Participant Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve uploaded a replay of our April 11th & October 5th live participant Q&A . It’s on page 2 of your lessons, so we don’t want you to miss it. You can click the button below to view it as well.


While we have seen an elemental diet provide dramatic results, sometimes even when other approaches have failed, there are no panaceas (or cure-alls) when it comes to health and it is important that you don’t come into the program expecting that. 

Many of our clients have reported benefits such as:

  • A greater tolerance to a wider variety of foods
  • A decrease in digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation
  • Eradication of SIBO for those who are positive
  • Reduction in pain and inflammation
  • Improved sleep, energy, and mental clarity

Everyone is different and will experience different results. We have observed clinically that most people experience at least some positive benefit, if not complete resolution of their symptoms. 

Many people who choose to use an elemental diet for SIBO have a positive breath test confirming a SIBO diagnosis before they begin. It is up to you and/or your practitioner to decide if you would like to do a repeat breath test after your elemental diet to ensure that SIBO has been eradicated. We generally recommend follow-up testing (for those who initially tested positive) and we cover the details of retesting in the program. 

If a positive result on a SIBO breath test would determine whether or not you would embark on an elemental diet, then prior testing seems reasonable. However, because elemental diets are generally very safe and can help with a large variety of digestive conditions and symptoms, some people choose to not get tested. 


This will depend both on the size of your shake and the specific elemental shake formula that you are using. Some companies suggest 8 oz. of water per single scoop—others suggest 8 oz. of water per two scoops, while others suggest 8 oz. of water per four scoops! Please read suggestions on the label of the product that you are using and add the correct amount of water based on the size of your elemental shakes.

Remember in Lesson 6 when you had calculated your Optimal Daily Hydration Requirements? You can compare your daily water requirements to the total number of ounces of water you are mixing into your shakes each day. For most people, the two numbers should be very close. 

With this said, if you are thirsty between shakes you can certainly drink more water. For some people, this may just be sips. For others, it may be several ounces of water. As always, please follow your body’s guidance. 

In the first three days of an elemental diet, people may experience common symptoms such as:

  • changes in bowel habits, such as shifts in the frequency and/or consistency of stool
  • occasional queasiness or mild nausea, as your body adjusts to the ingredients in the shakes
  • changes in energy and hunger, as your body adjusts to a pre-digested liquid diet
  • oral symptoms, such as mouth tenderness or a bad taste in the mouth
  • worries, fears and self-doubts about being able to sustain the elemental diet

Please be sure to watch Lessons 8 & 9 to learn more about the psychological and physical challenges of an elemental diet and reference your Detox Support Guide for tips. As always, reach out to your doctor or health care provider if any symptom feels worrisome to you.

Most commonly, MCT oil or flaxseed oil are added, however most fats (including olive, coconut, cod liver oil…) are permissible.

Most companies suggest adding between 1 tsp. and 1 Tbsp. per shake. Please see the instructions on the specific elemental shake product that you are using. 

Always start slowly to test your tolerance to both the type of oil and the amount.

Some people may choose to buy more than one brand of elemental shake formula to add a bit of variety by changing the flavor. We suggest sampling your elemental shake formula(s) for taste and tolerance before beginning the elemental diet.

We always recommending choosing your elemental shake formula(s) based on the health condition you are hoping to address, more than solely upon flavor.

The information may be conflicting because it depends on the condition you are using an elemental diet to treat and how strictly “elemental” you need to be.

According to Jini Patel Thompson in her book the IBD Remission Diet, clear fruit juices are ok. Fruit juices contain fructose, which is an acceptable elemental carbohydrate source. She mentions that some people have even made homemade frozen popsicles from clear fruit juice as a treat! 

We have never recommended fruit juice when using an elemental diet to treat SIBO, so we simply don’t know how that might effect the outcome.

Also, please consider if fruit juice might contribute to blood sugar instability – or if you truly would desire another sweet drink besides your elemental shakes. Everyone is different. Consider diluting juice with water to decrease the fructose content.

If you drink fruit juice, please note above the emphasis on clear. Fruit juice from a store or home juicer is generally not acceptable, as it contains too much pulp (fiber, prebiotics). The same is true for other juices (those using vegetables, roots, etc.). These would likely not be fully-elemental.

Broths (made from bones, meats or vegetables and then well-strained) provide added nutrients and taste variety, but again may not be fully-elemental.

In certain conditions (such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease) the pros might outweigh the fact that these beverages are not strictly elemental. As always, please consult with your healthcare provider about the best decision for your specific condition.

This is a great question. Some sources say coconut water is glucose, some fructose…then we found this which says it is mostly fructose and glucose with some sucrose (a disaccharide):

SO…that would make it NOT elemental (sugars must be monosaccharides). 

However, honey, which contains mostly monosaccharides and some disaccharides (see here:, is sometimes used in homemade elemental formulas, and even clients with SIBO have gotten great results.

So, to the best of our current knowledge, coconut water is not totally elemental – but neither is honey. Sometimes it’s about weighing the pros vs. cons.

If you do choose to drink coconut water, there are many different brands and some add additional sugar. Please choose one that does not.

Generally, no. It is most important to feel balanced and satiated on your elemental diet and most people need to consume adequate calories to feel that way. Even at their calculated caloric intake, some people will still lose a few pounds—if they have it to lose. Please consult with your health provider if you have any questions.

If your ideal weight and your current weight are very drastically different, then we suggest calculating you caloric needs using both your ideal weight and your current weight.  You can use this as your caloric range. Please consult with your health provider if you have any questions.

Yes! Please add approximately 300 additional calories daily to prevent weight loss.

Some people can feel queasy after drinking elemental shakes. In our experience, this usually passes relatively quickly (20 minutes or so) and may even subside as your body gets used to the shakes.  

Make sure you drink each shake slowly, over 20-30 minutes. And please see Lesson 8 The Physical Challenges of the Elemental Diet for further tips.

We suspect that as the amino acids come through over time, the shakes get more bitter. Here’s what you can try. Let’s say, for example, that your shake size is 3 scoops in 18 oz. of water. Mix 1.5 scoops into 9 oz. water and drink that over about 20 minutes. Then mix the remaining 1.5 scoops into 9 oz. water and drink that over about 20 minutes. You’ve consumed the adequate calories in the correct amount of time, but with less time for each shake to sit around and get bitter.

That’s great that you are listening to your body and working at a pace that feels right for you. You can watch Lesson 14, Adding Elemental Shakes to your Healing Toolkit, and try a half/ partial elemental diet for one to two weeks first. Then if you feel comfortable, you can transition onto a full elemental diet.

For detailed information on Supplements and Medications while on the elemental diet, please refer to Lesson 5. 

In short, while on an elemental diet for SIBO (and most other conditions) probiotics are generally not given. For IBD, there are some protocols that do recommend taking probiotics in conjunction with the elemental diet. 

Generally we find probiotics to be advantageous for many people after an elemental diet. However, this really depends on the individual, their unique health challenges, and their prior experience with probiotics. Additionally, there are so many probiotic options on the market, each one containing various strains so it is understandable that results often vary.

Please use an online calorie calculator, such as the one from the Mayo clinic, to determine your unique caloric needs.

If you use Dr. Siebecker’s homemade variety and 3 shakes are 2000 calories, then each shake is roughly 670 calories.

You can adjust the size of these shakes, or add additional shakes, to meet your caloric needs. For example, you can add a 4th half size shake containing 335 calories (half of 670) if you determined that your caloric needs are more like 2300-2400 calories.

Use this as an example and continue to adjust the size and number of homemade shakes to meet your body’s needs. 

While elemental diets are incredibly effective, they can also be challenging at times. With the Elemental Diet Success Plan, you will learn our proven tips and strategies for completing an elemental diet with clarity, direction and confidence.

It is very important that you listen to every lesson and give yourself ample time to understand the challenges and plan accordingly. 

If you are looking for additional help with your elemental diet, you may email to inquire about becoming a private client in our clinical practice to receive more customized, individualized support.

However, if you find an elemental diet too challenging to complete, or if you are unable to consume your daily required calories from elemental shakes, then you should resume your normal diet. Your health and safety are most important.


The cost of elemental shakes varies depending on your height, weight, age and activity level. Commercially available shakes typically cost around $500-800+ for someone on a full elemental diet for 2-weeks. Don’t forget that you are eliminating all other food expenses (groceries, dining out) for the time that you are on the elemental diet, so that should be factored in.

Some companies offer sample sizes of their products, but many do not. Furthermore, some of the companies that do offer samples offer them to clinician’s offices but not directly to the customers. It would be great if everyone offered samples, but that is not the case presently, so we generally recommend purchasing 1 bag or bottle to test for taste/tolerance (when samples aren’t available). The course Supply List shows each elemental product on the market with links to view ingredients and see the various sizes offered. Please contact the product manufacturer with specific questions.

The Elemental Diet Success Plan Supply List guidebook and Order Supplies button both contain links that you can use to view and/or purchase some of the commercially available elemental shake formulas, should you choose to. 

No. Aside from elemental shakes, there are no required supplements. In the program we discuss a few supplements and supplies that can be helpful when dealing with specific challenges frequently encountered on an elemental diet. The Elemental Diet Success Plan Supply List contains links that you can use to view and/or purchase these supplements and supplies, should you choose to. 

We love that people are joining us from around the world! We are trying our best to build out a list of available options outside the US, however, we cannot possibly know what is available everywhere 🙂

Here are a few options to consider:

Dr. Siebecker Homemade Elemental Diet Recipe:

England, Europe & Middle East:

Semi-elemental (whey and vegan varieties) currently available. Elemental (amino) products coming shortly.

Australia & New Zealand:

Semi-elemental (whey and vegan varieties) currently available.


Semi-elemental whey currently available. Semi-elemental vegan (rice protein) and elemental (amino) products should be available by the end of 2023.

Please contact the supplier that you purchased from to verify their refund policy. 


No. This is an online program and participants will not receive individualized support for specific health concerns or questions.

If you are looking for additional help with your elemental diet, you may email to inquire about becoming a private client in our clinical practice to receive more customized, individualized support. 

The Elemental Diet Success Plan includes access to all course materials for 1-year. We suggest that you download the program guidebooks within the year so that you have access to them forever. 

Your satisfaction with the program is important to us. Yet, because of the extensive time, expertise, preparation, and care that goes into creating and providing this program, we only offer a limited refund.

If we receive your request email to within the first 72 hours after your purchase of the program, we will provide a full refund as long as no more than 20% of course lessons and/or handouts were viewed or downloaded. We’re happy to share our video view and download logs on request to participants who
do not meet this requirement.

No refunds will be provided at any time after 72 hours from time of purchase or if more than 20% of the program materials have been viewed and/or downloaded. No exceptions will be made.

Still have questions?

If you cannot find an answer to your question in our FAQ, you can always email us at