Protein Shakes and Meal replacements are a simple way to satiate hunger and fuel workouts. In a market dominated by Whey, I began to search for a low-carb, Keto and Diabetic friendly protein shake that had minimal impact on my bloodsugar. The theory behind this in regards to my backpacking adventures is how sensitive to insulin I become when hiking. Even small doses of insulin can put me at risk of hypoglycemia while hiking. By decreasing the impact of food on my blood sugar, I can reduce the needs for watching my CGM, timing insulin doses. The point of hiking is to be present in nature, and diabetes often requires so much attention, its easy to lose presence.
I tried a variety of different “Keto” meal replacement shakes. They were all surprisingly tasty and provided a large enough variety of flavors. However, they had larger than expected impacts on my blood sugar. I had blood sugars rise from 70mg/dl to almost 200mg/dl starting 30 minutes postprandial. Even with netcarbs between 0.6 and 5 grams I was experience similar swings to eating 30 grams of carbohydrate. Even if all 7 grams of carbohydrate was digested, I should have only has 28mg/dl swing.
Being low carb for several years and Type 1 Diabetic for almost 3 decades, I know the protein has an effect on blood sugars. I just never realized how quickly gluconeogensis can happen with powdered versions of protein. Initially I was disillusioned and thought my idea of protein shake breakfast was failure.
Protein sources can be plant, dairy, egg, and animal based. Not all of them are created equally, but this isn’t a post about the best protein powder for making gains. Neither is it a post about weight loss. This is documenting my experiencing trying different powders and how the impacted my bloodsugar
Way too much Whey
The market is saturated with dairy based protein and for good reason. From my research there are two types of dairy proteins. Whey and Casein. Both are used in the weight lifting scene. Easy to Digest, both are used to build muscle mass quickly. Whey dominates the market because its quickly digested and quick to exit the blood stream and get into the muscles. Casein, is hailed by the gainers by how it is much slower to leave the blood stream and help rebuild the cells after the workout. Dieters claim this is the protein powder that can help avoid snacking. For the insulin dependent, the problem is how quickly it gets to the blood stream.
I tried 2 Keto Protein shakes that were designed using this theory. As a disclaimer, I had blood work and urine screened while I was experimenting with these shakes and had a positive reading for ketones. These shakes are fantastic products that have been extensively researched by the owners. Using the concepts from above, these companies designed their shake mixes using a milk protein isolate mix. It’s my understanding they’re both using a similar 20% Whey and 80% Casein to create a product that provides some fuel quickly and the majority of fuel slower. The ideal goal for a diet beverage, and If my pancreas worked, I wouldn’t need to write this post.
The milk isolate protein shakes I tried were:
Sated (Formerly Ketolent) – review separately
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KetoChow – review separately
I was pleasantly surprised with how tasty these products were. Unfortunately, they elevated my blood sugar slower than carbohydrates, but quicker that I felt comfortable seeing. I was able to time insulin dosing to treat them, but that wasn’t the goal. The goal was to find a breakfast that required little to no insulin so I could have calories on board that would burn off just by hiking hard.
Whole Egg Protein
American Metabolix Keto Meal
After scratching these options I needed to find something else. During my search for keto meal replacement shakes I found American Metabolix Keto Meal. This drew my attention because unlike the prior shakes requiring me to add my own fat, this mix had a perfect keto ration of Fat, Carbs and Protein. Yes, a protein shake powder with FAT in it.
The first two ingredients on this shake are Whole Egg Powder (Protein and Some fat) and Butter Powder (Fat). This is fantastic news! The only other ingredients are “Natural Flavors”, Stevia, Monk Fruit Extract, and Viatmin C and Vitamin E. Simple ingredients list with very little impact on my blood sugar. It has perfect macro ratios but that’s about all I can say good about this product
It tastes awful. Its thing and It doesn’t mix well. The flavor is no where near the “Chocolate Brownie” that people described it as in reviews. Another problem is there are very few flavors (Vanilla, Chocolate, Peanutbutter, Blueberry Cheesecake, and Peppermint Bark) and the price is ridiculously high. To make the price even higher I’d have to add something to thicken and stabilize the shake. The best solution I found was KetoChow’s base powder. This is the “shake” part of the protein mix Ketochow uses. It brings texture, electrolytes and essential vitamins to the meal replacement. It worked at improving the texture of the Keto Meal, but the flavor was still lacking. Plus it made an already overpriced product cost $2 more per meal and I can’t justify that disappointment.
Since both flavor and texture are lacking I can’t see myself using this daily on a long backpacking trip but its got me looking into butter powder as a way to add fat to my shakes since powders carry easier than liquids.
Seeing the minimal impact of American Metabolix Keto Meal on my blood sugar, I realized I was onto something. The cost was too much so I started looking into ways to make my own protein powder mix. I discovered True Nutrition; a store the allows you to customize your own protein mixes. I found Whole egg, egg protein, and beef protein isolates. Maybe Paleo mixes were the way to go.
Aside from True Nutrition, there’s a company called PaleoPro and they sell single serving packs on their website which I will be trying. At $42 a pound (15 servings) we’re pushing $5 a shake. This isn’t crazy, but every dollar counts when I’m paying shipping on all my mail drops. So True Nutrition is still seeming the most optimal option for customizing. True Nutrition offers a ton of different flavors and has some sample packs of Whey and Pea Protein. So in order to trial some flavors I chose to try the Pea Protein Isolate packs and see what happens.
Vegan Powder – A Cost Effective choice
Seeing the minimal impact of American Metabolix Keto Meal on my blood sugar, I realized I was onto something. The cost was too much so I started looking into ways to make my own protein powder mix. I discovered True Nutrition; a store the allows you to customize your own protein mixes. I found Whole egg, egg protein, and beef protein isolates. Maybe Paleo mixes were the way to go. But what flavor?
True Nutrition has a ton of flavor options and the only way to try them was sample packets of either Whey Protein, or Pea Protein. Since I knew Whey Protein didn’t work, I ordered every flavor of pea protein. My blood sugars were pleasantly surprised. Little impact on my blood sugar I finally found a solution. This protein powder added to Keto Chow Base with a 1/4 cup of avocado oil gave me a 600 calorie shake with minimal post pradial blood sugar impact. Virtually a perfect start to a high mileage day on the trail.
Through research, I discovered pea protein powder is a complete protein, and its relatively inexpensive. It is lacking some amino chains so its suggested to add a small percentage of rice protein to the mix. At Sprouts, I found some single serving packets of a pea/rice protein mix that also was easy on my blood sugar. It didn’t seem to mix as well as the others, but Keto Chow really helps stabilize the mixture and hold it all together. It seems this is due to the Acacia Gum and Xantham Gum.
I decided I’m going to build my own custom version of True Nutrition’s Vegan Lean Formula. On True Nutrition Page, I’m able to add a booster of Vitamins, Electrolytes, and Greens. I’m going to experiment with adding my own Gum using the keto chow 1.5 recipe and see if I can get the right shake consistency.
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Protein Shakes and Meal replacements are a simple way to satiate hunger and fuel workouts. In a market dominated by Whey, I began to search for a low-carb, Keto and Diabetic friendly protein shake that had minimal impact on my bloodsugar. The theory behind this in regards to my backpacking adventures is how sensitive to insulin I become when hiking.…