Meal Replacement Products

One of the risks you take in having a Public Group (or even a Closed Group) on Facebook is the possibility that you’ll get members who turn out to be spammers, trying to sell their own products and services to your otherwise unsuspecting group members. I don’t even check potential members’ profiles any more to ascertain if they are current or former Adventists or even if they are vegetarian, as long as they clearly understand they can’t post recipes containing pork or shellfish. I don’t care if they’re diabetic or not as long as their posts are somehow directly related to diabetics. But occasionally something about the name, country, or profile of someone asking to join Adventist Vegetarian Diabetics makes me suspicious, and so I will send them a private message asking why they want to join this group and if they are diabetic. (If someone has only been on Facebook a month and is already a member of 68 groups, that’s definitely suspicious!) Most of the time, the ones I’m suspicious of never respond, so I will ignore and block them if I don’t get a response within 48 hours. Once in a while, a person will respond with a lot of meaningless jabber but will never directly answer if they are a diabetic or have a diabetic loved one. So after the second response of not answering that question, they too are history.

ShakeologyI didn’t have any such suspicions about Jack when I approved his membership in the group. So it took me a bit by surprise when he posted a rather long testimonial about how he had lost 70 lbs. and lowered his blood sugar and blood pressure by using Shakeology® (a meal replacement shake). I sensed this would be a real test of my philosophy of inclusivity! So I asked Jack to provide some very detailed specifics about his experience with Shakeology®. And I waited. For a whole weekend. Meanwhile, I did some research.

The first thing I did, of course, was to check the Nutrition Information and ingredients in Shakeology®. 15-18 grams of carbs per serving, well within the ADA (American Diabetes Association) recommendations, but definitely not low-carb high-fat. And, although they have a couple of vegan flavors, it probably wouldn’t work either for a serious high-carb low-fat vegan as they typically try to avoid processed food products. Then I asked (on Facebook) if anyone had ever tried Shakeology® and what they thought of it. My daughter-in-law (whom I knew had tried it) said that it was very tasty but it wasn’t really enough to replace a meal unless you mixed it with something other than just water, like milk or fruit. Did it affect her metabolic syndrome? Not that she could tell. Then she told me about a meal replacement product that’s part of the product line that she’s now selling, called It Works! Ultimate ProFIT™ and is advertised as having “no sugar added” and “gluten-free.” It is, indeed, sweetened with stevia and has 5 grams carb per serving, so that could be acceptable on a low-carb high-fat protocol, particularly if you added a tablespoon or two of coconut oil! Either is better (carb-wise) than Special K® Protein Shakes which have a whopping 29 grams of carbs per bottle! But they are all still processed food products. So that’s the skinny (pun intended) on meal replacement shakes.

The bottom line here, though, is that these meal replacement shakes are for the purpose of weight loss, not for lowering blood sugar for a diabetic! If someone like Jack, who did manage to lose weight with Shakeology®, also lowered his blood sugar, I suggest it was primarily because the discipline of controlling his diet led him to eat less (in calories) and lower in carbs than he was eating before on the SAD (Standard American Diet). Specifics he reported: A1C of 7.7 before he began Shakeology®. He doesn’t know what it is now but “my Dr smiled and said it’s perfect.” Cholesterol: then 171; now 96. Blood pressure: I can’t recall but was in hypertension stage and now is always normal. Weight:  258; now 188 and still losing. Jack said, “I am honest to say I eat whatever I want. I know it sounds crazy, but I eat so healthfully in the a.m. that I am not as hungry by dinner. But when I eat dinners they are also smaller portions. I only eat a small reasonable lunch, half a sandwich and cup of soup, for example.” Blood sugars are between 96 and 115. [Jack didn’t say if this represented fasting, postprandial, or averages.] He also said, “I add the extra ingredients that are in Shakeo already to help fill me up,” confirming what my daughter-in-law said.

This is what I told Jack:

Here’s what I see in your story:
1) You were eating the SAD (Standard American Diet), so any change from that is going to be positive!
2) Most doctors think that any A1C below 7.0 is “perfect” for a diabetic. A non-diabetic normal A1C, however, is 4.0-5.6.
3) An operative phrase you used is “smaller portions” (or “portion control”). That’s important for any diabetic, but especially for overweight ones. Good for you!
4) Based on what you described your “typical” diet to be, I would say you are in the ADA-compliant category (not low-carb high-fat nor high-carb low-fat vegan). Also because you’re okay with consuming a processed food product (Shakeology®) which is quite permissible under ADA guidelines and also which meets the ADA recommendations of 15-20g net carbs per serving.
5) Congratulations on achieving success! As I said in the blog: “What is success? It is, simply, meeting your personal goals, the ones you have set for yourself.”

Apparently, what you are doing is sustainable for you! And that’s really what matters. Again, Jack, congratulations to you!


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