Can Meal Replacement Shakes Cause Constipation? (2024 Upd)

Can Meal Replacement Shakes Cause Constipation? (2024 Upd)

Last Updated on July, 2024

A meal replacement shake is ideal for anyone looking to eat healthier and lose weight. They have as much nutritional value as an actual meal while having fewer calories. It’s great for those interested in maintaining a healthy balanced diet while losing weight.

But of course, there are certain potential downsides to them as well. They aren’t all perfect. Meal replacement shakes are a great source of essential vitamins, whey protein, hemp protein, fiber, and other nutrients. But, unfortunately, they’re also a source of some problems.

Like protein shakes, meal replacement shakes are also associated with digestive issues. That’s why people ask, “can meal replacement shakes cause constipation?” If you’ve got the same question in mind, continue reading as we’ll cover all you need to know about the topic.

Is it Possible for a Meal Replacement Shake to Cause Constipation?

a women sitting on the chair and touching her stomach

Many people say that meal replacement shakes can mess with bowel movements and digestion problems. You might’ve seen many others rant about it on social media or online forums. Unfortunately, a lot of these people are right. 

A meal replacement shake can cause constipation. But, that’s no reason to avoid these dietary supplements.

They can indeed cause constipation, but many people don’t know the complete story behind this. If you maintain a balanced diet, protein shake would hardly ever cause you constipation or similar issues. 

People don’t get digestive discomfort because they drink meal replacements instead of eating a full meal. Their light and liquid form have nothing to do with it!

There’s a different set of reasons why some people get constipated after drinking them. If you’re interested in learning more about these reasons, you can check them out below.

How Does Meal Replacement Shakes Cause Constipation?

a human holding his stomach

Two main factors result in constipation after drinking meal replacement shakes. One of these factors is the type of meal replacements that you choose. Like a protein shake or protein powder supplements, many options are available for meal replacement shakes. (1)

Each of these has its unique traits. Some are especially great for weight loss. Some are great for maintaining muscle mass and other things of the sort. To make these shakes better at what they do, manufacturers tend to load them with all kinds of different ingredients.

Here’s some insight into what these ingredients are. You’ll also find how some things found in these shakes can cause constipation:

Artificial Additives

There are all kinds of artificial ingredients in some meal replacement shakes. This includes artificial sweeteners to improve their taste, among other things. The problem with artificial sweeteners is that few people are compatible with them.

Artificial ingredients are generally fine if consumed rarely. But, if you drink them regularly as a part of your meal replacement shake, they’re sure to cause issues and they’d certainly affect your weight loss journey. Unfortunately, one of these issues happens to be constipation. (2)

Some meal replacement shakes might include sugar alcohols as well. These are natural, but they aren’t healthy if consumed too often.

That’s because they stop the digestive enzymes and bacteria in your small intestine from digesting food. This leads to constipation and other stomach problems.

There’s No Dietary Fiber in Them

Fiber is one of the main things that help with digestion. This is something that a lot of people know. Despite this, many people don’t take proper care of themselves. They don’t take balanced soluble fiber intake. As a result, they fall victim to stomach problems.

Often, a meal replacement shake will have no dietary fiber in it. So if someone starts relying on these shakes and doesn’t eat too much fiber, they’ll get constipation.

That’s because these products have a much higher protein ratio than fiber. Unfortunately, this ends up making your stools dry, and it’s difficult for your body to take care of them as a result. Also, since there’s no regulation of fiber, meal replacement shakes can cause diarrhea and wind.

There is Gluten in Them

Many people aren’t able to tolerate gluten. But, unfortunately, gluten happens to be one of the key ingredients in some meal replacement shakes. They’re one of the several grains you’ll find in these shakes, and a lot of people aren’t big fans of this.

This is a common issue, so make sure to find a gluten-free option. It’s a significant reason why drinking a meal replacement shake can cause constipation for some people.

So, you should be able to cut down on the risks if you find an option that’s free of it.

Too Much Protein

Meal replacement shakes come with nutrients like protein. This includes hemp protein, whey protein, and other kinds as well. These are all great for your health. They can give you energy, make you stronger, and even help your immune system.

But, too much of anything is bad for you at the end of the day. This includes things like protein, which are generally very healthy. But, if you have high protein diets, your body will start to digest excess calories. This is something that can put quite a strain on your stomach and kidneys. (3)

As a result, you’re likely to suffer from dehydration and stomach issues. So you need to regulate a high protein diet. You should drink only a certain amount and eat other things to balance things out. 

If you keep relying on high-protein foods like meal replacement shakes, you’re going to open yourself to issues like constipation. It’s recommended that you consume 0.8 grams of protein for every 2.2 pounds of body weight. Make sure that you don’t go beyond this amount.

Related: Meal Replacement Vs Protein Shakes: Which One’s Perfect For Your Goals?

Lactose Intolerance

Around 65-70% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant. So, it’s no secret how bad it can be when people that have this issue consume dairy products. But, unfortunately, there are many milk by-products found in meal replacement shakes.

Many people can’t digest lactose, whereas the ingredients in these shakes include it. That’s why they’re associated with constipation, and other stomach issues, as lots of people suffering from lactose intolerance tend to drink these shakes.

Lactose slows down the digestive process in the body of many people. That’s because their body doesn’t know how to deal with it. Unfortunately, this leads to problems with the stomach and other harmful effects. Some of these effects include vomiting, dizziness, nausea, and more. (4)

There are ways to get around this. First, you can find meal replacement shakes that don’t include dairy-based products. This makes things a lot easier for anyone who struggles with digesting lactose. If you’re in the same boat, make sure to get a best dairy-free shake.

How Can You Avoid This?

a women holding his stomach

Meal replacement shakes are so popular because they’re great without severe disadvantages. But, everything has its cons if you don’t use it right. The same goes for these supplements, which is exactly why you have to make sure you manage the intake.

That said, there’s a lot of different ways you can prevent constipation and other issues while drinking these shakes. Follow these tips, and you’ll be fine:

Don’t Drink Too Many Shakes

The main suggestion for anyone worried about the side effects of a meal replacement shake is to regulate the amount they drink. Often, the only reason why problems like constipation arise is that people become too dependent on the shakes.

When your main meal is a bottle of meal replacement shakes many times a day, things will go wrong. That’s because your body gets too many specific nutrients, like protein, while not getting enough of other nutrients, like fiber. This makes you weaker and causes many problems.

Stick to drinking these shakes one time a day, and there’ll be nothing to worry about! That way, you can enjoy all their benefits while not worrying about any downsides.

Recommended to read: What is The Best Time to Have Meal Replacement Shake?

Find the Right Type of Shake

If regulating the amount you drink doesn’t work, you should consider changing your shake. We suggest that you find a good tasting product that has what you need instead of going for something popular.

Find products with the right amount of protein, a suitable amount of fiber, and other essential nutrients. If you have any allergies or if you’re intolerant to certain things, consider giving your doctor a call too.

A doctor will be able to tell you precisely what kind of shake will suit your body best. Many options are gluten-free, dairy-free, and free of artificial additives shakes. Choose one of these if the usual options aren’t good for you.

While we’re on the subject of finding the right type of shake, there are some things you should know before choosing one. The main thing to remember is that each of these supplements is different depending on the manufacturer.

They have different fat values. Also, they have varying amounts of calories and nutrients and use all kinds of ingredients. Make sure to check the labels on each product before buying it. That way, you’ll get to know what each one is offering.

This helps you find a shake that suits your goals. By watching out for ingredients and keeping your own needs in mind, you can avoid issues like constipation. This will also help you find a shake that’s great for you.

Get Nutrients From Other Foods

Another great option we recommend is getting nutrients from other foods. One of the main reasons people get constipated after drinking these shakes is that they lack dietary fibers. A popular way to get around this is by grabbing a small bite to eat along with the shake!

It doesn’t have to be anything too filling. For example, you can make a small, healthy sandwich for yourself. There’s also the option of making fruit and veggie-rich salad. You can also eat fruits or vegetables that give you fiber.

Although, it’s best to maintain a high protein diet by consuming fruits that have more fiber and less carbs. (5)

A small snack like this, along with your shake, can help a lot. Consider trying it out if you’re getting constipated after drinking a meal replacement.

Make Your Own Shake at Home

One of the best ways to avoid problems with these supplements is by making your own at home. It’s easy to create your own shake at home. All you’ll need is the right ingredients.

The ingredients required are things you can find online or in local supermarkets. This includes fruits, vegetables, protein powders, honey, and other items of the sort. This is also another instance where you can ask your doctor or other medical experts for advice.

They can talk to you about your specific goals. After that, they can suggest all the safe and necessary ingredients you’d need to make your shake at home. It’s a simple process that is very safe instead of some other options. (6)


Yes, meal replacement shakes can make you fart because they usually contain whey protein, which has a high amount of lactose that is not always easy to digest.

Yes, Meal Replacement Shakes can make you poop more if you are sensitive to ingredients in them or due to the type of protein or sugars used. It is recommended to use Meal Replacement Shakes with a good amount of fiber to help with this issue.


As you can see, it is, in fact, possible that meal replacement shakes are causing you constipation. We’ve gone through all the most common ways that they do so.

But that doesn’t mean you have to cut them out of your diet. On the contrary, they’re great supplements that make life more convenient, especially if you’re someone that’s always in a hurry or looking to lose weight. All you have to do is follow the tips we’ve mentioned.

We’ve gone through all the most important details and suggestions. Now it’s up to you to follow them to keep yourself safe! If you’ve got any questions, make sure to ask us in the comments so we can help out.



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Jennifer Pantall
Jennifer Pantall is a Nutrition Therapy Practitioner. She loves tennis and has one daughter with a lovely husband whom she adores. Jennifer also loves to spend time outdoors playing with her dog or walking in nature. You can find more about me here.

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