Glucerna Nutritional Shakes for Diabetes

Pros and Cons of Popular Meal Replacement Drinks

Glucerna Nutrition Shake
Abbott Nutrition

Glucerna nutritional shakes are a line of meal replacement drinks formulated for people with diabetes by Abbott Nutrition. They are created with low-glycemic carbohydrates to ensure better control of blood sugar. They are also often used as a part of a structured weight-loss program.

The Glucerna product line is comprised of four flavors:

  • Classic butter pecan
  • Rich chocolate
  • Homemade vanilla
  • Creamy strawberry

Glucerna also offers meal replacement bars which, like the shakes, are low in sugar and carbs but high in protein. Moreover, Glucerna products are all gluten-free, kosher, halaal, and suitable for those who are lactose intolerant.

Nutritional Facts

Glucerna shakes are manufactured to the specifications of the American Diabetes Association and American Heart Association, which favor monounsaturated fats and limited calories from saturated fat—at a max of four percent.

An eight-ounce bottle of Glucerna Homemade Vanilla has the following nutritional values:

  • 180 calories
  • 16 grams carbohydrates
  • 10 grams protein
  • 4 grams fiber
  • 9 grams total fat
  • 4 grams monosaturated fat
  • 4 grams polyunsaturated fat
  • 1 gram saturated fat
  • 4 grams added sugars
  • 100 percent recommended daily value of vitamin C
  • 60 percent recommended daily value of vitamin D
  • 50 percent recommended daily value of vitamins B6, B12, folate, and chromium
  • 40 percent recommended daily value of vitamin E
  • 20 percent recommended daily value of calcium and iron

Plus other additional vitamins and minerals.

Balancing the Pros and Cons

Glucerna shakes offer benefits for people either trying to lose weight or maintain tighter control of their blood sugar. But they also have a few shortcomings, particularly for those who do not have diabetes. Among the considerations:

Pros

  • Good source of protein: An 8-ounce Glucerna shake has 10 grams of protein, which is equal to approximately one and a half whole eggs. On average, 46 grams of protein is recommended daily for an adult woman, while 56 grams are recommended for an adult male.

  • Low-glycemic food: Glucerna nutritional shakes can be considered low-glycemic, meaning that the carbohydrates contained in them are digested slowly and cause less of a spike in blood sugar.

Cons

  • Contains fructose: While fructose is generally considered safe for people with diabetes, the overconsumption is believed to increase the risk of diabetes in people without the disease.

  • Contains artificial sweeteners: According to a 2017 study, thrice-daily use of sucralose and acesulfame potassium (both contained in Glucerna) has been shown to impair the glucose response in people without diabetes. Another study in 2014 found that chronic use of artificial sweeteners induced glucose intolerance in mice by altering their gut microbiomes.

A Word From Verywell

Glucerna shakes are a surprisingly tasty, vitamin-fortified snack designed for people with diabetes and those trying to lose weight. The products are well-balanced with a low carb load and enough protein to offer a nutritional boost.

While they will not provide enough carbs and calories for a total meal replacement, they could certainly be used as a nutritional supplement as part of a balanced diet plan (especially when extra calories or protein is needed).

It's important to note also that research suggests that fructose and artificial sweeteners may alter glycemic control in those with diabetes and may pose a risk of type 2 diabetes in those who do not have the disease. As such, Glucerna shakes should be considered an occasional snack or supplement rather than a regular source of food replacement.

In the end, it is always better to eat real protein rather those derived from processed foods, including packaged shakes.

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Article Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Young, R, Isaacs, N, Schober, G et al. Impact of artificial sweeteners on glycaemic control in healthy humans. 53rd Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. Lisbon, Portugal; September 11-17, 2017; abstract 193.

  2. Barr S, Wright J. Postprandial energy expenditure in whole-food and processed-food meals: implications for daily energy expenditureFood & Nutrition Research. 2010;54(1):5144. doi:

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