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Meal Replacement for diabetes control, is it really helpful?

Living in this modern world that is fast paced, life can be relentless. Trying to eat a balanced and nutritious diet can often be overwhelming, and poor food choices and skipping meals can inhibit efforts to control diabetes and manage weight.

What can a diabetic patient do about it? You’re not being left without choices. I believe you may hear about meal replacements. The meal replacement industry started in 1970s where “nutrition in a can” became widely used in hospitals and nursing homes to help nourish patients who could not eat or had difficulty eating solid food. Nowadays, meal replacements can be a helpful option for many individuals as part of their diabetes management plan because they are convenient, easy to carry, timesaving, and nutritionally complete, some are even in ready-to-eat or drink form.

What is meal replacement?

Meal replacements are foods that you can eat or drink as an alternative to or as part of your meals. Meal replacements provide the human body with energy and pre-counted calorie and essential macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Usually, meal replacements contain fewer calories than our ordinary meals, thus, replacing 1 to 2 ordinary meals with meal replacements are useful for weight control and weight loss.

Can meal replacement help to manage my blood sugar level?

Overweight or obese individuals with type 2 diabetes who incorporate meal replacements in their diet can loss more weight than those on a conventional diet based on research. Improved blood glucose levels and HbA1C level generally go along with losing weight for these groups of individuals. By choosing the right meal replacement is proven to be helpful in managing body weight and blood glucose response, at the same time providing complete nutrition.

How to choose a right meal replacement for diabetic?

There are many kinds of meal replacements nowadays, most of which are high in fiber, low in calories, low fat etc. However, some meal replacements provide too much of one nutrient, such as protein, and not enough of others, such as carbohydrate. Read the nutrition label. Some may contain too many calories and too much sugar, making them no different than a candy bar, it would definitely a No No for diabetic individuals.

For a diabetic individual, a healthy and right nutrient meal replacement must have the following characteristics:

1. Contains carbohydrates, protein, and fat: Some meal replacements advertise as "Zero fat" or have very low protein content. These meal replacements are not considered "nutritionally balanced" meal replacements.

2. Rich in fiber: Fiber helps maintain gastrointestinal health and enhance satiety. A high-fiber meal replacement must contain at least 6 grams of fiber/100 grams of meal replacement powder or content.

3. Contain a variety of vitamins and minerals: Look for formulas containing at least 24 vitamins and minerals to meet the nutritional needs of the human body.

4. Contain proprietary blend of “good fats”: “Good fats” such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, medium chain triglycerides (MCT) are very important as part of the energy source and for maintaining cardiovascular health. Consume in proper portion can help control body weight.

5. Check the types of carbohydrates: Look for formulas using resistant starch, modified maltodextrin, oat powder, isomaltulose, which are digested more slowly with better satiety, helping with blood glucose control

6. Low glycemic index (Low GI): Go for low GI formula with GI index less than 55. Low GI formula is essential for better blood glucose control and is able to release energy substantially.

Metabolic + Sauver - A complete and balanced nutrition formula designed for diabetic patients which fulfilled all the important criteria when comes to choosing a right meal replacement. It contains not only proprietary blend of macronutrients and micronutrients, but further enhanced with 8 types of herbal extracts for better glucose control. Metabolic + Sauver is by far the lowest GI diabetic specific formula in Malaysia with a GI index of only 26.84!

How to use meal replacement in daily diet?

Meal replacements are recommended to replace 1 or 2 meals in a day, or as part of a meal by combining with other foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole-grain crackers, nuts, fat-free milk, and light yogurt. Here’s how meal replacement being incorporated into daily diet while keep your blood glucose level in control:

  • As on-the-go breakfast choice instead of skipping breakfast

  • As healthy snack in between meals when you’re hungry

  • As lunch or dinner when you’re too busy to eat regular meals, you may add some salads, fruits or nuts

However, in most cases, it is not recommended to solely rely on taking meal replacements to meet daily nutritional needs. Therefore, meal replacements are not recommended to use for all three main meals in a day.

If you’re interested in trying a meal replacement, either in place of a meal or as a snack, it’s always a good idea to tallk with a nutritionist or dietitian. He or she can help you choose one that best meets your needs and preferences. At the same time, they can help best determine how to incorporate meal replacements into your diabetes meal plan.

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