When stomach pain occurs, it has the relentless power to ruin your entire day or workout. Abdominal cramps can be so debilitating that anyone would find it hard to work or train when experiencing them.
Despite usually not posing any danger, stomach pain has its causes too, just like any other health problem. But when they do, they tend to cause it indirectly and in very particular ways.
When Your Meal Replacement’s Contents Are to Blame
When most people try to pick the right meal replacement supplement, they usually only care about its flavor. But the flavor is, by far and large, the least important factor to consider. What your meal replacement supplement consists of is far more important.
Your meal replacement supplement can cause you stomach pain if it contains:
Artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols
Most manufacturers of meal replacement supplements today strive to impress their customers with a large selection of flavors. This, however, comes at a cost of them often flavoring their products with various artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols. The most recent research on these substances suggests that they can destroy healthy gut flora and are neurotoxic. You can avoid these dangerous substances by going with meal replacement supplements that are unsweetened or naturally sweetened.
Casein or whey protein
Most meal replacement supplements include casein and whey as their main sources of protein. Both casein and whey, however, occur as by-products in the process of manufacturing cheese products. And as such, they have a naturally high concentration of lactose. Since lactose intolerance is a common cause of upset stomach, consuming casein and whey may contribute to stomach pain. Using supplements that rely on plant-based protein instead, such as brown rice, hemp, or pea, can solve the issue.
To make matters worse, some manufacturers do not refine casein and whey to the point of protein isolates. Instead, due to expenses, they prefer to refine these two types of protein to the point of concentrates only. While concentrates do remove some lactose from casein and whey, they can still leave significant amounts of it present. As a result, you will consume more lactose with your shake if your supplement uses casein and whey concentrate.
Traces of heavy metals
While it certainly doesn’t appear on the label, many meal replacement supplements today contain traces of heavy metals. Among them are aluminum, cadmium, lead, and even mercury. These dangerous compounds may not only cause you stomach pain but are highly toxic to your entire body. To avoid ingesting them, go with supplements that adhere to stricter standards and have a reputation to lose.
When the Way You Drink Your Shakes Is at Fault
Drinking your meal replacement shakes in a thoughtful and calculated manner is key to preventing any kind of indigestion. Most people, however, consume their shakes in ways that make stomach pain unavoidable.
You invite stomach pain with your meal replacement shakes every time you drink them:
When you consume your meal replacement shakes too soon, you rob your body of the opportunity to recognize them. This leaves your stomach guessing about what kind of nutrients are about to arrive.
If you also disregard the serving size instructions, you compound the problem once you guzzle your shakedown. As your stomach is getting more nutrients than it can handle, it can’t warn you about it in time.
Right before your workout
Starting to exercise right after you have consumed your meal replacement shake can be a recipe for disaster. As your muscles start requesting more blood, your digestive system stops receiving what it needs to digest your shake.
Right after your workout
Your muscles still retain a lot of blood for the next 20 to 30 minutes after you stop exercising.
What Else Can Cause You Stomach Pain?
Suppose you’re using a quality supplement and you’re consuming it in a measured way. Yet, you’re still noticing a certain correlation between stomach pain and drinking your meal replacement shakes. What else might be going on?
Your shakes may simply be exacerbating other underlying health issues such as:
Unbalanced gut flora
Your body requires healthy gut flora to be able to digest your meal replacement shakes effectively. Without this condition in place, your meal replacement supplements will be stumbling upon one indigestion after another. To balance out your gut flora, you must include the sources of both prebiotics and probiotics in your diet. As prebiotics nurture the beneficial part of your gut flora, probiotics help to replenish it.
If you’re suffering from chronic constipation, your intestines are deficient in both the beneficial gut flora and the fluids. This creates an unfavorable environment for the effective digestion of almost anything, including your meal replacement shakes. Continuing to drink your shakes without addressing this issue first is bound to exacerbate the problem. And lead to more frequent and severe stomach cramps as one of the symptoms of constipation.
Meal Replacement Shakes Don’t Have to Cause You Stomach Pain
Being thoughtful when choosing and consuming your meal replacements can help you prevent them from causing you stomach pain. Sometimes, however, meal replacement supplements may simply aggravate the underlying health conditions that are already present. If meal replacement shakes continue to cause you stomach pain despite all the adjustments, consult a qualified health professional.