Meal replacement shakes—including protein shakes—are fast becoming a viable alternative for those living with Type 2 Diabetes. Not only are they a quick alternative to complicated meals, so they can be a great choice for reducing glucose intake. After all, a protein-heavy shake tends to be low in carbs and sugars, so there’s no risk of blood sugar spikes after a diabetic shake. Whey protein is known to help control blood sugar spikes so below; we put together everything you need to know about protein shakes for diabetics. What makes them useful to various store-bought options to recipes you can make for yourself. By the end of this page, you’ll know everything you need to know to start making your own awesome protein shakes that will keep you satisfied and help you maintain your blood sugar.

Why Protein Shakes?

Protein shakes for diabetics are an awesome meal replacement or alternative that can be added to any healthy routine:
  1. They’re packed with protein. The protein powder used to make these shakes delivers a hefty dose of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. This is without all the fats, carbs and sugar you get from a complete meal. It’s a concentrated source of protein but far lower in calories. (source)
  2. They’re low-sugar. There are many low-carb protein powders that are made with no added sugar. Or even with the lactose (milk sugar) removed. These low-carb options will prevent blood sugar spikes after eating. (source)
  3. They’re easily digested. Fast-acting whey protein powder is very easy on your digestive system. It can help to reduce digestive upset. Best of all, the nutrients are put to good use right away! (source)
  4. They can be modified to any diet. A protein shake can be easily modified to include very few carbohydrates or become a complete meal replacement with a balance of protein, carbs and fats. As long as you know the number of carbs you’re are aiming for you can tailor your protein shake to meet your individual need.
Let’s get one thing clear: protein shakes are not a replacement for every meal. They don’t deliver all the fiber, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and complex carbs you need to be healthy. Diabetic shakes are exclusively a good source of protein, which is only one of the macro and micro-nutrients your body requires. A diet made up of diabetic shakes alone is not a healthy one. However, if you want to increase your protein intake without affecting your blood sugar levels, protein shakes are a good way to go. There are many protein drinks for diabetics that are safe, providing all the protein you need without raising your blood glucose levels.

Best Protein Drinks for Diabetics: Pre-Mixed

Looking for pre-mixed shakes to try? Here are a few suggestions for premixed diabetic protein drinks:
  • Glucerna is gluten-free, safe for those that are lactose intolerant. And it is formulated specifically for diabetics. They’re fairly moderate in carbs and calories, making them a good choice (source)
  • Almased is a meal replacement made from soy, skim-milk yogurt powder and honey enzymes. It has more sugar than you’d expect, but not too many total carbohydrates. It has a fairly low glycemic index and a very reasonable glycemic load, which means it won’t spike blood sugar as quickly. (source)
  • BOOST Glucose Control is a meal replacement that’s also gluten-free and suitable for the lactose intolerant, and it delivers a hefty dose of protein. It’s got one of the best nutritional profiles of any of the pre-mixed diabetic shakes(source)
  • Extend Nutrition is a protein shake developed by a former president of the American Diabetes Association, and they’re formulated specifically to help manage blood sugar for up to 9 hours after consumption (source)
These store-bought, pre-mixed products are an excellent option if you’re looking for healthy protein shakes for diabetics!

Make Your Own Delicious Diabetic Shakes

Instead of buying pre-made shakes, why not cut out the middleman and make your own? Controlling what goes into your shake can help you individualize the sugar and carbohydrate content. Start by purchasing high quality protein powder (such as the whey protein powder produced by Well Wisdom which is low in sugar and excellent for managing blood sugar levels). You can use this high-quality protein powder to make your own delicious smoothies and shakes!

Here is a simple guide to making your own protein shakes for diabetics:

Step 1: The liquid base. Water is the best choice of liquid in terms of glucose control, because it contains no sugar or carbs of any sort. If you’re going to use milk, be aware that the lactose may raise the total sugar content and glycemic load of the smoothie. Milk alternatives, such as almond or oat milk, can also add flavor without adding additional carbohydrates. Just look for the sugar-free variety of these plant milks. DO NOT use juice, even fresh-squeezed juice. Juice has all the sugar from fruit but little to none of the fiber. Using juice as your base will only spike your blood sugar. Instead of using juice, add flavor with fresh fruits and veggies.

Step 2: The protein powder. Try to find a quality protein powder with no added sugar, with the only source of carbs being the lactose (milk sugar) already present in the whey or casein protein. If you prefer a plant-based or vegetarian protein, you can also opt for lower-carb soy, pea, or hemp protein.

Some protein powders are made with natural flavorings, such as chocolate, vanilla, or peanut butter. As long as these flavorings do not increase the sugar or carbohydrate content of the protein powder, they are a fine option to consider to help improve the taste of your shake.

Step 3: The fruit. Fruit provides a hefty dose of vitamins, fiber and antioxidants, which can help to make your smoothies and shakes healthier and tastier. However, be warned: fruit also contains more sugar (fructose), so it will increase the glycemic load of the shake. Limit the addition of fruit to no more than one or two servings. A serving of fruit, such as ½ a banana or 1 cup of berries has approximately 12 grabs of carbohydrates, so this can add up quickly if you are not careful.

Berries are an excellent addition to any creamy shake and they can raise the nutritional profile. They taste especially good with chocolate protein powder, but are so versatile they can be used in many different ways. If you’re making a water-based protein shake, you may want to vary the flavor profile to improve the taste. You can add in citrus fruits, apples, pineapples, watermelon, or any other fruit. However, it’s important to remember that some fruits (like peaches or mangoes) contain more sugar than others (like lemons or grapefruits). Try to use low-glycemic fruits and limit it to no more than two servings total, like we mentioned, to prevent blood sugar spikes.

Bonus Step: The veggies. If you’re making a water-based protein shake using flavorless protein powder, you can make a near-complete meal by adding veggies (like carrots, beets, celery, or cactus) into your shake. This raises the fiber content of the drink significantly, which in turn lowers the glycemic load. It’s a great option for consuming raw vegetables quickly and easily! Take a look at our Carrot-Papaya Protein Smoothie & Blueberry-Avocado Protein Smoothie for water-based protein shakes.

Step 5: Consider other low-carb ingredients. Diabetic shakes don’t have to just include fruits and veggies, feel free to get creative with other ingredients. Nut butters, such as almond or peanut, are a great place to start adding a bit of protein and healthy fats. Adding fat also increases satiety, so you feel full longer after the shake. You may also want to consider adding spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or apple pie seasoning to jazz up your shake. The best protein drink for diabetics is one that is low in sugar and that you will actually drink regularly. There is no reason for a protein shake for diabetics to be bland or boring, as long as you stick with low carb ingredients, the sky’s the limit. Try to get creative by varying the flavors, add-ons and type of protein powder day to day. If you need a few ideas, you can check out the recipes section of our site that is loaded with lots of creative and low-carb ways to create a protein drink of your dreams The important thing to remember is that protein shakes can be made with very little total carbs and sugars, provided you mix the right ingredients. A water-based shake made with low-carb protein powder and added veggies can contain almost no carbs and will provide a hefty dose of amino acids and nutrients without raising your blood sugar levels. But, the best way to know if a protein shake recipe is working for you is to test your blood sugar about two hours after drinking it. This will allow you to gauge if you added too much fruit or need to choose a different base for your protein shake. The great thing is that you can modify the recipe next time to reduce the carbs. Making a nutritious protein shake for diabetics is very easy, provided you know how to mix and match low-glycemic ingredients effectively!

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