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Are Protein Shakes a Bad Mix with Diabetes?

November 18, 2016
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So you have diabetes and you want a healthy, on-the-go meal option that will fill you up and give you energy? A lot of people opt for a protein bar or shake of some kind, but sometimes that’s not necessarily smart when you need to keep a close eye on your blood sugar. Protein is pretty important, especially if you are pregnant, sustaining injuries, have just had surgery or are a fairly active person. The average moderate-healthy eater should consume somewhere around 50-60 total grams of protein per day. Protein is a macronutrient found in food alongside the other essential macronutrients, carbohydrates and fats. It helps to keep your muscles healthy and working by rebuilding and repairing them after exercise and use. Also important, protein helps support the growth and health of your bones, skin, blood and nails. And, fortunately for those with diabetes, protein does not have any hand in raising your blood sugar. But that doesn’t mean you are off the hook when it comes to the popular protein shakes and bars found at the grocery store. Because, unfortunately, these contain an obtuse amount of sugar and are often full of a long list of artificial ingredients that aren’t so great for your body. So, it is suggested instead that you make your own at home using protein powders mixed with specific, healthy ingredients to get your favorite flavor combination—and the least amount of sugar. Here are the best steps to take when creating your own meal replacement shake:
  1. Check out the ingredient label and if you don’t recognize one of the ingredients, it’s probably best to put it back on the shelf. Even the protein powders can be full of artificial flavors and sweeteners, so that’s something to keep an eye out for. There are also whey-based and plant-based powders, so be sure you are aware of which you are buying. Those who are lactose intolerant or allergic to milk should definitely avoid any powders that claim to be whey-based.
  1. Once finding a powder that is low in sugar and not full of artificial ingredients, decide what you would like to mix into the powder to make it transform into a complete meal or snack. Plain water often won’t cut it as a filling meal, but milk, fresh fruit, yogurt, peanut butter, oats and greens make great, low-sugar fillers.
  1. Those with diabetes need to watch the sweeteners that they use. Things like sugar, agave or fruit juice should be limited in use. Beware also of “healthy” smoothie shops which often have smoothies with a sugar content higher than the typical daily value for people.
If this still seems like too much work, there are some good ready-to drink protein shakes available for those watching their blood sugar. Just make sure that you take a look at the sugar content and avoid those that have 30 grams of more of added sugar. Or, you can opt for one without added sweetness and add your own form of sweetener. You can use soft fruits like berries and bananas as great additions to premade shakes found at the store.
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