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Comparing Meal Replacement Shakes

17 Apr

If left to my own devices for a quick breakfast on a workday, I would typically order something from Starbucks to go with my coffee, grab a donut on the road, or just go without until lunchtime. Obviously, none of these options play nice with the whole ‘let’s get healthy’ thing I’m working on right now. So, bring on the morning meal replacement protein shakes!

When I did the 21 Day Fix a couple years ago, I tried the Shakeology shakes for the first time. They are super yummy and good for you, but HOLYWOW are they expensive.  A bag of 30 servings is $130, which breaks down to $4.33 per serving.  Also, to purchase Shakeology you get it shipped to you automatically each month, so if you fall behind you end up with a big o’ bill and a lot of bags of the powder to go through. So, yeah… super delicious but quite pricy.

With that in mind, I decided to go on the hunt for another brand of meal replacement protein shake. My main goals were:

#1. A shake that I can buy easily, whether it be in a nearby store or online.
#2. Something that isn’t super expensive.
#3. It MUST taste good.
#4. There has a be a good mix of protein and nutrients, while also being relatively low in calories, sugar and sodium.

After trips to GNC, Target and the Vitamin Shoppe, I ended up trying 6 different shakes in my ‘research’ phase: Labrada Lean Body (chocolate), GNC Lean Shake 25 (french vanilla), GNC Lean Shake 25 (rich chocolate), plnt by V Meal Replacement Plant Protein (chocolate), plnt by V Meal Replacement Plant Protein (vanilla) and Vega One Protein and Greens (coconut almond).

All of the shakes I tried were in powdered form, except the Labrada Lean Body. That one was premixed in a tetra pak and I have to say that I hated it. It had a thick chocolate milk flavor with a slight bitter tinge. I had to choke it down, so that one was immediately disqualified.

For the other 5 shake options, I would make the same recipe to compare them:

1 scoop protein powder
1 ¼ cups water
Handful of ice
1 banana (super ripe and/or frozen)
1 tbsp peanut butter

Blend it in my Nutra Ninja for about 40 seconds and throw it in a cup for breakfast.

Out of the remaining 5 shakes, only one of them did not pass the taste test… the plnt by V Meal Replacement Plant Protein in vanilla. No matter how much it was blended, it still had that chalky taste. So that one was disqualified too.

Based on taste, I was left with 4 pretty great options, so I went ahead and did a comparison chart for their nutrients:

After comparing each of the protein shakes and keeping in mind the flavor, I have two favorites:

Vega One Protein & Greens in Coconut Almondyou can find it here on Amazon and here at Target (when I bought mine at Target, they had an added bonus where you receive a $5 Target gift card with purchase!) The cost is $24.99 for 16 servings, which breaks down to $1.56 per serving. The flavor is so good that it’s like a morning pina colada. Since it already has a nutty flavor, I could skip the peanut butter and it still tastes really good. It’s low in calories, has 20 grams of protein and keeps me full until lunchtime.

GNC Lean Shake 25 in Rich Chocolateyou can find it here on Amazon or at GNC stores in-person or online here. The cost is $29.99 for 16 servings, which breaks down to $1.87 per serving. This one is also super tasty and when it’s all mixed up it’s basically like a milkshake. This one is a little higher in calories, but is also higher in protein with 25 grams.

I decided to get a tub of each shake so that I don’t burn out on one of the flavors. I like that I can order them both online through Amazon, or pick them up at my local GNC and Target. Also, I feel like I’m drinking a milkshake for breakfast, but it’s a heck of a lot better for me than a piece of lemon pound cake from Starbucks!

So there you go, after lots of tasty research I have two favorite protein shakes. I typically will have a shake on my ride into work 5 days a week and then a non-shake breakfast on weekends.

I’d love to know if you have a favorite shake or if you have any questions for me on my taste testing extravaganza!


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Also, Pocketful of Joules is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This means that clicking on a link may help me earn a small commission at no cost to you.


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A Small Fitness Update

20 Mar

About two weeks ago I had reached a breaking point. I was frustrated with myself, my body and my eating habits. However, instead of shoving those feelings down with a doughnut, I was mad enough to do something about it.

So, I posted this:

If you feel like it, click through and read the comments. You guys are kind of awesome.

So, I decided to make some small sustainable changes to my life. I started eating a little better, but didn’t go total DIET on my life. For example, when I had a work event at Krispy Kreme I ordered one original doughnut and a coffee, instead of one original and one with cream filling. I also decided to try to do some type of work out every single day.

Here is today’s update:

I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’m on my way.

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Reviewing the Fun Run Box: Another Loser

15 Nov

Last month when I received my first Fun Run Box I was pretty disappointed, but hopeful that this month would be better. Spoiler Alert: it wasn’t.

Before we get into the nitty gritty of this box, let me give you a teensy bit of background:

The Fun Run Box is a running challenge box that is shipped on a monthly basis. For a monthly fee of $35, subscribers will receive a fun box of running challenges and running products. After six months of challenges, you are considered a “finisher” and will receive a long sleeve finisher shirt and a medal. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or a seasoned veteran, you can use the month’s challenge cards to push yourself a little further each month.

I decided to treat myself to a box as a birthday gift and the Welcome Box was pretty underwhelming. You can read about it here: The Fun Run Box Welcome Training Kit

Let’s take a look at what I received in my November box. They don’t provide the retail cost for each item, so I did a little digging and found it on my own.


FuelBelt Reflective Stickers, $5.50
Reflective peel and stick stickers that you can stick on your shoes, socks, clothes or anything to make yourself more visible.

Balega Socks, $12
One pair of second skin fit ultralight socks.


Honey Stinger Energy Gel, $1
Pirate’s Booty ½ oz pack, $0.75
2 Jimmybar mini bars, $2


SPIBAND Wrist & Ankle Pocket, $10
Wear the pouch around your wrist or ankle to store small items. This pocket is basically only useful if you need a place to stash money or a credit card.

2 Lip Naturals lip balms, 0.10 oz., $1


Negative Split November Challenge Card

My Thoughts
My main problem with last month’s box is that I didn’t find it anywhere worth the monthly subscription cost of $35. This month, I feel the same way… but worse. I found basically everything for sale on Amazon and at their full retail prices the entire box added up to $32.25. Typically the beauty of a subscription box is that you are getting items at a HIGHER value, like the FabFitFun box where you pay $40 and get hundreds of dollars of cool stuff.

So, I gave it a try for two months and decided that the Fun Run box was such a total rip off that after I opened the November box I went online and cancelled my subscription.


Disclosure: This post is not sponsored by Fun Run Box, I paid for the $35 subscription fee with my own hard-earned money.

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The Baltimore Running Festival 5k

18 Oct

I have quite a past with the Baltimore Running Festival. From impulsively signing up my first postpartum 5k (I Survived My 5k) to training all summer to run the Team Relay with my siblings (The Baltimore Team Relay: I did it!), it is one of those races that I try not to miss each year.

So this year when my sister’s hip injury meant that we couldn’t do our sibling Team Relay again (fingers crossed for next year), I decided to sign up for the 5k. I was in good company too because my brother and his girlfriend also ran the 5k and my other sister ran the half marathon.

To be honest, it wasn’t a great race for me this year. We ended up getting stuck in traffic, parking late and literally running to the start line. According to the website, there were 4,513 people running the 5k and holy guacamole did that make for a crowded course. In order to get to a comfortable pace, I had to dart around groups of walkers, slower runners and random Baltimore pothole obstacles. Considering I started after everyone else already crossed the start line, it’s actually pretty cool that I passed over 1,400 people. It was a fun run though and a great way to get in some exercise on a beautiful day.

The crab medals were pretty spectacular too:


And my whole family was there to cheer, so that was a bonus!

Hopefully next year we will be able to do the Team Relay again, but if not I’ll absolutely be doing the 5k. Of course, I’ll definitely do a better job at getting to the race on time!

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