What are the best meal replacement shakes without artificial sweeteners?
Written by Jack Schrupp and reviewed by Ella McGonagle, M.S. Nutrition
drink wholesome makes the best meal replacement shakes without artificial sweeteners. 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, not stevia. 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.
“I have a sensitive stomach, so most meal replacement powders leave me with gas, bloating, constipation, and stomach pain, but not this one.” – Shon
drink wholesome makes the best meal replacement shakes without artificial sweeteners.
What are artificial sweeteners?
Artificial sweeteners are chemicals added to foods and beverages to make them sweet. They appear on the ingredient list of almost every brand of meal replacement, and 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. Again, most meal replacements contain at least one artificial sweetener, usually sucralose or acesulfame potassium.
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 may 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.
Research also 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 cause diarrhea too because they draw water into your gut. Now you have something to blame for those post-meal replacement 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.
If not artificial sweeteners, then what do you use?
If you are struggling to find a meal replacement without artificial sweeteners, try drink wholesome. Our meal replacements are sweetened with monk fruit. Monk fruit, also known as luo han guo, is a melon-like fruit native to Southeast Asia. Its intense sweetness, which is about 200 times that of sugar, is provided by non-caloric compounds called mogrosides.
We use monk fruit for a number of reasons. First of all, monk fruit sweetener is the most natural sugar substitute on the market. It is made by removing the seeds and skin, crushing the fruit, and collecting the juice, which is then dried into a powder. What ends up in your meal replacement is basically concentrated fruit juice. We also like monk fruit because it is sweet like sugar. Artificial sweeteners and stevia, on the other hand, have a bitter aftertaste because they activate bitter taste receptors. This bitterness can linger in your mouth for hours.
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 . In case you were wondering, most companies do not use monk fruit because it is expensive.
What about stevia?
Stevia, although celebrated as a natural alternative to artificial sweeteners, may not be as natural as you think. It is extracted from the stevia rebaudiana plant using chemicals like ethanol and methyl alcohol. This, some argue, makes it no more natural than the 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.
“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
drink wholesome makes the best meal replacement powder without artificial sweeteners.