Our Rating:
5.5/10

Ensure offers a line of nutritional shakes that help people lose or gain weight, replace nutrients, increase their daily protein, build muscle and/or recover from surgery. The Original Ensure Shake formula contains 9g of milk and soy proteins.

Nutrition Per Serving1

220

Calories

15g

Sugar

4.5mg

Cholesterol

6g

Fat

32g

Carbs

0g

Dietary Fiber

9g

Protein

$1.46

Price Per Serving1


Our Review

To help you to make a more informed decision.

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Calories 90 160 110 110 100
Soy Free Protein
Sugars 0g 1g 2g 0g 0g
No Artifical Sweeteners
Superfoods
Probiotics
Price Per Serving $2.43 $3.50 $2.55 $1.80 $1.95

Ensure Shake Review 

Ensure is a well-recognized brand name and you’ll find their targeted nutrition drinks in many retail chain stores. The diet shakes are sometimes recommended by doctors to their patients for various reasons; this may include for balanced nutrition after surgeries when they can’t consume solid foods. They’re also recommended to the elderly as an extra nutritional supplement if they aren’t getting all they need from regular foods.

Another reason people use Ensure Shakes is to gain weight. But do the very popular Ensure Original Shakes work as daily lifestyle products? And can they be used as meal replacement shakes to help you build a healthier diet? What about for weight loss, not gain?

Finally, what is the quality of the ingredients in the shakes, and do they support your optimal health for the long-term? Read on to learn more…

ENSURE SHAKE TASTE FACTOR

The Ensure Original Nutrition Shake comes in a variety of flavors including: Milk Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry, Dark Chocolate, Butter Pecan, Coffee Latte and Banana Nut. The Ensure Shake reviews we looked at revealed that the majority of people love the variety of Ensure flavors and how each one tastes.

Of all the flavors, the top favorites appear to be Milk Chocolate, Vanilla and Coffee Latte. Some of the Ensure Reviews mentioned that the shakes have the following features:

  • Healthy and tasty (no medicine taste)
  • Great for late night cravings
  • Creamy and delicious texture
  • Memorable flavor
  • Easy to make smoothies

Though flavor and texture seem to be a hit with these shakes, it’s undoubtedly due to the sugar and other sweeteners in the shake. We’ll go into this more a little later, but first let’s take a look at the entire product label for the Ensure Vanilla Original Shake…

ENSURE NUTRITION FACTS

At first glance, Ensure Shakes provide a decent amount of nutrients. The trouble is, there’s also a lot of ingredients that we wouldn’t recommendin a long-term healthy lifestyle shake. Let’s look into that a bit further…

CALORIES

220 Calories Per Serving

At 220 calories per shake serving, this is definitely not your typical weight loss shake. Though it goes to show that it’s not the main reasonpeople are buying these shakes.Ensure does offer a lower calorie shake option, but the Original Nutrition Shake is meant to help people replenish nutrients and prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

If you’re looking to maintain a healthy weight, you can certainly use this shake. If you’re trying to drop pounds, you would be better off with a lower calorie product. A good rule of thumb for weight loss is to aim for a shake with around 100 calories or less – and there’s more than double the amount in Ensure protein shakes.

PROTEIN AMOUNT

9g of Protein Per Serving

Protein is one of the most important aspects of a meal replacement shake – unfortunately, the type used in Ensure Shakes is soy. We frown upon soy for a number of reasons, but first let’s talk about the amount of protein in the shake.

Each Ensure Shake contains 9g of protein per serving, which we think is far too low. Of course, Ensure also offers a “high protein” shake option, but the Original Shake is supposed to be their “all-inclusive formula” used for healthy living. Then, why is it so low in the most important ingredient?

Protein needs will be slightly different for everyone, but in general, our research shows that your best bet is a shake with 15-20g of protein per serving. With this amount, your body has enough to rev up your metabolism and start fat-burning processes. And it will also help increase your energy and hold you over until your next meal.

Studies continue to show that for weight loss, increasing the protein in your diet is very beneficial. So if this is your goal, you would definitely need to add this shake into a blender with other healthy ingredients that will boost the protein for a low number of calories (like peanut butter powder or collagen powder).

PROTEIN TYPE

Soy Protein Isolate & Nonfat Milk

As mentioned, we aren’t happy with the type of protein that Ensure includes in their diet shakes – soy protein isolate. In the past few years, there has been increasing controversy surrounding soy in general. The biggest culprit of all the controversy is processed soy products.

Why? Because 90% of the soy products used in the US are apparently genetically modified. And a number of health professionals question how safe GMO foods are for us – and if they have any health consequences. Many predict that GMO foods may disrupt the healthy bacteria in our guts, disrupting digestion and leaving us more susceptible to sickness and disease.(1)

In addition, soy naturally contains properties called phytoestrogens – which mimic estrogen in the human body after being consumed. Some scientists speculate that these phytoestrogens may have an unwanted impact on your body’s hormones. In addition, some have linked the consumption of soy to other potential health consequences.

Finally, since soybeans are one of the most inexpensive crops to grow, soy protein isolate is a cheaper protein option for the shakes. This also likely means a lower quality option. In addition, allergists are noting an increasing rise in allergies to soy and soy products in general. Which of course would cause complications if you’re allergic and you plan to drink Ensure Shakes daily. (2)

FIBER 

<1g Fiber

When considering an all-around healthy meal and overall healthy diet, fiber should be one of the key elements. So, you absolutely have to have a good amount of fiber in your meal replacement shakes. Ensure drops the ball on this one, with less than 1 gram of fiber per shake serving!

Fiber is essential to healthy digestion – helping to keep things moving, ensuring good bowel health and minimizing digestive woes. But it also helps keep the user full and satisfied so they don’t reach for unhealthy snacks in between meals and throughout the day.

In order to drink an Ensure Shake as a meal, you would need to add it into a blender with other high-fiber ingredients, (like fruits, veggies or oats), in order to increase the amount of fiber. Since one of the draws of Ensure Shake is that they are ready-to-drink, having to add them into a blender in order to mix them definitely removes some of the convenience.

CARBOHYDRATES

32g of Total Carbs 

If you’re on a keto or other low-carb diet listen up– as this is definitely not a low-carb shake! At 32g of total carbs per serving (and less than 1g of fiber), it’s quite the opposite. And a big chunk of the carbs in the shake come from sugar, (the worst kind), which we’ll discuss more later.

Low-carb/high fat diets are growing in popularity and are backed by research showing they’re effective in helping you lose weight. However, you could still potentially manage your weight by using these Ensure Shakes. Along with the shakes, you would need to focus on a clean, healthy diet with fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and healthy unsaturated fats over saturated ones.

SUGAR CONTENT

15g of Sugar

When reviewing a shake to find out whether or not it works in a typical healthy lifestyle plan, the last ingredient you want to see on the label is sugar! And Ensure Original Nutrition Shake contains 15g of sugar per serving. Not to mention it also includes artificial sweeteners, which we’ll discuss next.

But first, why so much sugar? It’s no wonder why people seem to love the taste of these shakes. But it’s also no wonder that some of the people that didn’t like the taste said it was because they were too sweet. Sugar is the third ingredient listed on the label!

Some negatives you already know about sugar: it’s addictive, it’s bad for your health, and it can totally derail your weight loss goals. A diet that contains too much sugary foods and drinks is one of the biggest contributors to obesity and other serious diseases.(3)

Of course, if you drink this shake as part of a healthy diet (and limit or remove all other sugar sources), you can get by with drinking it. But at 15g of sugar per serving, just two of these shakes a day will put you OVER the limit of how much sugar you should consume daily (if you’re a woman), and get you close to the limit if you’re a man. Meanwhile, there are healthy, good-for-you foods that contain natural sugar (like fruit), that you want to make room for in your diet.

So, it would be much better if this shake didn’t include added sugar – so you can still enjoy natural sources of sugar in your diet in moderation, like fruits, honey, etc.

ARTIFICIAL AND OTHER SWEETENERS

Liquid Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Artificial Flavor, Corn Maltodextrin

There is a way to make a meal replacement shake taste good without adding sugar or artificial sweeteners into it. And we know this is true because lots of shake brands do it – including our #1 rated shake, 310 Shake.

But instead, Ensure Shakes contain 15g of sugar as we just discussed, and additional artificial and processed sugars on top of that. What’s the deal?

The artificial sugars on the label include Liquid Sucralose (Splenda) and Acesulfame Potassium (Ace K). In addition, there’s artificial flavor, which is a lab-made flavor using chemicals that aims to mimic the taste of real food. Finally, there’s maltodextrin – a highly-processed food additive that may spike blood sugar and may be dangerous to diabetics. (4)

So, why do we dislike artificial sweeteners? Though these “fake” sugars are extremely popular, they’re basically lab-created chemical products being consumed as food. And these chemicals may do more than you bargained for once inside your body – potentially leading to long-term health problems with excessive use.

In addition, when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, some sources say that artificial sweeteners may actually make you hungrier. And this may cause you to eat more than you would have otherwise. This is because when you eat fake sugars, the body doesn’t get the message that it’s actually a food (since it’s void of calories). Therefore, it prompts you to eat more. (5)

VITAMINS/MINERALS

25 Vitamins and Minerals

Any so-called nutritional shake has to be well-equipped with the vitamins and minerals needed to replace a normal meal. And Ensure meets people’s needs in this arena with a mix of 25 vitamins and minerals – many at 25% of the recommended daily value.

Getting enough vitamins and minerals per meal helps ensure that you don’t become deficient in a particular nutrient. Plus, you’ll have more energy, better strength, and less fatigue when you have the nutrients you need.

What the shake doesn’t have is additional superfood blends, or any extras like gut-healthy probiotics. In our opinions, this means the shakes aren’t your best choice for long-term healthy lifestyle shakes. Instead, they may be better suited for short term use, to get additional nutrients in situations where it’s needed. 

PRICE

You can find Ensure Shakes in many of your local grocery stores and pharmacies, including Walgreens, CVS, Target and Rite Aid. And on Amazon, the price is $26.61 + $8.30 for shipping, for 24 individual shakes. This makes them about $1.45 per serving – which is definitely on the cheaper end for protein shakes.

Though this is a lower price than you’ll find for many other brands, it’s also important to remember that they contain some potentially lower quality and artificial ingredients. The shakes contain inexpensive and controversial soy as the main protein source. And there is hardly anyfiber. In addition, they contain a ton of sugar and artificial sweeteners.

COMPANY INFO

Ensure has been around since 1973, and the company’s mission is to provide people with “complete, balanced nutrition.” As the “#1 Dr. Recommended Brand amongst doctors who recommend oral nutritional products to their patients”, Ensure Shakes are obviously well-loved by many. However, although the company mentions that they hold themselves to a “high standard” when it comes to nutrition, our review came across ingredients that we believe may set these shakes lower on the health scale.

ENSURE SHAKE REVIEW CONCLUSION

Thinking of trying Ensure Shakes? It’s easy not to be curious about these widely-distributed shakes that you pass by on shelves at so many local retail stores. However, as our research concludes, we do not believe these shakes are your best bet for long-term healthy lifestyle shakes. We also don’t think the Original Nutrition Shake is your best choice for weight loss.

Starting with the sugar content, this shake falls more along the lines of a delicious (slightly unhealthy) dessert than a health-based dietary shake. With a whopping 15g of sugar per serving, these shakes would help nurse a sugar addiction that you would be much better off dropping.

In addition, there are other undesirable qualities about these shakes. The main source of protein in the shake is soy, which is mostly a GMO product. Soy is also a potential hormone-disruptor and may cause allergies in many people. Not to mention, it’s a cheaper protein source compared to other options.

Top that off with extremely low fiber, and no additional superfoods or probiotics added into the shake, and you definitely have some causes for concern. On the positive side, reviewers say these shakes are definitely tasty, and they contain 25 vitamins and minerals while being convenient to buy. Before you make a final decision, make sure you check out the other shake reviews on our site, so you can make the most informed choice.

 

Sources:

1Nutritional information from https://ensure.com/nutrition-products/ensure-original/vanilla-shake. Price per serving calculated from a package price of $35.00 for 24 Vanilla Shakes. Accessed 8/2/19.