Ensure and Boost are two of the many brands on the US market offering nutritional drinks that can be used occasionally as a meal replacement.
They have become popular due to their convenience of use, delicious taste, variety of flavors, and their content rich in essential macro and micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
In this article, we will look at the two brands and compare their advantages when added to older adults’ diets.
Ensure was introduced to the market by Ross Products Division, a subsidiary of Abbott Laboratories, in 1973. It was originally developed as a liquid nutrition solution to support individuals with specific dietary needs, including those who were recovering from illness, surgery, or other medical conditions.
Over the years, Ensure has expanded its product list to include various formulations, flavors, and dietary considerations, such as lactose-free and gluten-free options. This versatility has allowed the brand to cater and offer benefits to a wide range of individuals, including seniors, patients in healthcare settings, and those seeking nutritional supplementation as part of their daily diet.
As a trusted and well-known brand, Ensure is often recommended by healthcare professionals as a source of essential vitamins, minerals, and protein. It has played a significant role in supporting the nutritional needs of individuals who may have difficulty meeting those needs through regular meals, and it continues to be a popular choice for those seeking convenient and balanced nutrition.
Boost entered the market in 1980 and was introduced by Mead Johnson, a company with a history of providing healthcare products, particularly in the field of infant nutrition. Similarly to Ensure, Boost was designed as a nutritional supplement for people with specific needs, such as people recovering from illness or surgery, as well as seniors looking for a convenient way to meet their nutritional requirements.
The brand has become well-established and is widely recognized for its nutritional drinks and is often recommended by physicians to support individuals with various health conditions or those seeking convenient sources of essential nutrients. Over the years, Boost has continued to evolve and innovate to meet the changing needs of its consumers.
While Ensure and Boost share some similarities, they also have distinct differences.
We compared the two brands from a few aspects to make it easier for you to decide the best one for you or your loved one.
Both Ensure and Boost offer a variety of products that are well-balanced nutritionwise and are enriched with vitamins and minerals. Their goal is to supply conveniently, the main food groups – proteins, carbohydrates, and fat.
Their leading products with increased protein content are Ensure High Protein with 16 g. per serving and Boost High Protein Nutritional drink with 20 g.
Both brands have specialized formulations for specific dietary needs, such as:
- Drinks for diabetics – Ensure Diabetes Care and Boost Glucose Control
- Shakes for people who want to gain weight – Boost Plus and Ensure Plus
- Formulations for people with digestive problems – Digestion Support Ensure and Boost Original Complete
- Pre-surgery drinks – Ensure® Pre-Surgery – Boost Breeze Clear Carbohydrate Drink
- Post-surgery nutrient drinks – Ensure Surgery and Boost Be Well
However, the specific nutrients and proportions may vary between brands and product lines. Therefore, it’s essential to seek professional advice and choose the one that aligns with your requirements.
Both brands offer a range of flavors, such as vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, coffee, banana, and more, catering to different taste preferences, making the drinks scrumptious for consumers. While some of the flavors are the same, the taste of the products may differ between Ensure and Boost due to variations in formulation.
Ensure and Boost products come in the form of ready-to-consume drinks and puddings, while the powders need to be mixed with milk or water before consumption.
This makes them convenient options for seniors who may have difficulty preparing meals, swallowing, or meeting their nutritional needs through regular meals.
Healthcare professionals often recommend Ensure to individuals with specific dietary requirements, such as
- seniors with digestion problems,
- those preparing for or recovering from surgery,
- people with certain medical conditions, like diabetes and obesity,
- seniors with compromised immunity systems.
Boost products are recommended to
- men and women over 50,
- seniors who need to increase their calorie intake, such as cancer patients and individuals with diabetes.
Ensure offers lactose-free options for individuals with lactose intolerance; Boost also has lactose-free varieties. The availability of specific lactose-free products may differ between the brands.
Both companies’ products are gluten-free, kosher, and halal, which makes them suitable for people following Jewish and Islamic practices or those with gluten intolerance.
The two lines have quite similar packaging sizes. Ready-to-use Ensure drinks and shakes come in plastic bottles of 8, 10, and 11 oz. very similar to Boost drinks bottles, which are either 8 oz. or 11 oz.
Both Ensure and Boost powders are 14 oz., while the puddings come in packets of four cups with 4 oz. per cup.
You can buy shakes, puddings, and powders of both brands from retailers like Walmart, CVS Pharmacy, Target, Amazon, and others.
When choosing between Ensure and Boost, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian who can provide personalized recommendations based on an individual’s specific dietary needs, taste preferences, and any underlying health conditions.
Ultimately, the choice between the two brands will depend on the unique requirements and preferences of the person seeking nutritional supplementation.
In addition to Boost and Ensure, there are several other meal replacement drinks available in the United States.
Here are some brands offering alternative nutritional drinks:
Premier Protein offers high-protein shakes designed for meal replacement or protein supplementation. They come in various flavors and are known for their protein content.
SlimFast offers a variety of meal replacement shakes and bars designed for weight management. They are available in different flavors and cater to those looking to control their calorie intake.
Soylent provides a range of ready-to-drink meal replacement beverages and powders. They focus on providing balanced nutrition with plant-based ingredients.
Orgain offers organic nutritional shakes and protein powders made from high-quality, natural ingredients. They have both plant-based and whey protein options.
ProNourish offers low FODMAP (total restriction of consumption of all fermentable carbohydrates) meal replacement drinks specifically designed for individuals with digestive sensitivities, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Garden of Life produces meal replacement shakes and powders that are derived from whole food sources. They emphasize organic and non-GMO ingredients.
Huel provides nutritionally complete meal replacement drinks, powders, and bars. Their products aim to offer a balanced and convenient source of essential nutrients.
Kate Farms specializes in organic, plant-based, and clinically proven nutritional drinks, often used for individuals with dietary restrictions or medical needs.
Atkins offers meal replacement shakes and bars that are suitable for those following a low-carb or keto diet. They focus on protein and reduced carbohydrate content.
Kirkland Signature provides nutritional shakes similar to Ensure and Boost. They are available to Costco members and offer a budget-friendly option.
These alternatives provide a range of options, including various flavors, ingredients, and nutritional focuses, allowing individuals to choose the meal replacement drink that best aligns with their dietary preferences and health goals.
Always consider individual dietary restrictions, nutritional needs, and taste preferences when selecting a meal replacement drink. Consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian can provide valuable guidance in making the right choice.
Boost, Ensure, and other brands mentioned in this article cater to the aging population’s various nutritional needs. Although they are often marketed as meal-replacement drinks, it is important to note that using them as substitutes for wholesome meals long term is not a good idea.
That said, they can be a great alternative source of nutrition for seniors with special needs such as those experiencing eating difficulties such as chewing, swallowing, or digesting whole foods.
Our recommendation is to always consult with your primary healthcare specialist or a registered dietitian before incorporating these products into your daily menu. If you are unsure what is the best type of diet for seniors, you can contact Amy’s Eden, or call (775) 884-3336, we will gladly connect you with one of our experienced senior care nutritional specialists.