Best Low Sugar Meal Replacement Shakes for Diabetics (2023)
Although meal replacement shakes are often seen as a way to lose weight quickly, they can also be a helpful tool for people living with diabetes. In fact, research has shown that replacing one or two meals per day with a shake that is low in sugar can help regulate blood sugar levels and manage weight. Therefore, if you are looking for the best low-sugar meal replacement shake for diabetics, read on for our recommendations.
The fact is that diabetes has become one of the main diseases in the Western population in the XXIst century. While many attribute this to the raise of sugary foods, it has been enhanced by the sedentary lifestyle, and increasing obesity.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for diabetes yet, besides diet and insulin shots. As such, controlling what you eat is crucial; and low sugar meal replacement shakes for diabetes are ideal for that.
Low-sugar meal replacement shakes can also be beneficial for those who are pre-diabetic or simply want to avoid having unnecessary blood glucose spikes.
Nevertheless, this does not mean meal replacements marketed for “diabetes”; but quality low sugar shakes that will provide you with the best ingredients. A drink with balanced nutrients that will not spike your blood sugar, and yet will provide you with all the nutrients you need.
DISCLAIMER: Before going any further, I need to remind you that I’m no doctor or medical expert; thus, in case of doubts, please ask your dietitian.
In a Rush?
Best Low Sugar Meal Replacement Shake For Diabetics
- Ultra healthy meal replacement.
- Low GI, no artificial ingredients, no soy, no gluten, no GMO.
- 2g of sugar, and 18g of protein per serving
- Smooth and delicious shakes.
- Most nutrient-rich shake.
Best Protein Shake For Diabetics
- Protein shake.
- Best to boost your protein intake or a snack
- 1g of sugar, 120kcal, 24g of premium protein.
- Great-tasting protein shakes
- 80% protein.
1. Lyfefuel Daily
Best Low Sugar Shake
- 110kcal, 18g of protein, only 2g of sugar
- Incredibly healthy
- 50% of DV per serving
- Boost nutrient intake (vit D3, B12, C…)
- Great taste
- Low in omega-3s
If you are looking for the best shake for diabetics, then Lyfefuel Daily Essentials is for you. This is one of the best meal replacements we have tried at Latestfuels, and it has only 2g of sugar.
However, it’s not only a low sugar shake, but it’s also one packed with nutrients. One of the things I like the most about Lyfefuel’s blend is how many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents etc. you get.
It’s basically a super smoothie packed with protein, carbs, healthy fats, and all the essential nutrients.
In fact, it’s hard to get a shake as good as Lyfefuel, and that, unfortunately, comes to a cost. I’m the first to admit that Lyfefuel won’t fit everyone’s budget, and if that’s you, there are plenty more great shakes on this list.
Lastly, I would also love to remark on how good the taste is. Particularly, I find Vanilla great, since you can consume it regularly without getting tired of it.
- Macros (C/P/F): 19/65/16
- Serving size: 110kcal
- Protein (g): 18g – from pea protein and organic rice protein
- Sugars (g): 2.0g
- Flavors: Vanilla, Chocolate
- Best Flavour: Vanilla
2. HLTH Complete Meal
Best Low Carb
- Only 4g of net carbs – keto-friendly
- Made to manage blood sugar
- Designed by Dr Bikman – metabolic doctor
- 1:1 protein to fat ratio for best nutrient absorption
- Includes digestive enzymes, probiotics and 9g of fiber
- Has collagen for joint support
- Not vegan
- Only 2 flavors
Ketogenic diets have often been suggested as a treatment for diabetics. Therefore, keto shakes are often ideal (even if you are not doing keto) to manage blood sugar levels. As such, HLTH shakes are some of the best meal replacements for diabetics.
Designed by Dr. Bikman – a metabolic scientist-, they have a formula that offers you 1:1 protein to fat ratio. In his research, he’s found this to be best for nutrient absorption and a healthy living style. His goals are to:
- Increase your protein intake
- Help you manage blood-sugar levels during the day
- Boost your nutrient intake
- Make a gut-friendly formula to help with digestion
On top of that, HLTH shakes also have 50% of your daily vitamins and minerals. Limiting your carb intake has never been easier.
Besides, HLTH drinks are absolutely delicious. It’s a pity that there are only 2 flavors available since both are so great. I think Chocolate Macadamia is slightly better, but it’s my personal preference.
- Macros (C/P/F): 12/27/61
- Serving Size: 400kcal
- Protein (g): 27g – from whey protein concentrate, collage, egg whites
- Sugars (g): 2.0g
- Allergens: Milk, egg, coconut
- Profile: Low carb, high protein, keto-friendly
- Flavors: Vanilla, Chocolate Macadamia
- Best Flavor: Chocolate Macadamia
3. Instant Knockout
Best Weight Loss
- 35g of protein
- Designed for weight loss by elite athletes
- 1g of sugar per 400kcal
- Low GI
- Add fat burner, CUT, to increase weight loss
- Just 1 flavor
Cutting unnecessary sugars is a great way to improve your weight loss journey. As such, Impact Knockout Complete can be your low-sugar meal replacement shake to fuel you during it.
It’s been designed in conjunction with MMA athletes to promote lean muscle mass and ensure that you will be energized even when you are in a caloric deficit (necessary to lose weight). Their high-fiber, high protein formula is enriched with MCTs that help slow release of energy.
It comes with all the essential nutrients including healthy fats like omega-3 oils. Furthermore, it’s rich in vitamins and minerals to ensure that your body is firing at all cylinders.
- Macros (C/P/F): 36/35/29
- Serving size: 400kcal
- Protein (g): 35g
- Sugars (g): 1g
- Allergens: Soy
- Flavours: Vanilla
- Best-flavour: Vanilla
- Premium plant-based blend
- No gluten, no soy, no GMO, organic ingredients
- 24g of protein per shake
- 5 incredible flavors
- US only
Ever since we first tried it, Ka’chava has been one of our favorite vegan meal replacement shakes. It offers the ultimate nutritional package with just 6g of sugar per serving, tons of greens and veggies, 70+ superfoods that provide you with all essential nutrients.
In fact, all nutrients come from whole-food ingredients, making Ka’chava’s ingredient list one that you will understand easily and not a list of chemical names. You’ll find that among these vegetables, there are antioxidants and adaptogens that boost your physical and mental health.
However, nothing matters if the shakes don’t taste good. Fortunately, this is one of Ka’chava’s strengths. They have a clean, delicious taste, particularly if you use a blender (and add some ice). All 5 flavors are super tasty, but I like Chocolate or Chai the best.
Start today with Ka’chava’s low sugar meal replacement shakes and make your life healthier.
- Macros (C/P/F): 33/41/26
- Kcal: 240kcal
- Protein (g): 24g – from Yellow Pea Protein, Organic Whole Grain Brown Rice Protein, Organic Sacha Ichi, Organic Amaranth, Organic Quinoa
- Sugars (g): 6.0g
- Flavors: Vanilla, Chocolate, Coconut Acai, Chai, and Matcha.
- Best Flavor: Chocolate or Chai
- 1g of sugar per serving
- 7 different flavors to choose from
- Easy to drink
- Contains sugar alcohols
- More expensive than powder
There are very few ready-to-drink meal replacement shakes that are low in sugars as well. Even Soylent used to have 16g before they changed the formula.
Luckily, now it’s not only a low-carb high-fat shake (low GI), but it also only contains 1g of sugar. Thus, you will not suffer any blood sugar spikes after consumption.
Nutritionally, it will provide you with all the nutrients your body needs, but arguably is slightly less healthy than some of the powders mentioned above. It’s not as rich in nutrients, nor it has the vegetables that will provide you with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents etc.
However, it is a lot more convenient. The 7 flavors are also smoother than powder mixes, thanks to industrial blending, which might make easier for you to drink.
Personally, I tend to use RTDs on the go mostly, since they help me prevent the crappy sugary breakfast options in my local shops. The caffeinated drinks are also a bonus, since I can consume the caffeine I need in the morning without having to spend money on a coffee.
- Macros (C/P/F): 35/19/46
- Serving Size: 400kcal
- Protein (g): 20g – from soy protein isolate
- Sugars (g): 1.0g
- Allergens: Soy
- Flavors: Original, Vanilla, Chocolate, Mint Chocolate, Banana, Strawberry, Chai, and Cafe Latte.
- Best Flavor: Original
Protein Shakes for Diabetics
1. Gold Standard
- Premium quality whey protein
- Only 1-3g of sugar per serving
- Double Rich Chocolate is the king of chocolate flavoured protein powders
- 24g per 120kcal and 5.5g of BCAAs
- No banned substances certified
- More expensive than other alternatives
Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard is truly golden. Not only is Amazon’s best-seller and has 4.6/5 stars in 12k reviews, but it’s always been one of my go-to protein powders.
With only 1g of sugar per 120kcal, it is one of the great shakes for diabetics with type 2 and 1. You can feel safe knowing that you are consuming premium whey protein isolate that will help you with your muscle gain goals.
Besides, the Double Rich Chocolate is one of the best tasting low sugar protein shakes you can buy. I always look forward to having my Gold Standard shake after the gym.
|per serving||Gold Standard||DV (%)|
|of which added (g)|
2. Organic Protein
- 150kcal, 21g complete plant protein
- All USDA organic ingredients
- 0g of sugars
- Contains 5g of Erythritol
Orgain is a US company that makes organic meal replacement and protein shakes. Their blends stand out for the quality of the ingredients and often contain probiotics and superfood blends.
However, I like Orgain’s drink because it’s a sugar-free protein shake. You can use it to help you put on muscle or as a diabetic protein shake for weight loss. The protein comes from organic pea protein, rice protein and chia seed to provide you with a complete amino acid profile.
On top of that, they have a very interesting array of flavors: Creamy Chocolate Fudge (my favorite), Chocolate Coconut, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Natural Unsweetened and Vanilla Bean.
|per serving||Orgain Plant Protein||DV (%)|
|of which added (g)||0.0||0|
3. Impact Whey
- Very affordable
- Great array of delicious flavours
- 1g of sugar, 19g of protein, 100kcal
- Option to choose stevia or other sweeteners
- Some flavours can be very sweet
My Protein’s Impact Whey is another of my go-to protein shakes. I love the array of different flavors that they have, how nice they all taste, and the very affordable price. It was my main protein shake while I was a student for a reason.
Besides that, it is also a great diabetic protein shake. With only 1g of sugar per serving, you can be sure to get high-quality whey protein with 4.5g of BCAAs.
Among the many flavors you can enjoy, Impact Whey offers Chocolate Caramel Pretzel, Glazed Donut, Cookies N’ Cream, French Toast and more.
|per serving||Impact Whey||DV (%)|
|of which added (g)||0.0||0|
According to the World Health Organization there are 422 million people that suffer diabetes worldwide (2014), up from “just” 108 million in 1980. Not only is it prevalent, but it also the 7th leading cause of death. It has become an issue as big as tobacco in many countries, and while it can be treated, there are still many unknowns about prevention and treatment.
In short, diabetes is the inability to control blood glucose levels due to the lack of insulin production by the pancreas or inability to use it.
Type 1 diabetes is when your body cannot produce any insulin; and requires external insulin injection to treat.
On the other hand, type 2 diabetes is when your body cannot effectively use insulin due to errors in the insulin pathway. Usually, this is developed in the adulthood and can be attributed to excess weight and lack of physical activity.
Diabetes and Sugar
So what is the role of sugar in all this? Before diving deeper into sugars, we need to understand the concept of blood glucose and how the body uses this to regulate itself.
Blood glucose is the level of glucose found in your bloodstream. Thus, it is the concentration of sugar (glucose) in your blood. As seen in the image below, diabetics have a harder time metabolizing glucose, it stays in your blood for longer.
As such, blood sugar levels are often used to diagnose diabetics and prediabetics. Having this regulated is a key factor in a healthy lifestyle for people suffering from diabetes (and also preventing it).
Carbohydrates and Glycemic Index
Carbohydrates are key nutrients in our diet. According to ESFA, WHO and American health guidelines, 45-65% of the energy should come from them. Carbs consist of sugars, starches and fibers. The first is simple 1 or 2 saccharides (glucose, fructose, galactose and other simple sugars). The latter are formed when many saccharides are bound together to form a matrix.
The glycemic index is a relative number from 0-100 (0 being low and 100 high) that ranks carbohydrates in relation to how they affect blood sugar. This is, a carbohydrate with high GI will be more rapidly absorbed in the blood stream and it’s likely to cause a bigger spike; which you want to avoid when you have diabetes.
As a rule of thumb, simple carbohydrates will have high GI, and complex carbohydrates (oats, wholegrain pasta, etc) will have low GI.
People with diabetes are usually recommended to consume low GI foods. Thus, you want to consume nutrition drinks for diabetics that are low in sugar or have low GI.
So, How to Choose the Best Shakes for Diabetics?
There are multiple factors you should look at, and again, I recommend checking with your doctor. But generally, these are few factors that can be positive:
- The main carbohydrate source is a complex one and they contain low levels of sugar. As explained above, this will help you control the blood sugar spike.
- Low-carb meal replacement shakes can be a good alternative. According to Diabetes UK, low-carb diets can help you reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, control cholesterol and even losing weight in the short term. Similarly, there’s a debate on how ketogenic diets can help you in the long term.
- Look for balanced meal replacement shakes. One of the key factors is a balanced and healthy diet. Vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients will help you immensely achieve this goal. Thus, I recommend you look at meal replacement drinks for diabetics that can offer you this.
- Avoid “nutrition shakes for diabetics” or those shakes branded as such. While many claim that they have been specifically claimed for diabetic people, the nutritional profile is often high in sugars and not very good. Plus, they can be overpriced.
Examples of “Diabetes Nutritional Shakes” to Avoid
Let’s showcase the point made above:
|g of sugar/shake||4||1|
|g of sugar/100kcal||1||0.25|
Glucerna Ingredients: Water, Corn Maltodextrin, Milk Protein Concentrate, Fructose, Glycerol, Short-Chain Fructooligosaccharides, Cocoa Powder (Processed with Alkali), Soy Protein Isolate, High Oleic Safflower Oil. Less than 2% of the Following: Canola Oil, Soy Oil, Cellulose Gel, Potassium Citrate, Magnesium Phosphate, Salt, Choline Chloride, Ascorbic Acid, Calcium Carbonate, Calcium Phosphate, Sodium Citrate, Cellulose Gum, Potassium Phosphate, Natural & Artificial Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Monoglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Liquid Sucralose, Potassium Hydroxide, Magnesium Chloride, Carrageenan, Turmeric Concentrate, Acesulfame Potassium, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, dl-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, Niacinamide, Manganese Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, FD&C Red #3, Cupric Sulfate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Folic Acid, Thiamine Chloride Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Chromium Chloride, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin, Sodium Molybdate, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenate, Phylloquinone, Cyanocobalamin, and Vitamin D3.
As you can see, while the GI of the Glucerna shake is low (good) there are many ingredients in the shake which are highly processed. I personally prefer drinks that have more real food ingredients. Another issue is that the macronutrient profile is skewed in favour of protein and fats, and it’s very low in carbohydrates.
Boost Diabetic Drink
|Boost Glucose Control||Huel|
|g of sugar/shake||4||1|
|g of sugar/100kcal||1||0.25|
Boost Glucose Control: Water, Milk Protein Concentrate, Tapioca Dextrin, Vegetable Oil (Canola, High Oleic Sunflower, Corn), And Less Than 2% Of Fructose, Soy Protein Isolate, Cocoa Processed With Alkali, Sodium Caseinate, Calcium Caseinate, Inulin (From Chicory), Vitamins And Minerals, Partially Hydrolyzed Guar Gum, Salt, Cellulose Gel And Gum, Soy Lecithin, Sucralose, Carrageenan, Natural And Artificial Flavor.
The GI of Boost Glucose Control drink is probably low, but it still has 4g of added sugars per 190kcal. Plus, it is another drink filled with highly processed ingredients. It also not a dairy-free shake and contains soy; so it’s not going to be suitable for everybody.
The other issue with these shakes is that they are not very filling. On top of that, they are quite small to be used as meal replacements for diabetics. Plus, they rely on being low in carbohydrates to have a low GI.
Diabetes and Losing Weight
If you are looking for diabetic smoothies to lose weight or nutritional drinks that can help you with this goal, you will definitely find one on this list. However, I must reinforce that the most important thing when looking to lose weight is calorie deficit. This is, you need to consume fewer calories than what your body needs. That way, you will burn fat (energy) stored in your body.
So what would be good diabetic weight loss shakes? In my opinion, they should be balanced, and satiating, with plenty of fiber and protein. Something like Huel or Complete 360.
However, as mentioned above, ketogenic and low-carb diets have been proven to be efficient on helping lose weight to diabetics. Therefore, the best ketogenic shakes, like Ample K, can be a good tool. Nonetheless, there is a concern about the long-term efficiency due to how hard is to stick to these diets.
Protein Shakes for Diabetics
Instead of meal replacement shakes, you might be looking for protein drinks for diabetics. These are going to be better if you are just looking to boost your protein intake and not replace full meals.
Both plant-based and vegetarian protein shakes can be used by diabetics. Therefore, that will fall into personal preference. However, I would recommend looking at the added sugar levels and extra carbohydrates on the shakes. For instance, mass gainers or high calorie shakes will have a lot of added carbohydrates. On the other hand, “standard” protein shakes should be low in sugar; thus, better for diabetic-friendly protein shakes.
Another thing you might want to look at is artificial sweeteners. Most protein shakes are not going to be without artificial sweeteners. Nonetheless, the most common ones should not affect your blood glucose.
Conclusion: Diabetic Meal Replacement & Protein Shakes
So what is the best diabetic shake? In reality, it will depend on your needs and what you are looking for. There is no cure or special nutritional drink for diabetics that will change your life. However, there are meal replacements that can help you have a more balanced and controlled meal; thus improving your diet and avoiding unwanted unhealthy food.
In fact, I think that’s the best thing about liquid meals for diabetics, that you will know exactly what you are getting. Therefore, you can have meals that will fit your requirements and improve how you feel.
You can even find meal replacement shakes for diabetics that will help you out with your weight loss goals by knowing how many calories you eat.
1.US Dietary Guidelines 2015-20.
2. FDA Daily Values.
3. Ultimate Meal Replacement List.
4. Latestfuel’s Best Meal Replacement Shakes.
6. Glycemic Index.