What are the best meal replacement smoothies?

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

Learn how to make the best meal replacement smoothies. Meal replacement smoothies are a quick and easy way to meet your wellness goals.


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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Make the best meal replacement smoothies with drink wholesome.

What is a meal replacement smoothie? 

How to make a meal replacement smoothie. 

Why drink wholesome?

What is a smoothie meal replacement? 

With busy lifestyles and demanding schedules, it can be difficult to find the time and energy to prepare a balanced and healthy meal every day. This is where meal replacement smoothies come in. A meal replacement smoothie, also known as a meal replacement shake, is a drink intended to replace the nutritional value of a meal. It can be used as a convenient, on-the-go breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Meal replacement smoothies can also be an important source of nutrition for people who have trouble swallowing or digesting solid food. 

How to make a smoothie meal replacement?

There are two types of meal replacement smoothies, ready-to-drink (store-bought) smoothies, and smoothies made at home with a blender. Homemade meal replacement smoothies can be made from scratch, or with meal replacement powder, which can be mixed with just milk or water. Many people choose the latter option because it is more convenient, and because you know exactly how much fat, carbohydrate, and protein you are getting. 

I highly recommend that you make your own meal replacement smoothie either from scratch, or with meal replacement powder, because ready-to-drink meal replacement shakes are full of emulsifiers, stabilizers, thickeners, sweeteners, and flavors. Ingredients like these improve characteristics like taste, texture, and shelf stability, but can cause uncomfortable side effects and long-term gut damage (more about this soon).

Making a meal replacement smoothie from scratch. 

To make a meal replacement smoothie from scratch, you are going to need a good blender. You are also going to need good sources of healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and complete protein. For fats, I recommend avocado and nut butter. For carbs, I recommend banana and oats. For protein, I recommend either dried or liquid egg whites. I know this last one sounds weird, but egg whites are a delicious, easy to digest source of complete protein. Pasteurized egg whites are also perfectly safe to eat, and you cannot taste them in your smoothie.

Here is my favorite meal replacement smoothie recipe:

-1/2 avocado

-1/2 banana

-1 cup spinach*

-1/4 cup oats

-4 tbsps creamy peanut butter

-4 tbsps unflavored egg white protein powder

-1-2 cups dairy-free milk

*I add a cup of spinach for extra fiber.

This meal replacement smoothie is nutritionally balanced, filling, and affordable. It is a great way to powder your day, take care of your gut, and achieve your wellness goals. If this sounds like too much work, however, you may want to consider using a meal replacement powder.

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

Making a meal replacement smoothie with meal replacement powder.

If you value convenience, and do not want to have to worry about getting the right balance of nutrients, I recommend making meal replacement smoothies with meal replacement powder. All you have to do is mix the recommended serving size with 1-2 cups of milk or water. You do not even need a blender if you have a shaker bottle. That said, not all meal replacement powders are created equal, and many contain the same additives found in ready-to-drink shakes! Keep reading to learn more. 

Why drink wholesome

drink wholesome is additive-free.

One of the reasons why we make the best meal replacement smoothies is that we do not use food additives. Most meal replacements, on the other hand, are full of food additives. Although not necessarily bad for you in small quantities, additives can add up quickly (especially if you drink a meal replacement shake every day) and cause gastrointestinal (GI) side effects like bloating, constipation, diarrhea, gas, and stomach pain. This is because food additives are hard to digest, and sit in your gut for longer than food should, which gives your gut bacteria more time to eat. As they eat, these bacteria produce gas, which causes bloating and stomach pain. Gas also slows colonic transit (the amount of time it takes food to travel through the colon), and can lead to constipation. In the long term, food additives can disrupt regulatory pathways in the intestine, which can result in the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and systemic inflammatory disorders.

When buying meal replacement powder, one ingredient to avoid in particular is artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are among the most harmful food additives in the long term as they alter the composition of your gut microbiota (the collection of microorganisms that help you digest food). This can lead to serious, chronic GI problems, widespread inflammation, and permanent damage to the gut microbiome. Some sweeteners, especially sugar alcohols like xylitol, are also poorly absorbed by the gut (meaning they feed those hungry gut bacteria), and cause diarrhea because they draw water into your intestine. Now you finally have something to blame for those post-meal replacement shake trips to the bathroom!

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

When it comes to identifying food additives, go with your gut. 😉 As a rule of thumb, they are the ingredients that you cannot pronounce. Food additives are not the only thing to look out for when buying a meal replacement powder, however. There are several other ingredients that can upset your stomach.

the alternative:


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

drink wholesome is dairy-free.

Another reason why we make the best meal replacement smoothies is that we do not use dairy-based proteins. Many meal replacements are made with whey and casein, which are byproducts of cheese and yogurt production, and known to cause digestive issues, especially for people with lactose 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 intolerance, on the other hand, is clearly understood. People with lactose intolerance are unable to fully digest lactose, the sugar in dairy. As you just learned, partially digested food feeds the bacteria in your gut, which produce gas. 

drink wholesome is made with real foods.

A final reason why we make the best meal replacement smoothies is that we do not use protein isolates. 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. 

vegan chocolate protein powder lifestyle image 1
vanilla protein powder lifestyle image 2

Instead of protein concentrates or isolates, we make the best meal replacement smoothies 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.

drink wholesome makes the best smoothie meal replacement.


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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.