With so much to do and so little time in the day, sometimes meal time can be forgotten. However, it is not always the best idea to skip meals since you could be missing out on important nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. Therefore, it may be a good idea to reach for a meal replacement shake. Not only are such shakes portable and convenient for those with a busy schedule, but they can also help you fill any nutritional gaps in your day, so your body can be adequately nourished. There are so many meal replacement shakes and powders out there, but not all of them are FODMAP friendly. Therefore, read below for tips on how to choose a low FODMAP meal replacement shake.
What exactly is a meal replacement shake?
A meal replacement shake is any liquid supplement that provides all the nutrients that you would normally get for a meal. The only difference is that it provides these nutrients in a more portable form with little preparation, so they can be consumed on the go while running errands, working, etc.
High FODMAP meal replacement shake ingredients
Sometimes when you read the ingredient label of a meal replacement shake, it can take up the entire length of the bottle. This is not always a good sign, unless the long list of ingredients are mostly vitamins and nutrients that have been added to the shake. Here is a list of some common meal replacement shake ingredients that are high FODMAP and should be avoided by those with digestive issues.
- Whey protein concentrate or milk protein concentrate: These ingredients are typically added to provide protein, but they can also be high in lactose, and in turn are high FODMAP.
- Crystalline Fructose or fructose-based ingredients like high fructose corn syrup: Limit fructose-based sweeteners since they are high FODMAP in excess.
- Soy protein derived from whole soybeans: Soybeans are high FODMAP, therefore any protein powder derived from whole soybeans should be avoided. However, you should be ok if the soy protein has been processed to remove the fiber content since this is where most of the FODMAPs in soy are concentrated.
- Nonfat dry milk: Cow’s milk in any form is high in lactose, and therefore, high FODMAP.
- Agave syrup, molasses, or honey: These sweeteners may be more natural, but they are high in fructose, and therefore high FODMAP.
- Fructo- or galacto-oligosaccharides: These functional fibers are indigestible carbohydrates that are considered high FODMAP.
- Fruit or fruit concentrates such as mango, pear, peach, or apple: These fruits in any form are high in fructose, and therefore high FODMAP.
- Sugar alcohols and inulin: Sugar alcohols like sorbitol, mannitol, erythritol, and xylitol are high in polyols and inulin is high in fructans, which makes these sweeteners high FODMAP.
- Carob powder
Besides the ingredients on this list, there are some ingredients that are technically low FODMAP, but may cause digestive distress in some. Ingredients called gums are added to many processed products like meal replacement shakes to provide thickness and texture. These gums such as acacia, xanthan, and guar gums are technically low FODMAP, but may trigger symptoms in some people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Therefore, consume a little bit to test your tolerance before consuming such ingredients on a regular basis.
Tips on choosing a low FODMAP meal replacement shake
When choosing a meal replacement shake, try to choose one that is mostly natural ingredients and that avoid those high FODMAP ingredients listed above. Here is a list of some safe meal replacement shake ingredients for a low FODMAP regimen.
- Whey protein isolate
- Pea protein powder
- Rice protein powder
- Hemp protein powder (not tested by Monash University yet, but suspected to be low FODMAP)
- Sweeteners like stevia leaf extract, monk fruit extract, sucralose, brown sugar, palm sugar, or cane sugar.
- Flavorings like cocoa powder, vanilla extract, or extracts of safe fruits like strawberries.
Take home message
Meal replacement shakes are a great way to provide you a nutritious meal on the go when you are too busy to prep and cook. Just be sure to check out the ingredients panel and avoid intake of any high FODMAP additives that could cause digestive distress.
-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN, LighttrackNutrition.com