Calories in a Slim-Fast Shake

Slim-Fast ready-to-drink diet shakes, manufactured by Unilever, provide a quick, convenient meal replacement for busy dieters. They offer a variety of flavors, including chocolate, vanilla, banana and cappuccino. Originally, the Slim-Fast Ready to Drink Shakes were called Optima, but these shakes have since been reformulated and renamed, with the manufacturer slightly altering their nutritional profile and taste. Include healthy foods in your diet, along with meal replacement shakes, and do not use them long-term without your doctor's supervision.

A chocolate protein shake splashing over the edge of the glass. (Image: Elizma Hayman/iStock/Getty Images)

Calories

In general, the Slim-Fast Ready to Drink Shakes range from 190 to 220 calories per can, although different flavors contain different amounts. The banana flavor contains the least, with 110 total calories, while the strawberry flavor contains the most, with 220 calories. The chocolate-flavored shake contains 190, while the Cafe Classic flavor contains 212 total calories. As a meal replacement product, Slim-Fast Ready to Drink Shakes each provide about 10 percent of the calories in a typical 2,000 calorie diet. The plan includes directions to drink two shakes, and then have a reasonable dinner, allotting 500 calories for that meal. The total caloric intake for this diet translates to about 900 calories per day, or about 45 percent of the calories in a typical adult diet.

Carbohydrates

Most Slim-Fast Ready to Drink Shakes contain about 25 grams of carbohydrates. The banana-flavored shake contains half that, about 13 grams of carbohydrates. These carbohydrates come from the sugar and fructose ingredients they contain. Low-carbohydrate versions of Slim-Fast Shakes exist as well. They contain about 4 grams to 8 grams per shake. These versions replace much of the sugar and fructose with sucralose, a noncarbohydrate sweetener. While carbohydrates provide your body with the energy it needs for physical activity and proper organ function, not all carbohydrates act the same in your body. Healthy carbohydrates include whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans, as they also deliver vitamins, minerals and fiber. The type of carbohydrates found in Slim-Fast Shakes include the easily digested refined carbohydrates, which actually may contribute to weight gain, interfere with weight loss, or promote diabetes and heart disease.

Sodium

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the American Heart Association and the Institute of Medicine all recommend adults limit their sodium intake to between 1,500 and 2,300 milligrams per day. Slim-Fast Shakes contain from 140 to 220 milligrams per shake, depending on the flavor. Two shakes a day bring the total daily intake of sodium to about 400 milligrams, roughly 30 percent of your daily allotment. While not particularly low in sodium, the amount of sodium they contain does leave room for a reasonable dinner, allowing you to keep your daily intake within the recommended guidelines. A high-sodium diet increases your blood pressure and can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. In addition, high-sodium diets can also increase your risk for osteoporosis by decreasing your body's ability to absorb the calcium it needs to maintain bone growth.

Fat

The total amount of fat in a Slim-Fast Shake depends on the flavor but in general ranges from 3 to 9 grams per serving. Fats make you feel full and keep you from eating between meals. The banana flavor contains the least amount of fat, while the Low-Carb Vanilla Cream version contains the most. Most of the fat comes from the canola oil, a source of monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats, if used in place of other types of fats, particularly saturated fat, can reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering your levels of low-density lipoproteins, called LDL for short, which is the "bad" cholesterol. Slim-Fast Shakes contain very little saturated fat and do not contain trans-fats, both of which increase your LDL cholesterol levels and trans-fats and also decrease the level of high-density lipoproteins, or HDL, which are the so-called "good" cholesterol.

Protein

Regular Slim-Fast Shakes contain about 7 grams to 14 grams of protein per shake, while the Low-Carb Vanilla version contains about 20 grams. The recommended daily protein intake for healthy adults equals about 50 grams. Two Low-Carb Vanilla Slim-Fast Shakes, one for breakfast and one for lunch, provide 80 percent of your protein requirement for the day. Two of the regular Slim-Fast Shakes provide only about 20 percent. Protein helps your body grow and repair cells.

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