What are the best meal replacement shakes without artificial sweeteners or stevia?

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

drink wholesome makes the best meal replacement shakes without artificial sweeteners or stevia. They are 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. They are also sweetened with monk fruit. This makes them perfect for people with gut issues and sensitive stomachs, as well as for people just looking to boost their protein intake 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

Read more reviews or take the quiz.

MEAL REPLACEMENT POWDERS

vanilla meal replacement powder

(16) $59.99 or subscribe and save 15%

drink wholesome makes the best meal replacement shakes without artificial sweeteners or stevia.

What are artificial sweeteners?

Are artificial sweeteners bad for you?

What is stevia?

If not stevia, then what do you use?

What are artificial sweeteners? 


Artificial sweeteners are chemicals added to foods and beverages to make them sweet, and they appear on the ingredient list of almost every brand of meal replacement. The two most popular artificial sweeteners are sucralose and acesulfame potassium. Other common artificial sweeteners include aspartame, erythritol, sorbitol, and xylitol. 

Artificial sweeteners are so popular because of their intense sweetness. A pinch of artificial sweetener, for example, can be used to achieve the same amount of sweetness as several tablespoons of sugar. This allows food manufacturers to reduce both the caloric and sugar content of their products. 

Are artificial sweeteners bad for you?


Despite their obvious benefits, artificial sweeteners are not good for you. First of all, several studies have shown that artificial sweeteners can increase cravings toward sugary and sweet foods, which can lead to binging and feelings of withdrawal. Other studies have associated artificial sweeteners with a higher risk of glucose intolerance, which is a precursor for pre-diabetes and diabetes. Some people also report that artificial sweeteners cause headaches. There is not much scientific evidence that supports this link, but a few studies have found a positive correlation.

Moreover, research suggests that artificial sweeteners are poorly digested. This means they sit in your gut for longer than they should, which gives your gut bacteria more time to eat. As they eat, gut bacteria produce gas that causes bloating, cramps, and nausea. Gas also slows colonic transit (the amount of time it takes food to travel through the colon) and can lead to constipation. Artificial sweeteners can even cause diarrhea because they draw water into your gut. Now you have something to blame for those post-protein shake trips to the bathroom!

In the long term, artificial sweeteners alter the composition of your gut microbiota (the collection of microorganisms that help you digest food). This can lead to serious GI problems and widespread inflammation. The consumption of artificial sweeteners may also contribute to the development of metabolic derangements that lead to obesity and cardiovascular disease. It is therefore safe to say that artificial sweeteners are by no means a healthy alternative to sugar.

What is stevia?


Stevia is an inexpensive zero calorie sweetener derived from the stevia rebaudiana plant. It is over 100 times sweeter than table sugar, and is considered by many to be a natural alternative to artificial sweeteners like aspartame. It is therefore no surprise that this zero calorie sweetener has found its way into meal replacements looking to please health conscious consumers.

That said, stevia has its fair share of drawbacks. For starters, stevia also has a bitter aftertaste because it activates bitter taste receptors. Many meal replacement manufacturers work like mad to mask these off-flavors, and it is causing them quite the headache. 

Stevia is also extracted from the stevia rebaudiana plant using chemicals like ethanol and methyl alcohol. This, one could argue, makes it barely more natural than sucralose and the other artificial sweeteners that it seeks to replace. In fact, a recent class action lawsuit filed in California reached a $6.1 million settlement because it was ruled that the company in question falsely labeled and advertised its stevia sweeteners as natural. 

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chocolate meal replacement powder lifestyle image 2

If not stevia, then what do you use?


Instead of artificial sweeteners or stevia, we use a natural sweetener called monk fruit. Monk fruit – also known as luo han guo – is a melon-like fruit native to Southeast Asia. Monk fruit sweetener is created by removing the seeds and skin of the fruit, crushing the fruit, and collecting the juice, which is then dried into a concentrated powder. As far as low/zero calorie sweeteners go, monk fruit is the most natural and best tasting. It actually tastes like sugar.

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vanilla meal replacement powder serving suggestion 2

Given that monk fruit sweetener has only been commercially available for about a decade, its impact on, and association with, chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes has not been well documented. That said, it has been safely used in Asian cuisine for centuries and has no known side effects, even when consumed in large quantities. Moreover, small randomized trials have shown that monk fruit sweetener does not negatively impact blood sugar or insulin levels. For this reason, as well as those outlined above, we believe that monk fruit is the best available sweetener for our meal replacements.

★★★★★

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.

drink wholesome makes the best meal replacement shakes without artificial sweeteners or stevia.

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.