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Meal Replacement Bars: OK for Those with Diabetes?

Meal replacement bars can definitely be part of a healthy meal plan for people with diabetes, says Gillian Arathuzik, R.D., L.D.N., C.D.E., one of Joslin’s team of nutrition diabetes educators. “They work well as a breakfast replacement or as a snack choice.”

Good to Go

Breakfast is an important meal, but is often hard to get in. Skipping it lowers your energy level, your metabolism, and possibly your blood sugar. Bars can be eaten in the car or on the go.

A disadvantage of eating a meal replacement bar is that it’s over quickly. It’s not the same as eating a variety of foods. “But in general I find that one bar keeps people full,” she says. Compared to liquid replacement meals, there is a greater satisfaction eating something as opposed to drinking it.

Things to Look Out For

Some meal replacement bars are geared to athletes and have way too many calories for those trying to lose weight, says Arathuzik. A decent range would be between 90-260 calories. Look out for sugar alcohols, which can cause stomach upset because they work like a laxative.

Make sure too that the bar has about three grams of fiber, and a balance of carbohydrates and protein, with some fat. “You don’t want it to be totally fat-free because you need some to keep you full,” Arathuzik says, suggesting it have at the most eight grams.

With almost a whole aisle of these bars at supermarkets, choosing the right one can be frustrating. Your nutritionist can help you select ones that fit in your meal plan—and taste good.

Page last updated: April 17, 2014