Most dietitians agree that getting your nutrients from unprocessed food is ideal. But it's not always practical. In fact, some fortified shakes (think Ensure or Boost) are used in hospitals to help patients recover quicker. Nowadays, these types of shakes are readily available, and they might not be a bad idea for someone dealing with one of the below habits or conditions. And remember, your local Hy-Vee registered dietitian can help answer questions about your specific dietary concerns.
If You’re Always on the Go
Many meal replacement shakes are shelf-stable, meaning you can pack them for the day ahead without having to worry about refrigeration. This comes in handy for long stretches in the car, or a busy day of running errands—and is often a smarter choice than what’s being served from the drive-thru.
If You’re Skipping Breakfast
Sound familiar? Most dietitians will agree that it’s ideal to eat a balanced breakfast (and also get nutrition from real food). But if you’re someone who’s crunched for time, that’s not always a practical solution. First defense is to arm yourself with healthy grab-and-go foods—maybe a banana and handful of almonds. If that doesn’t happen, there’s no shame in reaching for a meal replacement shake that provides a balance of protein, fiber and essential vitamins and nutrients. Look for one that’s between 220 and 230 calories and has at least 8 grams of protein. Ensure makes a shake called Ensure Original that fits the bill.
If You’re a Creature of Habit
Maybe you’re good about eating three meals a day, but you tend to eat the same foods. Subbing in an occasional nutrition shake as a meal or in between meals can help you get the variety of vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy.
If You’re Recovering from an Injury or Illness
If you’re on the mend, your body may require more calories than usual, and certain meal replacement shakes are formulated to support muscle, bone, heart, immune, and digestive tract health. A different type of Ensure called Ensure Enlive is designed for this purpose. In addition to being gluten-free and suitable for lactose intolerance, it contains HMB (beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate), a building block of protein that supports muscle health.
Also see our Sports Nutrition Guide.