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Ensure Review - 19 Things You Need to Know

Ensure is a nutrition shake developed by Abbott Nutrition which is loaded with ingredients and provides you with a complete meal. They claim they are the number one doctor recommended brand because of the shake’s healthy formula. But, we’re relatively certain recommending doctors aren’t looking at weight loss as much as nutritional support for patients.

It claims to be a good meal replacement as well, which it is, but again not designed for weight loss? Our research team felt compelled to find out as much as possible about the Ensure shake by taking a closer look at the ingredients and their dosages. We’ve compiled loads of useful info about it for you.

Ensure can be purchased through their Official Site.

Ensure Readers: Noom is offering our readers a risk-free trial, for a limited time. Click here for more information!

Ensure Video Review


What is Ensure?

Ensure is a meal replacement, or diet supplement, that comes in a powder form. It is taken as a shake; various flavors can be purchased, with a formula that allows its users to consume it instead of a substantial meal. By taking it this way, its user may gradually lose weight.

It is ready-made powder providing nutrition and energy, making it a good option for meal replacement. It does not interfere with metabolism because it mainly works with calories. Therefore, the more you consume, the higher your chances of gaining weight, assuming your food intake remains the same since calories are increased significantly. On the other hand, if you use it as a meal replacement, the calories you intake likely reduce, which can help you lose weight.

What does science say about meal replacements and weight loss?

  • Obesity Reviews – Plainly put, “Programmes incorporating meal replacements led to greater weight loss at 1 year than comparator weight loss programmes and should be considered as a valid option for management of overweight and obesity in community and health care settings.”
  • Journal of Obesity – The trouble with meal replacement may not be that they are ineffective. They reduce calories too much, setting up the user for later hunger and overeating in response. “Meal replacement plans are effective tools for weight loss and improvement of various clinical characteristics but not sustainable due to the severe energy restriction.”
  • Obesity Facts – Meal replacements can even be used in a primary care setting to improve overall health and reduce certain health conditions. “The evaluated program complies with national and international guidelines for the therapy of obesity in adults and is efficient and meaningful for a long-term therapeutic use in primary care.”

Ensure Competitors

Ensure Plus
Other similar products: Hollywood Diet, , Optifast, Almased

How Did Ensure Start?

Ross Laboratories was the first to introduce Ensure drink to the market. The lab was initially a milk company owned by Stanley M. Ross and Harry C. Moores. Started in 1903, the milk company delivered bottled milk to customers’ homes. It was in 1964 that the company decided to join with Abbott Laboratories. This was when they came up with the Ensure brand, which was marketed in 1973 for the first time.

Ensure Customer Testimonials

Flavors of the Ensure Vitamin Drink

We found that the Ensure diet supplement comes in different flavors to suit different tastes. These are:

  • Milk Chocolate
  • Vanilla
  • Strawberry
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Butter Pecan
  • Coffee Latte
  • Banana Nut
  • Cafe Mocha
  • Mixed Berry
  • French Vanilla
  • Blueberry Pomegranate
  • Mixed Fruit
  • Berry Freeze
  • Strawberry Chill

Ensure Variations

Several variations of Ensure exist:

  • Original Nutrition Shake
  • Plus
  • Enlive
  • Max Protein
  • High Protein
  • Clear
  • Rapid Hydration Electrolyte Powder
  • Light
  • Compact
  • Original Nutrition Powder
  • Surgery Immunonutrition Shake
  • Pre-Surgery Clear Carbohydrate Drink
  • Plant-Based (Vegetarian & Vegan Friendly)

Ensure Claims

Abbott, the Ensure manufacturing company, claims that Ensure helps with overall nutrition, and according to its website, it does the following:

  • Provides complete balanced nutrition.
  • Contains at least 24 minerals and vitamins in each drink.
  • It can replace breakfast or lunch and serve as a snack between meals.

Ensure Ingredients

Knowing the ingredients in your supplement is important because it tells you whether you are getting what you need. Finding an inclusive supplement is crucial because it means that you don’t have to buy too many individual supplements on their own. Ensure supplement shake contains added minerals and vitamins. In addition to vitamins and minerals, original Ensure bottles measure 237 ml and include the following ingredients.

  • Corn maltodextrin – A carbohydrate, corn maltodextrin provides energy to the user. This is an additive also used as a sweetener, approved by the food and drug administration as a safe product. Maltodextrin is sugar, and sugar is associated with weight gain, according to Critical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences.
  • Soy protein isolate – This is a milk and soy protein that serves general body functions and promotes healthy muscles. Soy protein isolate is high in protein and provides the 9 grams needed in one serving. Soy is one of the high-quality plant proteins, according to Nutrients.
  • Water – Water is required because of the nature of the supplement. It is used for hydration, and it also helps to mix the ingredients. As shared in Frontiers in Nutrition, and decades of other research, water plays a critical role in weight loss.
  • Sugar – Sugar is also a carbohydrate that provides energy. It is in a relatively high amount, at 18 to 23 grams in an eight-ounce serving, depending on the flavor. This is equivalent to an average of 4.5 to 5.75 teaspoons of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends a limit of six teaspoons of sugar a day for women and nine for men. More of which can lead to a risk of weight gain.
  • Canola oil – Canola and corn oils are the fats in the supplement. They also provide energy and all the necessary fatty acids needed for the heart. It contains alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), among others, which enhances health. ALA works as a “great antioxidant” and is currently used for a wide range of health conditions and disorders, as per Biomolecules.
  • Sodium – Sodium is an essential nutrient in the body, but too much can raise your blood pressure. It is mainly found in salt. In an eight-ounce serving, there is about 200 mg of sodium.

Ensure Ingredients

Additional Ensure Nutrition Information

  • The shake contains 150 to 350 calories, depending on the kind of shake being used.
  • There are 9 to 13 grams of fat protein in each shake. This constitutes 18 percent of the recommended value per day.
  • There are 31 to 52 grams of carbohydrates per bottle. The recommended amount per day in a 2,000 calorie diet is 300 grams.
  • Out of the total nutrients is the shake, more than 24 of the ingredients are vitamins and omega-three fatty acids.

Who can Take Ensure Nutrition Shakes?

Anybody can take Ensure supplements, as long as they do not have any special needs or medical complications. It has been approved for certain types of people as well. These include people in a weight loss program or people who are weight training.

We suggest the consumer keeps in mind that this supplement cannot be used in the place of medicine that has been prescribed by the doctor. It can only be used alongside them. It is also advisable that one stops using it if the supplement interferes with medication. Make sure to consult your doctor for medical advice on using it if you are allowed.

Does it Work?

Does Ensure Work?

The company has many claims, and like many dietary supplements, it is not easy to tell whether this nutrition shake works. Although the company does say that it can be used both for weight gain and weight loss and overall nutrition, there’s no actual proof that it works.

For those who would like to gain weight, the recommended Ensure supplement would be the original Ensure. The other option for weight gain is the Ensure Plus supplement, which was created primarily to help a person gain weight. For both, the serving is measured per eight ounces at 350 calories.

As for those looking to lose weight, the recommended Ensure supplement is the Ensure Original (this is different from the original version). Its serving is measured at 220 calories per eight ounces. Another Ensure product that is good for weight loss is the ensure active light for which the serving is 70 calories at eight ounces.

Does Ensure Work?

We realize that whether or not Ensure works is a subject for debate. Every individual has different anatomy, which is compatible with their body type. Therefore, what works for your neighbor might not work for you. And what works for you may not work for your sister and so on.

Benefits & Results

Ensure Benefits and Results

In addition to helping you track overall calories (which determines weight gain and loss), you will not have to worry about minerals or vitamins and whether you have had enough. At least this is the claim of the company. The product is also consumable by those who are gluten-free or lactose intolerant.

Ensure and Weight Gain

Whether you want to gain or your goal is to lose weight, the concept is the same. If you already eat, but you do not consume as much as you would like, then taking Ensure, in addition to your daily food intake, will help you achieve your desired weight. Ultimately, this is because the number of calories you take in your food could be doubled or more, depending on how much you eat when you drink Ensure.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, you should first consult with your doctor if you need to gain weight. This can ensure you are consuming enough healthy calories and choosing the right products with essential vitamins and minerals.

Ensure and Weight Loss

It will be easier for those trying to lose weight to keep track of your calorie intake because they are already measured for you. Therefore, you can determine if you have had enough calories for the day and choose not to have any more or vice versa. By taking the Ensure supplement in the place of your regular meal or snack, you are sure of the number of calories taken in.

According to a study published in Current Nutrition and Food Science, meal replacement shakes can help encourage weight-loss by curbing hunger.


How to Take Ensure Vitamin Drink

For best results, drink a bottle for breakfast or lunch or both. This is if you are looking to lose weight. If you still feel hungry after taking the bottle, complement the shake with fruit. If the aim is to gain weight, then take the shake in the morning or night, an hour or so, before bed. Either way, make sure that you eat a substantial dinner.

Before drinking, make sure to shake it up correctly. To enhance its taste, serve it with ice cubes or serve it cold. The sub vanilla Ensure Plus can be substituted with milk. This way, you can make milk-based food like milkshakes, milk smoothies, casseroles, milk-based soup, and other recipes that require the addition of milk.

Side Effects

Potential Ensure Side Effects

Potential Ensure Side Effects

Before taking any supplement, it is essential to know the kind of side effects associated with it. This can help you decide whether or not the supplement is worth taking and safe.

When you begin using the product, some mild side effects will be experienced. They can include constipation, vomiting, and diarrhea. As you get used to using the shake, however, these effects wear off. More severe side effects can be experienced still, but only if the shake is used contrary to how it is supposed to. These effects include cramping of the muscles, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, seizures, a weak pulse, irregular heartbeat, mental status changes, and mood swings.

Product Warnings

Ensure Product Warnings

For the elderly, this supplement should not be taken instead of meals as it does not have the nutritional needs of the elderly. This is according to Dr. Amy Ehrlich from the geriatrics division of the Montefiore medical centers.


Any Ensure Lawsuits?

So far, there has been one major lawsuit against Ensure brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). It challenged Abbott’s claim that Ensure can be used as; one, a supplement for healthy adults above 30 years in age, and two, that Ensure is the number one recommended brand by doctors for meal replacement and lastly, that it can replace a multivitamin supplement. These claims came about after some TV advertisements for Ensure aired.

FTC argued that there was insufficient evidence to prove that many doctors had recommended it as proposed in the adverts. FTC also challenged the claim that one serving of Ensure contained vitamins equivalent to any other dose of a multivitamin supplement. Abbott lost the case and had to settle with the FTC.

In 2018, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency recalled Ensure Plus Vanilla, Ensure Plus Strawberry, Ensure Plus Chocolate, Ensure Fibre Vanilla, and Ensure Fibre Chocolate bacterial contamination.

Ensure Alternatives

Ensure Alternatives

Most meal replacement supplements tend to be similar. If you would like to have an alternative of Ensure, getting a related dietary supplement with a different name will not make much difference. We recommend going for a healthier option. You can find out if a supplement is healthy or unhealthy by checking its ingredients. For instance, the components should not include sugars as the first ingredient in the list (usually the main ingredient).

Other ways to find a healthy supplement option is to make sure that it has been minimally processed and that it is a food-based shake/smoothie. It should also not contain herbs, vitamins, or minerals in excess. However, these kinds of supplements tend to cost more, and we are not sure that they will be as effective. Some of them include Boost Glucose Control, Bolthouse Farms Protein Plus, Odwalla Super Protein, Secure Complete, and Naked Juice Protein Zone.

Ensure’s Dependability

It is not wise to depend on Ensure all your dietary needs. Even though it is a meal replacement shake, it cannot adequately provide everything that you need in your body. Some of the important nutrients for the healthy functioning of your body are only found in real food.

Interaction With Medication

There is no real danger in taking Ensure with medication. It has been recommended for people who lose their appetite due to sickness or medicine. However, it does contain high amounts of sugar, so one should be careful if they have a problem with this. You should always consult your doctor before beginning any new supplementation.

Interaction With Medication

Is Ensure a Good or Bad Option for Meal Replacement?

This entirely depends on your experience with previous supplements. It could be what works for you if the rest that you tried have failed. If you have never used a supplement before, then try to filter out the false claims; for instance, that it contains the vitamins from a multivitamin supplement in one serving. So do not abandon what has been working for something that you have not tried before. It can be used for meal replacement, but if it doesn’t work for you for some reason, try something else.

What Users Are Saying

“I have been drinking an Ensure every morning as a meal replacement for over five years. I get the 9 grams of protein and like it very much. It does not taste chalky and is like drinking strawberry milk (or chocolate milk if I get that flavor). It is the same price as Walmart in store but I don’t have to deal with the people.”

“At my age I can barely afford breakfast…this product is full of sugar and fat…above all its so expensive..”

“Use this product to get in the calories as I can’t eat first thing in the morning. I’m able to add it to my coffee and it’s a great milk chocolate taste. A great meal replacement. Unfortunately, it has been going up in price for this product and you can’t get it anymore without the extra fiber in it.”

Ensure Ingredients
Bottom Line

The Bottom Line – Does Ensure Work?

So, what’s our final thoughts on Ensure Nutrition Drink? We are excited to see that there are various Ensure flavors to choose from. You should note that this shake contains 15 grams of sugar per serving, which is not the best option when you are trying to lose weight. Combine that with the fact that clinical research does not support this formula over other nutritional drinks, and we’re left skeptical about recommending it. Furthermore, there are plenty of customer complaints about the taste.

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What are the side effects of Ensure?

Side effects of Ensure products may include diarrhea, nausea, abdominal bloating, and an increased heart rate.

What is in Ensure?

Ensure is a meal replacement drink that contains protein, vitamins and minerals.

How much does a bottle of Ensure cost?

One bottle of Ensure costs $1.58 or $37.99 for a case of 24.

How do you take Ensure?

Drink one Ensure shake per day. If you want to lose weight, replace a meal with Ensure.

What is the drink Ensure good for?

Ensure is a creamy drink that’s good as an occasional breakfast or lunch replacement. You can also drink Ensure as a between-meal snack. Ensure is nutritious, with 26 essential vitamins and minerls. The nutrients in Ensure can help you stay active and healthy.

Where can I buy Ensure?

Ensure can be purchased using their Official Site.

Can Ensure be used as a meal replacement?

Yes, both Ensure drinks and ready-to-drink shakes are suitable for between-meal snacks as well as occasional meal replacements for breakfast or lunch.

Who makes Ensure?

Ensure is the brand name of meal replacements and nutritional supplements produced by Abbott Laboratories.

Are Ensure products vegan?

Although not all Ensure products are vegan, the brand does offer a line of Plant-Based Protein Shakes that are vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free.

Can Ensure help you gain weight?

Ensure products can be used to help you gain weight or maintain weight. If you need to gain, drink Ensure on top of your regular food intake until you reach your goal, or as directed by your doctor.

Can you drink too much Ensure?

According to Ensure, you should drink a maximum of 2 shakes a day. If you drink more, you may end up consuming too much protein.

Is Ensure good for energy?

Although Ensure products are primarily used for boosting nutrients and maintaining weight, the increase in vitamins can lead to increased energy.

Is it OK to drink Ensure everyday?

Although drinking a shake a day should be fine, make sure to consult with your physician to see if Ensure is good for long-term usage.

What vitamins are in Ensure drinks?

Some of the vitamins in the Ensure products include vitamins D, A, C, E, K, thiamin, and riboflavin.

Who invented Ensure?

Ensure was first released in 1973 by Ross Labratories, now called Abbott Nutrition.

29 Ensure Reviews

  • Had complications and very uncomfortable
    Virginia (Verified Purchase)

    My sister is being fed Ensure via tube feeding since she is unable to swallow food. My concern is the end result if this continues indefinitely. She’s been taking Ensure for 4 weeks already and has had complications with constipation that resulted in hemorroids. Very uncomfortable. Any advise on how she can get some fiber?

    • Adrian (Editor)

      Hi Virginia. If she continues to have these side effects, please have her consult with her physician before continuing to take ensure.

    • Manoj

      Take Herbalife

    • Maureen Fodge

      How much water is she getting. They can get in her in the same manner. They are probably giving her to much. My father after surgery, wanted his voice box and made the choice to be tube fed. His came from the VA. Trust me you did not want to drink that.Low sodium. Changed vendor after one meal ended up running to the bathroom, to go.They gave him a thickener to add to his coffee, so he could slowly still enjoy his black coffee. Many time you don”t feel you need lunch, because it causes you to be full. Like drink 6 large milkshakes . His stomach would blot like he was expecting. Everybody is different , It is not the same for everybody. I take it also. I have to watch the sodium amount. Rochester, New York

    • Frances Kotar

      My pharmacy sells vanilla Ensure with extra Fiber – the bottle is blue white and green (for the fiber)

  • Helps maintain healthy lifestyle
    Valerie (Verified Purchase)

    I’ve been taking Ensure ever since I was 6 yrs old (now I’m 19) as a meal replacement since I’m an extremely picky eater. Instead of having fish, pasta veggies, etc., I take Ensure at least once a day. It has helped me maintain a healthy lifestyle, weight (120 lbs), and it keeps me alert through out my day.

  • Product usage for pets

    can I use ensure for pets

    • Adrian (Editor)

      Hello Jim. Please make sure to consult with your pet’s veterinarian, before giving your pet.

    • Valerie

      lol I give my dog just a little bit of ensure since he begs me all the time when he sees me drinking it but I don’t think you should.

  • flavors

    what flavors are available/

    • Adrian (Editor)

      Hello. For detailed product information please refer to the official ensure website for more information.

    • jason

      Just replying to the what flavours ensure have as far as i know there is peach(mmm) vanilla,strawberry,raspb,banana,forrest fruits,caramel,choc,coffee and more i reccomend the first 4 .

  • it's never been a problem.
    Lex (Verified Purchase)


    I’m also lactose intolerant and it’s never been a problem.

    I wanted to also mention that if you’re lactose intolerant you shouldn’t avoid dairy, you can still enjoy your favorite dairy products but you’ll need to take Lactaid. It’s over the counter at your drug store. I could never give up pizza!!! When someone told me about Lactaid I was loving life again.

    Do note it typically says take 1 – 2 lactaid pills but it really depends on how much dairy your eating at that moment. You can’t overdose on lactaid it’s just an enzyme. So if I’m eating like 5 slices of pizza (yes I’m greedy) I may take 3-4 just to be POSITIVE I won’t be curled up on the toilet dying of cramps and bloating.

  • Blood thinner
    Paul (Verified Purchase)

    Is there an ENSURE for people taking a blood thinner?

    • Adrian (Editor)

      Hi Paul. Please consult with your physician before taking ensure to make sure it is safe for you to use with a blood thinner.

  • Intolerant
    Martye Nick (Verified Purchase)

    I am very lactose intolerant and have never had a problem drinking Ensure.

    • Rae Loo

      Has there ever been any reported side effects with Ensure, mainly skin problems.
      Could the chemicals cause skin problems?

      • Adrian (Editor)

        Hello Rae. Please consult with your physician before taking ensure to make sure it is safe for you to use.

  • please refer to the official ensure website
    Adrian (Editor) (Verified Purchase)

    Hi Warren. For detailed product information, please refer to the official ensure website for more information.

  • it seems like it should be fine.

    It says on the bottle “Contains milk and soy ingredients. Gluten-free; suitable for lactose intolerance” – so it seems like it should be fine.

  • From where to buy this product?

    Nutritionist said to use this as a supplement for one of 5 small meals per day due to hypoglycemia. What is value . . . if any? Was told to use “PROTEIN” type, but that has not been available for some time now . . . what’s up?

  • any difference between ensure and whey protein powder?

    What is the difference between ensure and whey protein powder?

    • Adrian (Editor)

      Hello Wagner.Ensure is a prepackaged nutritional shake that is ready-to-drink, and whey protein powder is also a weight gainer.

      • jason

        I personally love them but cant afford to buy them as am on benefits will my doctor prescribe them too me as many as i want in moderation

  • Need to drink more water?
    Tammy (Verified Purchase)

    My daughter is now drinking Ensure Plus as shes drastically lost a lot of weight. She still eats breakfast/lunch and dinner but she drinks 1/2 the bottle in the morning and 1/2 in the afternoon. Is this ok to do? or is it more effective if she drinks one full can all at once?

    • Adrian (Editor)

      Hi Tammy. If she continues to have these side effects, please consult with her physician before continuing to take ensure to see if the weight loss is normal.

    • Guy Hawkins

      I drink 4-5 each day, because I cannot eat enough food to maintain my weight at 190lbs. During one period when I was unable to eat anything, I used 6 each day to maintain my weight at 160lbs for 8-9 months.

      • maria

        I’ve lost some weight in the butt and hips area also my legs have gotten a little smaller. Will drinking Ensure help me gain my weught back?

        • Adrian (Editor)

          Hello Maria. Ensure might help you with weight gain.