What are the best meal replacement shakes for chemo patients?

drink wholesome makes the best meal replacement shakes for chemo patients with a short list of simple ingredients. Now, you can get the nutrients you need without the extra processing and added junk. Order samples to see if our meal replacement powders are right for you. 

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drink wholesome makes the best meal replacement shakes for chemo patients.

Written by Jack Schrupp & endorsed by Baylee Reller, RDN

Are meal replacement shakes good for chemo?

The prevalence of malnutrition in chemo patients is estimated to be as high as 70%, and when cancer-related malnutrition goes untreated, the consequences can be serious. Malnutrition is associated with treatment toxicity, complications, reduced physical functioning, and decreased survival. Moreover, protein deficiency is the leading cause of side effects and increased mortality, which makes sense because you simply cannot heal or fight off infections without protein.

One of reasons why chemo patients experience malnutrition is because they have elevated nutritional needs. Some cancers can cause hypermetabolism, or elevated energy expenditure. With hypermetabolism, you may need to increase your calorie and protein intake. Chemo patients may need to consume an extra 35 calories per kilogram of body weight, and up to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, which is almost twice the recommendation for most healthy adults.

It follows that research shows nutritional supplementation has beneficial effects for chemo treatment tolerance and efficacy, and that patients with higher calorie and protein intakes have better outcomes. Protein supplementation in particular increases muscle mass and strength and decreases fatigue in chemo patients.

Chemo patients should try to get as many calories and as much protein as they can from normal food. Getting sufficient nutrition this way can be challenging, however, especially for patients experiencing nausea and loss of appetite. This is where meal replacement shakes can help. Meal replacement shakes are not only convenient, but are also easier to swallow and digest than most foods. That said, not all protein supplements are created equal.

What are the best meal replacement shakes for chemo patients?

Most meal replacements are unfortunately made with ingredients that can cause inflammation, digestive problems, and other painful side effects. For this reason, you must read the ingredient list before adding a meal replacement to your diet. Look for a short list of simple ingredients, and steer clear of dairy-based proteins. Basically, the more your meal replacement looks like real food, the better it will be for you.

A meal replacement is not medicine, it is just a convenient way to get nutrients into your body. It should look, smell, and taste like real food. If a meal replacement sounds like it was made in a lab, walk away. Keep reading to learn more.

Why drink wholesome?

drink wholesome is additive-free.

One of the reasons why we make the best meal replacement shakes for chemo patients is that we, unlike most meal replacement companies, do not use food additives. Food additives can cause unpleasant side effects, even in small amounts, because they are hard for your body to digest as they do not look like real foods.

Partially digested additives linger in your digestive system, feeding the bacteria in your gut. These bacteria release gas as they eat, which can cause bloating, flatulence, stomach pain, and even constipation. Lingering additives also cause your colon to absorb more water, causing diarrhea.

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

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

Eating food additives regularly can disrupt regulatory pathways in your intestines, increasing your chances of developing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other chronic inflammatory issues. Food additives, particularly artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols, can also disrupt the balance of your gut’s microbiome. This imbalance can also trigger inflammation and hinder your ability to heal from chemo treatments.

the alternative:


drink wholesome is dairy-free.

Another reason why we make the best meal replacement shakes for chemo patients is that we do not use dairy-based proteins. Lots of other meal replacements use whey and/or casein, which are byproducts of the production of cheese and yogurt.

These dairy-based protein sources often cause gastrointestinal (GI) side effects, particularly for people with lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance, which affects over one third of adults, impairs your ability to break down the sugar in dairy. The partial digestion of food, as you just learned, can upset your stomach.

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

drink wholesome is made with real foods.

A final reason why we make the best meal replacement shakes for chemo patients is that we do not use protein concentrates or isolates. Basically all other replacement meals use one or both of these protein sources, which have been stripped of everything but the protein. They are labeled as “pea protein” or “whey protein,” not as “peas” or “whey.”

Producing protein concentrates and isolates requires processing using machinery and chemicals. Sometimes, chemicals like hexane are used to isolate the protein. As a result, the shake you drink is quite different from real, whole foods.

Your gut is designed to digest unprocessed or minimally-processed real foods. It is not built to handle artificial or refined ingredients, so eating protein concentrates and isolates might disturb your gut microbiome. This collection of microorganisms helps protect against harmful germs, assists in training your immune system, and influences many important bodily functions. A dysbiotic gut microbiome is the last thing you want if you are undergoing chemo treatments. 

vanilla meal replacement powder lifestyle image 2

Instead of using protein concentrates or isolates, we make the best meal replacement shakes for chemo patients with real foods like egg whites and almonds. Egg whites are pasteurized and dried, and almonds are just roasted, pressed to remove oil, and ground. Natural, minimally-processed ingredients like these are a gut-friendly alternative to protein concentrates and isolates.

Unlike protein isolates and concentrates, real foods such as egg whites and almonds come with enzymes and digestive aid that facilitate the digestion process. Additionally, egg whites are alkaline, low in fiber, and low in FODMAPs, making them highly digestible. Almonds, on the other hand, possess prebiotic properties that contribute to the diversity of the gut microbiome. They also play a role in promoting regular and healthy bowel movements.

In summary, we make stomach-friendly meal replacements for chemo patients using simple, real food ingredients.


no stomach issues

“My dear cousin has stage 4 cancer, and due to chemo treatments she has very little appetite. So I sent her 2 of the meal replacements, vanilla & chocolate. The vanilla is her favorite, she says the flavor is great and doesn’t make her feel nauseous. She’s going on her 3rd round of chemo and I just ordered 2 more of the vanilla for her.” – Rubi

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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.