Home » 26 Best Protein Powders for Diabetes And Better Blood Sugars

26 Best Protein Powders for Diabetes And Better Blood Sugars

Are you on the hunt for the best protein powder for diabetes? Have you ever wondered if protein powders are safe? 

Protein powders are convenient for those on the go or don’t have enough time for meal prep.  But what type of protein powder is best? 

Read on for answers to these questions and more. In this blog article, we’ll cover whether protein shakes are safe, how to choose great protein powder for diabetes, and even how to boost protein in shakes and smoothies without protein powder.   

DISCLAIMER: This post was written by Justine Chan MHSc, RD, CDE.  All content on this site is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical or nutritional advice. Always seek medical and dietary advice from your doctor or dietitian.

Your Diabetes Dietitian is reader supported. Please note that this article contains affiliate links. If you click on one of these links and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

A number of servings of unmixed protein powder with the heading '25 best protein powders for diabetes and better blood sugars'

Let’s start off with discussing how much protein is appropriate per day. 

How much protein should people with diabetes have in a day?

Protein needs vary and depend on: 

  • Physical activity  
  • Weight
  • How much muscle mass you have
  • Kidney function
  • Age
  • Sex

Your daily protein needs are are the same whether or not you have diabetes. However, higher protein diets can help you manage your weight and as a result, your blood sugars (1).  

The lowest amount of protein you can get away with before running into deficiencies is 0.8 grams per kilogram body weight. For those with kidney disease, this target may help to delay dialysis (2). 

Diabetes Canada and the American Diabetes Association both advise at least 15 to 20% of your calories or 1 to 1.5 grams per kilogram body weight coming from protein.  This amount can be higher, as high as 35% of your total calories, which is consistent with general macronutrient guidelines (3).

But is this enough to maintain your lean muscle mass as you age? People with type 2 diabetes may lose more muscle than someone without diabetes (4).  At any given meal, 25 to 30 grams of protein seems to be the ideal amount to build and maintain muscle (5).

Other benefits and considerations

What’s more, higher protein meals increase the hormones that promote fullness and decrease the hormones that promote hunger (6). This is a great strategy to reduce cravings!

An assorted mix of plant-based protein powder packages.
Protein powders can be purchased as samples, but are more commonly found in bulk!

Keep in mind the quality and the type of protein matters. More evidence is pointing to plant based protein potentially having an edge over animal based sources when it comes to reducing your A1c and blood sugars (3).  

Focusing on the quality and quantity at each meal is just as important as the total amount of protein you get in a day (5).  You can start by figuring out how much protein you need to eat in a day and then spread that out over 3-5 meals and/or snacks. 

You may have heard that higher protein diets may cause bone loss, but the opposite may be true. Higher protein diets may help to promote stronger bones (7).

But let’s first ask, what exactly is protein powder? 

What is protein powder?

Protein powders are extracted from animal or plant based sources. They are commonly mixed with a cold drink like milk, water and even coffee. Add it to foods like oatmeal or pancakes.  To mix in a drink, you can use a blender or a shaker bottle.   

Some people also add fruit or leafy greens to fortify their shakes. Protein powder is often used as a meal replacement shake or as part of a snack.

Animal based protein powders usually come from:

  • Milk which includes casein and whey
  • Collagen 
  • Egg 

Plant based protein powders usually come from:

  • Rice 
  • Soy
  • Hemp
  • Pea 

Pros and cons of protein powder

If you are a vegetarian, athlete, or an older adult, getting enough protein is often an ongoing battle and protein powder can be especially helpful.  However, if you’re debating whether protein powder is worthwhile, like anything in life, there are pros and cons. 

Pros of protein powder:

  • Convenient
  • Can help you meet your daily protein goal
  • Can help to build and maintain muscle mass

Cons of protein powder: 

  • Costly
  • Risk of contamination 
  • Unknown quality control unless third party tested
  • Protein intake possibly too high 
  • May cause stomach upset 
  • May not be an option for people with lactose intolerance or allergies
A glass of a protein shake on a cloth.
A protein shake is one way to increase your protein through the day.

Protein powder versus food

A food first approach is ideal. One, you tend to get more nutrients out of a whole food and two, there is a lower risk of consuming contaminants or unnecessary additives.  

And then there’s the cost. A tub of protein powder costs anywhere from 50 to 70 dollars for 25 servings. That’s nearly $3 per serving.  In contrast, a can of tuna costs less than $2. 

Bottom line: If you are in a pinch or are struggling to get enough protein in your day, go for the shake. Just remember, you can also get the same amount of protein by eating a tuna sandwich.

Here are some other foods that boost protein in a shake without using protein powder:

  • Greek or skyr yogurt
  • Hemp hearts
  • Lentils 
  • Chickpeas 
  • Silken tofu 
  • Cottage cheese
  • Powdered nut butter 
  • Skim milk powder 
  • Pasteurized egg whites 

Want to know how your protein powder stacks up to real food? 

A scoop of protein powder has the same amount of protein as:

  • 100 grams of tuna or salmon
  • 1 cup skyr icelandic or greek yogurt 
  • 1 1/2 cups edamame beans
  • 100 grams of tofu, cooked
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 3-egg omelette with cheese

Can people with diabetes use protein powder or drink protein shakes? 

Sure, but not too much. Why? 

For one, any marketing claims placed on protein powder supplements do NOT have to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. In fact, it’s estimated that 1 in 5 supplements contain substances not listed on the label. 

Also, the Clean Label Project tested 134 popular protein powders and found higher amounts of heavy metals such as cadmium, arsenic, lead, mercury and BPA. This comes from either contaminated soil or packaging material, and is more common in plant protein powders. 

Second, we don’t know the long term effects.  A 2021 systematic review found that long term use of whey protein without professional input was associated with kidney and liver problems (8).  But again, it’s an association, not cause and effect.  

In an ideal world, the best protein powder for diabetes is budget friendly and has:

  • Little additives
  • No heavy metals
  • No added sugar  
  • No undisclosed chemicals 
  • Low amount of “extras”
  • Low risks of contamination, therefore third party tested for quality and banned substances

There are third party programs that test supplements. Their job is to ensure your protein supplements live up to their claims, and are the highest quality possible with the lowest risk of contamination. 

 To find out more about their testing methodologies, you can visit their websites at:

Now let’s get started with the best protein powder for diabetes.  What should you look for?

What is the best protein powder for diabetes?

Overall, whey isolate and soy isolate protein is considered to be the best protein powder for diabetes because they are the most easily absorbed.  Isolates contain the most protein by weight compared to concentrates or hydrolysates.  Both whey and soy protein contain the most leucine, which helps to build muscle and slow down digestion (4, 9). 

A class of naked pea protein powder, surrounded by packages of the powder and a carton of almond milk
Naked Pea protein is an excellent plant-based pea protein that is easy to mix and drink.

What’s more, the protein in dairy products can help your body to release more insulin and lower blood sugars (4, 10), but this may not be the case for everyone (11). 

For plant based protein to have similar effects on muscle building, you generally need double the dose if that’s your sole source of protein at a meal. This is usually not a concern if your diet also includes animal protein sources (12).  

How the list was made

So what is the best protein powder for diabetes? We have whey, plant-based, and beverages. Most of the powders in this list are third party tested. The end of the list contains protein powders that are not certified but contain only 1-2 ingredients and no other additives. 

Also, my dietitian colleagues and clients stand by some of these protein supplements  Of course, remember that taste and tolerability of protein powder is completely subjective and highly individual.  So without further ado, let’s start off with the whey and egg protein powders.  

Whey and Egg (third party tested)

Naked Whey Protein 

Serving: 2 scoops 
3g carbohydrates
25g protein
2g fat, 0.5g saturated 

This whey protein has no additives or artificial sweeteners and is sourced from grass fed cows. It’s also unflavored so you can add this to any drink or dish you fancy. Naked Whey is safe for athletes because it has been tested for banned substances by Informed Choice.

Legion Whey+ Protein Powder

Serving: 1 scoop
3g carbohydrates
22g protein
0g fat 

Labdoor scored Legion’s protein powder as an A+ in terms of quality, purity, and safety.  Legion’s protein powder is sweetened with stevia, a natural sweetener made from the leaves of the stevia plant that does not raise blood sugars. 

Rivalus Whey

Serving: 1 scoop
4g carbohydrates
24g protein
1g fat, 0.5g saturated 

This powder is Informed Choice certified, which means it has gone through third party testing for quality and banned ingredients.  It’s sweetened with sucralose and low in carbohydrates.

Kaizen Naturals Whey Isolate 

Serving: 1 scoop 
2g carbohydrates
25g protein
0.5g fat

Kaizen is NSF certified, so it’s gone through independent testing. You can find this product at Costco.  There are no artificial sweeteners or flavors, and it’s naturally sweetened with stevia.  Overall, whey isolate is higher in protein and leucine than whey protein, making it an even better option for muscle building and a great protein powder for diabetes.

Muscle Milk Unflavored Whey

Serving: 1 scoop
3g carbohydrates
25g protein
2g fat

Muscle Milk is NSF certified and is made from pure whey isolate. It comes in chocolate or vanilla.  If you’re wondering about the soluble corn fiber, research has shown it does not tend to spike blood sugars (13).

Leanfit Naturals Whey

Serving: 1 scoop
2g carbohydrates
25g protein
2g fat

You can buy Leanfit whey powder at Costco at a good price and it’s free from preservatives.  This protein supplement is also certified by Informed Choice, which means it contains no banned substances. The whey protein is sourced from grass fed cows.

Biosteel 100% Whey 

Serving: 1 scoop
110-120kcal depending on the flavor
3g carbohydrates
24g protein
1g fat

This whey isolate protein powder comes in a variety of flavors and is sweetened with stevia. It mixes well with any cold beverage of choice. It’s also certified by NSF Sport. 

A shake glass full of a Vega protein shake, with a carton of almond milk beside it
A Vega protein shake is a great plant-based protein option!

MyProtein Impact Whey 

Serving: 1 scoop
3g carbohydrates
19g protein
1g fat 

MyProtein powder is doubly tested by Informed Choice and Labdoor for the highest quality possible.  Though this comes in loads of flavors, the best diabetes friendly ones are unflavored which only has 2 ingredients, or the vanilla and chocolate stevia. 

Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate 

Serving: 1 scoop
<1g carbohydrates
28g protein
0.5g fat

This whey protein isolate has a short and simple ingredient list and it comes in a variety of flavors.  It’s also ranked in the top 10 on Consumer Lab with an A+ rating for accuracy and purity. 

GNC Pro Performance 100% Egg Protein

Serving: 1 scoop
4g carbohydrates
20g protein
0.5g fat

If you can’t tolerate dairy and want a complete protein option that has all the amino acids, try this egg protein powder. It’s certified by Informed Choice and is naturally sweetened with stevia.  

Now that we’ve covered animal protein, let’s move on to plant-based protein shakes!

Plant-Based (third party tested)

Biosteel Plant-Based 

Serving: 1 scoop
5g carbohydrates
22g protein
2g fat 

Biosteel is certified by NSF sport and contains a combination of brown rice, pea, and pumpkin seed proteins.  It’s flavored and will make a great addition to any smoothie! 

Vega Sport Protein

Serving: 1 scoop
6g carbohydrates
30g protein
3.5g fat

This vegan protein powder is certified by NSF and comes in a variety of flavors. It’s sweetened with stevia and contains a blend of pea, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed and alfalfa proteins.

Garden Of Life Organic Plant Based

Serving: 2 scoops
7g carbohydrates, 2g fiber
30g protein
3g fat

This protein supplement has a mix of pea, beans and cranberry seed and is a great protein powder for diabetes.  Certified by both Informed Choice and NSF, it’s free of banned substances.  Plus, this powder easily blends with almond milk or your favorite smoothie.

PB Plant Protein Booster 

Serving: 1 scoop
0g carbohydrates
10g protein
1g fat 

PB contains pea protein and has been awarded one of the best protein powders by Clean Label Project, which means this supplement has been tested for pesticides, heavy metals, and other unwanted substances. There’s only 3 ingredients and with a neutral flavor, it can be easily added to any of your favorite dishes.

Naked Pea

Serving: 2 scoops
2g carbohydrates
27g protein
0.5g fat

Naked Pea is certified by Informed Choice and has only one ingredient – you guessed it, yellow pea protein! It has no added sugar and seriously mixes well with anything. The vanilla isn’t overly sweet and the unflavored tastes great mixed with fruit.

A glass of a protein shake on a cloth.
A protein shake is one way to increase your protein through the day.

Origin Nutrition Vegan 

Serving: 2 scoops
5g carbohydrates
25g protein
0g fat

This supplement does not contain any preservatives, additives and fillers and contains pumpkin seeds as its protein source. It’s certified by Informed Choice so it does not contain any banned substances.

NOW Sports Soy Protein Isolate

Serving: ⅓ cup
0g carbohydrates
20g protein
0.5g fat

Soy protein is a complete protein, so that means you’re getting all nine essential amino acids, unlike many other plant proteins. Not only that, it’s safe despite your doubts, and is a great option for lowering cholesterol and potentially even breast cancer (13). 

That’s a wrap on whey and plant based protein! Now let’s talk about ready to drink beverages.


Fairlife Core Power or Fairlife Nutrition Plan

Serving: 14 fl. oz. bottle (414ml)
150 to 170kcal
4 to 6g carbohydrates
26 to 30g protein
2.5 to 4.5g fat

These shakes are an excellent source of calcium and come in vanilla, chocolate, strawberry banana, and banana.  Sweetened with only a small amount of stevia, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose, Fairlife beverages are tasty, low in carbs and high in protein. 

Chobani Complete

Serving: 10 fl.oz 
17g carbohydrates
3g soluble fiber
25g protein
2.5g fat 

This is a lactose-free beverage that has the same amount of carbs as adding a scoop of protein powder to a glass of cow’s milk – one carb choice. It’s also a good source of soluble fiber, which forms a gel in your gut that picks up cholesterol and delays the absorption of sugars. 

Ripple Protein

Serving: 12oz bottle
12g carbohydrates
20g protein
7g fat

Here’s a dairy free, pea-based drink that’s sure to satisfy.  It comes in chocolate, vanilla or coffee flavor and you’re also getting a good dose of calcium and phosphorus. 

And last but not least, we’ll end with protein supplements that aren’t third party tested but contain only 1-2 ingredients. 

Single Ingredient Or Whole Food Based


Serving: 7g 
0g carbohydrates
6 grams of protein
0g fat 

This protein powder is medical grade so it is more expensive. A can costs close to 16 dollars so you’re looking at $0.50 to $1 per scoop or packet.  

It’s pure whey protein isolate and provides 6 grams of protein in every scoop or packet.  

Boost Just Protein

Serving: 21g
1g carbohydrate
18g protein
0g fat 

This is a great unflavored whey option to add to your favorite foods like soups, sauces, and smoothies! It has no fillers or sweeteners, which can be hard to find.

Bob’s Red Mill Almond Protein

Serving: ⅓ cup
14g carbohydrates
6g fiber
20g protein
5g fat

If you’re looking for a protein powder made from whole food – almonds – try this! Since it’s made from defatted almonds, it’s more concentrated in protein rather than fat. Check this out for more on almond flour.

A glass of Vega protein shake with the vega package to one side and a carton of almond milk to the other side.
A glass of Vega protein shake is a good way to get a boost of protein through the day.

Bob’s Red Mill Whey Protein Powder 

Serving: ¼ cup
3g carbohydrates
14g protein
1g fat

This is a simple whey protein powder that’s unflavored and can be easily mixed into your favorite foods.  Low in lactose, with no artificial sweeteners or fillers, it’s a nice addition to smoothies and soups.  

Bob’s Red Mill Soy Protein Powder

Serving: ¼ cup
1g carbohydrate
16g protein
1g fat

Soy protein may help to lower cholesterol and is a key component of the Portfolio Diet, which recommends 50 grams of soy protein a day. This supplement is strictly isolated soy protein, with soy lecithin which helps to dissolve the powder.  

Hemp Yeah! Protein Powder  

Serving: 4 tbsp
2g carbohydrates
3g fiber
20g protein

6g fat

Key takeaways: 26 Best Protein Powders For Diabetes And Better Blood Sugars

Whoa. Protein powder is definitely a hot topic as you can see! Altogether, we covered daily protein goals, how to look for a suitable protein powder, and the best protein powder options for diabetes.  

We also reviewed the best protein powders for diabetes, most of which are third party tested for accuracy and quality. And remember, protein powders are “supplements”, meaning they can enhance something when added to it, but shouldn’t make up the bulk of your protein intake.  

Overall, protein shakes are especially helpful if you find it difficult to consume enough protein daily, if you’re worried about losing muscle, or have a wound that is taking long to heal.  Higher protein intakes are associated with improved blood sugars, cholesterol, as well as building and maintaining muscle, something we tend to lose as we age.  

Of course, with careful planning, you can also meet your protein goals with food alone.  Plus, you can’t refute the power whole foods have over a protein powder.  

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