5 Reasons Why Diabetics Should Avoid Glucerna
Glucerna has been heavily promoted by Abbot Laboratories as a healthy meal replacement for folks with Type 2 diabetes. Many doctors and dieticians are also recommending the supplement to their diabetic clients especially those who have a hectic lifestyle and may not have the time to cook a proper meal.
On Glucerna’s website it says, “That’s where great-tasting Glucerna shakes and bars can help. Glucerna contains CARBSTEADY®, unique blends of slow-release carbohydrates that can help minimize your blood sugar spikes.”
When some of my clients ask me if they should Glucerna as a meal replacement shake and/or to drink it when they are in a rush and don’t have time for a low carb meal, I always tell them to avoid Glucerna completely if they want to not only control their Type 2 diabetes but also to reverse the condition and be completely medication free.
So, why do I give such advice when doctors and dieticians actually tell them it’s perfectly fine for Type 2 diabetics to consume Glucerna?
Very simple, I don’t think any doctor or dietician reads the ingredients list and the nutritional profile of the supplement at all.
The Nutritional Profile of Glucerna
Let’s first take a look at the nutritional profile of the Glucerna Advanced Shake.
At a serving size of 8 fl oz or 237 ml it has only 3 grams of fiber but 27 grams of carbohydrates with 6 grams of sugar. We minus the 3 grams of dietary fiber which leaves 24 grams of carbs nett; so even though it’s listed on the nutritional profile that there’s only 6 grams of sugar, in reality it’s a full 24 grams. Now ALL these 24 grams of carbohydrates will be metabolized into glucose and give a blood sugar spike! Of all the macronutrients carbohydrates spike blood sugar the most, followed by protein and lastly fat.
This sure doesn’t look like it is low carb that’s suitable for diabetics! 24 grams of carbs in a meal is EXTREMELY HIGH for a Type 2 diabetic. As I’ve stressed countless times in my past posts on low carb and very low carb ketogenic diets, Type 2 diabetics are unable to metabolize carbs effectively because of insulin resistance so it is a MUST that the overall carb count for EACH DAY be kept low; ideally it should not exceed 30 grams per day; it’s even better to keep it at 20 grams and under. That’s the reason why the very low carb ketogenic diets are so effective in lowering the blood sugar for Type 2 diabetes and decreasing insulin resistance.
Glucerna claims that all the carbs in the supplement are low GI i.e. has low glycemic index. Well, truth be told, as long as the amount of carbs are high, it doesn’t matter if they’re low GI because they’ll still be metabolized into glucose and spike blood sugar levels. Some of my clients believed that they could control their blood sugars when eating supposedly low GI foods like diabetic whole wheat bread.
Guess what? After I got them to take their post grandial blood sugar levels (2 hours post food blood sugar readings) and they saw their blood glucose monitors registering the spikes, they believed me and laid off ALL foods that had high carb counts including all such diabetic foods. When they avoided these high carb foods, their blood sugars fell the very next day, often quite dramatically.
3 Sugar/Sugar Variants & 4 Sweeteners in the Ingredients List
The US Food and Drug Administration or FDA mandates that food labels must list all the ingredients the food contains, in descending order by weight.
When I looked at the ingredients list I was horrified because there’s so much junk in there that it’s mind boggling.
OK, let’s start with the sugars and sweeteners:
- Corn maltodextrin – According to Healthline, “Maltodextrin can cause spikes in your blood sugar because it has a high glycemic index. You may want to avoid maltodextrin if you have diabetes or insulin resistance.” So what’s it doing in a meal replacement shake for diabetics?
- Milk Protein Concentrate – there are 2 types of milk proteins: whey and casein. Whey causes an insulin spike after ingestion and will make insulin resistance worse so it’s a forbidden food for diabetics all of whom have insulin resistance; and insulin resistance causes Type 2 diabetes and other similar chronic metabolic conditions. Moreover, all milk proteins contain lactose aka milk sugar. This should ALSO not be in a diabetic supplement.
- Sucromalt – this is a slow digesting sweetener that supposedly produces less glucose and insulin spikes than high fructose corn syrup but that doesn’t mean it’s OK for diabetics to consume it because it is made up of 35% to 40% fructose and will still spike blood sugar.
- Glycerin – this is a sugar alcohol and is promoted as low glycemic sweetener. Although it doesn’t spike blood sugar levels, it spikes insulin levels which mean it’s also not suitable for Type 2 diabetics all of whom have insulin resistance.
- Fructose – this added sugar is responsible for driving prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes so what’s in doing in a diabetic meal replacement shake? It also causes insulin resistance which every Type 2 diabetic suffers from; it has no place in a healthy diet, let alone a diabetic supplement.
- Liquid Sucralose – this one is an artificial sweetener that has been promoted as a safe substitute for sugar. I’ve written on the harmful effects associated with sucralose before. To add to the list, a single oral dose of sucralose increases plasma glucose concentrations by 6 mmol/L, insulin levels by a 20% and decreases insulin clearance by 7%: all these indicate a decrease in insulin sensitivity; also this sweetener has been found to increase metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes risk in healthy folks.
- Acesulfame Potassium – this is another artificial sweetener which has been promoted as a safe sugar substitute and which I also wrote about in my older post on artificial sweeteners. Just like sucralose, this and other artificial sweeteners increase risk of Type 2 diabetes in healthy folks because they alter the gut bacteria and promote glucose intolerance.
Type 2 diabetics got to where they are because of excessive carbohydrate and sugar intake so what are 3 types of sugars/sugar variants and 4 sweeteners doing in a supplement that’s supposed to help diabetics manage and control their blood glucose levels? The last they need is more sugars and sweeteners that either spikes their blood sugars or insulin levels or both.
Abbott Laboratories claims that Glucerna supplements contain CARBSTEADY® which is are “unique blends of slow-release carbohydrates that can help minimize your blood sugar spikes,” Probably, they’re referring to sucromalt which, as I’ve said before, will still spike blood sugar. And why is maltodextrin and fructose even allowed in Glucerna supplements at all, knowing that these 2 sugars drive Type 2 diabetes?
But they said, it’s low GI (glycemic index) you say! Well, in the grand scheme of things, as far as a Type 2 diabetic is concerned, it’s the total amount of carbs less fiber that counts. In my experience in coaching Type 2 diabetics, even supposedly lower GI carbs like steel cut oats, will spike blood sugar! And steel cut oats has a GI of 43 in comparison to sacromalt’s GI of 53!
Abbott Laboratories showed that sucromalt didn’t elicit as high a blood glucose response as instant oats. Of course sucromalt’s results are better because instant oats has a high GI of 79! But that doesn’t mean Glucerna is okay because 24 grams of net carbs in 1 meal with a GI of 53 will spike your blood glucose levels. I always get my clients to stay within 30 grams of carbs PER DAY and I would advise you to do the same if you’re a Type 2 diabetic.
Now, if this supplement is marketed as a general nutritional supplement, I’ve got nothing to say but the fact is that it is targeted at diabetics makes this VERY WRONG, knowing full well that so many carbs at one go will definitely spike blood sugars!
Okay, let’s look at the other undesirable ingredients.
Safflower Oil, Canola Oil & Soy Oil
These are vegetable oils with high levels of poly saturated omega 6 fatty acids which wreaks havoc on the omega 6:3 ratio which I wrote about in an earlier blogpost.
As I’ve mentioned before, refined vegetable and seed oils such as these increase inflammation in the body when they throw the omega 6:3 ratio out of whack.
Eating such oils will also cause oxidative stress which will lead to endothelial dysfunction and this is the prime mover for atherosclerosis. Once atherosclerosis sets in, it paves the way for strokes and heart disease.
Natural & Artificial Flavor
According to the US Food and Drug Administration or FDA, the term natural flavor is usually from an edible source i.e. either from plants or animals. On the other hand artificial flavor can come from inedible things such as petroleum and wood shavings.
So what’s this or these chemicals doing in a diabetic food supplement?
This is a food additive made from edible red seaweed and it’s found in many food products like ice cream, coffee creamers, salad dressings, yoghurt and even cottage cheese.
The problem with this food addictive is that animal studies have shown that it can cause the formation of tumors and ulcerative colitis. It also appears to alter gut bacteria in these animal studies
Rat studies have also demonstrated that carrageenan can decrease glucose tolerance and increase insulin resistance by spiking blood sugar and insulin levels.
Any Good Nutritional Shakes for Diabetics?
Folks I’m not going to tell you not to purchase this product: I’ll leave you to come to your own conclusion after reading this post.
So, is there a good nutritional shake that you can buy if you’re a Type 2 diabetic?
All nutritional shakes are processed food and if you’ve been reading my posts I’ve made my stand on processed foods very clear. That having said, if you’re pressed for time, you can always drink coconut milk with chia seeds: it’s a natural food and won’t spike your blood sugar and/or insulin levels. Besides tasting pretty good, it’s low carb and gives you lots of medium chain triglycerides and lauric acid which are excellent for heart health. The chia seeds are also excellent sources of antioxidants and fiber.
I’ve stressed countless times in the past that type 2 diabetics will do well on a very low carb ketogenic diet which not only will help control blood sugar and increase insulin sensitivity it will also slowly reverse your condition.
If you don’t know how to start a ketogenic diet, I’ve written a post that will help you do just that.
If you’re a type 2 diabetic and would to get your blood sugar down fast, I can help you through personal coaching; just send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the contact form below.