Diabetes-friendly Meal Replacement Shakes To Make Your Life Easier

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases characterised by a high blood sugar level over a prolonged period of time [1].

It’s a disease that prevents your body from properly using the energy from the food you eat. Your body is made up of trillions of cells. To produce energy, the cells need food in a straightforward form.

For example, when you eat or drink, much of your food is broken down into a simple sugar called glucose. Glucose provides the energy your body needs for daily activities. Imagine it like this: the blood vessels and blood are a sort of highways that transport sugar. Sugar cannot go into the cells by itself.

Why not?

The pancreas naturally produces insulin once it senses that you are eating. Insulin is immediately released into the blood, which acts as the “key” that opens the door for sugar to enter the cells, which would be used for energy. When sugar leaves the bloodstream and enters the cells, the blood sugar level is lowered.

Best meal replacement for diabetics

Without insulin (this “key”), sugar cannot get into the body’s cells for use as energy, which causes blood sugar levels to rise.

So, simply said, Diabetes Mellitus is a disease that occurs when your blood sugar is too high due to problems with the hormone ‘insulin’ [2].

What’s the Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) classified diabetes into two broad categories: type 1, type 2 and other types [1].

Type 1 Diabetes

In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas makes little or no insulin, so sugar cannot get into the body’s cells for use as energy. People with type 1 diabetes must use insulin injections to control their blood glucose. Approximately 5-10% of people with diabetes are diagnosed with type 1.

Type 2 Diabetes

In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas makes insulin, but it either doesn’t produce enough, or the body becomes insulin resistant, meaning that tissues such as the muscle and liver don’t respond well to insulin and, therefore, can’t use glucose from your blood as energy. 9 out of 10 people with diabetes have type 2, which is often accompanied by other conditions such as hypertension. Type 2 diabetes may sometimes be controlled and reversed with a combination of diet, weight management and exercise. However, treatment may also include glucose-lowering medications or insulin injections [2].


Prediabetes means you have a higher-than-normal blood sugar level. It’s not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes yet, but without lifestyle changes, pre-diabetics are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Eating healthy foods, making physical activity as part of your daily routine and maintaining a healthy weight can help bring one’s blood sugar levels back to normal [3] [4].

What Is a Diabetes Diet?

If you have diabetes or prediabetes, your doctor will likely recommend that you see a dietitian to help you develop or maintain a healthy eating plan. This will help you control your blood sugar (glucose).

Usually, a diabetes diet is a meal plan that’s naturally rich in nutrients and fibre, low in fat and calories. Actually, a diabetes diet is a great eating plan for almost everyone since key elements are fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The diet is based on eating three meals a day at regular times. This helps to better use the insulin that your body produces or gets through medication.

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There are different approaches on creating a diabetes meal plan. The ADA recommends an individualized nutritional approach which promotes nutrient-dense foods through controlled portion sizes. For this, the ADA came up with the ‘plate method’ which is a simple method of meal planning. In essence, it focuses on eating more vegetables. According to the ADA, you can follow these steps when preparing your plate:

  • Fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, such as spinach, carrots and tomatoes.
  • Fill a quarter of your plate with a protein, such as tuna, lean pork or chicken.
  • Fill the last quarter with a whole-grain item, such as brown rice, or a starchy vegetable, such as green peas.
  • Include “good” fats such as nuts or avocados in small amounts.
  • Add a serving of fruit or dairy and a drink of water or unsweetened tea or coffee.

Other ways to help you keep your blood glucose level within a normal range are to count carbohydrates or to rank carbohydrate-containing foods based on their effect on blood glucose levels (aka the glycemic index). The lower the glycemic index of foods, the lower their impact on blood glucose. There’s also a possibility that a dietitian recommends you choose specific foods to help you plan your meals and snacks. In this case, you can choose foods from a list including categories such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats. The ADA also recommends a moderation or suppression in alcohol consumption and limiting salt consumption to < 5.75 g/day [6].


The diet always includes fibre-rich complex carbohydrates, which can be found in whole wheat, oatmeal and beans. Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest and are a more stable source of energy than simple carbohydrates. Because carbohydrates break down into glucose, they have the greatest impact on blood glucose levels. To help control the blood sugar, it is advised to calculate the number of carbohydrates you are eating so that you can adjust the dose of insulin accordingly. Fibre (a carbohydrate) plays an important role in controlling blood sugar levels. Foods rich in fibre include vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and whole grains [5] [7].

Fatty Acids

Foods containing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, like Omega-3 fatty acids, can help lower cholesterol levels. Avocados, nuts and olive oil are good sources of these fatty acids [6] [7]. For further information about mono and polyunsaturated fats, check out this blog.


Some research has found successful management of type 2 diabetes with meal plans including slightly higher levels of protein (20–30%), which may contribute to increased satiety. However, different studies suggest that protein should be a supplement to vegetables, fruits and whole grains in a meal, not the entire meal. Multiple studies have found that a plant-based diet can control blood sugar levels to a greater extent than a traditional diabetes diet which limited calories and carbohydrates. Plant-based protein can be found in soy, brown rice, quinoa, pea, buckwheat, bulgur, nuts, legumes and seeds [7] [9] [10].

Diabetes and Weight Loss

Research has shown that weight loss is the primary medical aim for diabetic patients with type 2 form of diabetes.

By reducing weight, especially from the abdominal area, insulin sensitivity will improve along with blood glucose control and thus reduce the risk of complications.

Meal replacements like the Jimmy Joy Plenny Shake can involve replacing one or two meals a day with a meal-replacement beverage. These meal replacers have been shown to lead to greater weight loss compared with a reduced-calorie diet, according to Dr Steven B. Heymsfield [8].

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What Is the Best Meal Replacement Shake for Diabetics?

The combination of complex carbohydrates like the dietary fibre inulin, protein and fatty acids creates an optimally balanced meal replacement. This can be easily incorporated into a healthy and varied diet rich in unprocessed products.

Hooray! All Plenny meals include slow-releasing (complex) carbohydrates that include starches and fibres which can be found in ingredients like oatmeal, flaxseeds, inulin and soy. These complex carbs help to control blood sugar levels thanks to their fibre content.

Moreover, the Plenny Shakes, Plenny Drink, Plenny Bar and  Plenny Bar are rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids that help lower cholesterol levels.

Best meal replacement for diabetics

Jimmy Joy is a great tool for people living with (pre) diabetes. One bar, a shake or a drink equals one optimally formulated nutritious meal. 

One Plenny Shake Active meal (100g) that will keep you full for hours:

  • 408 calories (remember, it’s a meal shake)
  • 37g protein
  • 31g total carbs, of which 4,0g sugar
  • 14g fat, of which 2,1g saturated fat
  • 7,3g fibre
It removes the need for portion control and calorie counting since the nutrients in Jimmy Joy are pre-measured and declared on the packaging. Another perk: Jimmy Joy requires (almost) no preparation or clean-up!

Note: See your doctor if you’re concerned about diabetes or if you notice any type 1 or 2 diabetes signs or symptoms. Ask your doctor about blood sugar screening if you have any risk factors for diabetes.

Reviews Jimmy Joy and Diabetes


[1] A.T. Kharroubi, H.M Darwish. Diabetes mellitus: The epidemic of the century. Available from:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4478580/ .
[2] Cleveland Clinic. Diabetes Mellitus: An Overview. Available from: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/7104-diabetes-mellitus-an-overview
[3] Edwards CM, et al. Prediabetes A worldwide epidemic. Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prediabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20355278
[4] Insulin resistance and prediabetes. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Available from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes/prediabetes-insulin-resistance
[5] Dr. E. Zacharias. Complex Carbohydrates and Dietary Fiber. Available from: https://www.bouldermedicalcenter.com/complex-carbohydrates-and-dietary-fiber/
[6] M. Regina Castro, M.D. Diabetes diet: Create your healthy-eating plan. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/diabetes-diet/art-20044295
[7] A. Gray, et al. Nutritional Recommendations for Individuals with Diabetes. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279012/
[8] S.B. Heymsfield. Meal replacements and energy balance. Available from: https://www.academia.edu/12066521/Meal_replacements_and_energy_balance
[9] Yokoyama, Y., Barnard, N. D., Levin, S. M., & Watanabe, M. (2014). Vegetarian diets and glycemic control in diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Cardiovascular diagnosis and therapy, 4(5), 373–382. https://doi.org/10.3978/j.issn.2223-3652.2014.10.04 [10] Toumpanakis A, Turnbull T, Alba-Barba IEffectiveness of plant-based diets in promoting well-being in the management of type 2 diabetes: a systematic reviewBMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care 2018;6:e000534. doi: 10.1136/bmjdrc-2018-000534

— Update: 19-03-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article What Are the Best Meal Replacement Shakes for Diabetics in 2023? from the website healthambition.com for the keyword best meal replacement for diabetics.

Who Needs Meal Replacement Shakes?

At some time in our lives most of us will need to lose a little weight, whether it is to look good on the beach in the summer or to fit into a new outfit for a special event; shedding a few pounds makes us feel better and often healthier.

For some people, obesity is a real problem and is one of the leading causes of diabetes. (source) For those people, controlling weight can be a real struggle, but also an important factor to improving quality of life.

replacing your meals with shakes can be used as part of a weight loss plan to help retrain your body to expect less food while still providing all the nutrition it needs.

Anyone who is looking to adjust their dietary habits, lose weight or simply looking for a handy way to eat on the run without losing out on good nutrition might consider a meal replacement shake (MRS).

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Diabetics specifically will need to look out for products where the sugar and carbohydrate content can help with glycemic control. Diabetics are also recommended to consume at least the minimum RDA of fiber, which can be found in many MRS.

The modern world can be a busy, hectic place which leaves little time to sit and enjoy a proper meal. The days of the long lunch break are rare and many people choose to eat at their desk or grab a snack between meetings.

Skipping breakfast and eating on the run might save time, but your body needs proper fuel to function. MRS can be handy substitutes for anyone whose lifestyle leaves little time for ‘proper’ meals.

What do Meal Replacement Shakes do?

Commercially available products seek to provide all the nutrition of a balanced meal in one single serving drink. Combining protein, vitamins and complex carbohydrates in a milkshake style product, they aim to curb hunger pangs while giving your body everything it needs to function correctly.

Basically speaking, instead of eating a normal meal or grabbing something from the local fast food joint, you can carry a shake around with you and get all the nutrition you need in a single drink.

As well as saving time, your stomach slowly becomes accustomed to receiving less food and over time it will take less food to feel full. This means you can gradually retrain your body to a healthier eating regime and lose weight in a controlled and healthy way.

Some MRS are specifically designed to be part of a proprietary weight loss program, while others claim to build muscle, promote wellness, strengthen bones, help digestion and generally be a tasty drink.

The main point of a good MRS is that is contains a balance of essential nutrients while making you feel less hungry and not tasting like something even poor starving Oliver Twist might reject.

Which is the Right Shake for me?

Most people can choose a product simply based on taste or price. Diabetics however need to be especially careful when choosing anything which might upset their insulin balance.

Sugar content is extremely important and this should be a major factor when choosing a product. However, a recent study suggests “the best mix of carbohydrate, protein, and fat depends on the individual metabolic goals and preferences of the person with diabetes.” (source)

If you have been advised to lose weight by your doctor, they may have referred you to a nutritionist who can suggest products that should compliment a diet plans specific to you. If you are looking to find products by yourself, here are some things to look out for:

  • Low sugar content
  • Slow digestible carbohydrates
  • Balanced nutritional content
  • Physician recommended

Obviously these are only guidelines and if you are in any doubt about a product’s suitability you should consult a doctor. If at any time you feel unwell while using meal replacements you should also consult your doctor or nutritionist.

Many of the companies have a helpline or Q&A section of their website where you can find answers to frequently asked questions or submit a specific request about your own concerns. Don’t be afraid to use these facilities, when you have dietary restrictions, having all the information you need for peace of mind is important before putting something into your body.

Do not be tempted to replace too many meals with shakes as rapid weight loss can be harmful; again consult a doctor or nutritionist if you are unsure. Following ‘fad’ or ‘crash’ diet can be just as dangerous to your health as being overweight.

What are the Best Meal Replacement Shakes for Diabetics in 2023


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