Picture of Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD

Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD

Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD, the founder of Milk & Honey Nutrition, is a diabetes dietitian (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) renowned for combining her knowledge of diabetes and culinary expertise into easy-to-follow recipes and articles!

Overview

The 9 Best Protein Powders for Diabetes

Article Overview

best protein powders for diabetes

Let’s looks at the best protein powders for diabetes and what to look for on a label.

There’s no way to know every protein powder that exists. So we’ll cover what to look for in the best protein powders for diabetes. And, then I’ll show you some of my favorite protein powder brands for diabetes. 

How much protein is safe for diabetes? 

Generally speaking, people with diabetes do not need any more or any less protein than people who don’t have diabetes. Increased protein, however, may help improve blood sugar management because it can reduce and balance carbohydrate intake. 

  • The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that anywhere from 10-35% of calories come from protein (assuming your kidneys are healthy).
  • Personally, my professional diabetes dietitian opinion leans closer to the 35% recommendation. (As in, people with diabetes and healthy kidneys should have about 30-35% of calories coming from protein).
    • This would equal around 120-180g protein per day depending on your own individual needs and characteristics.

To determine your personal needs and what is best for you, consult a registered dietitian. 

Is protein powder good for diabetes?

Some people with diabetes struggle to consume enough protein in their diet. This is where protein powder may be an alternative option to increase the amount of protein they eat or drink. 

Is protein powder bad for diabetes?

One thing to note though is that protein powder should not be used as a reason to not consume protein from food. There are situations where protein powder can be a really useful tool, but be careful not to let it replace food intake too.

Protein powder should not be used as a meal replacement and should not be the primary source of protein in your diet.

 best protein powder for diabetes chocolate protein powder vanilla protein powder protein powder scoop

What is a good protein powder for diabetes? 

Below, I’ll cover some of my favorite protein powder brands. But we’ll also discuss what characteristics the best protein powder for diabetes should have. There are a ton of protein powders on the market, and there’s no way to review all of them in one post.

How to find the best protein powders for diabetes

When looking for the best protein powder for diabetes, look for a protein powder that has the following:

  • Minimal or no added sugar
  • Added fiber
  • A taste and flavor you enjoy!

Some of the links below are affiliate links. What does that mean? It means that if you click on a link and end up purchasing that product, I may get a small commission, but it doesn’t cost you anything extra.

9 Best protein powders for diabetes

Best protein powder for diabetes Bob’s Red Mill Whey Protein Powder, unflavored, Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein & Greens, Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein, Vega Vanilla Protein & Greens, Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides, Ancient Nutrition Multi-Collagen Protein, Orgain Organic Protein Powder, Now Sports Grass Fed Whey Protein, Primal Kitchen Unflavored Collagen

These are some of the best protein powders for diabetes. Many retailers offer them in store, online from Amazon, or from grocery delivery services.

1. Bob’s Red Mill Whey Protein Powder

Bob's Red Mill Whey Protein Powder for diabetes

Bob’s Red Mill Whey Protein Powder offers an unflavored, unsweetened protein powder available at most grocery stores or on Amazon. Whey Protein is considered a complete protein with all essential amino acids.

This particular option from Bob’s Red Mill is heat stable and great for everything from smoothies to baking. And, thanks to the fact that it’s flavorless and unsweetened, it can be added to just about anything. It is a whey protein concentrate, which is slightly different in nutrient composition to whey protein isolate.

  • Serving Size: 1/4 cup (20g)
  • Calories: 80
  • Total Carbohydrates: 3g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Added Sugar: 0g
  • Protein: 15g
  • Total Fat: 1g
  • Type of protein: Whey protein concentrate
  • Flavored or unflavored: Flavorless
  • Sugar substitutes or non-nutritive sweeteners used: No

2. Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein & Greens

garden of life organic protein and greens

Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein & Greens comes in unflavored, chocolate, and vanilla flavors. It offers 20g plant based protein and six different greens and veggies. The protein comes from organic sources of the following: brown rice, peas, chia seeds, navy beans, lentil beans and garbanzo beans. And, it contains 0g of sugar since it is sweetened with stevia. This option is best for smoothies and other beverages.

  • Serving Size: 1 scoop (27.5g)
  • Calories: 110
  • Total Carbohydrates: 3g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Added Sugar: 0g
  • Protein: 20g
  • Total Fat: 2g
  • Type of protein: plant-based, non-soy
  • Flavored or unflavored: both
  • Sugar substitutes or non-nutritive sweeteners used: Yes (in flavored varieties)

3. Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein

garden of life raw organic protein powder for diabetes

Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein offers a complete plant based protein option with no added sugar. It comes in unflavored, vanilla, and chocolate. It’s essentially the same product as the Garden Of Life Protein and Greens, just without the greens and stevia. I like to use this protein powder for smoothies and other beverages, as well as baked goods and pancakes/waffles.

  • Serving Size: 1 scoop (28g)
  • Calories: 120
  • Total Carbohydrates: 2g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Added Sugar: 0g
  • Protein: 22g
  • Total Fat: 2.5g
  • Type of protein: plant-based, non-soy
  • Flavored or unflavored: Flavorless
  • Sugar substitutes or non-nutritive sweeteners used: No

4. Vega Vanilla Protein and Greens

Vega Vanilla Protein Powder

Vega Vanilla Protein and Greens is a tasty plant based protein powder available at most grocery stores, with no added sugar (sweetened with stevia). It uses multiple sources of plant protein (pea protein, brown rice protein, and sacha inchi protein) to provide 20g protein per serving.

The greens inside include: alfalfa powder, spinach powder, broccoli powder, and kale powder. I like to use Vega vanilla protein & greens in smoothies or just mixed with water or milk.

  • Serving Size: 1 scoop (30g)
  • Calories: 120
  • Total Carbohydrates: 6g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Added Sugar: 0g
  • Protein: 20g
  • Total Fat: 2g
  • Type of protein: plant-based, non-soy
  • Flavored or unflavored: flavored
  • Sugar substitutes or non-nutritive sweeteners used: Yes

5. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides

Vital Protein Collagen Peptides

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides is an unflavored collagen option that can be mixed into almost anything. Collagen peptides are often used to increase protein consumption, and support healthy hair, skin, nails, joints, and digestion. But, many varieties come sweetened.

I love that Vital Proteins is an established brand offering an unsweetened option that be incorporated into so many different foods and recipes. Personally, I like adding Vital Proteins to my coffee in the morning. The added protein helps decrease the likelihood of the coffee raising my blood sugar.

  • Serving Size: 2 scoops (20g)
  • Calories: 70
  • Total Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Added Sugar: 0g
  • Protein: 18g
  • Total Fat: 0g
  • Type of protein: Collagen peptides
  • Flavored or unflavored: Flavorless
  • Sugar substitutes or non-nutritive sweeteners used: No

6. Ancient Nutrition Multi-Collagen Protein

Ancient Nutrition multi-collagen protein powder for diabetes

Ancient Nutrition Multi-Collagen Protein offers another great unflavored collagen option. Just like the Vital Proteins options above, Ancient Nutrition offers a high quality product that is great for people living with diabetes. Collagen sources include cow, fish, and chicken. You can mix their Multi-Collagen protein into everything from smoothies, to soups, to cookies because it’s heat stable.

  • Serving Size: 2 scoops (20g)
  • Calories: 70
  • Total Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Added Sugar: 0g
  • Protein: 18g
  • Total Fat: 0g
  • Type of protein: Collagen peptides
  • Flavored or unflavored: Flavorless
  • Sugar substitutes or non-nutritive sweeteners used: No

Learn more about collagen and diabetes, and other brands I recommend.

7. Orgain Organic Protein Powder

Vanilla Orgain protein powder

Orgain Organic Protein Powder offers a mix of plant-based protein sources in two flavors: vanilla and chocolate. Each serving contains 21g of protein. And, it has no added sugar and no artificial sweeteners (sweetened with stevia and erythritol). Just like many of the other options listed, Orgain Protein Powder can be used in a variety of different types of recipes. This is my go-to protein powder for smoothies typically. Orgain has really mastered the vanilla flavor in their products!

  • Serving Size: 2 scoops (46g)
  • Calories: 150
  • Total Carbohydrates: 15g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Added Sugar: 0g
  • Sugar Alcohols: 5g
  • Protein: 21g
  • Total Fat: 4g
  • Type of protein: Plant-based, non-soy
  • Flavored or unflavored: Flavored
  • Sugar substitutes or non-nutritive sweeteners used: Yes

8. Now Sports Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder

Now Sports Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder

Now Sports Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder offers another high quality whey protein option, and is a whey protein concentrate. This Grass-Fed Whey Protein is made from milk from grass-fed cows that are pasture-raised without synthetic hormones (rBGH), antibiotics, or pesticides.

Their process results in an end product that is bioavailable and easily digested. This product is great for most people living with diabetes, but especially athletes looking for a high quality source of complete protein.

  • Serving Size: 1 scoop (30g)
  • Calories: 110
  • Total Carbohydrates: 7g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugar: 2g
  • Added Sugar: 0g
  • Sugar Alcohols: 2g
  • Protein: 19g
  • Total Fat: 1.5g
  • Type of protein: Whey protein concentrate
  • Flavored or unflavored: Flavored
  • Sugar substitutes or non-nutritive sweeteners used: Yes

9. Primal Kitchen Unflavored Collagen Peptides

primal kitchen unflavored collagen peptides

Primal Kitchen Unflavored Collagen Peptides has no added sugar or sweeteners and can be used in many different ways including savory soups, shakes, smoothies, coffee, and baked goods. This is another great example of a quality brand offering an unsweetened option with lots of versatility!

  • Serving Size: 1 scoop (11g)
  • Calories: 40
  • Total Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Added Sugar: 0g
  • Protein: 10g
  • Total Fat: 0g
  • Type of protein: Collagen peptides
  • Flavored or unflavored: Flavorless
  • Sugar substitutes or non-nutritive sweeteners used: No

Best protein powder to gain weight with diabetes

Protein powders may be encouraged for people who need to gain weight in combination with increased calories from other sources.

Whey protein powders for diabetes

I get asked a lot, “Is whey protein bad for diabetes?” and there is no right or wrong answer. You will either see whey protein concentrate or whey protein isolate listed in the ingredients. Isolate is processed even more than concentrate, so it will have slightly higher amounts of protein and slightly lower amounts of the other macronutrients.

Some people report whey protein causing stomach upset. If this is the case, try a plant based protein powder that utilizes multiple protein sources. This ensures all essential amino acids are present. However, if you have a whey protein powder that you enjoy and tolerate well, then there is no reason to switch.

Best protein powder for type 1 diabetes

The best protein powder for Type 1 Diabetes will follow the recommendations listed above. The best protein powder for Type 2 diabetes will as well.

Best sugar free protein powders for diabetes

While a sugar free protein powder may seem appealing and like it would be the best protein powder for diabetes, that might not be the case. It’s important to look at ingredients and see what sweeteners are used. Many protein powders marketed as sugar free might use large amounts of alternative sweeteners that could cause stomach upset. But some are totally fine. Again, read ingredient labels. 

My favorite sugar free protein powders that are also included in the list above are:

best protein powder for diabetes chocolate protein powder vanilla protein powder protein powder scoop

Adding protein powder to recipes

Most of the protein powders I listed above can be added to any type of recipe. These are some of my favorite recipes to add protein powder to:

References

  1. High protein diet is of benefit for patients with type 2 diabetes, Medicine (Baltimore). (2018) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6257679/ .
  2. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, USDA. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf .
  3. Best Protein Sources for Diabetes, American Diabetes Association, (2024). https://diabetes.org/food-nutrition/reading-food-labels/protein
  4. Benefits of Whey Proteins on Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Parameters and Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases, Nutrients, (2023). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10005124/

And make sure to check out my cookbook with lots of yummy protein-packed recipes: The Easy Diabetes Cookbook!

how to order the easy diabetes cookbook

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3 Responses

  1. I would like to know which Whey isolate protein powder would you recommend for Type 2 non senior insulin diabetics who want to build muscle mass

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