Ensure is a popular brand of nutritional supplements manufactured by Abbott Laboratories. The drinks, shakes, and powders come in numerous flavors and contain vitamins, minerals, and protein, all of which are important elements of a healthy diet.
Many can’t help but wonder, is Ensure a meal replacement? We have the answer here.
What Is Ensure?
Before discussing whether Ensure can replace a meal, we must first understand what it is. As mentioned, Ensure is a brand launched by Abbott Laboratories. The first ready-to-drink shake was released in 1973 under the name Ensure, which became the name of the entire product line.
Today, Ensure offers more than a dozen products that can be divided into categories:
- Complete, balanced nutrition
- Advanced nutrition
- Targeted nutrition
- Specialized nutrition
(Ensure also sells Ensure Compact, which is Ensure Original with the same nutritional value in half the size, and Ensure Original Nutrition Powder.)
Complete, balanced nutrition products are Ensure Original, Ensure Plus, and Ensure Complete. All these products contain different amounts of calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Ensure Enlive, which contains a unique blend that boosts our overall health, falls into the advanced nutrition category.
The products that fall into the targeted nutrition category are Ensure Max Protein, Ensure High Protein, Ensure Plant-Based Protein, Ensure Clear, and Ensure Light. They are designed for individuals who want to build muscle or focus on particular nutrients.
The specialized nutrition category is designed for everyone preparing for or recovering from surgery. The products are the Ensure Surgery Immunonutrition Shake and Ensure Pre-Surgery Clear Carbohydrate Drink.
Can Ensure Drinks Replace a Meal?
The simple answer to this question is yes. Ensure claims some of their products provide complete, balanced nutrition and can be used as occasional meal replacements in appropriate amounts.
Ensure drinks are gluten-free, suitable for the lactose intolerant, and are kosher and halal. They represent a convenient way to meet your daily vitamin and mineral needs. For example, one serving of the Ensure Original drink contains nine grams of protein, 27 vitamins and minerals, and 220 calories. Since the drink comes in various flavors, pretty much everyone can find what they like.
Let’s look at another example. Ensure High Protein, which has 160 calories, 27 vitamins and minerals, and 16 grams of protein and comes in three flavors.
Both these drinks can replace a meal. However, it’s crucial to find the drink that suits your needs. If you’re trying to build muscle, the Ensure High Protein drink is a much better choice due to the higher protein content. If you want to maintain or gain weight, Ensure Original is the best option.
Not all Ensure drinks are designed to replace a meal. Ensure Clear Nutrition isn’t a source of complete, balanced nutrition because it doesn’t contain any fat. Still, it has eight grams of protein, 15 vitamins and minerals, and 180 nutritious calories, so you can use it as a supplemental drink.
Although it’s undeniable that Ensure drinks have many benefits, they don’t work for everyone. These drinks and shakes have a high sugar content, so they aren’t a great choice for those with diabetes or galactosemia (a disorder that affects how the body processes galactose). Moreover, the drinks don’t have a high fiber intake, so you may feel hungry more quickly.
Keep in mind that some Ensure drinks can serve as an occasional meal replacement, with an emphasis on “occasional.” Because of the high sugar and low fiber content, you should have at least one regular meal per day to make up for the rest of your nutritional needs. Ideally, that meal should contain a lot of fiber, so foods like whole grains, beans, broccoli, and avocado are highly recommended.
Is Ensure a Meal Replacement for Weight Loss or Weight Gain?
Many wonder whether Ensure drinks and shakes can help them lose or gain weight. Since the answer isn’t simple, let’s dig into how weight loss and weight gain work. In both cases, it’s all about calories. If you want to lose weight, the number of calories you take in must be less than the calories you expend. If you want to gain weight, you need to take in more calories than you expend.
One pound of body fat equals roughly 3,500 calories. So, if you reduce the total daily calorie intake by 500, you’ll be able to lose one pound in a week. It’s vice versa for gaining weight: if you increase the total daily calorie intake by 500, you’ll gain one pound in a week.
How does this relate to Ensure products? Since every Ensure drink and shake has the number of calories written on the packaging, you can quickly determine whether it’s the right fit for you. For example, if you want to maintain your current weight, look for a product with an optimal calorie content, like Ensure Original.
Those who want to gain more weight should check out Ensure Plus or Ensure Complete. These drinks have 350 calories and plenty of vitamins and minerals. If your goal is to gain weight, you should consider using these drinks to supplement your regular diet. Replacing meals with Ensure drinks won’t increase your total daily calorie intake. If you add an extra 350 calories every day, you’ll be able to gain one pound in roughly 10 days.
Ensure Max Protein is the right choice for anyone who wants to build muscle, because it contains 30 grams of protein. With 150 calories, this drink won’t affect your weight much.
If you’re looking for a fat-free, refreshing drink that can fill nutritional gaps, Ensure Clear Nutrition is an excellent choice.
How Many Ensure Drinks Are Recommended per Day?
The recommended intake varies depending on the drink. One can consume six to eight servings of Ensure Original or Ensure Plus drinks per day (one eight-ounce bottle is one serving). The maximum number of servings for the Ensure Max Protein shake is two, because of the high protein level.
If you’re not sure how many Ensure drinks you can have per day, it’s best to check the packaging or consult your doctor.
Can You Drink Ensure on an Empty Stomach?
As mentioned, some Ensure drinks can replace any meal, including breakfast. Therefore, Ensure drinks are safe to consume on an empty stomach. If you have a sensitive stomach, the high sugar intake and strong flavor may cause stomach problems, nausea, or unpleasantness.
Does Drinking Ensure Have Side Effects?
Like most products in this category, Ensure drinks can have certain side effects. Most of them aren’t dangerous, but they’re still worth mentioning.
Most side effects are related to stomach problems. Those using Ensure drinks as a supplement could experience flatulence due to the sudden increase in calories. Moreover, it’s possible to experience constipation and nausea. These side effects usually appear in the beginning. When your body adjusts to the nutrients from the Ensure drinks, the side effects usually disappear.
Less common side effects include muscle cramps, changes in heart rate, shortness of breath, and diarrhea. These could indicate your body is unable to digest certain nutrients. If you experience these symptoms, you should stop consuming the drinks and seek medical assistance.
Ensure the Drinks Suit Your Needs
Ensure drinks are packed with vitamins and minerals that have numerous health benefits. Due to their convenience and nutritional value, some Ensure drinks can replace a meal. While delicious and beneficial, Ensure drinks aren’t a good fit for everyone.
So, is Ensure a meal replacement? It can be in some cases. If you’re unsure whether Ensure drinks and shakes are the right fit, we recommend consulting a doctor. They’ll be able to conduct the necessary tests and determine which Ensure product is the best choice for you.