Protein shake for diabetes

The 10 Best Protein Shakes for Diabetes [2024] [Dietitian Recommended]

Whether you have a goal to promote weight loss, lose belly fat, or need a quick, diabetes-friendly meal on the go, a protein shake may be a good option. However, not all protein shakes are created equal. Some options may be beneficial in helping you to achieve your goals, whereas others may have a negative impact on blood sugar and body weight.

Read on to learn more about when and why to add protein shakes to your diabetes diet as well as the 10 best protein shakes for diabetes, as recommended by a dietitian.

Protein shake for diabetes

The article contains affiliate links. As always, all opinions are my own.

Why use protein shakes for diabetes?

Protein shakes can be a great option when you need a blood sugar friendly option on-the-go, but they aren’t always the best choice for every situation. If you are considering choosing a protein shake for diabetes management, consider what protein shakes are best used for (and what they can’t be used for as well): 

Build muscle.  After a workout, your body needs to replenish its glycogen stores (the glucose that is stored in our body and used during a workout) and repair muscle tissue. Since protein shakes deliver a hefty dose of high quality protein and a good amount of carbs, they can help you recover and manage blood sugar levels. Building muscle also boosts your metabolism and can aid in weight loss. 

Better blood sugar control. Protein has a minimal impact on blood sugar levels. In fact, when you eat protein, it takes longer for your body to digest and absorb the carbohydrates in your meal. This helps to prevent the spikes in blood sugar levels that can occur after eating a high-carbohydrate meal. In addition, diets higher in protein can help you stay full longer, which can help with portion control and appetite regulation throughout the day. 

Convenience. Before or after a workout, between meetings, during errands.. whenever you need a boost, ready made protein shakes are the delicious and convenient option to boost your protein intake. However, not all protein shakes are created equal; even the best weight loss shakes designed for people with diabetes may fall short when it comes to complete nutrition. 

You will need to read the label and find out what’s missing when it comes to fat, protein, carbohydrates, and calories — and then fill in with added whole foods as needed. 

What to look for in a protein shake for diabetes

Not only should your protein shake taste great, but it should also provide your body with the high-quality nutrients it needs. 

Woman after finishing workout drinking protein shake

Here’s what to look for when choosing a protein shake for diabetes:

  • Calories: Choose protein shakes with up to 200 calories. If you are trying to lose weight, stick with protein shakes with lower calorie counts and fewer carbohydrates. Remember, a lower calorie shake can be used as a snack in-between meals, whereas a higher calorie snack can be used as a full meal.
  • Protein: A protein shake should have 15-30 grams of protein per bottle. More than 30 grams of protein provides no additional benefits and may be harmful for those with kidneys that don’t function properly. If you have kidney issues or have been placed on a protein-restricted diet, be sure to speak to your physician first to make sure a protein shake is right for you.
  • Carbs: When it comes to finding the best protein shakes for diabetes management, you may be tempted to look for options with a little carbs as possible. However, you do not need to have a zero to low carb protein shake to keep blood sugar managed. 

To determine how many carbohydrates are right for you, first consider your carbohydrate goals per meal. Then, decide if you will be having the protein shake alone or with other foods. If you are using a protein shake as part of a meal, keeping the carbohydrates lower may be best to allow for additional carbohydrates to be consumed in the rest of the meal.

If you’re using the protein shake as a meal replacement shake on its own, you will have greater flexibility on the carbohydrate content. 

Since most protein shakes for diabetes that contain carbs will have the majority coming from sugars and other quick-digested carbohydrates, a good Rule of Thumb is to look for varieties with carbohydrates are less than 15 grams per serving.

  • Sugar: Unless you’re an athlete looking for protein shakes as a recovery aid, look for shakes that keep added sugars to less than 10 grams. Also look for shakes with minimal to no added sugar and artificial sweeteners, as some additives may cause gastrointestinal discomfort or bloating. 
  • Plant-based: For plant-based protein shake, look for those made with more complete proteins like soy or pea protein to ensure you are consuming all of the essential amino acids. 

While protein shakes may fill you up, even the best weight loss shakes don’t provide complete dietary nutrition. If you rely on weight loss or meal replacement shakes regularly, you will still need a healthy balance of real food each day. Be sure to balance the rest of your meals and snacks with fiber-rich, whole foods to ensure you meet your overall daily nutrition needs.

Here are 10 of the best protein shakes for diabetes. These shakes can be purchased in-stores at major retailers or also online at Amazon or Walmart. 

1.  Orgain Plant-Based Protein Shake

Orgain Plant-Based Protein Shake Chocolate
Orgain Organic Vegan Protein…
  • CLEANER INGREDIENTS: Help kickstart your day. Put the power of 20g of plant-based protein in your pack, purse, palm of your hand no matter where you are. With 0g sugar* and 140 calories, it’s a no brainer.
  • Calories: 140
  • Total carbohydrates: 8g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Added sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 20g
  • Fat: 5g

With minimal calories, Orgain Plant-Based Protein shakes provide a convenient and versatile way to satisfy hunger, either paired with additional foods for a balanced meal or enjoyed on its own as a delicious, blood sugar-friendly snack. 

This is one of the best shakes for diabetes as well as weight loss since it provides 20 g of high-quality protein with just 140 calories and no added sugar. This shake also provides 2 grams of fiber which, combined with the protein, can help to balance blood sugar, while helping you to feel full.

2. Orgain Clean Protein Shake

Orgain Clean Protein Shake, Grass Fed Dairy, Vanilla Bean
Orgain Clean Protein Shake,…
  • CLEANER INGREDIENTS: Our 20g Clean Protein Shakes are made of grass-fed milk protein, sourced entirely from cows that can freely graze on pastures year-round just like nature intended them to.
  • Calories: 130
  • Total carbohydrates: 9g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugar: 3g
  • Added sugars: 3g
  • Protein: 20g
  • Fat: 2g

Orgain Clean Protein Shakes are made with grass-fed milk protein and are a great option for people with diabetes due to the moderate calories and low sugar content compared to other nutrition shakes. 

Enjoy this post-workout if you want to keep calories and sugar down while getting sufficient protein for recovery or to maintain lean body tissue while losing weight.

3. Fairlife Nutrition Plan High Protein Liquid Shakes

Fair Life Nutrition Plan High Protein Liquid Shake, Vanilla
Fair Life Nutrition Plan High Protein…
  • Fairlife Nutrition Plan vanilla shakes contain 30g of high-quality protein per serving from Fairlife ultra-filtered milk
  • Calories: 150
  • Total carbohydrates: 3g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugar: 2g
  • Added sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 30g
  • Fat: 2.5g

Fairlife makes a variety of high-protein, dairy-based shakes. The brand is based on ultra-filtered milk, which has about twice the protein and half the sugar of regular milk as well as more calcium. 

The Nutrition Plan line of shakes comes in four flavors, and all provide 30 grams of protein from milk. The shakes are sweetened with stevia leaf extract and other calorie-free sweeteners. They also contain lactase enzymes so it should be well tolerated for those with lactose intolerance. 

4. OWYN Pro-Elite Protein Shake

OWYN Pro Elite Protein Shake, Vanilla
OWYN Pro Elite – High Protein (35g),…
  • CONTAINS 32 GRAMS OF ORGANIC PUMPKIN SEED, ORGANIC FLAX OIL, AND PEA PROTEIN BLEND: Delivers all 9 essential amino acids and naturally occurring BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids) and high vegan omega-3 to enhance muscle recovery and promote optimal daily health.
  • Calories: 200
  • Total carbohydrates: 7g
  • Fiber: 6g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Added sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 32g
  • Fat: 6g

OWYN Protein Shakes are 100% vegetarian and made from a blend of pea protein, flaxseed, oat, and pumpkin seeds. This shake is also low in saturated fat and sodium, while providing 20 to 25% of the Daily Value for more than 25 essential nutrients, including calcium, vitamin D, folate, and other B-vitamins. 

5. Soylent Complete Protein Shake

Soylent Chocolate High Protein Shake
Soylent Chocolate High Protein…
  • Includes: 12 11-oz. Soylent Chocolate ready-to-drink complete protein plant-based high protein shakes. Delicious nutrition made for those looking to supplement their protein intake. Great for breakfast, lunch, pre or post workout.
  • Calories: 250
  • Total carbohydrates: 10g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Added sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 30g
  • Fat: 13g

Soylent Complete Protein Shakes are plant-based and made with soy to keep saturated fat low. Each shake provides more than 30 essential vitamins and minerals and 30 grams of protein per 250-calorie bottle. 

With no added sugar, the shakes are sweetened with sucralose to keep the carbohydrates and sugar in check. These are a great choice for anyone looking for a shake to enjoy as a meal replacement or to help maintain lean muscle mass.

6. Muscle Milk Zero Protein Shake

Muscle Milk Zero Protein Shake, Chocolate
Muscle Milk Zero Protein…
  • Contains twelve (12) 11.16 Fl Oz Bottles of Muscle Milk Zero Protein Shakes. Packaging may vary.
  • Calories: 100
  • Total carbohydrates: 7g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Added sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 20g
  • Fat: 1g

This new offering from Muscle Milk is lower in calories than their other lines, so it’s a perfect option for those seeking to lose fat without losing muscle mass. These shakes provide the ideal balance of macronutrients with just 7 grams of carbohydrates and 20 grams of protein, along with 4 grams of fiber. 

Fiber helps slow digestion, control blood sugar and lower cholesterol levels in the blood making it one of the best protein shake for people with diabetes.

The protein in this shake comes from isolated milk proteins, but it doesn’t contain lactose so it’s a great option if you are lactose intolerant. 

7. Evolve Protein Shake

Evolve Plant Based Protein Shake, Double Chocolate
Evolve Plant Based Protein…
  • 20 GRAMS OF PLANT-BASED PROTEIN sourced from peas, a delicious and more sustainable source of protein
  • Calories: 140
  • Total carbohydrates: 16g
  • Fiber: 10g
  • Sugar: 4g
  • Added sugars: 4g
  • Protein: 20g
  • Fat: 2g

If you are looking for a vegan protein shake, Evolve Plant Based Protein Shakes are an excellent option. These shakes contain 20 grams of protein in the form of pea protein isolate. 

In addition to the high-quality protein, Evolve contains vitamins vegans sometimes struggle to obtain like vitamin b12, zinc, and iron. Evolve shakes have 16 grams of carbohydrates, with 10 of these grams coming from soluble corn fiber. 

Fiber has many health benefits, though this is a high amount of fiber for a protein shake and may cause digestive discomfort for some, so keep that in mind as you select the best option for you.

8. Iconic Cafe Latte Protein Drink

ICONIC Protein Drinks, Café Latte
ICONIC Protein Drinks, Vanilla Bean (4…
  • QUALITY GRASS FED PROTEIN DRINKS: each ICONIC protein shake boasts 20 grams of complete protein from grass fed whey and casein to fill you up without slowing you down
  • Calories: 140
  • Total carbohydrates: 8g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Added sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 20g
  • Fat: 2.5g

With no added sugar, Iconic protein shakes are a good option if you have diabetes or need to watch your added sugar intake. They are made from grass-fed milk that has been filtered to be lactose-free. With only 140 calories, they make a great addition to breakfast or quick on-the-go snack. 

If you’re using them as a post workout refuel, you may want to add a source of fiber-rich carbohydrates to keep blood sugar stable while still replenishing the carbs you used during your workout. 

9. Premier Protein Shake

Premier Protein Shake, Cookie Dough
Premier Protein Shake,…
  • Chocolately goodness: Smooth and creamy, rich chocolate flavored shake; Winner of American Masters of Taste Gold Medal for SUPERIOR TASTING ready-to-drink protein beverages.
  • Calories: 160
  • Total carbohydrates: 4g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Added sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 30g
  • Fat: 3g

From Root Beer Float to Cake Batter Delight, there’s a flavor for every palette with Premier Protein shakes. These tasty shakes clock in at 160 calories, 30 grams of protein and 1 gram of sugar per serving. 

Made from a blend of milk protein and casein, they help fuel muscles quickly and for several hours afterwards to keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day. 

10. Ripple Vegan Protein Shake

Ripple Vanilla Vegan Protein Shake, Shelf Stable
Ripple Vegan Protein Shake,…
  • THE BETTER PLANT POWERED PROTEIN: Ripple Shakes provide 20 grams of pea protein, which has higher nutritional value, tastes better, and is more sustainable than other plant-based proteins.
  • Calories: 200
  • Total carbohydrates: 12g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugar: 9g
  • Added sugars: 9g
  • Protein: 20g
  • Fat: 7g

Ripple protein shakes have a great flavor, strong nutrient profile, and relatively simple ingredient list. It has 20 grams of plant-based protein that also comes with nearly 45 percent of your daily calcium needs and 15 percent of your daily iron needs – two nutrients that may be difficult to get enough of through food if you’re following a vegan diet. 

The biggest drawback is that it contains both 9 grams of added sugar and monk fruit extract, which gives it its ultra sweet flavor. If you do choose a Ripple protein shake, be sure to limit your added sugar intake throughout the day.

The bottom line on the best protein shakes for diabetes

Protein shakes can be a great option for people with diabetes, but not all protein shakes are created equal.

With a little research and label reading, you can find a wide variety of protein shakes for diabetes management. 

When choosing the best protein shake for your blood sugar, consider if you will use the shake as a meal replacement, a snack, or both. Then, look for options with 20- 30 grams of protein per sugar, 15 grams of carbohydrates or less, and limited to no added sugars.

Protein shakes with added fiber can offer additional benefits to blood sugar balance as well as satiety.

Assortment of Protein Shakes on Table

Remember, protein shakes are meant to be used as a supplement to enhance your diet and not as a replacement for a balanced diet. Be sure to pair your protein shakes with meals and snacks rich in other sources of lean protein along with non-starchy vegetables, whole fruits, and high fiber foods including nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

When you head to the store, print this list of the best protein shakes for diabetes & bring it with you to find the shake that works best for your health goals and taste preferences!

Are you looking for more ways to add protein into your diabetes meal plan? Check out these resources as well:

The best protein powders for diabetes

Quick & easy protein snacks you will love

High protein cake pops (only 4 ingredients!)

Last update on 2024-06-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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