If you're concerned about the quality of your diet, you may turn to a nutritional supplement, such as Boost ($26.67, Amazon.com) or Ensure ($31.92, Amazon.com). Both drinks are a good source of calories, protein, vitamins and minerals, but there are subtle differences between the products.
Knowing the differences may help you decide which is the better fit for you and your diet. Talk to your doctor before adding these supplements to your diet.
Individualized Range of Products
Both Boost and Ensure offer a range of nutrition drinks and shakes to meet your specific needs. In addition to the Everyday Nutrition drinks, Boost offers High Protein, Extra Calories, Fewer Calories, Glucose Control, Diabetes Nutrition, Everyday Nutrition, Extra Calories, Less Sugar/Fewer Calories, Simple Ingredients, Very High Protein and Just Protein. The products are available in a ready-to-drink shake or powder form.
Ensure products offer Complete Balanced Nutrition, including nutritional supplement drinks with extra protein and calories; Targeted Nutrition, including extra protein, sugar-free and clear; and Surgery Nutrition, including pre-surgery, recovery and compact. Ensure products are available as nutritional drinks and shakes as well as in powder form.
Boost products come in Rich Chocolate, Creamy Strawberry and Very Vanilla flavors. Ensure has more flavors and is available in Vanilla, Arctic Chill, Cafe Mocha, Strawberry, Blueberry, Pomegranate, Mixed Fruit, Butter Pecan, Coffee Latte and Milk Chocolate.
Higher in Protein
Although Ensure is higher in calories, Boost is higher in protein. One 8-ounce serving of Boost Original contains 10 grams of protein, while one serving of Ensure contains 8 grams of protein. Most Americans get more than enough protein eating a regular diet, says Berkeley Wellness.
In fact, unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you may need less protein than you think. In general, the average sedentary woman needs about 46 grams of protein a day, and average sedentary man needs 56 grams.
Read more: How Much Protein Is Right For You?
Better Source of Vitamins
Ensure and Boost contain essential vitamins, but Boost provides some of them in larger amounts, including vitamins C, E, D, K, B6 and B12. Vitamins C and E are antioxidants that protect cells from free radical damage.
Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium and is important for bone health. Vitamin K is needed for blood clotting and may help improve bone health in the elderly. Adequate intakes of vitamins B6 and B12 are important for preventing anemia.
Read more: Why Are Vitamins Important to Your Body?
Better Source of Minerals
The mineral content of Ensure and Boost varies. Ensure has higher amounts of manganese and molybdenum, while Boost has higher amounts of zinc and phosphorus. Manganese is important for bone health and blood clotting. Molybdenum is needed for enzymatic reactions in the body. Zinc supports immune health and protein production. Phosphorus is necessary for the formation of bone and teeth.
Read more: Why Are Minerals Important to Your Diet?
The one significant difference between Ensure and Boost Original is that Ensure contains 320 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, while Boost doesn't contain any. The American Heart Association recommends that you eat two servings of fatty fish a week, which is equivalent to 250 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients you must get from the food you eat. Getting more in your diet helps reduce inflammation and may lower your risk of heart disease, arthritis and depression.
- Ensure: Product Comparison
- Berkeley Wellness: Do You Need More Protein?
- Healthline: Protein Intake – How Much Protein Should You Eat Per Day?
- Abbott Nutrition: Ensure® Original Therapeutic Nutrition Shake
- American Heart Association: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- WebMD: The Facts on Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Ensure: Original Vanilla Nutrition Powder
- Nestle HealthScience: Boost Original
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Manganese
- Linus Pauling Institute: Molybdenum
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Zinc
- MedlinePlus: Phosphorus in Diet
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010: Appendices