)
Energy (C/P/F)35/21/4435/20/45/td>
Energy (kCal)4002050025
Fats (g)20.028.62434.0
Saturated (g)2.010.02.211.0
Trans fat (g)
0.00.0
MUFA (g)
11.6
PUFA (g)
5.2
O3 (g)
1.400.60
O6 (g)
4.4
Carbs (g)35.513.744.016.9
Sugars (g)8.49.311.012.0
Fiber (g)4.321.54.924.5
Protein (g)20.840.825.049.0
Salt (g)1.016.71.016.7

I focused on the RTDs, since this was the initial focus from Saturo and it is their most known product. Also, it is important to notice that Saturo offers 500kcal, whereas Mana 400kcal (per serving).

On that note, you Saturo is 500ml in volume; whereas Mana is only 330ml. This is great for saving the environment, but make sure to drink water, afterwards.

Besides that, both drinks are very similar. The one big distinction, and what I believe gives Mana the real edge, is the omega-3s. I do not think that Saturo provides you with enough, particularly when considering that it is mainly ALA.

As a weakness, I do think that they both come a little short in fiber. Yes, they will provide you with the minimum recommended; but if you have trouble going to the toilet you might want to look for shakes that are richer in fiber.

Purchasing

Interestingly enough, you will be able to buy Saturo RTDs on retail in Austria, similarly to the situation with Mana in the Czech republic. As for online, Saturo does provide you with more options, but Mana comes close in price, particularly in smaller purchases.

On the other hand, Saturo Powder much more affordable than Mana’s and they are very similar products in paper. They offer less flavour options, but have a non-vegan option that might interest some of you.

Which one should I buy?

Saturo

  • More affordable powder meals.
  • More flavour options on the RTDs.
  • Often has good deals in the EU.

Mana

  • More flavour options for powder.
  • You want a more compact RTD.
  • Arguably the healthiest of both.

If you live in western Europe, you will find many alternatives, particularly if you are looking for powder shakes. Queal, Feed., Jimmyjoy etc. are all great options.

However, if you are looking for a shake that is less processed, you might be interested in the best organic and natural meal replacement shakes.

More info about Mana

Mana is one of the oldest and most well known brands, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe. It was created in 2014 and the Mark 1 version was out by August 2014 (this means Mana is older than other well known EU brands like Huel).

To be a little more precise, Mana is produced by Heaven Labs, and it is a project originated from the will of Jakub Krejcik (Founder and CEO). He tried developing his own convenient food at first, aiming to replace his usual diet. After some trial and error; he developed the predecessor of Mark 1 Mana and founded heaven labs, to share his creation with the world.

About the Founders

Jakub Krejcik, CEO and co-founder
Jakub Krejcik, CEO and co-founder.

Jakub Krejcik is the main father of Mana and the CEO. His professional career has mainly been Mana; after doing a MBA in Nottingham Trent. According to him, he was lucky to convert his hobby (nutrition) into a job.

…the first idea was my own, nutrition was my hobby, and this was a personal project. I had no intention on turning it into a business. But gradually word of mouth grew and my friends and their families tried samples, so first it was 10 people, then 50, then a hundred and soon I wasn’t able to meet demand.

Jakub Krejcik, at an interview by Radio Praha.
Marek Humpl, co-founder and R&D director.

Marek Humpl studied organic chemistry with a master in science at the Charles University Prague; before he joined Jakub on founding Mana. In the company, he is the senior research director; which allows him to follow his passion for investigation.

Grigory Vyatkin
Grygory Vyatkin, co-founder and chief designer.

Grigory Vyatkin studied graphic design in St. Petersburg, before working for Bauer Media and Havas Worldwide. He also worked as freelancer before co-founding Mana and taking a primary role on the visual representation of the brand.

Zuzana Krejcikova
Zuzana Krejcikova co-founder and in charge of public relations.

Last but not least, we have Zuzana Krejcikova, a master graduated in Public Relations and Political Science. She has plenty of experience in the field, working as marketing manager in Taiko before co-founding Mana.

About Mana

Mana is a company with over 50 people as in Q2 of 2019. A company that even though it started very “early” for industry standards, made a significant jump in size in 2018 producing over 6 million meals (3 times previous year’s) and increasing its size by 33%.

This growth did not come easily, but relied on their strong presence on the Central-Eastern Europe. As such, they were able to ensure their presence in Czech and Slovakian retail stores, a huge accomplishment for any meal replacement brands.

Currently, they look to the West as they expand towards the UK and the US. Therefore, if you live there, watch out for Mana.

The Spirit of Mana

Drink Mana mascot
Mana’s “mascot” represents both their science focus, as well as Grigory’s prevalence for Sci-Fi themed art.

Mana Drink is a brand focused on scientific nutrition and a clean, minimalistic expression. This last is not only seen throughout the site, but also in the compact packaging.

They aim to “change the status-quo of food production and quality” in order to reduce the impact food consumption has on mother Earth.

Packaging

As I briefly mentioned above, minimal packaging is one of the focuses Mana has.

Mana Packaging
All products are sold in pre-set boxes to minimize the empty space.

Mana Drink

The powder form will always be more efficient in this regard, since you do not need to pack any water; thus the calorie/volume ratio will be higher. However, it is worth noting that Mana Drink is the most compact RTD in the market. This is, it has the least volume per calorie.

per bottleVolume (ml)Energy (kcal)
Mana Drink330400
Soylent Drink414400
Huel RTD500400
Saturo330330
Yfood330330

The downside of the more compact approach is that you will have to make sure to drink plenty of water, besides your Mana Drink.

Mana Love Packaging

Mana Drink comes in boxes of 12 bottles of 330ml. The bottles are made of Tetra pack which can be widely recycled.

Mana Powder

Regarding Mana Powder, it would be interesting to see a bigger format option, since currently is only available in 2,000kcal pouches (5 meals). There are packed in groups of 7 within a box. As such, 7 pouches is the minimum order when ordering powder.

It also needs to be said that there is no box with mixed bags; thus, if you want to try all 4 flavours you will have to order 4 boxes or a total of 140 meals. Another area where I would like to see an easier alternative.

Mana Limited Edition
Mana’s Limited Edition which is only available in the Czech store is the only option to try all different products. Something like this would be very appetizing as a “Starter Pack”.

Mana Powder’s bags are made of a 3 layer structure: PET, ALU and PP. The bag can be recycled as plastics. The box in which the pouches arrive is mainly composed of recycled paper.

Pricing

Unlike many of the brands in the meal replacement market, Mana does not offer any subscription options (thus no subscription discount). However, they do have a bulk purchasing discount available in all the powders and in Mana Drink Origin.

That is right, for now they do not have any bulk savings available for the Sunlight, Love and Dream RTDs (probably related to the development costs and the fact that these are “new” flavours).

Pricing of Mana Powder in the EU store. Curiously, you are unable to buy 3 boxes.

Nevertheless, it must be noted that the pricing changes depending the store you visit; this is, in the Czech and British stores the discounts are different to the European store.

Mana Drink pricing in the EU store. Only the original version has a discount option.

The pricing strategy is even more country dependent, since in other stores (not European flag) you will be able to get discounts for Mana Drink Love and the other variants; while in the EU store you cannot.

Either way, the best prices and deals are currently on the Czech store.

Shipping and Return Policy

Similarly to pricing, the shipping terms vary with the store that you use.

For those fortunate enough to live in Czech Republic or Great Britain, you will have free delivery no matter the order size.

As for the rest of Europe, there is a free delivery option for orders above €100. In anything below that the pricing will change depending on the country and order size.

For instance 2 boxes of Mana drink will cost you €16.6 to Spain and €12.2 to France.

As far as the return policy is concerned, you will have to contact [email protected] to ask for a return. Take into account that each box is considered one good, so you will not be able to return the rest of the box if you have opened one of the products. This should be done within 14 days.

Payment Options

I feel inclined to make a mention to the diverse payment methods Mana accepts. It is particularly interesting that they allow payments using Bitcoin; which very few brand in the industry do.

Mana payement options
Mana payement options.

Buying from the US or Canada

While Mana has stated multiple times their objective to expand to the US, this is currently not possible. However, they recently launched the USA site announcing they will be selling Mana after fall 2019!

For Canada, I do not think this will happen any time soon since the regulations would not allowed it (fat % too high to be sold as meal replacement, for instance), just like Soylent.

Mana’s announcement.

MANA FAQ

Are Mana products Gluten-Free?

Both Mana Drink and Powder contain some gluten. 1 serving of Mana Powder contains 12mg of gluten (gliadin) and 1 bottle of Mana Drink has 9mg of gluten (gliadin).

Please consult your doctor before purchasing if you have any doubts.

I am diabetic. Can I consume Mana?

You should have no issues in theory, due to the low GI (~29) of Mana products. However, it is recommended to ask the doctor first.

Is Mana Vegan?

All Mana products are vegan and contain no components of animal origin, including vitamins and minerals.

Is Mana GMO-free?

Mana does not use any GMO products and they claim they will never do.

Is Mana safe to use as only source of food?

Yes, Mana has been designed with the purpose of substituting food and has all the nutrients that you would in theory need to survive in a healthy manner. Nevertheless, I advice against such a diet unless you really wish to do it. In such a case, please monitor your health markers via medical examinations.

What is the shelf-life of Mana products?

Mana guarantees a one year shelf-life in both Powder and Drink, certainly an impressive feat. It is recommended that both are stored in a dry place, between 15 and 25 degrees Celcius.

Once opened the Powder bag will last 1 month, whereas the RTD is intended for immediate use.

Where is Mana produced?

Mana is produced in Prague.

Mana Drink vs Mana Powder, which one is the best?

From a nutritional standpoint, both are very similar to each other, with the same macronutrient profile and very similar ingredient list. It will all come down to price and convenience. Mana Drink is about €1 more expensive per meal; however, it is also the most convenient and will be better mixed (having a smoother texture).

Conclusion

Who is Mana for?

Mana is the ideal shake for those who are looking for simplified nutrition. It will provide you with all the nutrients you need with the least effort.

On top of that, you will be able to choose between the RTD and the Mana shake without having to sacrifice the flavour you like most. In fact, Mana is one of the best Soylent alternatives in Europe.

Does It Taste Good?

Mana shakes will be fairly sweet, silky and smooth. Particularly the already mixed ones (Mana Drink), since the industrial mixing will ensure you find no clumps in you shake.

Will I Get All The Nutrients I Nee?

Indeed, you will. In fact, Mana has been designed from a scientific standpoint to provide you with all the nutrients you require. Both Mana Powder and Drink will be able to do so in 5 servings (2,000kcal) for most adults. Your needs might vary with age, height and weight, though.

Wait a Moment, Is It Perfect?

Obviously, it is not. It is pretty good when it comes to simplify nutrition; but there are a few flaws in my opinion:

  • They only offer a high fat, low carb nutritional profile which might not be adequate for all (particularly active people).
  • All products contain soy; thus, if you are allergic you will not be able to consume Mana.
  • Price is a little high when compared to others.
Mana Drink Review verdict

Mana Drink Review: Verdict

Mana is a banner for Central European meal replacements. The brand and the product that is recognized by most. It has a very solid foundation, as well as, good offering. However, from a nutritional standpoint is limited. Mana will be a great company to buy from, particularly if you are looking for Soylent alternatives in Europe, or want low carb shakes.

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Kiwi

Nice article! I can share most of the notes, having also tried Huel.
One thing is missing though: Mana powder is MUCH easier to mix. Any container and a spoon will get you something acceptable. This is not true for most other competitors.
For me, this improves actual portability a lot!