Protein is an absolutely essential component of a healthy diet. This vital macronutrient is the key to innumerable biological processes, including the creation and upkeep of every cell in the human body. If you think protein shakes and supplements are just for bodybuilders, think again.
Protein isn’t just important on the microscopic scale, either. It also helps keep our hunger at bay and our blood sugars stable. Unfortunately, protein can also be a lot of work to prepare. The best food sources of protein are lean meats and seafood, not exactly grab-and-go snacks.
While experts believe that protein should come from food sources whenever possible, sometimes it’s easier to grab a protein shake and go. But some of these shakes and smoothies are loaded with calories and sugar which will crush your glucose control and weight loss efforts. It’s important to find ones that are low in calories and carbs but still taste great!
I’ve tried a ton of them because I’m always on the lookout for more easy protein sources. Here are my top 5 picks for low-calorie and low-carb protein shakes:
Image courtesy of Swee2ooth
1. Swee2ooth Super Blend
I have been a fan of Swee2ooth vanilla and chocolate protein powder, ever since I wrote a glowing review for Diabetes Daily a few years back. Since then, they have expanded their line and offer single packs of La Vida Mocha, which makes it super easy to throw a shake together for your morning commute or post-workout snack. Coming in at only 130 calories, 20 grams of protein, and 4 grams of net carbs, this is a delicious-tasting protein powder you should definitely check out. It mixes beautifully into milk and milk alternatives, like oat milk.
2. Fairlife Core Power
This “high protein milk shake” is hands down my favorite on the list. You could even persuade your child to drink it and pass it off as chocolate milk. The taste is authentically sweet, using a combo of zero-sugar sugar alternatives: sucralose, monk fruit juice concentrate, and stevia leaf extract. Chocolate is my fave, but they offer vanilla, banana, and strawberry too.
The standard chocolate flavor comes in at 170 calories, 6 grams of net carbs, and 26 grams of protein. The “elite chocolate,” pictured above, packs in even more protein, 42 grams of it. No matter which version you choose, this drink will get you to your nutrition goals while tasting like an indulgence.
3. Premier Protein Shakes
Is Fairlife Core Power a touch too sugary for you? Premier Protein Shakes have only 2 grams of net carbohydrates along with a healthy hit of 30 protein grams. It might not be quite as yummy, but I still like the taste, sweet with no aftertaste and no chalky mouthfeel (unlike too many competitors). You can find these easily in your local grocery and drug store chains.
4. Owyn Protein Plant-Based Drink
This drink isn’t just vegan, it’s nut-free too! Would you believe that this delicious high-protein shake contains broccoli, kale, and spinach? It contains 180 calories, 5 grams of net carbs, and 20 grams of protein. All those veggies pack in a ton of extra nutrition, like 535 mg of Omega-3s, whoa! I’m seeing Owyn drinks everywhere lately, and it’s obvious why. What a great plant-based option.
5. Gatorade Zero with Protein
Gatorade Zero doesn’t contain as much protein as the others — 10 grams — but it offers the same hydration benefits as classic Gatorade Thirst Quencher. Sometimes I’m not in the mood for a milky shake (like after a workout), and a bottle of Gatorade Zero with Protein is a refreshing option that provides a little protein boost. There are a variety of flavors to choose from, and each contains 160 calories and 1 gram of carbohydrates.
There are at least a couple of reasons for people with diabetes to be mindful about protein intake. Protein can cause a delayed blood sugar spike, especially in big doses. And people with kidney disease often need to limit their protein intake. If you’re unsure, please consult with your doctor before adding protein shakes to your diet.
Protein shakes are trendy, and I love it. It’s great to have so many different options and flavors. These drinks are all great to help you reach your fitness and nutrition goals. So whether you are looking for a way to get more protein into your diet or just looking for a low-carb healthy drink that won’t mess with your blood sugars, make sure to give these a try!