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Sometimes you don’t have time to prepare a meal—or you just don’t want to. And while we don’t recommend getting in the habit of drinking your meals instead of eating them, the best meal replacement shakes truly are complete, balanced meals all on their own, unlike the best protein powders which are typically focused on protein.

RELATED: Best High-Protein Meal Delivery

But as a category, meal replacement shakes are difficult to navigate. Manufacturers make a lot of health claims, but the ingredients in the shakes don’t always live up to the hype. To find the best meal replacement shakes, our GGR team, which is made up of certified personal trainers, certified nutrition coaches, and professional athletes, talked to registered dietitian Perry Nix, RD, LD, to get her take. We then spent several weeks testing various pre-made shakes and powders and rated them on several factors, including:

  • Formulation
  • Solubility
  • Taste
  • Price
  • Side effects
  • Customer service

After we tallied up the results, these are the six options that made the cut.

Medical disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. For health advice, contact a licensed healthcare provider. GGR always recommends purchasing products that are third-party tested.

Best Meal Replacement Shakes 

Best Meal Replacement Shake Overall: Huel Ready-to-Drink

Good for: Anyone who prefers a grab-and-go drink that doesn’t require any mixing

Best Overall

Huel Ready-to-Drink

GGR Score: 4.2 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Formulated to be a meal replacer
  • 27 essential vitamins and minerals
  • Contains no animal products or lactose
  • Slow-release carbs to help maintain your energy

Pros & Cons


  • Balanced macros
  • Naturally sweetened
  • Low glycemic index
  • Nutritionally complete


  • Reviews mention products received close to expiration
  • Expensive

Bottom Line

Huel ready-to-drink is a great macro-balanced option for those who need a meal replacement on the go. Slow release carbs keep you full and vitamins and minerals give you everything you need.

As the name implies, the Huel Ready-to-Drink shakes are complete meals. According to Perry Nix, RD, LD, they’re rich in healthy fats, fiber, and protein (they contain 20 to 22 grams per serving), so you’ll likely feel satiated after drinking them and may consume fewer calories throughout the day. Each shake has 400 calories, so it’s truly a meal replacement shake and is gluten-free, non-GMO, and dairy-free.

“Additionally, 22 grams of protein is sufficient to activate muscle protein synthesis, so drinking this after a resistance training workout could support muscle growth,” Perry says.

But it’s not just about the protein here. The Huel drinks also have 27 essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, vitamin B12, calcium, and zinc, and they have omega-3 fatty acids and other healthy fats, like medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). We rate the formulation as a 3.5 out of 5.

Other callouts from Perry are that plant-based proteins, like pea protein, are lactose-free and may be easier to digest for some people than meal replacements made with milk proteins. Plant-based supplements also tend to be higher in unsaturated fats and fiber, which are heart-healthy nutrients that could help reduce cholesterol levels. 

RELATED: Plant-Based Protein Powder Benefits

Aside from the health benefits, we like that there are eight flavors to choose from, including some out-of-the-box options like salted caramel, banana, and cinnamon roll. And this is one of the only bottled options we recommend (most others are meal replacement powders), so it’s a convenient grab-and-go healthy meal.

Former GGR senior staff writer and certified sports nutrition coach Amanda Capritto has been using these for a while now and, while she admittedly prefers whey-based shakes, has come to really appreciate them. “These have seriously become a lifesaver for me in terms of getting in all my calories during Ironman training, especially before early morning workouts when I just don’t want to eat yet,” she says.  

One negative about this product is the price—at about $5 per serving, they’re quite expensive and earned a 1 out of 5 in this category. You’re partly paying for the convenience of being able to grab and go, as most meal replacement shakes require a decent amount of shaking and blending, but there are more affordable options out there.

Calories per serving400
Protein per serving20-22 g
Fiber per serving6-8 g
Number of essential vitamins and minerals27

Best Meal Replacement Shake for Weight Loss: Ka’Chava Shake

Good for: Anyone who wants a low- to moderate-calorie option

Best for Weight Loss

Ka'Chava Shake

GGR Score: 3.2 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Plant-based protein powder
  • 25 g of protein
  • Comes in 5 flavors
  • 21-25 g carbs and 7-8 g fat
  • Free from soy, dairy, and gluten

Pros & Cons


  • Subscribe and save options
  • Money back guarantee
  • No preservatives or artificial ingredients
  • Contains vitamins and minerals
  • Contains all three macronutrients


  • Expensive price per serving
  • Contains tree nuts

Bottom Line

The Kachava Shake is plant-based protein powder packed with vitamins, minerals, adaptogens, antioxidants, and super greens. Although there are five delicious flavors to choose from, it’s worth noting that the price per serving is over $4. There is a subscribe and save option, which will bring the cost down to about $3.99 per serving.

Before we jump into the merits of the Ka’Chava shake, we want to preface this by saying that we aren’t necessarily calling out meal replacement shakes as the best way to lose weight. We think they can certainly help you reach your goals, but you shouldn’t be severely limiting your calories via meal replacement shakes in the name of weight loss. 

Now that’s out of the way, we’re crowning the Ka’Chava Shake as the best meal replacement shake for weight loss for a couple of reasons. First, it’s on the lower end of the calorie spectrum. It has 240 calories per serving and while we think that’s low for a meal on its own, it gives you some room to build up. 

In addition, it has 25 grams of high-quality plant-based protein that comes from a combination of sources for an optimal amino acid profile. It also has supportive ingredients, like an omega-3 blend, a fiber blend (that helps keep you full), and an adaptogen blend (that can help you manage stress, which can make it more difficult to lose weight). There are more than 85 superfoods in total, including chia seeds, chlorella, maca, and acai.

RELATED: Best Protein Powder for Weight Loss 

Someone scooping KaChava into a shaker bottle

“The superfoods in Kachava shakes, including berries, spinach, kale, and chlorella, are abundant in antioxidants. These antioxidants have the capacity to combat inflammation and offer protection against chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes,” registered dietitian Perry Nix says.

But it doesn’t just look good on paper. After testing, GGR editor Frieda Johnson gave it a 4 out of 5 for taste and a 4 out of 5 for formulation. She tried the chai flavor and said that while she wouldn’t necessarily say it tastes exactly like chai, it was a nice change from your standard chocolate or vanilla options. 

The texture was a bit gritty, so it lost some points for solubility (3 out of 5), but Frieda said it wasn’t undrinkable. Ka’Chava also got high marks for customer service, since there’s a “Love It Guarantee”—you can return the bag for a refund if you don’t like it.

For more, check out our full Ka’Chava Review.

Calories per serving240
Protein per serving25 g
Fiber per serving4-7 g
Number of essential vitamins and minerals26

Best Plant-Based Meal Replacement Shake: Rootana Real Food Shake

Good for: Those looking for a complete protein, plant-based option

Best Plant-Based

Rootana Real Food Shake

GGR Score: 3 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Plant-based meal replacement shake 
  • 400 calories per serving 
  • No artificial dyes, sweeteners, or flavors

Pros & Cons


  • 400 calories is sufficient for a meal replacement shake
  • Nutrition label provides information for a “standard portion” and “large portion”
  • Suitable for people with allergies to lactose and soy
  • Rootana is very transparent about ingredients and sourcing
  • 7-8 g fiber per standard serving


  • 400 calories but only 20 g protein
  • Only 2 flavors available

Bottom Line

Rootana Real Food Shake is a 400-calorie meal replacement shake stacked with 8 grams of fiber, 14 grams of fat (12 being unsaturated), 44 grams of carbs from complex sources, and all essential vitamins and minerals. We wish it had more protein (20 grams in a 400-calorie serving seems low), but we love that these shakes are free from artificial sweeteners, dyes, flavors, and unnecessary fillers.

Collectively, our GGR team typically prefers whey-based protein and meal replacement shakes, but the plant-based Rootana Real Food Shake was surprisingly good. It wasn’t knock-your-socks-off delicious, but GGR editor Frieda Johnson said the flavor was OK and she liked that it wasn’t too sweet and had more of the bitterness of dark chocolate than your typical chocolate protein shake.

Frieda also gave it a 3 out of 5 for formulation. It has a pea protein base, which is one of the only complete plant-based proteins, plus complementary protein sources like flaxseeds.

“[It] offers all BCAAs to repair and build muscle after a workout,” says Perry Nix, RD, LD. “Rootana Real Food Shake is also free of artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols, which may lead to gastrointestinal distress such as gas and abdominal pain in some individuals.”

Mixed Rootana in a shaker cup

The major downside was its texture. Frieda said that when she followed the directions as written, the shake was so thick she could barely drink it. She was able to resolve this by using less powder or more water, but that will throw the portions, and potentially the macros, off if you go with the former option. It didn’t completely tank in this area, but Frieda gave it a 3 out of 5.

As far as calories and macros go, it looks pretty good. Rootana gives you two options: a standard serving and a large serving. The standard serving, which is four scoops, has 400 calories, 20 grams of protein, and 7 to 8 grams of fiber. If you opt for the large serving, or six scoops, that bumps things up to 588 calories, 29 grams of protein, and 10 to 12 grams of fiber. This makes it a true meal replacement shake, unlike some others that have 150 to 200 calories per serving.

Calories per serving400
Protein per serving20 g
Fiber per serving7-8 g
Number of essential vitamins and minerals24

Best-Tasting Meal Replacement: HLTH Code Complete Meal

Good for: Those looking for a yummy shake with a thick consistency 


HLTH Code Complete Meal

GGR Score: 4.01 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Meal replacement shake designed by a metabolic scientist
  • Up to 50% daily value of 25 vitamins and minerals
  • 1:1 ratio of healthy fats to protein
  • Also available in a plant-based vegan and dairy-free version
  • Available in 2 flavors: Creamy vanilla and chocolate macadamia

Pros & Cons


  • No GMOs or artificial ingredients
  • Made in the USA at a cGMP-certified facility
  • Subscribe and save $10 per bag
  • Keto-friendly
  • 30-day risk-free trial: Get your money back within 30 days


  • Mixed reviews on taste
  • Poor reviews on mixability
  • Expensive at $4 per serving

Bottom Line

HLTH Code Complete Meal contains 27 grams of protein per serving, a 1:1 ratio of healthy fats to protein, and up to 50% daily value of 25 vitamins and minerals. It is also available in a vegan plant-based version if you’d prefer. Customer reviews were very mixed on taste and mixability.

If a shake is going to replace your whole meal, it better taste good. We had several testers try out HLTH Code Complete Meal, and we really liked the taste of it. Kate Meier, GGR senior director of content and CPT, tried both Creamy Vanilla and Chocolate Macadamia and said she could drink both consistently, rating the taste a 4 out of 5. “They both have hints of flavor, but it’s not overpowering. At first I was disappointed by this, but the more I drank it the more I liked it—if you’re going to be drinking these daily, I think it’s actually better that they’re not in your face with strong flavor.”

An image of a woman scooping HLTH Code Complete Meal into a shaker

Solubility received a 3 out of 5, though—in a blender this shake is great, providing a smooth, thick consistency. In a shaker cup, however, it turns out clumpy. “It’s a thick queen!” Kate says. “You can still sip it through a straw, though. I didn’t like drinking it out of a shaker cup because it didn’t blend well, but it was great mixed in a blender.” 

An image of HLTH Code Complete Meal meal replacement in a shaker cup

For formulation we rate this a 4 out of 5—with 27 grams of protein and 25 essential vitamins and minerals plus 400 calories, HLTH Code Complete Meal provides enough nourishment to actually replace a meal. There’s quite a bit of fat in a serving, though, as this is considered a keto-friendly supplement. “While the product contains plenty of heart-healthy unsaturated fats, there are still 17 grams of saturated fat,” explains Perry Nix, R.D. Too much saturated fat is linked to serious conditions like heart disease and diabetes, so this is something to keep in mind. 

Perry also likes that there’s collagen protein in this formulation, along with whey and egg white protein; this is an uncommon addition in meal replacement shakes, but a welcome one. 

Calories per serving400
Protein per serving27 g
Fiber per serving9 g
Number of essential vitamins and minerals25

Best Gluten-Free Meal Replacement Shake: 310 Shakes

Good for: Those who want an all-in-one shake that also has probiotics and adaptogens

Best Gluten-Free

310 All-in-One Meal Replacement Shake

GGR Score: 3.34 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Meal replacement shake
  • 15 g of protein, 6 g of carbs, 2.5 g of fat, and 110 calories per serving
  • 26 essential vitamins and minerals
  • 13 flavors available

Pros & Cons


  • Formulation is solid
  • Texture is good for a meal replacement


  • Not enough calories to replace a full meal
  • Some flavors taste better than others

Bottom Line

If you're looking for a meal replacement shake that is full of nutritional ingredients—including plant-based protein, adaptogens, and probiotics—310 shakes could be worth a try.

As far as meal replacement shakes go, the 310 Shakes have one of the cleanest ingredient lists out there. In addition to being gluten-free, they’re dairy-free, soy-free, and sugar-free, and made without any artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners. And even better? They actually taste pretty good.

I tried these shakes and gave them a 4 out of 5 for taste overall. It definitely depends on which flavor you get—I tried the variety pack and couldn’t get some of the flavors down (we’re looking at you coconut), but the chocolate, mocha, and vanilla flavors were quite pleasant. 

The texture was good, too, earning a 4 out of 5 overall. It looked a little grainy after shaking it up with water in a shaker bottle, but I didn’t pick up any of that graininess when actually drinking it. They had a just-right consistency when mixed only with water, too. They were fairly thick, but not so thick that it was hard to get them down. And when blended they tasted more like a milkshake.

I also gave them a 4 out of 5 for formulation. While there are a couple of ingredients we could live without, like xanthan gum, these certainly aren’t dealbreakers. And the good outweighs the bad here. There’s a foundational plant-based protein blend that includes pea protein, organic brown rice concentrate, and organic pumpkin protein, plus a multitude of supportive ingredients like a healthy fats blend that includes medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), an oat fiber blend, and an adaptogen blend. It also has a digestive blend that includes probiotics and digestive enzymes, and I’ve felt more regular since drinking these. 

RELATED: Probiotics Side Effects

It does fall short in calories, only earning a 2 out of 5. This is the lowest-calorie option on our list, with only 110 calories per serving. This is certainly not enough to replace a full meal, but like some of the others, you can add ingredients to this powder in a blender to create a balanced meal, or get some additional calories and protein from eggs or something light.

Calories per serving110
Protein per serving15 g
Fiber per serving5 g
Number of essential vitamins and minerals26

Best Vegan Meal Replacement Shake: Huel Black Edition

Good for: Those who want a high-protein option with added vitamins and minerals

Best Vegan

Huel Complete Powder Black Edition

GGR Score: 4.2 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Plant-based complete nutritional shake 
  • 400 calories, 40 g protein, 5-8 g fiber, 4-6g sugar
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • 9 flavor options
  • Gluten-free meal shake

Pros & Cons


  • Doesn’t need to be refrigerated
  • Resealable bag
  • 40 g protein in each serving
  • Contains all essential vitamins and minerals
  • 9 flavors available


  • Must sign up for subscription
  • Bit of an aftertaste from plant-based protein

Bottom Line

Huel Complete Protein Powder Black Edition is a nutritionally complete meal replacement shake powder, containing 400 calories per serving along with 40 grams of protein in all of the nine flavors. Fat, carb, and fiber content varies by 1 to 3 grams across flavors, but you can expect to find a healthy serving of unsaturated fats, complex carbohydrates, and fiber in each shake. Plus, each shake contains all essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids with no artificial sweeteners or gluten.

We like Huel because the company makes true meal replacement shakes, and this Black Edition is a nutritionally complete option. It has 400 calories and a balanced amount of macros. 

It’s really high in protein, which contributes to satiety; it contains 40 grams of vegan protein per serving, the highest of all the meal replacement shakes we recommend. And while it’s not low-carb enough to classify as keto, it is 50% lower in carbs than Huel’s other nutrition shakes.

RELATED: Best Vegan Protein Powder

Registered dietician Perry Nix adds, “Each serving contains 8 grams of fiber, which may support gut health. Soluble fiber, from ingredients like ground flaxseed, serves as a prebiotic that nourishes and promotes the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.”

It also has added vitamins and minerals to help you meet your dietary needs, plus probiotics and supportive ingredients like green tea extract, which may help balance blood sugar 1, which, in turn, can combat cravings2. Because of all of these factors, we rate Huel Black Edition as a 5 out of 5 in formulation.

Unlike the ready-to-drink meal replacements from Huel, this Black Edition requires mixing. But reviewers say it mixes with water well and there are no issues with the texture, earning a rating of 5 out of 5 in taste and 4.5 out of 5 in solubility.

Woman scooping Huel Black out of bag into a shaker bottle

Our tester, Brittany Combs, said, “I tried the Cookies & Cream and it was very sweet, but not too sweet, just the right amount of sweet. I tried it in 17 ounces of cold water and it mostly dissolved well in my shaker bottle. I did taste a few chunks here and there, but with a really hard shake, they seemed to go away fine. The best was adding it to my coffee. I can’t add the full serving size to my small espresso drink BUT putting in a fourth of the serving was still a great add to make my espresso more tasty and also give the benefits of added protein.”

Heads up: It does contain tree nuts in the form of coconuts, so it’s not completely allergen-free. However, it is gluten-free, non-GMO, and lactose-free. It’s also free of artificial sweeteners—it’s sweetened with coconut sugar and stevia.

Calories per serving400
Protein per serving40 g
Fiber per serving8 g
Number of essential vitamins and minerals27

Other Meal Replacement Shakes We Tested/Researched

There are a number of meal replacement shakes on the market that didn’t make our list either from testing or research. Here are a few:

Instant Knockout Complete: This one is a true meal replacement shake with 400 calories and a whopping 35 grams of protein per serving. But it didn’t score well for taste or solubility during testing, and these were really important to us.

BOOST High-Protein Nutritional Drink: BOOST used to be the leader in meal replacement shakes, but so many better ones have come out since that we just can’t get on board with recommending this one. It has a bunch of added sugar and other low-quality ingredients, so we think you can do better.

Shaklee Life Shake: This one has USDA organic ingredients, but it’s very low-calorie and doesn’t have enough other “perks” to justify a spot on the list. There are others that offer more complete nutrition along with antioxidants and other superfoods. Plus, these just don’t taste very good.

Soylent Meal Replacement Shake: This shake got high marks during our testing. Frieda gave it a 4.5 out of 5 for taste and a 5 out of 5 for solubility, but ultimately the ingredients, namely the soy and sucralose, kept it from earning a top spot on the list.

Someone holding a bottle of Soylent with bottles of different flavors in the background

How We Picked and Tested the Best Meal Replacement Shakes

The GGR testing team, which is made up of certified personal trainers, certified nutrition coaches, and professional athletes, tested all of these meal replacements over a period of several weeks.

We made them exactly as recommended, usually by mixing them with water, milk, or a milk alternative, and also experimented with blending them with other ingredients. During our testing, we rated them on a variety of factors, which are outlined below.


Formulation was a big consideration during testing. We analyzed protein, carb, and fat content, plus total calories per serving. 

Because meal replacements are meant to replace an entire meal, it’s absolutely vital that they have ample amounts of both macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). While many people just look at the protein and carbohydrate content, vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients, and falling short of your nutritional needs can greatly impact your overall health and wellness. 

Nutrition lablel on the back of a KaChava bag

Because of this, we considered the entire nutritional profile and rated them based on the protein content and number of essential vitamins and minerals.


Meal replacement shakes should have enough calories to actually replace a meal. But they shouldn’t have so many calories that they start venturing into mass gainer territory (unless weight gain is your goal). 

We considered 300 to 400 calories the sweet spot, but didn’t exclude a product based on this alone. If a meal replacement was lower in calories, we factored that into our scoring and called out that you might need to supplement it with other food.


Taste is a subjective measure, but it’s an important one nonetheless. We rated this based on the opinions of our testers, but also on the general consensus in online customer reviews. We also factored in whether there was only one flavor or many to suit a variety of tastes.

Woman drinking Kaged Clean Muscle out of a shaker bottle


One of the biggest turnoffs of a meal replacement shake is a grainy texture. We factored in solubility as well as texture—was it super thick or thin?—into our scores.

In addition to these major factors, we also rated each shake on price, customer service and reviews, and transparency around testing and ingredients.

Benefits of Meal Replacement Shakes

The biggest benefit of meal replacements is their convenience. Instead of spending time preparing a meal, sitting down to eat it, and cleaning up, you can just whip up a meal replacement shake and easily sip it, or take it with you on the way to work or the gym. 

But they can have nutritional benefits, too—as long as you pick a good one. Some of the biggest health benefits of meal replacement shakes are:

  • They’re high in protein. Most have at least 20 grams of protein per serving, which is about as much as protein powder.
  • They contribute to daily fiber needs. Most people get about half the recommended fiber amount3 and meal replacement shakes can help you meet your needs. They usually have about 6 to 8 grams of fiber per serving, which is about 25% of the daily recommendation in one serving.
  • They contain other essential vitamins and minerals. Most meal replacement shakes have added vitamins and minerals, so they offer balanced macronutrients and micronutrients.
  • They often have other health-supporting ingredients, like prebiotics, probiotics, and adaptogens. Depending on the shake, you might get additional ingredients that contribute to your gut health and overall wellness.
  • They may help you lose weight. Research shows that replacing some food calories with meal replacement shakes may contribute to greater weight loss4 compared to just restricting your calorie intake alone.

Third-Party Testing

When it comes to categorization, meal replacement shakes are kind of a gray area. Bottled meal replacement shakes are sold as a food product, while powders typically fall under the supplement category. Because of this, third-party testing and supplement regulations, like Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP), aren’t applicable to all of them.

That being said, we researched the manufacturers we recommend to see what kind of guidelines they followed. If third-party testing was an option, most of them volunteered. There are also several on the list, like Ka’Chava, that maintain cGMP guidelines. When testing these meal replacement shakes, we took this into consideration as part of our scoring process.

Best Meal Replacement Shakes: FAQs

What is the best meal replacement shakes for weight loss?

The Ka’Chava Shakes are our pick for the best meal replacement shake for weight loss. But in reality, any meal replacement shake that has ample protein, low to moderate calories, and little to no added sugar will work well in a weight loss or weight management plan. We don’t ever recommend replacing all your meals with shakes in the name of weight loss, though.

Is a meal replacement shake a good way to lose weight?

They can be. You have to make sure you’re in a calorie deficit and living a healthy lifestyle (exercising, eating plenty of veggies, and paying attention to your sleep schedule and stress levels) first and foremost. At the risk of sounding cliche, meal replacement shakes are meant to be one tool in your toolbox—not the sole answer to weight loss. 

Is it OK to have a meal replacement shake every day?

Yes, it’s OK to drink meal replacement shakes every day, but they shouldn’t be the only thing you have. As a general rule, you can replace one to two meals per day with a meal replacement shake for a couple of weeks, but they’re not meant to be a long-term substitute for whole foods. And if your meal replacement shake is very low in calories, make sure you’re eating some other sources of quality calories and protein with it.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.


1. Xu, R, Bai, Y, Yang, K, Chen, G. Effects of green tea consumption on glycemic control: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2020;17:56. doi:10.1186/s12986-020-00469-5

2. Anguah, KO, Syed-Abdul, MM, Hu, Q, et al. Changes in food cravings and eating behavior after a dietary carbohydrate restriction intervention trial. Nutrients. 2019;12(1):52. doi:10.3390/nu12010052

3. Akbar, Aelia and Shreenath, Aparna. High fiber diet. National Library of Medicine. Last Updated 2023.

4. Min J, Kim SY, Shin IS, Park YB, Lim YW. The effect of meal replacement on weight loss according to calorie-restriction type and proportion of energy intake: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2021;121(8):1551-1564.e3. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2021.05.001

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