By Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN
Keeping your blood glucose levels under control can be hard to do when you’re busy, especially if you count carbs as part of your balanced meal plan. You may not always have time to count carbs when you have to grab something fast at work, or while running errands. At these times, meal replacements may be just the help you need to keep your blood glucose levels on track.
What is a meal replacement?
The most common types of meal replacement are protein bars and shakes. Over the years, these products have become much better tasting. You can get them in a variety of flavors and forms. Products that are 150 calories or less are considered a snack replacement, while those that have 200 calories or more are considered full meal replacements. Snack replacements can be paired with a veggie or fruit serving to create a small meal. Most meal replacements are low in carbohydrates, and have a healthy amount of fiber and protein.
How can meal replacements improve my health?
One of the biggest challenges to leading a healthy lifestyle is not having enough time to make healthy meals and snacks. Meal replacements, which usually require little to no prep time, can provide you with plenty of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and calories to keep you full for a few hours. Having a healthy balance of fiber-rich carbohydrate and protein every three to four hours can help prevent blood glucose highs and lows, and stop you from craving unhealthy foods. Over time, this can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight.
If you are having a hard time keeping up a healthy lifestyle, meal replacements may help you get back on track. Here are some ways you can add meal replacements to your day:
- Keep a meal replacement on hand to prevent overeating. Having a filling meal replacement when you are invited on a last minute outing with friends, or when you are craving sweets, can help you avoid giving in to temptation.
- Keep a protein bar in your bag. Whether you’re running late, stuck in traffic, or have errands to run and not enough time, a protein bar is a great way to keep your blood glucose balanced. Glucerna makes chocolate chip and peanut chocolate chip meal replacement bars, as well as 80-calorie snack bars in oatmeal raisin, chocolate caramel, and chocolate peanut flavors. The best part? They only have about 11 carbohydrates per serving.
- Try a protein-based shake or fruit drink for a quick and refreshing breakfast. Meal replacement shakes and drinks are great breakfast substitutes for those who usually skip breakfast. Glucerna meal replacement shakes are made just for people with diabetes, and come in delicious flavors like vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and butter pecan. Glucerna shakes are 8 ounces each, and have 190 calories, 23 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber, and 10 grams of protein. Glucerna also makes Hunger Smart brand shakes in vanilla and chocolate, which are higher in protein and only 140 calories.