CTRL Shake – DietShakeReviews CTRL Shake – DietShakeReviews
Our Rating:
5.4/10

CTRL has sugary themed shakes like "Birthday Cake" and "Cinnamon Toast". They are relatively new to the market.

Nutrition Per Serving1

280

Calories

6g

Sugar

110mg

Cholesterol

6g

Fat

33g

Carbs

5g

Dietary Fiber

23g

Protein

$2.65

Price Per Serving1


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Our Review

To help you to make a more informed decision.

WRITTEN BY
Kathy Shattler - RDN, M.S. in Nutrition

Kathy is devoted to the health sciences and writes extensively about nutrition and chronic disease. Academically, she holds a Master of Science degree in Human Nutrition and has done post-graduate work in the Nutrition Sciences. Read More

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Calories 110 124 160 220 280
Soy Free Protein
Sugars 0g 0g 1g 1g 6g
No Artifical Sweeteners
Superfoods
Probiotics
Price Per Serving $2.43 $2.00 $3.50 $3.12 $2.65
Shop Our #1 Rated Shake

310 Shake is a healthy meal replacement formula made with some of the finest natural ingredients in the world.

Ctrl Shake Review

Meal replacement shakes should all carry a balanced blend of healthy carbohydrates and fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals- everything you would typically get from a healthy meal with regular food. This shake claims to contain a healthy blend of all of the above, including 5 grams of branched-chain amino acids, prebiotics to support a healthy-gut-bacteria, Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) to support appetite control and satiety, 22 vitamins and minerals, and, finally, digestive enzymes to aid in digesting the nutrients provided. To top it all off, claims are made that it tastes like the “bottom of a cereal bowl!” You mix it with water or milk alternatives, and it has chunks of actual cereal in the shake that add to the flavor and taste!

The ingredient list is long and full of names you may not be familiar with, something that should always raise a red flag regarding additives, preservatives, and flavorings.

Let’s take a look at what is in the Control Shakes using the Cinnamon Toast Flavor as an example. Remember, ingredients are listed by order of weight in the product. So, the first ingredient is present in the most considerable amount by weight and thereon.

Control Shake Ingredient List in Detail

Whey Protein Concentrate, Maltodextrin, Non-Fat Dry Milk, Acacia Gum Fiber, Cereal Pieces (Whole Grain Wheat, Sugar, Rice Flour, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Fructose, Maltodextrin, Dextrose, Salt, Tricalcium phosphate, Annatto Flour (color, Caramel Color, Natural Flavor, Sodium Ascorbate, Niacinamide, Reduced Iron, Zinc Oxide, Retinyl palmitate, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Cholecalciferol, Thiamin Mononitrate, Cyanocobalamin, Folic Acid, Nonfat Milk, BHT (to preserve freshness)), Medium Chain Triglycerides, Oat Flour, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Whey Protein Isolate, Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum, Sucralose, Lactase, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Molybdenite, Protease, Amylase, Zinc Oxide, di-alpha Tocopherol Acetate, Cholecalciferol, Niacinamide, Manganese Gluconate, Selenomethionine, Beta-Carotene, Copper Gluconate, d-calcium Pantothenate, d-biotin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Chromium Picolinate, Cyanocobalamin, Folic Acid

So, let’s take a look at these ingredients and see why they are in the shake.

Whey Protein Concentrate

Whey protein concentrate is the cheapest form of whey protein available and is frequently found in body-building supplements to promote muscle hypertrophy. Whey is among the best sources of protein available, containing all the essential amino acids and vital to muscle building and weight loss. Whey protein concentrate is made by removing much of the carbohydrate, or lactose, content in whey, resulting in protein content ranging from 34 percent to 80 percent. Whey protein is high in branched-chain amino acids necessary for muscle growth and is a by-product of the cheese making process.

Maltodextrin

Maltodextrin is a white, starchy powder that is added to food products to improve texture and shelf life. Maltodextrin has a high glycemic index meaning it can cause a spike in blood sugar, certainly not something people with diabetes or prediabetes would want.  It has four calories per gram, the same as table sugar.

Non-Fat Dry Milk

Dried milk powder is 80% casein protein and 20% whey protein. Casein is known as a “slow” protein as it is released into the system slowly instead of whey, which is a “fast” protein.  Dried milk powder typically has 36% protein with a remaining 52% as carbohydrate in the form of lactose. Whey protein concentrate and milk powder have about the same percent carbohydrate content. Milk protein is high in branched-chain amino acids like whey.

Acacia Gum Fiber

A soluble fiber, acacia gum, is used to lower cholesterol and blood sugar, stabilize weight, and aid in hunger control. It is said to be a prebiotic feeding the good bacteria in the gut.

Cereal Pieces

The first thing you might notice here is the presence of whole-grain wheat which means it is not gluten-free. It also contains added sugars and partially hydrogenated soybean oil, a source of saturated fat. Saturated fat is not good for the heart, so watching for the term hydrogenated is key to keeping your heart healthy. It also contains an artificial preservative, BHT. BHT is the most commonly used antioxidant in commercially processed foods. A recent 2021 animal study showed BHT to have toxic effects on neurobehavioral activity and pathological changes in the heart, brain, and lung. However, a 2019 Norwegian review panel concluded that BHT posed no adverse health risks to humans. There is added salt, an unnecessary ingredient. Dextrose is in the cereal pieces and is a type of sugar made from corn. It is similar to fructose and chemically identical to glucose. Fructose, another sugar, is added for sweetness. An array of micronutrients is also included in the cereal pieces such as (Sodium Ascorbate, Niacinamide, Reduced Iron, Zinc Oxide, Retinyl palmitate, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Cholecalciferol, Thiamin Mononitrate, Cyanocobalamin, Folic Acid) Despite a listing for reduced iron in the cereal pieces, there is no iron listed on the nutrition facts label.

Tricalcium phosphate

A source of high calcium, care must be taken not to get too much of this substance as it can cause problems in excess. It is used as a food additive as an anti-caking ingredient.

Flavorings and Color

They are simply listed as color, Caramel Color, and Natural Flavor. Caramel color is made by heating sugar. So, the color is technically natural, but also technically sugar. The term Natural Flavor does not give us much detail on the source. Natural and artificial flavors are both listed on the ingredient label.

Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs)

MCTs are partially man-made fats and are commonly used in weight loss programs since your body processes them differently than regular fats. Replacement of long-chain fatty acids with MCTs may cause a modest reduction in weight, but more study is needed to determine dosage and effects. It may do this by increasing satiety hormones leptin and peptide YY.

Oat Flour

Oats are a valuable source of water-soluble fibers and act to lower blood cholesterol and blood sugar and increase your level of fullness. They lend several essential nutrients to the shake. Oats are also a source of protein and healthy fats. Its use is common among weightlifters and bodybuilders.

Whey Protein Isolate

The primary difference between whey concentrates and whey isolate is the isolate undergoes more processing and has less carbohydrate and lactose than whey concentrate. It is also more expensive. There are no clear differences in the effects of whey concentrate vs. the isolate.

Guar Gum

Not only is guar gum a source of soluble fiber, but it is also a prebiotic. It is added to shakes to increase the fiber content of the meal replacement. Health effects of guar gum are constipation relief and relief from diarrhea symptoms, irritable bowel syndrome, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. It may have possible appetite satiating effects.

Xanthan Gum

This is a carbohydrate used as a thickening and stabilizing agent. It is technically a soluble fiber that may have the additional benefits of lowering cholesterol and glucose.

Artificial Sweeteners-Sucralose

Sucralose will spike blood sugar if taken in conjunction with carbohydrates, which this meal replacement has. It dysregulates the gut-brain communication levels with regards to glucose thus impairing insulin sensitivity when consumed with carbohydrates, but not when consumed alone. This is not a product someone with diabetes or prediabetes would want to take because of blood sugar effects. In fact, the website warns diabetics against taking this product. 

Digestive Enzymes

While not listed in order, you will find lactase, protease, and amylase at the bottom of the ingredient list. Lactase is included to help digest the heavy load of lactose in the product. Protease helps with protein digestion, and amylase helps with starch and carbohydrate breakdown.

Vitamin and Mineral Blend

Listed at the bottom of the ingredient list are the micronutrients contained in the shake as follows: Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Molybdenite, Zinc Oxide, di-alpha Tocopherol Acetate, Cholecalciferol, Niacinamide, Manganese Gluconate, Selenomethionine, Beta-Carotene, Copper Gluconate, d-calcium Pantothenate, d-biotin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Chromium Picolinate, Cyanocobalamin, Folic Acid

These are the chemical names for Vitamin C, Molybdenum, Zinc, Vitamin E, Calcium, Niacin, Manganese, Selenium, Beta Carotene (vitamin A’s precursor), Copper, Pantothenate, Biotin, Pyridoxine, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Chromium, Vitamin B12, and Folic Acid.

The ingredient list was loaded with added sugars, artificial ingredients including flavors and preservatives, and an unfortunate choice for a sugar substitute. On the other hand, the protein sources were full of essential amino acids that were of high quality. Digestive enzymes were included to help digest the lactose load inherent in the shake, as well as digestive aids for the protein and fats. The choice of fats being MCTs, the shake had the advantage of including easily digested fats that do not need to turn into bile but can go directly to the liver to process as energy. Shake ingredients included sources of water-soluble fiber- good for filling the stomach and increasing satiety as well as stabilizing blood glucose.

Let’s take a closer look at the nutritional content and see what the Nutrition Facts are.

Ctrl Shake Label and Nutrition Facts

Ctrl Nutrition Facts

 

An important distinction between nutrition facts and supplement facts on labels need to be made.  If a product uses ingredients that are on the “Generally Regarded as Safe”  (GRAS) list in quantities determined to be safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) then the product is considered a food and can be labeled with a Nutrition Facts label. But, if a protein powder uses  ingredients that are NOT generally regarded as safe or in quantities that have not been determined to be safe, then they may be listed as nutritional supplements in which case the powders are labeled as such with a Supplement Facts label. The FDA maintains a list of food ingredients that they have tested and have determined to be GRAS. 

We see from the label that there are 20 servings per container, with each serving being two scoops of protein powder.

Calories:

There are 280 calories per serving, a little on the high side. Still, if you had three shakes per day, that would equal 840 calories, well under the minimum amount of weight loss calories in a diet containing 1200 calories. Men should not eat below 1500 calories, and women should not eat below 1200 calories on a weight loss plan in order to lose weight at a safe rate and still get the nutrients they need in a day. This also should be individualized to the person.

Total Fat: 6 grams or 8% of the DV. It is still low in fat. Saturated fat is only 2 grams or 10% of the DV, which is surprising with the partially hydrogenated vegetable oil content.

Cholesterol: 110 mg or 37% of the DV, a little on the high side for what we like to see in the nutrition label.

Sodium: 130 mg or 6% of the DV. Despite the added salt in the cereal mixture, this is not a high sodium value. Low sodium is defined as less than 140 mg per serving.

Total Carbs: 33 grams or 12 % of the DV. While not low enough to be considered keto if more than one drink per day were consumed, it is low in net carbs, and additional calories should be from carbohydrates for energy, such as fresh fruit. Fresh fruit is also high in water-soluble fiber.

Dietary Fiber: 5 grams is enough to fulfill hunger pangs and keep the munchies away. Since the source is primarily water-soluble fiber, it may offset some of the blood sugar increases caused by the combination of sucralose with carbohydrates.

Total Sugars: 6 grams is on the high side, primarily since an artificial sweetener is being used as well. Women should have no more than 25 grams of sugar per day, and men should have no more than 38 according to the American Heart Association, so this is getting on the high side of what we would like to see in added shake sugars although still in range if three shakes per day were consumed and a very low sugar diet was consumed on the side.

Protein: 23 grams of high-quality protein is contained in each serving. This is 46% of the DV for protein in one serving, an excellent source for building muscle, preventing muscle breakdown, boosting metabolism, and satiating the appetite. Individuals should have 0.4 gm protein per pound and older individuals should have 0.6 grams per pound. For a 150 lb individual this equates to 60 grams protein per day for younger folk and 90 grams for older.

Vitamins and Minerals: There are 19 vitamins and minerals in this shake that meet or exceed 33% of the DV for nutrients. The ones that do not come close are potassium, iron, and magnesium. Since magnesium deficiency is present in 50% of Americans, this is something to pay attention to. The iron content at 0 mg mandates that an iron supplement be taken if relying on this shake as a meal replacement. Potassium at 3% of the DV could be boosted by adding fruits and vegetables to the meal replacement. It is curious that the company advertises it has 22 vitamins and minerals when one of those minerals (iron) is listed as 0 mg.

Ctrl Shake Flavors

The Control Shakes come in five flavors, Cinnamon Toast, Fruity Flakes, Cocoa Crunch, Birthday Cake, and Cookies and Cream. Since the shakes have actual cereal pieces in them, it is like drinking a bowl of cereal. Reviews on the website were optimistic regarding flavors, and the website listed a rating of 4.7 out of 5 for product excellence.

How Much Do Ctrl Shakes Cost?

A one-time purchase is $52.99 for 20 servings puts the price for a meal at $2.64, a fairly reasonable price. If you have a subscription, the price goes down to $45.04 or $2.25 per meal.

Who is Behind Ctrl Shakes?

Several creative founders in the media and video game industry are involved with Control Meal Replacement Shakes. Oddly, they do not have a health and wellness background but instead are on the tipping edge of technology, gaming, athletics, and legal affairs related to their entrepreneurship ventures.

Ctrl Shake Summary

If you evaluate the shakes based on protein, fiber, and carbohydrates, they would probably pass as a meal replacement. There are several shortcomings, however. The fatty acids only contain medium-chain triglycerides making them deficient in the essential omega-3 fatty acids. They are also devoid of iron, a necessary micronutrient for our blood and physiology. Also, the magnesium and potassium are unacceptably low, especially for the 50% of those Americans who are magnesium deficient and less than 2% of the population who gets enough potassium.

Let’s move on to the things that should not be there, like added sugars and artificial sweeteners that have adverse effects on blood sugar. Then there are the artificial preservatives such as BHT and artificial flavors. These are things that make a shake score lower on our rating scale.

While the calories are not excessively high if you are using it as a meal replacement, does it really qualify as a meal replacement with so many deficiencies? One would have to round out the extra dietary choices quite carefully to make up for the nutritional shortcomings or buy supplements to make up the difference which adds to the cost.

For a comparative look at one of our highly rated shakes, see our 310 review.

1Nutritional information from https://drinkctrl.com/products/cinnamon-toast. Price per serving calculated from a package price of $52.99 for CTRL Cinnamon Toast with 20 servings per package. Accessed 11/18/20.