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Ensure is a popular brand of premixed nutrition shakes.
One popular product in the Ensure lineup is Ensure Complete.
However, you may wonder what the benefits of drinking Ensure Complete are and how it compares with other Ensure products like Ensure Plus.
This article provides a complete overview of Ensure Complete, discussing its nutrition profile, benefits, how it compares with other Ensure products, and more.
What is Ensure Complete?
Ensure Complete is a popular premixed nutrition shake that is part of the Ensure lineup.
Other popular Ensure products include:
Each 10-ounce (296 mL) bottle of Ensure Complete provides:
- Calories: 350
- Fat: 8 grams
- Carbohydrates: 42 grams
- Fiber: 4 grams
- Protein: 30 grams
Each bottle also provides at least 20% of the daily value (DV) for 25 vitamins and minerals.
Ensure Complete is available in three classic flavors — Milk Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry.
Although rumors have persisted that Ensure Complete is being discontinued, there is no evidence from its Abbott — its manufacturer — that this is the case.
Ensure Complete is a popular premixed nutrition shake rich in calories and protein. It’s also an excellent source of 24 vitamins and minerals.
What are the benefits of drinking Ensure Complete?
Owing to its complete and balanced nutrition profile, Ensure Complete has a lot to offer.
Here are a few benefits of drinking Ensure Complete:
It can help you gain weight
Providing 350 calories per bottle, Ensure Complete is a great high-calorie shake for weight gain.
Calories in liquid form tend to make you feel less full than calories from solid food, allowing you to reach and maintain a calorie surplus for weight gain easier.
While it can serve as a meal replacement, it’s best to drink Ensure Complete between meals as a snack since your meals should provide more calories than the 350 that Ensure Complete offers.
However, you could use Ensure Complete as a high-calorie meal replacement for weight gain if you use it as the liquid base for a homemade shake.
For example, you could blend Ensure Complete with 1/2 cup (40 grams) of quick oats, one banana, and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, and you now have a high-calorie meal just shy of 800 calories.
You can find other ideas for high-calorie shake ingredients and recipes here.
It can support muscle gain
A good progressive weight training program is what drives muscle growth, but you need adequate calories and protein to support the muscle-building process.
This is where Ensure Complete can be beneficial.
Each bottle of Ensure Complete provides 30 grams of protein, more than any other product in the Ensure lineup.
Thirty grams of protein is more than enough to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS) — the process of building muscle mass (1).
You can drink Ensure Complete after your workouts, but as long as you are meeting your daily protein needs, the timing in which you drink Ensure Complete becomes less important (3).
It’s a complete meal replacement
Ensure Complete isn’t best utilized as a meal replacement for weight gain — unless you use it to make high-calorie shakes — but it is a great meal replacement for everyone else.
There is no legal definition for meal replacements, but they generally provide a balanced ratio of protein, carbohydrates, and fats — similar to a typical meal.
Ensure Complete fits this description of a meal replacement while also providing 20% of the DV for 25 vitamins and minerals.
So whether for convenience, a specific goal like weight loss, or something different, Ensure Complete is a good meal replacement choice.
It nourishes your gut bacteria
Ensure Complete provides four grams of prebiotic fiber.
Humans aren’t able to digest prebiotics but they can nourish the good bacteria in your gut (4).
The good bacteria in your gut — probiotics — feed on prebiotic fiber and produce beneficial compounds called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).
Here are some of the health benefits of SCFAs (5):
- strengthens the gut barrier to protect the body from toxins
- supports healthy blood sugar levels
- supports healthy blood pressure levels
- decreases inflammation
- strengthens the immune system
The four grams of prebiotic fiber that Ensure Complete provides is a good amount but you should also aim to increase your intake of prebiotic fiber from other foods for these benefits.
Foods rich in prebiotic fiber include artichokes, garlic, asparagus, unripe (green) bananas, apples, and oats.
However, some people — namely those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) — don’t tolerate prebiotic fibers since they are considered a FODMAP food.
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polys.
Drinking Ensure Complete can help you gain weight, support muscle gain, serve as a meal replacement, and nourish your gut bacteria.
How Ensure Complete compares with Ensure Plus
Ensure Plus is another popular premixed nutrition shake in the Ensure lineup.
You can usually find it right next to Ensure Complete on the shelves of stores that carry Ensure products.
They share many similarities nutritionally but they have some differences.
Here’s how Ensure Complete compares with Ensure Plus nutritionally:
|Vitamins and minerals
Ensure Complete and Ensure Plus provide the same number of calories, but Ensure Complete provides almost twice the protein and fewer grams of fat and carbohydrates than Ensure Plus.
Ensure Complete also provides three times the fiber as Ensure Plus.
Despite these minor differences, there are no significant differences between Ensure Complete and Ensure Plus beyond the protein content.
Therefore, unless you have higher protein needs or you struggle to get enough protein to meet your needs, choose one based on factors that are important to you like cost, availability, or flavor.
People who have higher protein needs or who could benefit from increasing their protein intake include (1):
- older adults
- people looking to lose weight
- people recovering from an illness or surgery
- people with certain medical conditions like diabetes
Ensure Plus comes in the same flavors as Ensure Complete but offers two additional — Dark Chocolate and Butter Pecan.
My wife and I tried the Milk Chocolate and Vanilla flavors of Ensure Complete and Ensure Plus to determine which products we thought tasted the best.
Both flavors from each product tasted similar to each other, but Ensure Plus tasted sweeter and creamier, possibly because it provides more fat and carbs than Ensure Complete.
Based on the opinion of my wife and me, Ensure Plus Milk Chocolate tasted better than the same flavor of Ensure Complete, but Ensure Complete Vanilla tasted better than its Ensure Plus relative.
To learn about the differences in taste and nutrition between Ensure Plus and Boost — another popular brand of premixed nutrition shakes — check this article out.
Beyond the higher protein content of Ensure Complete, there are small but no significant differences between Ensure Complete and Ensure Plus nutritionally.
Price and where to buy
You can purchase Ensure Complete at stores that sell health products like grocery stores, supermarkets, and retail pharmacies.
You can also find Ensure Complete on sites like Amazon.
A 24-pack of Ensure Complete on Amazon costs around $70 or $2.92 per bottle.
The cost of Ensure Complete varies depending on where you live, shop, and pack size.
However, Ensure Complete tends to be more expensive than some of the other Ensure products, including Ensure Plus.
The higher cost of Ensure Complete is likely because it provides more protein.
Ensure Complete comes in packs of 4, 6, and 24. Usually, but not always, the cost per bottle is less with larger pack sizes.
Whether online or in-store, you may be able to save by shopping around.
For example, I found that a six-pack of Ensure Complete costs a few dollars more at a local Walmart than it did at a local grocery store.
You can purchase Ensure Complete using SNAP benefits — previously known as food stamps — since the product is marketed as a conventional food and not a dietary supplement.
You can purchase Ensure Complete online and at most stores that sell health products. The cost varies depending on where you live, shop, and pack size.
The bottom line
Ensure Complete is a popular premixed nutrition shake in the Ensure lineup.
It provides 350 calories and 30 grams of protein per bottle.
The nutrition profile of Ensure Complete makes it beneficial for gaining weight, building muscle, and nourishing your good bacteria. You can also drink it as a meal replacement.
Beyond providing nearly 100% more protein than Ensure Plus, there are small but no significant differences between Ensure Complete and Ensure Plus.
You can find Ensure Complete on sites like Amazon or in stores that sell health products.