The Best Nutritional Drinks for Seniors [A Comprehensive Review]

By: Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®

Fact-checked by: Kathryn Bubeck, Registered Dietician

While a healthy meal is always the best option, there are many reasons why seniors may supplement their diet with nutrition drinks. But, they aren’t all the same… some aren’t even nutritious. My research says these are the best.

Income Disclosure: I recommend products based on my personal experience working with seniors. I may earn a commission on items purchased from links in this guide. Learn More.

When caring for the seniors and elderly people we love, many nutrition issues arise. For example, some are reluctant to eat, while others suffer from nutritional disorders. As such, most people opt for nutritional drinks, which are more fun and easy to consume. 

Nonetheless, most of us are probably not sure whether they are ideal and healthy for seniors. Well, you’ve come to the right place!

Here is everything you need to know about nutritional drinks for seniors.

Should Seniors Use Nutritional Drinks?

Nutritional drinks should only be offered as a snack in between meals, according to certain medical reports. This is as opposed to a whole meal replacement. So, if you find yourself using these as meal replacements completely, you should discuss this with your medical professional or visit a dietician.

As part of a senior’s comprehensive dietary plan, these products can be quite beneficial. If you are using nutritional drinks specifically to address weight loss, you should review their eating program with their doctor or dietician.

So, the right nutritional drinks are perfectly fine when used correctly and with the advice of a professional.

6 Incredible Benefits of Nutritional Drinks for Seniors and Older Adults

So, what are some of the reasons you might consider using nutritional drinks for older adults? Here are some of the top reasons.

1. They are more convenient.

For older people, packing and preparing healthful meals can be a difficult undertaking. This is especially when the caregiver is away and they are alone. Luckily, a nutritional shake or drink can be simple to prepare and enjoy while still providing adequate nutrients.

2. They are readily available in multiple varieties.

Nutritional beverages are available in a wide range of flavors and varieties. Additionally, they cater to certain medical conditions such as diabetes and some varieties even have lower calorie counts appropriate for seniors. As such, your senior’s requirements in terms of flavor and nutrition will be supplemented and accommodated by the correct nutritious drink.

3. Smooth and easy to swallow.

Seniors who suffer from nutritional disorders such as dysphagia find it hard to eat regular foods. This is according to several studies on the condition. That said, such seniors require something smooth and nutritious to cater to their special diet needs. Fortunately, nutritional drinks are consistent in texture, making them a good alternative in such cases.

RELATED: Guide to Liquid Nutrition for Seniors

4. They can be very nutritious.

A nutritional drink’s main goal is to offer adequate nutrients. Most nutritional drinks are high in minerals, vitamins, and  key macronutrients. As a result, they play the important role of filling in the gaps left by a poor nutrition in a senior’s diet.

5. They are a big time saver.

Yes, we all wish we lived in a world where we had the time and energy to prepare every meal from scratch. Is that, however, practical for the majority of seniors and caregivers? Most likely not. This is because schedules, weariness, and other circumstances obstruct us. Luckily, when you don’t have time or energy to cook, boil, or barbeque, nutrition drinks come in handy.

6. They can be quite tasty

This varies by product, but many protein shakes are delicious. This is because most drinks contain sugar. Normally, most seniors frequently have the sensation of drinking a chocolate milkshake. This can help them overcome their aversion to eating.

Potential Disadvantages of Nutritional Drinks for Seniors and Older Adults

To present the other side of the debate, here are some reasons that you may not want to add nutritional shakes to a diet. Especially poor quality shakes and drinks.

• They often contain too much sugar.

Remember how we said that nutritional drinks are tasty? One of the primary reasons for this is because they can be high in sugar. However, sugar is an important part of any diet.

Because some nutrition shakes contain more sugar than others, it’s worthwhile to shop around and compare ingredient labels. Seniors and older adults should choose nutritional drinks with sugar content in line with their nutritional requirements so that they can be consumed regularly.

• They are less satisfying compared to regular meals.

Do you want your seniors to feel satisfied and full? Nutrition drinks are a terrific way to add calories to their diet. Unfortunately, they aren’t quite the same as sitting down for a meal. If you find yourself becoming hungry quickly after drinking a smoothie, consider adding another food to make it feel more like a meal.

• They make it easy to over indulge.

Nutrition drinks are simple to make and eat quickly. As a result, it may be tempting to have a second drink right away. You may find yourself consuming too many calories, especially when using shakes as meal replacements for seniors and older adults, resulting in undesirable weight gain.

• They might contain unnecessary preservatives.

Most nutritional drinks have a long shelf life courtesy of preservatives that keep them safe to consume. They also often contain artificial flavorings and additives which many  seniors prefer to avoid.

What Should Seniors Look For When Buying Nutritional Drinks?

Before choosing a certain nutritional drink, consider the following 4 factors:

1. Ingredients

It may seem obvious, but make sure that the drink you choose does not contain any ingredients that you are allergic to, dislike, or choose not to consume. For example, if you are vegan, you will want to find a vegan nutritional drink. As a general rule, try o stay away from ingredients your cannot pronounce.

2. Calorie Content

If you are an overweight senior, it is advisable to choose a drink that is lower in calories. This will increase the chances of you feeling fuller with fewer calories. As a result, you may end up losing excess weight.

3. Shelf Life

When buying nutritional drinks for seniors, caregivers may opt to buy them in bulk. This is because most caregivers have busy schedules. As a result, they do not have time to go shopping now and then. Therefore, it is wise to buy a drink with a longer shelf life, to save on shopping time. Besides, you may end up enjoying price discounts for shopping in bulk.

4. Nutrient Content

The most important thing to consider when shopping is how nutritious the drink is. Since many seniors have health conditions such as diabetes and kidney disease, it is important to choose drinks that are in line with your health goals.

For example, diabetics should opt for lower-sugar nutritional drinks, while those with kidney conditions may need to select drinks with reduced phosphorus and potassium content. Even if you are a healthy senior, always choose the most nutritious drink available rather than  essentially drinking empty calories.

What Are the Best Nutrition Drinks for Seniors?

Ok. So taking all the above into account, here are my recommended nutritional drinks and shakes for older adults.

1. Kate Farms Organic Meal Replacement Shake

$48.00 ($4.00/bottle)

These delicious and convenient plant-based shakes come in flavors (vanilla, chocolate, and coffee) with USDA Organic protein and powerful phytonutrients for optimal health.

  • High percentage of phytonutrients sourced from various nutrient-rich foods like green tea, acai, turmeric, and broccoli. 
  • Reputation for using the best ingredients like USDA organic pea protein for high-quality nourishment that keep your aging body fed, energized, and healthy.
  • It comes in three flavors: vanilla, coffee, and chocolate.
See It At KateFarms.com

Kate Farms Nutrition Shakes are your go-to drinks when you’re looking for a dietary supplement. They’re highly packed with plant-based protein, MCT, Omega-3, and energy. Each pack of this beverage contains vital electrolytes and is supplemented with 24 micronutrients. More importantly, it is free from any processed chemicals.

Remember, Kate Farms Nutrition Shakes is the follow-up to their Komplete Meal Replacement Shakes. They have the same fantastic taste and nutrients as before, but they are now organically certified and have a new name and look. Kate Farms shakes have evolved throughout time to incorporate the most recent scientific findings and formulae. Surprisingly, they remain plant-based and allergy-friendly, and physicians and nutritionists routinely suggest them.

RELATED: Plant Based Nutrition for Older Adults

To make it even more interesting, these nutritional drinks are perfect for seniors. This is because they come in all kinds of sweet flavors such as chocolate, vanilla, and even coffee. That way, seniors who have a hard time eating regular foods will enjoy these drinks.

Pros

  • Highly nutritious
  • Gluten-free
  • Allergy-friendly
  • Organic

Cons

  • Contain no dairy
  • Have limited calcium content

2. Almased Multi Protein Drink

$57.95 ($28.98 / Count)

This meal replacement shake is made with soy protein, yogurt, and honey and no artificial flavors, added sugars, preservatives, stimulants, gluten, or genetically modified ingredients. Created to curb hunger and support healthy weight. Concentrate that can be mixed into your favorite beverage.

See It At Amazon
09/18/2021 04:44 pm GMT

Almased is a popular multi-protein smoothie that can help you lose weight while also keeping your health at its best. It’s made using a special fermentation procedure that releases natural antioxidants. Additionally, it is free of artificial flavors, preservatives, and other stimulants. You will soon notice major improvements in your general health if you drink it daily.

If you drink this beverage first thing in the morning, you will be full for several hours. Moreover, it helps you maintain a healthy blood sugar level and reduces hunger pangs. This makes it the perfect drink for seniors with diabetes. Furthermore, it contains several nutrients that your body requires.

All of these features, as well as their high amino acid and enzyme content, will aid in the improvement of your digestive system. Simply said, you’ll begin to eat less, have fewer cravings, and feel more satisfied throughout the day. This will allow your body to perform at its best losing fat without sacrificing muscular mass.

Pros

  • Highly nutritious
  • Gluten-Free
  • Fewer Additives
  • Boosts Metabolism

Cons

  • High-calorie content
  • May contain too much protein for some seniors

RELATED: Best Protein Drinks for Seniors


3. Boost Glucose Control Nutritional Drink

$54.75 ($4.56 / Count)
  • Designed to help manage blood glucose levels while providing a nutritional boost
  • Suitable for lactose-intolerant seniors and those with a gluten sensitivity
  • Makes a great mid-day snack for seniors who want to lose weight
  • Only 190 calories means it is only suitable for replacing small meals or snacks
See It At Amazon
09/18/2021 05:15 pm GMT

Due to its lactose-free and diabetic-friendly properties, Boost Glucose Control is among the finest nutritional drinks for seniors. For diabetics or those with similar dietary restrictions, this is an excellent meal replacement alternative. More specifically, this powder provides 190 calories and 16 grams of protein in one scoop.

Specifically, milk protein extract, soya, collagen, minerals, and vitamins are among the key ingredients. More importantly, this nutritional smoothie keeps your blood sugar in check and is simple to make. It is not only useful for diabetics, but it is also beneficial for everyone’s health due to its nutritional content.

Interestingly, it includes over 24 different necessary vitamins and minerals. This beverage is available in three flavors, ensuring that you will not become bored while drinking it.

Pros

  • Low in sugar
  • Highly nutritious
  • Senior Friendly
  • Perfect for diabetics

Cons

  • High-calorie content
  • Not allergy-friendly

4. Ensure Diabetes Care by Abbott

$20.99 ($1.50 / Ounce)

Ensure Diabetes Care is specially designed to meet the nutrition needs of diabetics. It has been clinically proven to help manage blood sugar through a slow release energy system which controls the blood glucose response. It also supports healthy weight management, immune, and cardiovascular health thus optimizing overall health and immune system. Ensure Diabetes Care use a formulated intake of nutrients to maintain energy levels and keep hunger pangs in check.

See It At Amazon
09/18/2021 05:04 pm GMT

Not only is this beverage an excellent nutritional drink for the elderly, but it is also a product designed specifically for diabetics. In addition to its well-known shakes, the company now sells healthy protein bars and other foods. The primary goal of Glucerna drinks is to help you maintain a healthy blood sugar level. Additionally, these beverages aid in weight loss.

When it comes to the flavor of the drink, views fluctuate from one consumer to the next. Some people claim it tastes fantastic and has a lovely flavor, while others disagree. Usually, there are two flavors to select from – chocolate and vanilla. To add to its benefits, this product is a ready-to-drink beverage that can be consumed on the go.

Pros

  • Contains numerous vitamins and minerals
  • Perfect for trips as it’s readymade
  • Healthy for diabetic seniors
  • Promotes healthy weight

Cons

  • Has a funny taste
  • Limited to two flavors

5.Ensure High Protein Nutritional Shake

$32.00 ($0.17 / Fl Oz)

Ensure High Protein Nutritional Shakes are designed to specifically to address strength and energy in older adults. These drinks are formulated with 16 grams of high-quality protein and 23 minerals and vitamins to support bone, muscle, and immune health.

Learn More
09/18/2021 04:59 pm GMT

With this nutritious smoothie, you’ll get all of your daily nutrition and energy needs. The drink comes in the shape of a meal replacement nutritious smoothie and is ready to drink once the bottle cap is opened. There are 160 calories in each serving and nine grams of protein.

Luckily, you’ll be able to lose weight and enhance your metabolism if you eat this shake as part of a nutritious low-calorie diet. Furthermore, you have a variety of trademark flavors to pick from. These flavors custard, chocolate, caramel, strawberry, cappuccino latte, and butter pecans. Because it contains no toxic chemicals, Ensure is worth a try.

Pros

  • High in energy
  • Ready to drink
  • Comes in many flavors

Cons

  • High sugar content

Nestlé’s Carnation Instant Breakfast has been on the market for several years. As a result, it has garnered a lot of positive feedback from its customers. Moreover, the corporation places a premium on the beverage’s strong nutritional content.

This nutrient-dense beverage isn’t just for the elderly. It is suitable for consumption by anyone because of its pleasant milk-based flavor and health advantages. Unfortunately, this supplement contains too much sugar, which may be a significant disadvantage for some seniors.

Pros

  • Rich in Vitamins
  • Low-calorie content
  • Contains important minerals

Cons

  • Too sugary
  • Unsuitable for diabetics

Summary and Final Recommendations

Even though most doctors recommend a healthy home-cooked meal, not all seniors can feed properly. As such, we must find ways of ensuring our elderly relatives get the nutrients they need.

For this reason, nutritional drinks for seniors are highly recommended. That way, your loved ones can say goodbye to the dread that comes with meal times since they can just enjoy a nutritious shake instead! Of course, you can also easily make healthy nutritional drinks for seniors at home yourself. You can see my guide to homemade nutritional drinks for older adults here.

Sources

  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6719674/ 

About the Expert

Because I strive to provide you with accurate information, I had this article fact-checked by Kathryn Bubeck, RD, LDN a registered dietician in North Carolina. She has dual bachelor degrees in Nutrition and Health Behavior Management and is currently pursuing a medical degree with a focus on oncology.
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2 thoughts on “The Best Nutritional Drinks for Seniors [A Comprehensive Review]”

  1. A good review! My mother’s doctors always recommended at least one nutritional drink a day to supplement her diet. She did not like the sugary taste so I mixed a third of the drink with milk for breakfast and did the same throughout the day. A thickner had to be added to her liquids and this could be done with the nutritional drinks, too.

    • Hello Bonita – Thanks so much for sharing your personal experience with nutritional drinks and dysphagia. I love the idea of cutting down the amount of sugar in the drink too! – Scott

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