Given my job, I don't often find myself in a position where I have to rely on meal replacements or on-the-go lunches out of Tupperware.
But once upon a time, stuff like that was my main source of nutrition during my work and school day.
I do remember what a pain in the ass it was to always have to lug around giant containers of tilapia and rice though.
So meal replacement or mass gainer shakes were excellent substitutes when I was out and about.
You simply add water, shake, and chug your entire meal in seconds.
But they're often expensive, full of ingredients you can't pronounce, and come in “one size fits all” nutrition profiles.
To work around those issues, here's what I did to support my bodybuilding goals while enrolled as a full-time college student, working two part-time jobs, and completing an internship simultaneously.
No blender required
With the aid of a blender, meal replacement possibilities are literally endless.
- Use juice or milk as a base rather than water
- Use fruit for your carb source
- Blend cottage cheese or yogurt as your protein
- Mix your favorite superfoods together to create a nutritional powerhouse
But no matter how hard you try, your shaker just isn't going to be able to breakdown a banana.
So when you need a true blue, on-the-go meal in a shaker, it's probably because you don't have refrigeration or a blender at the ready.
In consideration of those occasions, the following recipes rely on dry ingredients for these shakes.
Meal Replacement Shake Requirements
Even without the convenience (or hassle) of using a blender, I can still show you how to make a kick ass shake that'll be easy to make, store, mix, and drink.
Here's a list of prerequisites for my meal replacement and mass gainer shake recipes:
- Adjustable macros – You can vary each ingredient to make the shake low carb, low fat, or whatever else works for you.
- No refrigeration – This meal should be something that could spend an entire day in your backpack with no ill effect.
- Good taste – While I eat things that don't exactly taste like birthday cake, I definitely don't eat anything that tastes gross.
- Easy to make – Prep time should be minimal with no cooking or special equipment required.
- Affordable – Pre-made shakes will run you about $3-4 a pop. My recommendations are much cheaper to make.
My meal replacement shake fits in my laptop bag with all of my other work supplies.
Here are two of my favorite, easy to make shake recipes.
The first is low fat, high protein, and moderate carb, which makes it perfect for maintaining or losing weight.
The second is high protein, high carb, and high fat, so it's geared toward my readers who are in need of a significant weight gain.
Clean chocolate peanut butter
- 2 scoops protein powder
- 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
- 2 tbsp peanut butter powder
Oats, whey, and peanut butter are some of the longest standing bodybuilding staple foods.
They're great for a hot breakfast as Oats and Whey, or just like this in a shake.
This is my go-to flavor combination as I always have chocolate protein powder on hand and I can't imagine there was ever a better match than chocolate and peanut butter.
Delicious mass gainer
- 2 scoops protein powder
- 2 scoops Carbo Gain
- 4 tbsp peanut butter
Carbo Gain is just a brand name for maltodextrin which is the primary ingredient in most commercial weight gainer powders.
It's advertised as a “complex carb” but that's misleading because, in reality, your body treats it like a simple carb.
Either way, if you're having a hard time gaining weight, drinking some simple carbs is going to be the easiest way to get those calories in without making you feel disgusting.
NOTE: You'll need a lot of water to dilute the high volume of powder, so you'll probably want a larger than normal shaker bottle.
You can prep this shake in advance at night or right before you head out the door in the morning.
- In your shaker bottle, add the carbs (oats or Carbo Gain), then the fat (peanut butter powder, nut butter, or other oil), and finally the protein powder.
- Next, cap the bottle and give it a gentle shake to coat the fat with powder so it doesn't stick to the cup.
- When it's time to eat, just add water and give it your best shake for 30 seconds or so. Letting it sit for a minute or two will allow the oats to soften a bit.
If you use old fashioned or quick cook oats, you may have to chew your way through the mix, but don't worry.
While it may not be the most pleasant experience in the world, you get used to it quickly.
If you use a specialty flavor protein like cookies n' cream, banana, or strawberry, try olive oil, MCT oil, or chia seeds in place of the nut butter.
Peanut butter pairs perfectly both with chocolate and vanilla protein powders.
For lower fat and easier mixing, stick to the peanut butter powder.
If you're going low carb, you can skip the oats and Carbo Gain and just use more protein powder and peanut butter (or any nut butter – feel free to use your favorite).
You can pulse old-fashioned oats in a blender or coffee grinder to make your own oat flour (or buy it here) to create a smoother shake and allow them to blend easier.
I hope I've provided meal replacement and mass gainer recipes that are convenient, delicious, healthy, and very affordable.
Just to be clear, I don't think meal replacement shakes or mass gainers should be viewed as substitutes for eating whole food.
But I'd much rather see you reach for one of the above recipes than heading to the fast food counter during your lunch break or while traveling.
All the best,