What are the best meal replacement shakes for diabetics?
Looking for a meal replacement for diabetes?
If you have type 2 diabetes, the foods that you eat can have a huge effect on your blood sugar levels. Meal replacements are no exception. A good meal replacement will not spike your blood sugar. A bad one, on the other hand, can make your blood sugar go haywire. What makes a meal replacement good or bad is its nutritional content and ingredient list.
You should avoid meal replacements with lots of Added Sugar as it can trigger blood sugar spikes. Since 2018, the FDA has required that the Nutrition Facts label include how much sugar has been added to the food, so this should be easy to find. It is always expressed in grams, and anything over 5 grams is too much. Naturally occurring sugars, like those found in fruits and vegetables, are safe to eat. There is no association between natural sugar and diabetes since this type of sugar is digested and absorbed more slowly. The amount of naturally occurring sugar in a food can be found by subtracting Added Sugar from Total Sugar.
You should also avoid meal replacements sweetened with artificial sweeteners. Several studies have shown that artificial sweeteners may increase cravings toward sugary and sweet foods, which can lead to binging and feelings of withdrawal. Other studies have linked artificial sweeteners to a higher risk of glucose intolerance, which is a precursor for pre-diabetes and diabetes.
Finally, you should also choose a meal replacement made with minimally-processed ingredients. Most meal replacements are made with protein concentrates and isolates, foods stripped of everything but the protein. They are listed on the ingredient list as “pea protein,” for example, as opposed to “peas.” We will not go into the details, but protein concentrates and isolates can cause hyperinsulinemia (abnormally high levels of insulin). While high-protein, low-carb foods like these are low on the glycemic index, they can still measure high on the insulin index. In other words, while protein concentrates and isolates do not spike blood sugar the way that most carbohydrates do, they can still result in an insulin spike. This is because protein has an insulinotropic effect (it promotes insulin secretion).
Why drink wholesome?
Not only are our meal replacements made without added sugar and artificial sweeteners, but they are also made with minimally-processed real food protein sources. Instead of protein concentrates or isolates, we use egg whites and almonds. Egg whites are simply pasteurized and dried before becoming meal replacement. Almonds are just roasted, pressed, and ground. Minimally-processed ingredients like these are a diabetes-friendly alternative to protein concentrates and isolates. drink wholesome is also food additive-free, which sets it apart from most meal replacements. Keep reading to learn more.
There are two types of meal replacement shakes, ready-to-drink (store-bought) shakes, and shakes made with meal replacement powder. In order to make a shake with meal replacement powder, you have to mix the powder with milk or water. This requires a blender or a shake bottle, and a little extra time and effort. Some people buy ready-to-drink shakes instead of meal replacement powder because they value convenience, but if they knew what they were drinking, they would probably vomit.
Ready-to-drink meal replacement shakes are full of food additives like emulsifiers, stabilizers, and thickeners. Ingredients like these help with shelf stability (sitting on the shelf for a long time without spoiling), and can replicate the creamy, dairy-like mouthfeel that people crave. Although this sounds like a good thing, food additives look nothing like real food and can cause a number of side effects. This is why I recommend that you make your own meal replacement shakes with meal replacement powder. Unfortunately, however, not all meal replacement powders are created equal, and many contain the same additives found in ready-to-drink shakes. You will therefore have to read ingredient lists to find the good ones. The rest of this article is dedicated to teaching you how to pick easy to digest diabetic meal replacement shakes.
Avoid food additives.
Again, most meal replacements are full of food additives. Although not necessarily bad for you in small quantities, additives can add up quickly (especially if you drink a meal replacement shake every day) and cause gastrointestinal (GI) side effects like bloating, constipation, diarrhea, gas, and stomach pain. This is because food additives are, generally speaking, hard to digest. They sit in your gut for longer than food should, which gives your gut bacteria more time to eat. As they eat, these bacteria produce gas, which causes bloating and stomach pain. Gas also slows colonic transit (the amount of time it takes food to travel through the colon) and can lead to constipation.
In the long term, food additives can disrupt regulatory pathways in the intestine, which can result in the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and systemic inflammatory disorders. Artificial sweeteners are among the most harmful additives in the long term as they alter the composition of your gut microbiota (the collection of microorganisms that help you digest food). This can lead to serious, chronic GI problems, widespread inflammation, and permanent damage to the gut microbiome. Some sweeteners, especially sugar alcohols like xylitol, are also poorly absorbed by the gut (meaning they feed those hungry gut bacteria) and cause diarrhea because they draw water into your intestine. Now you finally have something to blame for those post-meal replacement shake trips to the bathroom!
Here is a list of the most common food additives in meal replacements:
acacia gum, acesulfame potassium, artificial flavors, aspartame, carob bean gum, carrageenan, cellulose gum, dextrin, dextrose, erythritol, gellan gum, guar gum, gum arabic, inulin, locust bean gum, “natural” flavors, maltodextrin, rice syrup solids, soy lecithin, silica, sucralose, sunflower lecithin, xanthan gum, xylitol
When it comes to identifying food additives, go with your gut. 😉 As a rule of thumb, they are the ingredients that you cannot pronounce. Food additives are not the only thing to look out for when buying diabetes meal replacement shakes, however. There are several other ingredients that can upset your stomach.
egg whites, almonds, oats, coconut, cocoa, monk fruit
Dairy-based proteins like whey and casein, which are byproducts of cheese and yogurt production, are known to cause digestive issues, especially for people with lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Over one in three Americans are lactose intolerant, and the prevalence of IBS is somewhere between 10 and 15 percent in the United States. It follows that you may be lactose intolerant or have IBS and not even know it. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a poorly understood condition, and it is unclear why dairy triggers symptoms. Lactose intolerance, on the other hand, is clearly understood. People with lactose intolerance are unable to fully digest lactose, the sugar in dairy. As you just learned, partially digested food feeds the bacteria in your gut, which produce gas.
Avoid protein concentrates and isolates.
Finding an additive-free, dairy-free meal replacement is hard. Finding an additive-free, dairy-free meal replacement made with real foods is next to impossible. Why? As I mentioned earlier, most meal replacements are made with protein concentrates and isolates, foods stripped of everything but the protein. They are listed on the ingredient list as “pea protein,” for example, as opposed to “peas.” We will not go into the details, but protein concentrates and isolates undergo heavy mechanical and chemical processing before becoming meal replacement. Sometimes, manufacturers use chemical solvents like hexane to isolate (separate) the protein from the food. This means that what you end up putting into your body looks nothing like real food. The potential problem here is that your gut might not know what to do with ingredients like these. Your gut prefers the real thing, not some heavily-processed imitation, so protein concentrates and isolates might be hard to digest for people with sensitive stomachs.
Instead of protein concentrates or isolates, we use high protein, minimally-processed ingredients like egg whites and almonds. Unless you have a sensitivity or allergy to eggs, egg white protein is the best protein for people with sensitive stomachs. Egg whites are low in fiber, low-FODMAP, and have the highest protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) of any whole food. Our customers have experienced fewer digestive issues with egg white protein than with any other type of protein. We also like almonds because they are low-FODMAP and gut-friendly. Research suggests that almonds can improve the diversity and composition of the gut microbiome. Research also suggests that almonds possess prebiotic properties, meaning they stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.
“I just finished my first bag and ordered 2 more! I Iove this stuff! I have a sensitive stomach and every meal replacement powder makes me bloated…except drink wholesome!”
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.