Can meal replacement shakes cause constipation?

Can meal replacement shakes cause constipation? In this article, I will cover meal replacement shake constipation, and what to do if your meal replacement shake makes you constipated.

This article was written by Jack Schrupp.

Meal replacement shakes and constipation

Do meal replacement shakes cause constipation? 

Although a common side effect of meal replacement shakes is diarrhea, many people find that meal replacement shakes also cause constipation.

Constipation occurs when you have fewer than three bowel movements a week and your poop is hard and difficult to pass. The most common symptoms are bloating and stomach pain.

Why do meal replacement shakes cause constipation? 

Meal replacement shake constipation has nothing to do with the type or amount of protein in your shake. Instead, meal replacement shakes make you constipated because they contain ingredients that resist digestion. Here are some of the top offenders:

Food additives 

Emulsifiers, flavors, sugar substitutes, thickeners and other additives look nothing like real food, making them hard to digest. As a result, they feed your gut bacteria, which produce gas as they eat.

Gas, specifically methane gas, slows colonic transit – the amount of time it takes food to travel through the colon. Exactly why this happens is somewhat of a mystery, but researchers believe that intestinal gas may reduce intestinal motility. Regardless, an excess of gas in your intestines can cause constipation. 

Here is a list of the most common food additives in meal replacements:

  • acacia fiber
  • acacia gum
  • acesulfame potassium
  • artificial flavors
  • ascorbic acid
  • aspartame
  • calcium carbonate
  • carrageenan
  • cellulose gum
  • dextrin
  • dicalcium phosphate
  • dipotassium phosphate
  • erythritol
  • gellan gum
  • guar gum
  • gum arabic
  • inulin
  • locust bean gum
  • maltitol
  • maltodextrin
  • mono- and diglycerides
  • ‘natural’ flavors
  • rice bran extract
  • rice dextrin
  • rice hulls
  • rosemary extract
  • silica
  • silicon dioxide
  • sodium alginate
  • soluble corn fiber
  • sorbitol
  • soy lecithin
  • sucralose
  • sunflower lecithin
  • tocopherols
  • tricalcium phosphate
  • xanthan gum
  • xylitol
  • zinc oxide

Dairy-based proteins

Dairy-based proteins like whey and casein, although not an issue for everyone, can cause side effects like constipation. This is in part because they contain lactose, a sugar most adults cannot fully digest.

Protein concentrates and isolates 

Most meal replacements are made from protein concentrates and isolates, which have been mechanically and or chemically stripped of everything but the protein, including the enzymes, fiber, and other natural digestive aids that help you break them down. As a result, they may cause digestive issues, including constipation.

Finding a meal replacement shake free from food additives, dairy-based proteins, and protein concentrates and isolates is hard.

In fact, 99% of meal replacements contain one or more of these problematic ingredients. This is why we created drink wholesome.

drink wholesome will not cause constipation

Our meal replacement shakes will not make you constipated because we use a short list of simple ingredients free from food additives, dairy-based proteins, and protein concentrates and isolates.

Our ingredients

egg whites

egg whites









NOT our ingredients

  • acacia gum

  • acesulfame potassium

  • artificial flavors

  • carrageenan

  • erythritol

  • guar gum

  • inulin

  • maltodextrin

  • 'natural' flavors

  • silica

  • soy lecithin

  • sucralose

  • xanthan gum

  • xylitol

Note that instead of using protein concentrates or isolates, we use whole food protein sources like collagen, egg whites, and almonds, which are easier to digest and absorb.

Whole food protein sources also have unique digestive benefits: collagen can reduce bloating and improve digestive symptoms, egg whites can help restore your mucosal intestinal barrier, and almonds can improve the composition of your gut microbiome.

It follows that our customers experience fewer digestive issues with our meal replacement shakes than with any other type of protein supplement. Order samples to see for yourself. 

Meal Replacement Powders

Meal Replacement Powder


Starting at $59.99

meal replacement powder samples

2 Meal Replacement Powder Samples

Starting at $14.99


Meal replacement shake constipation relief

If you are constipated and looking for relief, try the following remedies. Just keep in mind that everyone is different, and that what works for you might not work for someone else. Remember to be patient too, as most of these remedies take 12 to 72 hours to work.

  1. Drink water – Drinking lots of water, especially warm or hot water in the morning, softens your stools.
  2. Exercise – Movement can stimulate the muscles in your intestines. 
  3. Eat fiber – Fiber increases the size of your stool, helping it move through your digestive tract. It also softens your stool, making it easier to pass.
  4. Drink coffee – Caffeine can stimulate involuntary muscle contractions in your colon. 
  5. Use a laxative – If all else fails, try a laxative. Most laxatives can be purchased over-the-counter. I put use a laxative last on the list because laxatives have potential side effects, such as allergic reactions and vitamin deficiencies.

Occasional constipation is nothing to worry about. If meal replacement shakes regularly make you constipated, however, it is time to switch brands.



1 week ago

Verified Purchase I tried some samples and absolutely love the drinks. I believe they should be this simple and that these ingredients make up a wonderful product that is a huge niche market! So many are full of crap and I mean that. I've scoured to find something with good ingredients and it's HARD to find!

For Meal Replacement Powder


2 weeks ago

Verified Purchase Drinkwholesome has really changed the game for not only for me, but for my family! My mom suffers from stomach adhesions and she has to be very careful with what she eats or else she ends up at the stressful for us and life threatening for her! She is also getting older so her protein intake matters still, so when I came across Drinkwholesome, it sounded like they were speaking to my mom’s needs!! She has drank it on and off for almost two years and this is the only meal replacement that does not trigger her stomach😍 myself and my sister and dad have drank it, and the flavor is unmatched…no more gritty taste! I gotta say, I am a chocolate lover and that powder, just thank you😋! THANK YOU FOR YUMMY MEAL REPLACEMENT POWDER AND HEALTHY AS WELL! My mom especially will benefit from a year worth since it benefits her a lot..and thank you for less stressful hospital visits🙌

For Meal Replacement Powder


1 month ago

Verified Purchase I was being treated for SIBO, and your shakes really helped me get through that phase with no tummy upset. During another time I had to take antibiotics, my tummy became upset again and the acid reflux started back. Again your shakes saved the day. My stomach calmed down, the acid reflux went away. I learned to have a shake each time I took the antibiotic and had no stomach upset. I love, love, love your shakes. I don't think I'll ever be without them. As an older person, I have come to realize my digestive system is more sensitive. Your shakes are wonderful at protecting my stomach.

For Meal Replacement Powder

Frequently asked questions

Protein powder vs meal replacement powder?

You may have noticed that we make protein powders and meal replacement powders. The difference between protein powders and meal replacement powders is the nutrition content. Protein powders are high in protein and low in everything else, whereas meal replacement powders contain fats, carbs, and protein because they are intended to replace the nutritional value of a healthy meal.

Collagen vs egg white vs almond protein powder?

You may have noticed that we make three types of protein powder: collagen protein powderegg white protein powder, and vegan almond protein powder. As long as you are eating a balanced diet, any type of protein powder can help you boost your protein intake. Just pick the type that best suits your dietary needs and personal preferences.

Learn more

My name is Jack and I created drink wholesome because I was sick of protein powders that upset my stomach. Read my story, check out my short list of simple ingredients, and browse reviews from other customers to learn more.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Yogurt Cup


15 min


0 min



  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt (or coconut yogurt)
  • ¼ cup drink wholesome chocolate meal replacement powder
  • 1 ½ tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons dark chocolate, melted
  • 1 tablespoon peanuts

Combine the yogurt and meal replacement powder. Spread the peanut butter on the top, and the melted chocolate on top of that. Sprinkle with peanuts. Freeze for at least 15 minutes.


This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. drink wholesome is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.