Recommended Protein Shakes for Diabetics

Whether you're looking for something to aid in your weight-loss efforts or trying to find a meal replacement for those days you're too busy to eat a decent meal, a protein shake may work. When you have diabetes, you need to find a protein shake that fits your diet plan and doesn't cause your blood sugar to spike. Diabetic meal replacement shakes do not provide all the nutrients your body needs and should not be your only source of nutrition. Consult your doctor or dietitian to discuss protein shake options that fit your lifestyle.

Recommended Protein Shakes for Diabetics (Image: Alinakho/iStock/GettyImages)

Role of Protein

Protein is an important nutrient made up of building blocks called amino acids. Although protein is one source of energy for the body, it also plays an vital role in the growth and development of every cell in the body. Dietary sources of protein include dairy, eggs, meats, fish, nuts, seeds, grains and vegetables. Shakes are a convenient way to supplement the protein in your diet. Because protein shakes are often high in carbohydrates, review nutrition labels carefully if you are diabetic.

Protein Drinks for Diabetics

Some protein shakes specifically designed for people with diabetes contain fiber and resistant starch, a starch naturally found in foods such as beans that your body cannot digest. The fiber and resistant starch — usually maltodextrin in the ingredient list — in the shakes aid in blood sugar control. Protein, carb and calorie content in these shakes vary depending on brand, ranging from 10 to 16 grams of protein, 6 to 27 grams of carbs and 180 to 200 calories.

Shakes With Cornstarch

Like fiber and resistant starch, uncooked cornstarch also aids in blood sugar control and is an ingredient in some protein shakes for people with diabetes. Uncooked cornstarch is a slow-digesting carb that causes a more gradual rise in blood sugar. When mixed with water, one protein shake mix that contains uncooked cornstarch provides 15 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbs and 110 calories.

Making Your Own Shake

You can also make your own protein shake using whole foods. For example, you can blend a small banana, 1/2 cup of whole strawberries, 1/2 cup of soft tofu, 1 cup of nonfat milk and ice. This shake contains 15 grams of protein, 35 grams of carbs and 255 calories. Adding a little fat to your shake, such as peanut butter or flaxseeds, may help slow the digestion of your shake and help improve blood sugar control.

Too Much Protein

With all the attention on protein, you would think that Americans are deficient, but most get more than enough in their diets, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, people with diabetes have a high risk of kidney disease, and if your kidneys aren't working well, eating more protein than you need may cause further damage. Women need 46 grams of protein a day, and men 56 grams. While protein shakes may be convenient, they are not always the healthiest option for people with diabetes.

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