Ingredients in Carnation Instant Breakfast

iStarcevic/iStock/Getty Images

Carnation Instant Breakfast comes in both powdered and ready-to-drink formulas. With five flavors and two sugar-free varieties, the mix offers multiple options for a quick on-the-go breakfast or snack. The powdered versions are to be mixed with low- or non-fat milk while the ready-to drink versions are best served chilled. The ingredients in the different flavors vary slightly, so those with dietary concerns should read the labels before purchasing.

Non-Fat Milk

The first ingredient in all the flavors of Carnation Instant Breakfast is non-fat milk. The non-fat milk contributes to the 25 percent of the daily recommended allowance of calcium provided by the powdered drinks. Adding 1 cup of fat-free milk brings the calcium level up to 50 percent. The ready-to-drink versions have 50 percent of the daily recommended allowance of calcium.


In all but the classic French Vanilla powdered flavor, the ready-to-drink flavors and the sugar-free versions, sugar is the second ingredient. The ready-to-drink bottles contain 31 g of sugar, or 7.75 teaspoons worth, while the powdered versions contain 19 g of sugar, or 4.75 g worth. The American Heart Association recommends women take in no more than 6 added teaspoons of sugar daily and men no more than 9 teaspoons.


Maltodextrin is the second or third ingredient in most of the Carnation Instant Breakfast products. Maltodextrin is used to simulate dietary fiber explains the Center for Science in the Public Interest. This type of “fiber” can help lower blood sugar levels, but will not assist with digestion.

Dicalcium Phosphate

A common supplement added to breakfast cereals, enriched flour and enriched pasta, dicalcium phosphate boosts the calcium content of Carnation Instant Breakfast foods.

Added Vitamins

Nestle, the company that makes Carnation Instant Breakfast, enriches the drinks with several vitamins and minerals. These include magnesium hydroxide sodium ascorbate, or vitamin C, Vitamin E acetate, Vitamin A palmitate, niacinamide, ferric orthophosphate, or iron, zinc oxide, pantothenic acid, copper gluconate, manganese sulfate, vitamin B6, thiamin mononitrate, vitamin K, biotin, folic acid and Vitamin B12.

Other Ingredients

All of the powdered mixes contain added lactose. The Rich Chocolate, Dark Chocolate and Chocolate Malt versions also contain cocoa, carrageenan and soy lecithin. French vanilla contains cellulose gum. Strawberry Sensation is colored with beet juice extract and sodium citrate. The ready-to-drink and no-sugar-added varieties of the powdered drink come in Rich Chocolate and Classic French vanilla and, along with the ingredients found in the regular versions of the drink mix, include inulin – a source of dietary fiber. The sugar-free varieties are sweetened with the artificial sweeteners acesulfame potassium and sucralose rather than sugar.

Gluten-Containing Ingredients

The Malted Milk variety contains malted milk, which has gluten-containing ingredients and is inappropriate for someone on a gluten-free diet. The ready-to-drink versions contain flavorings that include barley, which must also be avoided by those following a gluten-free diet.