Ample K and Bear Power Foods are two popular keto meal replacement shakes. In this article, I compare them side-by-side to help you pick the one that will work best for you.
I learned about Bear Power Foods (previously known as Bear Squeeze) in early 2019. It’s a relatively new keto-friendly meal replacement product that competes directly with Ample K, one of my favorite keto meal shakes.
Both Ample and Bear were launched via crowdfunding campaigns on Indiegogo. However, these two meal replacement powders have more in common than their origin stories.
Before we get into the details, here’s a quick comparison of some of the key characteristics of the two shakes. I have a more detailed comparison table further down, so keep reading to learn more.
|Ample K||Bear Meal Shake|
|Quality of protein||★★★★★||★★★★★|
|Amount of net carbs||★★★★★||★★★★☆|
|Type of sweeteners||★★★★★||★★★☆☆|
As you can see, Ample K and Bear run neck and neck in many categories. But I still think that Ample K is the cleaner (and thus better) product overall.
To learn more about how both Ample K and Bear compare to other keto meal replacement drinks, check out this article. To learn more about Ample K and why I’ve used it since 2018, check out my full Ample K review.
Ample K vs. Bear Meal Shake Ingredients
Both Ample K and Bear are high-fat and low net carb meal shakes that appear to be shockingly similar. But when you compare them side-by-side, you can see a few crucial differences.
So let’s dive right into it…
Source of Protein
Both Ample K and Bear use grass-fed whey protein isolate as their primary source of protein. However, Ample K also contains egg white and pea protein, which helps to improve the shake’s amino acid profile.
The body absorbs different types of protein at varying rates. Whey is absorbed relatively quickly, in comparison to egg white and pea protein. As a result, Ample K might keep you satiated a bit longer than Bear.
Technically, peas are legumes, and some people don’t like to have them in their diet. I’m one of those people, but I’m mostly concerned about legumes that are rich in antinutrients, such as soy, peanuts, and regular beans.
Peas and green beans do not fall into that category, and thus they are part of my paleo diet.
Besides the differences in the sources of amino acids in both products, it’s worth noting that Bear contains a whopping 20 grams of protein per serving, compared to the 13 grams in Ample K.
I know that a persistent myth floating around is that too much protein can kick you out of ketosis, but I’m skeptical of that line of thinking.
Gluconeogenesis (GNG) is the process that turns non-carb substances such as protein into glucose. As such, many people think that eating a lot of protein will trigger the creation of glucose and kick you out of ketosis.
However, GNG is an incredibly stable process, and I have not seen any scientific evidence suggesting that high protein intake can interfere with it (or with ketosis). That’s because GNG is a demand-driven rather than supply-driven process!
Ample vs. Bear — Quality of protein: Tied.
Source of Fat
Ample K uses an excellent variety of fatty acids from high oleic sunflower oil, macadamia nut oil, and medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). The latter is incredibly popular among followers of the keto diet because the body can use them for energy more readily than other sources of fat.
I assume that’s why Bear decided to rely on MCTs as its only source of fat. While that might make perfect sense on paper, there are side effects that go along with that strategy; the most common side effect of high MCT intake is an upset stomach (sometimes including cramps, vomiting and diarrhea).
So, if you’re new to MCTs and want to give Bear shakes a try, I recommend establishing an adjustment period by consuming just a few sips at a time to start with.
Besides the “noticeable” side effects, you’re also missing out on other essential fats, such as monounsaturated fatty acids, if you only consume MCTs. While that might not be an issue when you supplement a regular diet with MCTs, it could become a problem if you start replacing solid meals with liquid food that contains only MCTs.
Best variety of fat source: Ample K.
Source of Carbs
The goal of the keto diet is to reduce the number of carbs you eat and drink to the absolute minimum. However, as you probably know, not all carbs are created equal.
In other words, the body converts different types of carbs to glucose at varying speeds, and some carbs cannot be used as fuel by your body at all. That’s why it’s important to understand the concept of net carbs, which is the total amount of carbohydrates minus all carbs that have zero calories (including fiber and non-caloric sweeteners).
Only net carbs influence your body’s blood sugar levels and trigger an insulin response.
A 400-calorie bottle of Ample K has 13 grams of carbohydrates, including 10 grams of fiber, resulting in only 3 grams of net carbs.
Bear has 25 grams of carbs, including 13 grams of fiber and 7 grams of sugar alcohols. The result is 5 grams of net carbs.
While the difference of 2 grams might not seem like a lot, it could mean the difference between staying in ketosis or getting kicked out of it, considering the daily carb limit of 15 to 30 grams on a standard keto diet.
Lowest amount of net carbs: Ample K.
Vitamins and Minerals
As part of a healthy diet, your goal should be to get the majority of your micronutrients, including vitamins and minerals, from fresh food. However, the primary purpose of meal shakes is to replace regular meals. So it’s only reasonable to expect that they provide those micronutrients.
Ample has long taken a simplistic approach to this debate by only including the vitamins and minerals typically lacking in the standard American diet (SAD).
Most other meal replacement drinks, including the one from Bear Power Foods, are fortified with a comprehensive list of micronutrients.
I think stuffing a product with synthetic micronutrients is a misleading marketing gimmick.
Based on everything I know about how the body absorbs nutrients, I consider synthetic minerals and vitamins mostly useless. Much like you can’t turn a Big Mac into a healthy meal by popping a multi-vitamin pill, a meal replacement drink stuffed with synthetic vitamins is no better than one without them.
What does that mean? It means that you probably shouldn’t rely exclusively on any meal replacement drink to completely satisfy your daily caloric needs.
Instead, use such products on the occasions when you don’t have access to freshly-prepared, wholesome meals.
It also means that we should encourage meal shake manufacturers to include ingredients that are naturally dense in essential micronutrients, and to limit the use of synthetic vitamins.
Quality and variety of micronutrients: Tied.
The Bear Keto Shake includes 20 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) of probiotics. That’s a lot, and more than many probiotic supplements you can buy. Ample K has twice as many (40 billion) CFUs in each meal.
Most vendors tell you how many live CFUs the product contained during production. From there, that number often goes down dramatically during storage and shipment. In other words, you might not be ingesting the number of probiotics you see on the label.
I don’t know how Ample and Bear process their meal powder, and thus how shelf-stable their probiotics are. However, having 40 million compared to 20 million CFUs gives you some wiggle room, in case a few million of them die before you can drink them.
Most probiotic cultures: Ample K.
One of the first things I look at when picking up a new product is how much and what kind of sweeteners it has. That way, I can compare it to my blacklist that contains such ingredients as:
- Added sugar, unless it’s minimal and from natural sources (such as raw honey or maple syrup).
- Artificial sweeteners (e.g., sucralose).
- Sugar alcohols (e.g., erythritol).
Ample Foods uses only premium ingredients without any of the above types of sweeteners. Still, food often tastes better and appeals to a broader variety of consumers if it’s sweet. That’s why Ample K includes monk fruit extract and stevia.
Bear uses monk fruit extract and stevia, but the company also uses a whopping 7 grams of erythritol (sugar alcohol) in its formula.
Erythritol is a sweetener that naturally occurs in small amounts in certain fruits, such as watermelon, pears and grapes.
Much like other low-calorie sweeteners, such as stevia and monk fruit extract, it doesn’t trigger an insulin response in the human body. As a result, it appears at first glance to be a perfect sugar alternative for keto shakes.
Unfortunately, most manufacturers make erythritol from modified corn starch. That makes it an unhealthy and highly-processed ingredient, and one of the many “hidden GMOs” manufacturers sneak into foods. And while I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this site that there’s no scientific evidence suggesting GMOs are harmful to your health, I’d still rather avoid them when possible.
Additionally, sugar alcohols can cause digestive issues, such as pain, bloating and diarrhea.
I’m OK with consuming erythritol in small amounts, but I wouldn’t want to have it in a product that I might consume several times a week (such as a meal replacement drink).
Least amount of (irritating) sweeteners: Ample K.
My Experience with Sugar Alcohols
A few years ago, I ate what I thought were three healthy (low-carb) protein bars during a flight from Atlanta to San Francisco to attend a trade show. After checking into the hotel, I experienced the most severe stomach pain I have ever had.
I didn’t know what it was and went to an urgent care facility. While sitting there for two hours in the waiting room, the cramping slowly faded. I returned to my hotel room, where I took a closer look at the ingredient list of those “healthy” protein bars.
Most of the items on the label were ingredients that I had consumed before — except for the sugar alcohols, which I blame for my GI issues. Since then, I’ve avoided those sweeteners like the plague.
Flavors and Taste
Both Ample K and Bear shakes are available in chocolate or vanilla versions. While I haven’t tried Bear’s shake, I’ve heard from others that it tastes like artificial sweeteners. I assume that’s due to the sugar alcohols the product contains.
I like the taste of both Ample K flavors, but I absolutely prefer the chocolate version.
Best taste: Ample K.
If you compare the 400-calorie version of both Ample K and Bear you can see that Bear costs 25 cents less than Ample K.
Both products are also available via a monthly subscription, which reduces the price per meal by 10%.
I don’t know if Bear offers an Affiliate program, but Ample Foods does, and if you use my code (MK15) you’ll get an additional 15% off. That makes Ample K slightly less expensive than Bear.
Get 15% Off Ample K
Use code MK15 or the link below to get an additional 15% off your purchase.
Least expensive product: Bear Meal Shake.
Below is a more detailed comparison table that shows you the differences between Ample K and the Bear meal shake.
|Ample K||Bear Power Foods|
|Calories||400 or 600||400|
|Flavors||Vanilla cinnamon or chocolate||Vanilla or chocolate|
|Fat sources||High-oleic sunflower oil, macadamia nut oil, MCTs||MCTs|
|Carbs (net)||13g (3g)||25g (5g)|
|Protein sources||Grass-fed whey, egg white, pea||Grass-fed whey|
|Sweeteners||Monk fruit extract, stevia, dried honey||Erythritol, monk fruit extract, stevia|
|Probiotics||40 million CFUs||20 million CFUs|
|Synthetic micronutrient content||Low||High|
Frequently Asked Questions
The meal powder of both products comes pre-bottled, and all you have to do is add water or your favorite (nut) milk and shake it.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical compound that plastic manufacturers have used since the 1960s. Research has shown that BPA can leak into foods and beverages and have a negative impact on your health. There is still more research to be done, but it never hurts to be on the safe side.
While I would not consider either product a workout drink, both contain electrolytes in the form of sodium and potassium.
Ample K has 430mg of sodium and 280mg of potassium. Bear includes only 60mg of sodium and 1,000mg of potassium. That’s an impressive amount of potassium, albeit from synthetic sources.
One of the primary goals of people who follow the ketogenic diet is to lose weight (and body fat in particular). Keto protein shakes and meal replacement shakes can definitely help you achieve that goal, but they aren’t “weight loss shakes” by design.
A ketogenic diet should be inherently healthy, and you should view meal replacement shakes as a way to supplement and maintain your healthy eating habits. In other words, there are no healthy shortcuts.
I consider Soylent to be liquid fast-food and at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to meal replacement drinks. So yes, I’d say Bear is better than Soylent.
Pure protein powders provide protein but not fat or carbohydrates. As a result, they have fewer calories and cannot replace a full meal.
Final Words: Ample K vs. Bear
Making drinkable food isn’t easy — especially if the goal is to make it as unprocessed, healthy and wholesome as possible (and to mimic a freshly-prepared meal).
Manufacturers have to balance macronutrients and micronutrients with taste, texture, and shelf-life to produce a product that’s easy to mix and use.
I was pleasantly surprised by Bear when I first read about the product, and I wanted to give it a try.
I follow a ketogenic paleo diet, and I only use meal replacement drinks on occasion — for example, while traveling. As such, I don’t mind the two extra grams of net carbs or the high amount of protein and MCTs in Bear. I’m also not concerned about the fact that most of the synthetic vitamins in Bear’s shake will pass through my body and end up in the toilet.
However, the relatively high amount (7g) of erythritol is a non-starter for me, and I wish Bear would remove or replace some of it with monk fruit extract.
As a result, I favor and recommend Ample K over Bear. If you don’t mind the extra sugar alcohols and a potentially more synthetic taste, Bear might be a good choice for you.
If you’ve tried either Ample K or Bear, I’d love to hear your feedback. So leave a comment below or shoot me an email.
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