Glucerna for weight loss is a program in the form of a shake that many doctors recommend. it is formulated and offered by the reputable Abbott Laboratories, who have been mostly known as an infant formula producer. However, they are branching out to help adults achieve their weight goal too!
What is Glucerna?
Glucerna is a brand of meal replacement shakes and bars. It’s made by Abbott and designed specifically for people with type 2 diabetes. People with prediabetes and type 1 diabetes may also use Glucerna.
These products are low in calories and sugar and high in protein. They also contain artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and acesulfame potassium, which may cause potential health risksTrusted Source.
When Glucerna is included as part of a diet plan, it offers some promiseTrusted Source in terms of weight and blood sugar (glucose) management. Though the products may provide some assistance, be aware of possible complications.
Glucerna offers several varieties of shakes: premixed bottled drinks (original Glucerna or Hunger Smart, which offers 15 grams of protein as opposed to 10 grams in the original line), or a ready-to-mix powder that can be added to other liquids.
The Glucerna product line also includes meal replacement snack bars which, like the shakes, are low in sugar and carbs and high in protein. Glucerna Mini Treat bars are intended to serve as a healthy dessert choice or small snack that won’t spike glucose levels.
Glucerna products are all gluten-free, kosher, halal, and suitable for people who with lactose intolerance. However, they also contain fructose (a natural fruit sugar) and artificial sweeteners such as acesulfame potassium, which may cause potential health issues in people with diabetes.
Glucerna comes in five flavors:
- Classic butter pecan
- Rich chocolate
- Homemade vanilla
- Creamy strawberry
- Chocolate caramel
Glucerna can be purchased online at Amazon or other major retailers and grocery stores.
Glucerna’s nutrition facts are in line with recommendations from both the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the American Heart Association (AHA). According to the ADA, 36% to 40% of your daily calories should come from fat;1the AHA maintains that just 5% to 6% of those calories should be saturated fats.2
While Glucerna offers several different flavors, most of the shakes and bars contain the same key ingredients and nutrients.
|Nutrition Facts Comparing Glucerna Shakes and Snack Bars*|
|Vitamin A||25% DV||25% DV|
|Vitamin C||100% DV||10% DV|
|Vitamin D||60% DV||2% DV|
|Vitamins B6, and folate||25% DV||20% DV|
|Vitamin E||40% DV||100% DV|
|Calcium||20% DV||15% DV|
|Iron||20% DV||10% DV|
*Based on the primary nutritional values of an 8-ounce Glucerna Homemade Vanilla shake and one 40g Crispy Oats and Nuts bar.
Both Glucerna bars and shakes contain smaller amounts of additional vitamins and trace minerals, such as riboflavin, chromium, and manganese.
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 shortcomings, particularly for those who do not have diabetes. Among the considerations:
- 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.
- Convenience: Glucerna shakes and bars are a portable option when you’re on the go and don’t have access to diabetes-friendly food.
- Satisfy cravings: If you’ve got a hankering for something sweet but are trying to keep your blood sugar in check, Glucerna’s five sweet flavors can help satisfy your sweet tooth without spiking your glucose.
- Contains fructose: Research suggests that fructose may impact glycemic control in those with diabetes and may pose a risk of type 2 diabetes in those who do not have 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.
- Risk of over-reliance: While Glucerna shakes and bars are a convenient food option when you don’t have time for a full meal, it may be tempting to rely on them too often as a meal replacement. Glucerna products shouldn’t take the place of more than one meal or snack per day, as they’re technically a processed food and not a true substitute for fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Key ingredients are blood sugar–friendly
When it comes to diabetes, the goal is to keep your blood sugar within your target range. High blood glucose (hyperglycemia) over time can lead to serious complicationsTrusted Source, including blurry vision, nerve damage, and kidney disease.
It’s important to monitor your carb intake when you have diabetes because carbohydrates directly raise blood sugar. Fast-digesting carbohydrates, such as soda, can lead to spikes in blood sugar.
Glucerna contains carbohydrates that are less likely to lead to blood glucose spikes. Over time, replacing a fast-acting carbohydrate snack with a Glucerna product might help improve your management of blood sugar and diabetes symptoms.
Meal replacement bars and shakes may help with weight managementTrusted Source by reducing calorie intake. Nutritional shakes and bars are known for having low calorie counts. But most brands contain a lot of sugar, making them a low-nutrient choice for people with diabetes.
According to Abbot, Glucerna is different because the products are lower on the glycemic index and contain less sugar. Glucerna’s Hunger Smart shakes also offer 15 grams of protein per 10-ounce serving, which is more than the average 10 grams in other dietary shakes.
Some Glucerna products may also contain varying amounts of:
- vitamin C
- vitamin E
How Glucerna may complement your diet
The basic features of Glucerna may sound good, but to see how these products measure up, it’s important to know more about the nutrients you need for type 2 diabetes.
Carbohydrates can raise blood sugar. This is why it’s important to eat high fiber carbohydrates and other types of carbohydrates that the body processes more slowly. Additionally, low-glycemic index (low-GI) foods may help to minimize blood sugar spikes. Examples include:
- steel-cut oats
- whole wheat (stone-ground)
- beans and legumes
- whole fruit, such as pears, grapefruit, oranges, and apples
- nonstarchy vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus
Glucerna is designed to provide the body with carbohydrates that are slower digesting, much like low-GI foods. While Glucerna may complement a blood sugar–friendly diet when used occasionally, aim to balance your diet with a variety of low-GI foods, like those listed above.
The protein in Glucerna products may be helpful for diabetes. Protein does not increase blood sugar. Protein also satisfies hunger longer so you’re less likely to eat too many carbs.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most adults, depending on their age, activity level, gender, or medical condition, require between 46 and 56 grams of proteinTrusted Source daily. If you do not get enough protein in your diet, the high protein content in Glucerna may help.
However, whole food protein sources may be a better option. Fish, poultry, eggs, tofu, lean red meat, beans, and legumes are excellent sources of natural protein.
Potential risks and considerations
While Glucerna products may be blood sugar–friendly replacements for other snack foods and meals, they’re still processed foods. Increasingly, ultra-processed foods are associated with negative health outcomes, including overweight, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and even type 2 diabetes.
To lower their carb content while maintaining sweetness, Glucerna’s shakes include artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols. Research on whether artificial sweeteners are helpful or harmful to health is conflicting.
Some studies suggest that these sweeteners can increase sugar cravingsTrusted Source and lead to overeating, which can both be harmful to health, especially for someone with diabetes.
Other studies also suggest that certain artificial sweeteners may actually alter insulin sensitivityTrusted Source.
Further, when used as a meal replacement, Glucerna may be replacing meals made of whole foods. In most cases, whole, unprocessed foods are a better choice than highly processed options.
Glucerna shakes and snacks are unlikely to cause any severe side effects. The greatest risk lies in possible overreliance on the products for diabetes management.
Getting enough protein and managing your carbohydrate intake is important, but you may also need to manage your sleep hygiene and stress levels, and exercise regularly to maintain good blood glucose levels. Plus, whole foods provide the best nutritional value, no matter what a supplement label might claim.
Another consideration is weight loss. Low calorie, high protein meal replacements may gradually help you lose weight when you combine them with an exercise plan and nutrient-rich diet.
Eating too many Glucerna products may actually hinder your weight loss efforts if you add them to your existing diet instead of using them as meal replacements.
How to Use Glucerna
Glucerna is a company that produces meal replacement foods and supplements for people with diabetes. They have several shakes and nutrition bars to choose from. Their products are designed to contain carbohydrates that your body will digest slowly. This helps diabetics manage their blood sugar by reducing blood sugar spikes
Determining if Glucerna is Right for You
- Consider Glucerna only if you have diabetes. Glucerna can be used by people with prediabetes, type 1, and type 2 diabetes. Glucerna is made to minimize blood sugar spikes after a meal, and you may need to adjust the dose and timing of insulin when you first start using it. If you do not have diabetes, Glucerna is not right for you. Other products are similar but designed for people without diabetes:
- Monitor your blood glucose before you have Glucerna and 2 hours after you consume it to determine how you’re affected by it. If you need to adjust your insulin injections, consult with a health care professional for guidance.
- Consult your doctor before taking Glucerna if you have gestational diabetes. Glucerna has not been tested in women who are pregnant or nursing.
- Gestational diabetes should be closely monitored by a doctor for the safety of the mother and the baby.
- Discuss Glucerna with a pediatrician before giving it to a child. Glucerna has been designed for the nutritional needs of adults.
- Children younger than four should not consume Glucerna products.
- Children four to eight should only consume Glucerna products if recommended by a doctor.
- Children over nine can include Glucerna products in their meal plans when under the care of a doctor.
- Discuss using CIucerna with a nephrologist if you have kidney disease. While you can use Glucerna if you a chronic kidney disease, such as renal failure, you should still reach out to a doctor to see if it’s right for you.
- There are other products made specifically if you have chronic kidney disease, like NeprO and SupIena.
- Avoid Glucerna if you have galactosemia. Galactosemia is when you don’t have enzymes that break down lactose properly so it starts building up in your blood. Even though Glucerna is lactose-free, you shouldn’t use it if you have this condition.
- Do not use Glucerna products to treat insulin shock. Insulin shock occurs when diabetics have too much insulin in their blood, and this causes low blood sugar. If not treated immediately, it can lead to a diabetic coma and even be fatal.
- Glucerna products are not an effective treatment for this condition because they are digested too slowly to be effective.
- If you have insulin shock, get medical help immediately.
- Glucerna has not been tested in people who suffer from low blood sugar, but don’t have diabetes (called hypoglycemia). If you have hypoglycemia, consult your doctor before using Glucerna products.