Can meal replacement shakes cause diarrhea?

Written by Jack Schrupp and reviewed by Ella McGonagle, M.S. Nutrition

Can meal replacement shakes cause diarrhea? Switch to drink wholesome if meal replacement shakes make you poop. It is additive-free, dairy-free, and made with real foods, not protein isolates – 99% of meal replacements fail to meet at least one of these criteria. This makes it perfect for people with gut issues and sensitive stomachs, as well as for people just looking for nutrition without the processing and added junk. Order samples to see if our meal replacements are right for you. 

★★★★★

easy to digest

“I have a sensitive stomach, so most meal replacement powders leave me with gas, bloating, constipation, and stomach pain, but not this one.” – Shon

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MEAL REPLACEMENT POWDERS

vanilla meal replacement powder

(16) $59.99 or subscribe and save 15%

Sick of meal replacement diarrhea? Switch to drink wholesome.

Can meal replacement shakes cause diarrhea?

Why do meal replacement shakes cause diarrhea?

Why drink wholesome?

Do meal replacement shakes make you poop?


Meal replacement shakes are designed to replace the nutritional value of a meal. They are a quick and convenient way to get calories, protein, and other nutrients, especially for people who are always on the go or those who want to lose weight. Unfortunately, however, meal replacement shakes are also notorious for making people run to the bathroom. If you are sick of meal replacements that cause diarrhea, you have come to the right place. In this article, I will explain how to choose that meal replacement that is easy to digest.

Why do meal replacement shakes make you poop?


Dairy. 

Dairy-based proteins like whey can casein are byproducts of cheese and yogurt production. They are known to cause digestive issues, especially for people with lactose sensitivity (intolerance) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Over one in three Americans are lactose intolerant, and the prevalence of IBS is somewhere between 10 and 15 percent in the United States. It follows that you may be lactose intolerant or have IBS and not even know it. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a poorly understood condition, and it is unclear why dairy triggers symptoms. Lactose sensitivity, on the other hand, is clearly understood. People with lactose sensitivity are unable to fully digest lactose, the sugar in dairy. This partially digested food passes through the colon more quickly than it should, which causes diarrhea. 

Sugar alcohols.

Sugar alcohols are carbohydrates that are partially resistant to digestion and can have a laxative effect because they draw water into your gut. They are also a FODMAP and can trigger symptoms for people with IBS. Common sugar alcohols include erythritol, sorbitol, and xylitol. 

Fiber.

Some plant-based meal replacements contain lots of fiber. Fiber absorbs water, which softens stools and causes them to pass through the digestive tract more easily. Too much fiber, as you can imagine, can cause diarrhea. Note that certain protein powers, especially those intended to help with weight loss, have added fiber. 10 or more grams per serving might make you run to the bathroom, so read the Nutrition Facts.

Food additives.

Most meal replacements are full of food additives. Although they are not necessarily bad for you in small quantities, food additives can add up quickly, especially if you drink a protein shake every day. At higher quantities, food additives can cause diarrhea simply because they are hard to digest. 

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

acacia gum, acesulfame potassium, artificial flavors, aspartame, carrageenan, cellulose gum, dextrin, dextrose, erythritol, gellan gum, guar gum, gum arabic, inulin, locust bean gum, “natural” flavors, maltodextrin, rice syrup solids, soy lecithin, silica, sucralose, sunflower lecithin, xanthan gum, xylitol

When it comes to identifying food additives, go with your gut. 😉 As a rule of thumb, they are the ingredients that you cannot pronounce. 

the alternative:

SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, CANOLA OIL, MALTODEXTRIN, ISOMALTULOSE, SOLUBLE CORN FIBER, MODIFIED FOOD STARCH, VITAMIN AND MINERAL PREMIX, CELLULOSE, NATURAL & ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, SOY LECITHIN, SALT, MONO & DIGLYCERIDE, XANTHAN GUM, SUCRALOSE

*This is the actual ingredient list of one of the best-selling meal replacements in the United States.

vanilla meal replacement powder lifestyle image 1
chocolate meal replacement powder lifestyle image 2

Why drink wholesome


drink wholesome is made with real foods.

Not only are our meal replacements free from the ingredients that cause diarrhea, but they are also made with real foods. Most meal replacements, on the contrary, are made with protein concentrates and/or isolates, foods stripped of everything but the protein. They are listed on the ingredient list as “pea protein” and “whey protein” as opposed to “peas” and “whey.” I will not go into the details, but protein concentrates and isolates undergo heavy mechanical and chemical processing before becoming meal replacement. Sometimes, manufacturers use chemical solvents like hexane to isolate (separate) the protein from the food. This means that what you end up putting into your body looks nothing like real food.

If you think about it, your gut was designed to digest naturally occurring foods, not laboratory formulated imitations, so if you feed it anything but real food, it might get upset. The long term implications of eating processed foods are still not well understood, but more and more research is finding that it can alter the composition of your gut microbiota, and lead to permanent damage to the gut microbiome. It is therefore in your best interest to avoid meal replacements made with protein concentrates and isolates. 

chocolate meal replacement powder serving suggestion 1
vanilla meal replacement powder serving suggestion 2

Instead of protein concentrates or isolates, we make meal replacements that will not cause side effects with whole foods like egg whites and almonds. Egg whites are simply pasteurized and dried before becoming meal replacement. Almonds are just roasted, pressed, and ground. Whole foods like these are an easy to digest, gut-friendly alternative to protein concentrates and isolates. This is in part because whole foods contain a variety of enzymes and other digestive aids that help to break down the food, making it easier for the body to absorb the nutrients. Protein isolates and concentrates, on the other hand, have been stripped of these digestive aids, making them harder for the body to digest and absorb. Moreover, minimally-processed plant-based foods like almonds are rich in fiber, which helps promote healthy digestion and regular bowel movements.

Unless you have a sensitivity or allergy to eggs, egg white protein is the best protein for your gut. Egg whites are low in fiber, low-FODMAP, naturally alkaline, and have the highest protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) of any whole food. Our customers have experienced fewer digestive issues with egg white protein than with any other type of protein. We also like almonds because research suggests that they possess prebiotic properties and can improve the diversity and composition of the gut microbiome.

★★★★★

no stomach issues

“I’ve tried out so many protein powders and meal replacements, and they always gave me stomach issues…That’s why I got drink wholesome.” – Tommy

Read more reviews or take the quiz.

Sick of meal replacement diarrhea? Switch to drink wholesome.

MEAL REPLACEMENT POWDERS

chocolate meal replacement powder

(16) $59.99 or $50.99 / month

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.