Anyone who is into working out, or into fitness and nutrition is likely to have heard about protein powders. In fact, these supplements are so common these days that you don’t even need to be someone who is into health and fitness to have heard about them. It has become a part of the common parlance of late. These powders are a great supplement for increasing your protein intake, which is good to consume before a workout. While large portions of this article are dedicated to these powders, special attention over the course of this article goes to protein powders for diabetics.
Diabetes is one of the most common ailments that people all over the world tend to suffer from. while we won’t really get into the medical discourse about diabetes in this article, our focus will be on the protein powder that diabetics can consume without worrying about worsening their condition. Diabetic people often face a number of problems when it comes to maintaining a healthy diet because their diet has been limited to only a select kind of food products.
Even when it comes to choosing a protein powder, the perception is that diabetics don’t really have as many options as a healthy individual does. However, does this perception carry any truth? This is exactly what we will try and uncover in this article. The truth is, that even for diabetic people, there are a large number of options that are available.
A report from the World Health Organization (WHO) points out that there are over 422 Million people all over the world who are diagnosed with diabetes. Besides that, there are perhaps several million more people who go undiagnosed. Diabetes is something that affects a very large population all over the world and hence, any modern-day fitness company has to take this into account. Protein powder manufacturers, too, keep this special need in mind.
What is Protein Powder?
Before you understand the need for the powder form of protein, you need to understand why protein is so important. When it comes to building muscles, bone tissue, cartilages, and even skin, protein is critical. Sometimes, while people are counting their sugar or salt intake, or carbs, they tend to forget that protein is equally important and needs to be consumed with great care. There needs to be a sufficient amount of protein in your diet.
Besides building muscles and tissues, protein is also essential when it comes to improving oxygenation of your blood, aide your digestion, and regulating your hormones. Sufficient protein consumption can help you recover faster, as well as maintain a healthy weight. Protein also makes you feel ‘full’ for longer hours, thereby helping you lose weight.
Let us now come back to the primary question, what are protein powders. This is essentially protein in powder form, extracted from various natural sources coming from plants or animals. These include peas, rice, potatoes, and soya bean, as well as animal-based protein such as eggs, milk, or whey protein.
However, a protein powder does not carry only protein. It is a mix of various other substances too. These include vitamins, minerals, fibers, sugar, and flavor. These powders are supplements to your diet and not a meal replacement by themselves. If you are looking for a meal replacement, you might want to go for something such as a meal replacement shake, which is a popular product for people looking forward to losing weight.
Benefits of Protein Powder
Having had a brief idea about what protein powders are, let us now take a closer look at some of the benefits that you get when you consume them:
First up, one of the most popular reasons why people consume protein powder is to aid in their fight against weight loss. People consume it because protein helps them feel fuller, thereby reducing their portion size, as well as it helps keep them maintain a safe distance from snacking. Protein also helps burn fat faster, and this is why one generally consumes protein powder before a workout.
Another major reason why athletes love consuming protein is that it helps you gain muscles faster. Since strength training is not sufficient at all times, one also needs to build muscle mass, protein supplements are of great help.
Protein consumption has also been seen to have a positive impact on reducing cholesterol levels as well as in maintaining healthy blood pressure.
While consumption of protein powder and protein shakes is great when you want to lose fat and build muscle mass, adding some protein to your diet is also a great way for someone to recover from injuries quicker. Protein plays a vital role when it comes to healing damaged tissues and muscles. In fact, even when you want to recover from a quick workout-related burnout, you might want to add some protein to your diet as that can help you deal with muscle soreness.
Different Kinds of Protein Powders
When it comes to the different kinds of protein powders, there are two broad categories, with each having multiple options. Do note that this list is not diabetics-specific, but contains all the different types of proteins.
Dairy-Based Protein Powders
These protein powders include whey protein, casein protein, egg protein, and BCAAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids). Whey protein is water-soluble and carries lesser amounts of lactose and fats. NutraBio’s Grass Fed Whey Isolate Protein Powder is one of the best such protein powders. Casein is a good option for those who want to lose weight or repair muscles. Egg protein is rich in amino acids and helps build muscle strength. BCAAs are good for recovery and gaining muscles, used primarily when you want to bulk up.
Plant-Based Protein Powders
These proteins are extracted from plants, as the name suggests. These come from sources such as soy, peas, rice and hemp. Soy protein is basically considered as a vegan alternative to whey protein and is made out of soya bean. Rice protein comes from brown rice and is seen to be rich in amino acids. Pea protein is a good source of iron, and is generally preferred by women. Hemp protein is the easiest to digest. Garden of Life’s organic protein powder carries a good mix of pea and rice proteins to provide you a healthy workout.
Before we proceed to talk about protein powder for diabetics, it is critical to understand what diabetes is and what are the two types of diabetes.
Diabetes is one of the most common ailments that people all over the world suffer from. This causes a spike in blood glucose levels, which tends to cause damage to various nerves and organs. It generally has an adverse impact on the heart, kidneys, blood vessels, and eyes, among other parts of the human body.
Statistics indicate that over 422 million people all over the world, and particularly in lower and middle-income countries, tend to suffer from diabetes. A majority of these people suffer from type II diabetes. What is even more alarming is that these are just the official and diagnosed numbers, and millions of more people might be suffering from it while remaining undiagnosed.
Let us now take a very quick look into the two major types of diabetes that people suffer from:
Type 1 Diabetes vs Type 2 Diabetes
Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are both caused by two different causes. Here’s a very quick look at both of them so that you get a better idea of the ailment before you move to the next sections which talk about diabetics and their protein needs and consumption.
Interestingly enough, even with decades of research has gone into this field, the exact reason as to what actually causes type 1 diabetes is still unknown. It is an autoimmune disease where your body is tricked into believing that some of its own cells are invaders. The cells that are attacked are the insulin-generating cells present in the pancreas.
In the case of type 2 diabetes, while these cells still produce insulin, your body will not be able to use it in the right way. As a result of this the blood glucose won’t move into the cells and your blood sugar levels rise.
Diabetes and Protein Consumption
Protein powders have a large number of benefits, for people with or without diabetes. While those who do not have to deal with diabetes can choose any protein powder of their liking, those who have the condition need to be careful.
If you are choosing a protein powder while dealing with diabetes, or for someone who is diabetic, you will need to keep in mind that you need to check for the fats and carbs present in the mix. There are some carbohydrates that actually generate glucose which might result in a spike in your blood sugar levels. This holds true not only for protein powders and shakes but also for regular food consumption.
When it comes to protein consumption for diabetic people, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has pointed out that consuming fish for gaining protein, at least twice a week is a healthy practice for those people who have diabetes. Red meats and processed meats have been discouraged by the ADA.
One more thing that people must keep in mind is that while protein consumption is good for you and you must consume it in healthy quantities, don’t expect it to help you lower your blood sugar levels. It has a number of other health benefits such as aiding you in weight loss and helping you with repairing as well as building muscles and tissues. For all the specific and special needs of a diabetic person, a medical-grade protein powder such as the Musclegen Genepro could be quite a good option.
Can Diabetics Consume Protein Powder?
Protein shakes and powders are, by and large, safe to be consumed by diabetics. There are a large number of diabetic bodybuilders and weightlifters out there and a much larger number of fitness enthusiasts. Generally speaking, whey protein powder, as well as plant-based protein, are both considered safe for people dealing with diabetes.
However, one must always keep in mind the fact that medical consultation is a must when it comes to making any significant changes in your diet. Since protein supplements are something that you are likely to be consuming at frequent intervals, you must check with your doctor and your nutritionist before you go ahead with that. A good choice could be getting a diabetes-friendly protein powder, such as the Grass Fed Whey Isolate from Pure Label Nutrition.
Diabetes is also often associated with kidney-related ailments, as well as blood pressure problems. In both these cases, we strongly recommend you to consume protein powder shakes only after getting proper approvals from your doctors and after getting tests such as ACR and GFR performed every few months. If you don’t have these problems, then consuming protein powder should ideally be safe for you.
One more thing that you need to keep in mind while consuming protein powder as a diabetic is that you must always consume it in moderation. This holds true even for non-diabetics. Chalk up a proper diet plan with your nutritionist who will tell you exactly how many grams of protein powder per serving should you be consuming.
How to Consume Protein Powder?
Protein powders are consumed in the form of protein shakes. These shakes are prepared inside special bottles, termed ‘shakers’ where protein powder is added to a liquid and converted into a shake.
Start off by opening the lid of your shaker, and make sure you are washing it with clean water and wiping it dry. This is basic hygiene and needs to be followed with great care.
Once you are done with all the washing, cleaning, and drying parts, add the recommended per serving amount of protein powder into the shaker.
After adding the powder to the shaker, proceed to fill it with about 200ml of water or milk. Water is generally considered a better option for those who are undergoing a weight loss routine and milk is considered a better option for those who want to gain muscle.
Shakers either have a ball or a mesh unit which has to be added separately during the shaking process. Depending on the unit you are using, proceed to add that and then close the lid firmly. Make sure that the lid is closed tightly else the contents of the shake are going to spill over.
After ensuring the lid is tightly closed, give the shaker a good ol’ shake. Also make sure that once you are done with all the shaking, you are consuming the protein shake immediately. It is not advised to leave it for a while and has to be immediately consumed for best results.
Can Protein Powder Help Diabetic People Lose Weight?
Yes, protein powder is shown to have a positive effect when it comes to helping people lose weight. You can be a diabetic or you can be a non-diabetic, there is indeed a benefit that you can get from consuming them.
The simplest way in which the help diabetics lose weight is that consuming protein shakes keeps you ‘full’ for a longer amount of time and you won’t get those hunger pangs or the sudden urge for snacking. This keeps you away from unhealthy food, eats you make the right food, and ensures there are sufficient gaps between meals. Basically, it helps you reduce your overall calorie intake.
Increasing protein in your diet is also linked with a higher metabolism. This allows you to burn calories faster. Besides this, protein consumption has also been associated with losing belly fat faster. Various studies conducted by the National Institute of Health corroborate this fact.
While protein shake does help you lose weight, one must not completely replace their diet with it. Remember this is just a supplement and not your entire diet. Besides, as per the suggestion of your doctor and your nutritionist, consume these shakes only the prescribed number of times and on certain prescribed hours of the day.
8 Best Protein Powders for Diabetics in 2021
How to Choose the Best Protein Powders for Diabetics?
Here’s a quick buyer’s guide for anyone looking forward to buying the best protein powders for diabetics. We have tried and covered as many factors as possible so that you can choose just the perfect protein powder for all your needs:
Type of Diabetes
You must get all your tests done and know which type of diabetes you have, i.e. type 1 or type 2 diabetes. You must take consultations based on that and then decide on which kind of powder would suit your needs the best. In the fight against diabetes, you always need to be two steps ahead so make sure all your tests are performed on time and you are monitoring all your organs before you begin consuming these shakes and powders.
Type of Protein
Make sure that you know exactly what kind of protein are you purchasing. Is it animal-based? is it plant-based? is it a dairy-based protein? Consult your nutritionist and follow whichever kind of protein they advise you to. If you scroll up, you can see a detailed list of all the different types of proteins out there which will help you understand this better.
One thing that should be non-negotiable for a diabetic person is that the protein powder that you are buying HAS to be sugar-free. If at all you are getting one that is sweet, make sure it uses only natural sweeteners or plant-based sweeteners. Orgain makes an excellent sugar-free protein powder, which is also well suited for vegans.
rBGH and rBST
Besides sugar, one more thing that needs to be absent from the contents is ‘rBGH’ or ‘rBST’ as these are not considered safe to be consumed by diabetics. The best protein powders for diabetics generally do not feature these components. These are hormones that are generally present in animal-based protein powders and must be avoided. Putting it simply, these are artificial growth hormones often provided to bovine animals to make them grow faster and to increase their produce.
A Word of Caution for Diabetics While Consuming Protein Powder
We hope that by this point in the article you have a fair idea about everything that you need to know about the best protein powders for diabetics. However, here’s a last closing word of caution, some things that you need to keep in mind while buying protein powders for people with diabetes:
First up, you need to make sure that you are buying a sugar-free protein powder. Don’t just go on the name on the packaging. Check the nutrition table on the back of the packaging where an exact nutrient breakdown is provided. Make sure that there’s no sugar in it. The package must also read ‘without added sugar’.
You must also consider buying a protein powder that is low in carbs too. This is particularly important for diabetic people because in this case, you will need a protein powder that does not have a high carb content per serving.
If you are buying a flavored protein powder (which is a very common choice for most people), you must look for one which uses non-artificial sweeteners. (However, if you are looking for an unflavored protein powder, you might want to check out this keto-friendly protein powder from Isopure) These are also known as ‘natural sweeteners’ sometimes and are made of sugar alcohols or plant sugars. This makes it safe for people with diabetes.
Lastly, as we have repeated time and again over the course of this article, do not consume protein powder without consulting your fitness instructor, doctor, and nutritionist. These are the people who can give you the best advice on how much and what kind of protein you would require.
Pros and Cons of Protein Powder
Here’s a quick look at the advantages and disadvantages of consuming protein powder:
Protein powders are a way more convenient means to add protein to your diet rather than going for it the traditional way, that is by cooking food that is rich in protein. These are supplements that give you your daily dose of protein in your system. It helps you have a healthy and balanced diet overall.
The kind of protein that you get here is specifically designed to help repair muscle and to help you lose weight by burning calories. Not every natural protein source can give you this specific effect.
Protein powders are a great means to lose weight. They attain this by ensuring that you are full for a longer time and your daily calorie consumption is reduced. Furthermore, it helps you burn fat and calories by raising your metabolism rates.
One of the biggest cons here is that protein powders often lack the essential micronutrients that are needed in a healthy meal. This is the reason why they cannot substitute your meals. As an effective solution to this, however, meal replacement shakes have now started off and are rich in all the essential nutrients and minerals that your body needs.
Long-term consumption of protein powders, especially by diabetic people, can result in some extra exertion on the kidneys. Always consult your doctor before consuming protein powder.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Protein Powder for Diabetics
Here are the answers to some of the most common and frequently asked questions about protein powder for diabetics:
1. Which is the best protein powder for diabetics?
There is no objective answer to that question, but we can tell you in two different categories. If you are looking for a whey protein powder for diabetics, you might want to consider this protein powder from NutraBio and if you are looking for a plant-based protein powder, we’d recommend checking out Garden of Life Raw Organic Fit Powder.
2. Where can I buy protein powders for diabetics?
Protein powder is one of the most easily and commonly available supplements that can be purchased from practically any health and fitness store around the world. Amazon also happens to be one of the best places where you can buy these powders and shakes without stepping out of your house! They also have a large collection which is another plus point.
3. How much does protein powder generally cost?
Protein powder costs vary based on weight. Some powders can cost about $40 per pound, while there are others that might cost as little as $8 or $15 per pound. However, generally speaking, you can get a decent bottle for about $10-15 a pound.
4. Are Protein Shakes Safe for Diabetics?
Yes, protein shakes are safe for diabetics as long as you are consuming the specific ones designed for consumption by people with diabetes. These need to be sugar-free and contain only plant-based sweeteners. Getting a protein shake that is low in carbs will also be quite helpful. Talking of a low-carb protein powder, might we suggest NOW Sports Pea Protein Powder, which carries only 1g of carbs.
Diabetes is one of the most common ailments that a large number of the global population is coping with. Sometimes people are aware and sometimes it remains undiagnosed for a long time until symptoms begin to appear. However, diabetes isn’t something that should come between you and your fitness goals. For those with special needs, there are special products out there that will ensure you can get a healthy workout regimen. We hope that this article helped you choose the best protein powder for your specific needs. If there are any more questions or doubts, feel free to drop us a mail or let us know in the comments and we shall get back to you. Till then…
..Happy exercising! 🙂