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Home arrow Health arrow Diabetes arrow Protein Shakes for Diabetes: A Comprehensive Guide

Protein Shakes for Diabetes: A Comprehensive Guide

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: December 28, 2022
8 min read 1655 Views 0 Comments
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Shakes offer a convenient means to meet your daily protein requirements. As diet is critical for blood sugar control when you have diabetes, are protein shakes suitable? This article covers protein drinks for people with diabetes. It also includes a simple step-by-step guide to making diabetes-friendly shakes at home.

protein shakes for diabetes

Diet plays an important role when you have diabetes. What you eat can impacts your overall wellness, as certain foods trigger blood sugar spikes. 

While you don’t necessarily need to eliminate foods from your diet, prioritizing certain dietary choices over others can help you better control your health.  

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is a healthful way to manage the condition. Carbohydrates and sugary foods cause quick spikes in blood sugar, complicating things.

Just as those who do not have diabetes, people with diabetes need protein in the diet. But are protein shakes a suitable choice? 

Protein shakes often have a high sugar content which can quickly raise blood sugar levels. However, there are ways to incorporate protein shakes into your diet if you have diabetes. 

Read on for everything you need to know about protein drinks, including diabetes-friendly methods, our favorite recipes, and the best app for managing diabetes.

What Are Protein Shakes?

A protein shake is a drink made from protein powder blended with water or another liquid such as milk or a milk substitute. 

Protein powder is a substance that contains high levels of protein from plant or animal sources. Whey protein powder, which comes from the cheese-making process, is a favorite product in the fitness world. 

Alternatively, you can opt for plant-based protein powder derived from different plant proteins, such as pea, soy, and hemp. 

The protein powder may contain additional vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids, depending on the brand. Many are manufactured as meal replacement shakes because they contain essential nutrients.

Shakes are a popular protein supplement that many people consume to gain weight, increase muscle mass, or enhance energy levels. They also help boost the protein intake of those who do not get enough protein from food alone.

The protein drink is similar in texture to a milkshake. It’s a thick, filling beverage in various flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. You can also add other ingredients to a homemade protein shake, like fruit, vegetables, and yogurt. 

How Much Protein Do We Need?

Protein is an essential macronutrient that we need to include in our diets every day.

The recommended dietary allowance (the RDA) for most healthy adults is 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. The RDA is the minimum amount of a nutrient your body needs to function correctly.

0.36 grams per pound is approximately 10–35% of your daily calories. With a 2,000-calorie diet, 200-700 calories should come from protein sources. That’s roughly 50–175 grams of protein.

While following the RDA is enough to prevent a nutrient deficiency, the amount of protein you need depends on many lifestyle factors. For example, your age and physical activity level can significantly impact your protein requirements. 

Athletes may need more protein than the average healthy adult to maximize muscle growth and maintain fitness levels. Elderly persons may need additional protein to prevent muscle loss with age. 

On the other hand, too much protein in the diet may be harmful.  

Protein Shakes for Diabetes – Are They Good?

We all need protein, regardless of health conditions. It plays a crucial role in human function, from repairing and rebuilding muscle to providing energy. And aside from its primary processes, protein may benefit people with diabetes. Here’s why a tasty protein shake might be a good idea.

Weight loss potential

Obesity is a top risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Losing excess weight when you have diabetes has significant health benefits. And losing 5–10% of your body weight can lower the risk of developing diabetes. 

People with diabetes might like to lose weight to control blood sugar levels better. A high-protein diet may aid weight loss efforts as it promotes satiety. Protein shakes can help keep you full, reducing the risk of overeating and increasing your chances of weight loss.

Blood sugar control 

A high-protein diet can lower blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes and improve glucose control after a meal. However, more research is necessary to determine the long-term effects of adding protein to the eating plans of those with diabetes.

Reduced chance of blood sugar spikes

The body digests protein slower than carbohydrates. Therefore it does not raise blood glucose as quickly. Instead, protein produces a more gradual rise, keeping you feeling satisfied for longer.

A shake with just the right amount of protein without added sugar or artificial sweeteners could provide a good alternative to snacks and drinks with a high carb content.

How to Make a Diabetes-Friendly Protein Shake

Not all protein shakes are suitable for people with diabetes. Many protein powders are loaded with added sugar and artificial sweeteners that spike blood glucose. Plus, protein powders are often high in calories which can cause you to gain weight.

Fortunately, there are many options of protein powder on the market, including whey protein powder, unsweetened protein powder, soy protein powder, gluten-free options, and several other plant proteins.

We’ve created a step-by-step guide to creating a tasty protein shake that won’t harm your blood glucose levels.

Step 1: Choose the liquid 

Firstly, you need to decide on the liquid you want to mix with your protein powder. Water is an excellent choice as it is free from calories. It is also easier to digest, reducing the risk of stomach discomfort in those with lactose intolerance.  

For a creamy protein shake, low-carb plant milk is a good alternative, especially if you are lactose intolerant. Unsweetened almond milk and soy milk are ideal as they are low in calories, carbohydrates, and fats and have no cholesterol. 

Plant-based milk may be better for a meal replacement shake as it provides a bulkier shake. 

Step 2: Add fruit and veggies

Fruit and vegetables are key to a beneficial diabetes diet. Adding fruit and vegetables to your protein shakes contributes to a balanced diet. 

Choosing the additional ingredients wisely is important to ensure the best choice for managing your blood sugar levels. Remember, even natural sugar can spike your blood sugar. 

There are plenty of whole foods rich in vitamins and minerals but low in carbohydrates. They make a great addition to your protein powder, providing nutrients, bulk, and flavor. 

Good examples include leafy greens, citrus fruits, berries, or a small banana.

Step 3: Incorporate healthy fats and fiber

Although protein powders are the primary ingredient, whipping up a shake is an excellent way to add fiber and healthy fats into your eating plan. 

The American Diabetes Association recommends including more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in your diet. Avocado is a star example of healthy fat. Adding avocado to your blender will deliver a creamier shake.

MCT oil is another healthy fat that delivers health benefits for people with diabetes. It has links to regulating blood sugar, improving insulin sensitivity, and promoting weight loss

Fiber can help with blood sugar and weight management. Chia seeds are an excellent source of nutrition and a great way to add fiber to your protein shakes. Just one cup of chia seeds contains an impressive 45.9 grams of fiber.  

Step 4: Mix everything in a blender 

Now you have all your ingredients picked out, you can mix everything together with your protein powder in a blender. 

Remember to track your carbs to ensure you don’t go over your carb budget for the day. Although carb intake varies from person to person, people with diabetes typically aim to eat around 200–225 grams of carbs per day.

3 Best Protein Shakes for Diabetes 

Finding the best protein powders can be a difficult task. To get you started, here are 3 of the best protein powder shake recipes to add to your regime for a good dose of nutrition.

#1 Avocado smoothie 

An avocado smoothie is rich in heart-healthy fats. Avocado is low in carbs and high in fiber, making it a good choice for people with diabetes. Drinking an avocado smoothie could help you lose weight by decreasing the desire to eat more food. 

#2 Turmeric smoothie 

Turmeric has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that may help blood sugar management and other diabetes-related complications. The health properties of turmeric come down to its key component, curcumin.

Turmeric may also aid weight loss by reducing the inflammatory markers that hinder weight loss.

#3 Chocolate avocado smoothie 

A chocolate avocado smoothie is perfect for those with a sweet tooth without consuming unnecessary sugar that can cause weight gain. It can help reduce sugar cravings and keep you feeling full for longer.

Diabetes Management Made Easy 

Taking control of your diabetes can be a daunting process, particularly as you come to terms with what you can eat and what you should limit. 

The Klinio app makes managing diabetes and prediabetes easier with the power of habit. Klinio is a personalized solution that includes all you need to know in one place. It covers everything from caloric intake and macronutrient composition to your sugar and cholesterol needs. 

With more than 14,000 recipes, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy delicious meals that are entirely diabetes-friendly.

You can order the Klinio management book if you’re not particularly tech-driven. This physical book includes all the tips, recipes, and educational content you need.


Are there any protein powders that don’t spike insulin?

Although many protein powders can spike insulin levels, variations are available on the health market. The best protein powder for diabetics is a pure protein low in carbohydrates and without added sugars. Sugar triggers an immediate blood sugar spike.

Is whey protein good for people with diabetes?

Whey protein may benefit people who have diabetes by reducing blood glucose levels and stimulating incretin hormone secretion. Whey protein may also suppress appetite by promoting feelings of satiety and promoting weight loss which is beneficial for diabetic individuals.

How much protein does a person with diabetes need?

The precise amount of protein required for a person with diabetes varies between individuals. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for healthy adults with or without diabetes is 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight or 10–35% of total calorie intake.

A Word From Our Nutritionist

Protein is a substance that contains essential amino acids. They serve as the building blocks of life and are present in every human body cell.

Your protein intake is important because it supports many bodily processes. Primarily, protein is vital in the growth, repair, and maintenance of cells.

Many people take protein supplements to ensure they receive an adequate amount. At the same time, individuals use shakes and supplements to boost protein intake and enhance physical performance.

As diabetes requires you to limit certain foods, it can be difficult to decide whether protein shakes are right for you. However, protein drinks can bring potential benefits if you choose healthy ingredients that don’t spike insulin.

The best protein shakes are free from sugar and harmful chemicals and rich in whole foods, vitamins, and minerals that optimize health. Adding fiber-rich sources to your recipes, such as chia seeds, may improve the management of the condition.

While many wellness professionals can advise on dietary choices, it is essential to consult your doctor before making dietary changes.


Extra care is needed, but protein shakes can make a healthy addition to your diabetes meal plan. With the right protein powder, ingredients, and macros calculations, you can enjoy delicious and nutritious shakes that boost your protein intake.

But before switching up your eating patterns, consult your doctor for professional medical advice. They can further advise you on safe and beneficial protein powders that may work for you.

In the meantime, the Klino app can keep you on track and help you get to grips with your macros, sugar, and cholesterol needs.

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: December 28, 2022
8 min read 1655 Views 0 Comments

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