Meal replacement shakes can be an excellent tool for those who want to lose weight, build muscle, or supplement for nutrient deficiencies. However, if you have diabetes, there's an extra layer of care you have to take to make sure there aren't hidden sugars or substances that may interfere with your blood glucose levels or disrupt any of your medications. For specific advice on medications, ask a trusted health care professional, but for a general guideline of the top five best meal replacement shakes for diabetics, read on.
Are Meal Replacement Shakes Safe for Diabetics?
A meal replacement shake is more than a mere protein shake. It's meant to replace the protein, fiber, fat, calories, and nutrients in a full meal. For some, this means taking a nutritious breakfast or lunch shake on-the-go, while for others, it's a way to boost energy levels before a workout. For those managing type 2 diabetes, there are a few key requirements.
- Fiber: Robust fiber content helps to slow down your digestion, which reduces the risk of blood sugar spikes that can exacerbate your condition. Carbohydrates, on the other hand, often hit the bloodstream like a freight train of sugars, so high-fiber, low-carb content in a meal replacement shake is important.
- Protein: While whole protein foods digest slower than carbs, high-protein content in meal replacement shakes could be damaging to those whose kidneys are compromised due to diabetes. This is important to keep in mind when consuming concentrated amounts of protein powders in meal replacement shakes.
- Sugar: The sugar content in popular brands like Slimfast are often quite high so they'll taste better to the average consumer. When choosing a healthy meal replacement shake that won't negatively affect your diabetes management, low sugar content has to be a top priority.
Many people use meal replacement shakes for weight management and satiety between meals, which is another important aspect for those with diabetes. Too often the disease leads to uncontrolled weight gain and obesity, which could cause irreversible health consequences. The right blend can help you control your body weight along with your blood sugar levels.
The Top 5 Best Meal Replacement Shakes for Diabetics
The American Diabetes Association advises those with diabetes to eat regularly and moderately. That means don't skip meals and don't overeat, because either extreme could cause your body to overreact. Meal replacement shakes can help round out your diet plan, providing you with convenient, regularly portioned nutrition, whether you choose a ready-to-drink selection or a powdered option you can take in your car or keep at the office. Without further ado, here are our top recommendations.
1. VeggieShake All-in-One Superfood Shake
The VeggieShake formula pulls out all the stops when it comes to comprehensive, real food nutrition from a holistic health standpoint. This blend has 20 grams of protein in each portion, 5 grams of fiber, and a staggering 34 non-GMO, organic, gluten-free, halal-certified, and vegan superfoods. We're talking greens like spinach and kale, natural herbs like turmeric and ashwagandha, plus probiotic digestive enzymes and prebiotic fiber content.
With all that, this All-in-One blend provides the best use of meal replacements: it supercharges your metabolism for daily energy and provides 100% of your daily recommended vitamins in one go. Flavors include crowd-pleasers like Chocolate, Vanilla Bean, Spiced Chai, Mocha Latte, and Fresh Greens for anyone interested in taking the green smoothie challenge.
2. Ample K
Ample K is Ample's ketogenic formula, made specifically with the keto diet in mind, which can easily go hand-in-hand with diabetes management and glycemic control.
The ketogenic diet is designed to strictly limit carbs and sugar in favor of a high-fat diet meant to trigger a state of ketosis. Ketosis is a natural secondary metabolism that bypasses glucose energy and instead does the extra work required to burn fat for ketone energy. Ketone bodies are the preferred energy molecules of the brain, and can even help some patients manage their diabetes without the need for pharmaceutical medication.
Regardless of whether the keto diet is right for you, Ample K is a non-GMO product with no artificial sweeteners or sugars added. Gluten- and soy-free, it only has one mild vanilla flavor (with what some describe as a hint of cinnamon). It also has a keto-friendly blend of healthy fats from coconut, sunflower, and macadamia, moderate protein from grass-fed whey protein sources, and 7% prebiotics and fiber from tapioca and chicory root. With wheat grass and chlorella for your greens, it can be a little pricey, but if you're utilizing keto diet practices to naturally manage your diabetes care, it may be just right for you.
3. Glucerna Shake
Developed specifically for diabetic customers, the Glucerna brand delivers what they call a "carb steady" blend of slower digesting carbohydrate ingredients. It's one of the more low-calorie options on this list, which may make it less reliable as a total meal replacement, but could serve as a safe snack in between meals, with only 180 calories, 10 grams of protein, and 3 grams of fiber.
Glucerna has a more robust flavor variety than Ample K, with options like Chocolate, Strawberry, Butter Pecan, Vanilla, and Chocolate Caramel. However, though it's gluten-free, it also contains artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors, so while it is approved for diabetics and recommended by doctors and dietitians alike, it really isn't the best option when it comes to whole foods and unprocessed ingredients.
Glucerna does have an Advance nutrition formula as well with more calories (200 rather than 180) but the same amount of fiber and protein and fewer flavors to choose from.
4. Grow Fit Ultra Low Carb Vegan Meal Replacement Smoothie
These premixed packets come in Vanilla, Strawberry, Mocha, and Kesar Badam (almond and spices) flavors with a long list of specialties: keto-approved, PCOS-friendly (polycystic ovary syndrome), gluten-free, and thyroid-friendly. It's a high-protein blend targeted at weight loss, and comes in a convenient variety pack so you can sample every flavor—the packets can keep up to 6 months without any added preservatives.
Each serving has 500 calories and 30 grams of protein, so it actually serves as a full meal replacement shake, but may have too much protein if you have any kidney concerns.
5. LyfeFuel Vegan Meal Replacement Shake
With protein from sprouted brown rice and pea isolate, this shake has 18 grams of protein per serving and only 100 calories, which may make it better for a post-workout shake than a full meal replacement depending on how filling you find it. It comes in Chocolate and Vanilla flavors, sizes large and small, and has 25 non-GMO whole food ingredients, including probiotic content and a dairy-free, soy-free vegan formula.
Delicious Ways to Defeat Diabetes
Diabetes management in a meal replacement shake doesn't mean you have to sacrifice delicious taste or settle for subpar ingredients. When your health is at stake, high-quality nutrients are more important than ever, and we here at VeggieShake create the best formulas we can that are designed specifically for the needs and desires of those with precise dietary restrictions and high demands for purity. Take your pick of flavors and blends!