Diabetes is an increasingly common condition that causes blood sugar levels to rise higher than normal. Along with the disease, comes the vast lifestyle changes one should make to keep their blood glucose level at bay. Part of these lifestyle changes is looking for quick diabetes-friendly meals on the go.
Diabetic meal replacement shakes are some of the most innovative products the food industry has developed. With lots of options out there in the market, we need to know: are they beneficial and effective? Let’s find out.
What are Meal Replacement Shakes?
First, let’s find out what these shakes actually are. They belong to the bigger category of meal replacement, which are types of food meant to be alternatives to traditionally prepared meals. Meal replacement is a quick and convenient way to give your body the nutrients it needs. They come in different forms such as snack bars, frozen food, and ready-to-mix powders.
Meal replacement shakes are usually made with protein powder and a liquid depending on your dietary needs. These can substitute a meal or two, or as a part of one. You may also opt to mix it with fruits, greens, grains, nuts, and low-fat dairy. Total Shape listed out some of the most recommended products for diabetic people.
One sample meal schedule would be grabbing a shake for breakfast and having another with fruit for lunch and dinner. To best manage how you incorporate them into your diet, consult your nutritionist or dietitian for a healthy meal plan.
If you have qualms about safety, a diabetic person can safely consume meal replacement shakes. You just have to figure out which ones work best for your condition so as to not disturb your glycemic control. It fills the nutrient gap since reducing a diet can lead to reducing the nutrition you receive.
So how do these drinks benefit diabetic people?
Safe Weight Loss
Type 2 diabetes has affected many overweight or obese individuals. And losing weight has some great perks, including lower blood sugar and blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels, more energy, and a better mood.
Apart from having lower calories, meal replacement shakes have high protein and fiber content. It helps in shedding weight without sacrificing your muscle mass. But apart from this, it aids in making you feel full for longer periods compared to ingesting solid meals.
This leads you to take fewer calories throughout the day and lose extra pounds without your blood sugar levels drastically fluctuating. The latter can usually be a side effect of unhealthy weight loss methods. But, you cannot depend on your protein needs on the shakes alone. You still have to eat other protein sources which can have minerals and nutrients your meal replacements might not have.
Sugar Level Management
As mentioned, meal replacement shakes help with weight loss and this can help regulate your sugar levels. Meal replacement shakes help you avoid high-carb foods and instead provide your needed carbohydrates and protein. Shedding weight will lower your blood sugar and improve your overall health. As little as a 2% loss can do wonders – a study found that this improved blood sugar control for people who have type 2 diabetes.
Read More: Smoothie Vs Shake: What’s the Difference?
Essential Nutrients in a Gulp
The usual problem with people on a stricter diet is that they can mistakenly deprive themselves of essential nutrients that keep the body healthy. Meal replacements are filled with such to mimic a well-balanced meal which eliminates the need to pick out which foods you have to avoid. As mentioned, they are high in protein and fiber, but also with minerals and other vitamins.
Meal replacement shakes are also quick and easy to consume in comparison to usual meal preparing methods. It lessens the need to meticulously portion and estimate your meals, as their nutrient and calorie levels are premeasured. You don’t have to chop up anything and clean up much after preparing.
This may seem trivial on paper, but you can use that time for other activities. A hectic day at work may disallow you to have time and whip up a meal. Thus, you have a greater tendency to go for fast food or skip eating altogether. Meal replacement shakes lessen the likelihood to indulge in unhealthy food when you can conveniently mix up a drink for yourself.
Long Shelf Life
Another usual problem with traditional fresh food is its short shelf life. With meal replacement powder mixes, you have no reason to worry about this. Unmixed meal replacements can last as long as 12 months. If you take it regularly, it is unlikely you will have to meet its expiration. In return, it also becomes a cost-effective option for your nutrition.
Read More: Should I Add Protein Powder to My Smoothie?
How to Choose the Right Meal Replacement Shake
Claims of certain products plastered on its packaging can easily sway consumers. However, the best method to know if you are having the appropriate meal replacement is through the ingredient list on the back. These may not apply to everyone, but generally, these qualifications are considered beneficial and healthy. According to Healthline, your meal replacement shake should have the following per serving:
- Minimum 15 grams of protein
- Minimum 3 grams of fiber
- Less than 10 grams of sugar
- No corn syrup and hydrogenated vegetable oil
- At least 33% of the daily recommended intake of vitamins and minerals
A more specific way of figuring out how a product will impact your blood sugar levels is through its glycemic index. According to WebMD, it provides a way to pick out slower-acting carbs from faster ones. You can use it to streamline your carb counting and prevent glucose spikes.
If you want to take full advantage of meal replacement shakes, go for the holistic route. Match it with a healthy diet and lifestyle and a recommended exercise regimen. And people with type 2 diabetes should also be mindful even with the portioning of meal replacements. The safest way to go is consulting a dietitian or your physician.