Glucerna Investigation

Glucerna is a brand of shakes and snacks specifically designed for people living with diabetes type 2. The products may help you manage your blood sugar levels without putting on weight and some people are also taking Glucerna as part of a weight-loss diet. We take an in-depth look at Glucerna to find out more.

Glucerna is a trade name that comes from industry giant Abbot a worldwide American company with headquarters in Illinois that operate in 150 companies. The best-known brands are Glucerna and Ensure – both centred on liquid food products. Glucerna is designed solely for people living with type 2 diabetes.


Type 2 diabetes is on the rise with an estimated 29 million sufferers in the USA alone. According to the Medical Research Council there are 3.9 million people with diabetes in the UK with an estimated 700 people being newly diagnosed each day. Despite the fact that we all know someone with this condition and it is very common, it can be life threatening and lead to numerous serious complications such as loss of vision, amputation of toes, feet and even legs, heart disease and premature death.

Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Insulin moves glucose around the body to the other cells in order to produce energy and because of this, carbohydrates are a major issue because they cause blood sugar levels to spike very quickly. When this happens the insulin cannot process it.

As most people know, diabetes requires the sufferer to keep close control over their blood sugar levels. High blood glucose? – hyperglycaemia leads to numerous health risks so the aim is to keep blood sugar levels stable and functioning efficiently to avoid these risks.



Glucerna products aim to help people keep their blood sugar levels stable. The company slogan is ‘steady ahead’ because as the advertising puts it, ‘when you are living with diabetes, steady is exciting’. Glucerna is designed to be used as part of your diabetes management plan. There are six products in all.

Key to all products is something called CARBSTEADY, ‘a blend of low glycaemic and slowly digestible carbohydrates designed to help minimise blood sugar spikes’. The products are also high in protein and low in calories.

The principal products are meal replacement shakes but there are also a couple of snack bars designed to be used as occasional sweet treats that you can enjoy without worry.


There are four different shakes. All are prepackaged in ready to use bottles. You do not have to mix powder or add to water as with many other meal replacement products on the market.

  • Glucerna Shake: This is a meal replacement shake that you can use in place of a skipped meal or unhealthy food choice. It can also be used to supplement a diet for people who need extra calories and protein. With flavours in chocolate, butterscotch, vanilla or creamy strawberry – Glucerna Shake does not seem like a healthy food choice but according to the product information contains 190 calories plus fibre and protein. In addition it has a wide vitamin and mineral profile.
  • Glucerna Hunger Smart: This Shake comes packaged in a slightly bigger bottle that Glucerna Shake and is higher in protein and fibre to help you manage hunger pangs. Flavours are Rich Chocolate or Homemade Vanilla.
  • Glucerna Advance Shake: This is described as the most advanced formula for diabetes. It contains 200 calories plus 10 g of protein and 6 g of sugars and like the other shakes is designed for use as a meal replacement or nutritional supplement. This shake is designed to provide ‘balanced nutrition’ yet is only available in two flavours – chocolate or vanilla.
  • Glucerna Snack Shake: Designed as a snack to be drunk between meals, this Shake contains 140 calories per serving plus 7 g of protein and 5 g of sugars. Again these shakes come in either chocolate or vanilla flavour.

All the shakes contain vitamins and minerals. There are varying quantities depending on the shake that you choose. For example, Shake Advance contains 100% of your required vitamin C intake. However, in most cases, the shakes provide between 15% and 25% of your daily required vitamin and mineral intake.

The major problem for people with diabetes is the carbohydrate intake. Refined simple carbs such as found in sugar, potatoes white bread, rice and white pasta are high glycaemic and will send blood sugar levels rocketing sky high. However there are natural alternatives. Natural foods that are low glycaemic include wholewheat grains such as wholewheat bread and brown rice, non-starchy vegetables, pulses and beans and fruit.

Carbsteady also enables you to ingest carbs without raising your blood sugar levels. This manufactured formula is not going to be as good for long-term health as a natural balanced diet but it is easy and convenient.


  • Glucerna Crispy Delights Nutrition Bar: These small bars are described as ‘healthy on the go nutrition’ but it is important to point out that they are very small. However they do contain 10 g of protein (and 150 calories) and may help keep hunger pangs at bay. Flavours are either chocolate chip or peanut chocolate chip so if you are craving a sweet or chocolate, they may fit the bill.
  • Glucerna Mini Snacks: These tiny bars contain 21 essential vitamins and minerals and add up to 80 calories per serving. Each bar contains 3 g of protein. Flavours come in Chocolate Peanut, Oatmeal Raisin and Chocolate Caramel.

The snacks look healthier than other chocolate bars on the market and they are a suitable treat for people with diabetes but it is important to remember that the bars are very small. In addition there is nothing that good for you in eating these. However, if you have the urge for a sweet, the Glucerna snacks may fit the bill.


Glucerna products are suitable for people with diabetes and anything that helps the management of blood sugar levels has to be a good thing. However the ingredients list for all the Glucerna products does include some questionable components that do come with some health concerns. The basic component of Carbsteady appears to be soy-derived – soy protein isolate and soy lecithin which may affect oestrogen levels so may not be suitable if you have or have had a hormone-related medical condition such as breast cancer.

In addition there are fruit sugars and artificial sugar replacements such as sucrose. There are artificial flavourings and additives. There is nothing natural about Glucerna and although the same can be said about numerous food products on the market, apart from being suitable for people with diabetes, we are concerned that Glucerna is just not that healthy.


Many people look to meal replacement shakes as a means to lose weight. Obviously if you do replace a meal with a protein shake you will probably lose weight, that is, if you do not snack between meals. You may find that Glucerna helps but with the extremely limited range of flavours we can’t see anyone sticking to this regime for very long.


According to customers there can be side effects with Glucerna Shakes. Many people have complained that they have experienced stomach upsets. Others have experienced a skin reaction.

Gave me terrible diarrhoea!

My elderly father has had diarrhoea for 24 hours.

This product produced extreme gas on an all-day basis, making it difficult to interact with others. It was not painful but very uncomfortable. I drank Glucerna once, sometimes twice a day. That is until I figured out what was causing this horrible flatulence…

My doctor prescribed 3 cans per day, one for each meal. However, even after only 1 can I had severe diarrhoea. I no longer am taking it.

My diabetic father was given a chocolate Glucerna shake to strengthen him. He broke out in hives very shortly after drinking the shake.

I drank 3 servings over two days and broke out in itchy hives all over my body.


Despite the fact that Glucerna can sometimes cause side effects in some people, the overriding opinion of Glucerna is actually very positive. Customers appear to be using the supplements in different ways.

I have a very dear friend who has suffered with diabetes for many, many years. The past six months he has suffered some bad setback with his health and has a hard time eating. I remembered Glucerna from when my mother’s health was declining and I knew at least she would be getting some nutrition drinking these. For my friend, Glucerna has been a God send as he sometimes can’t manage to eat solid food.

This stuff is the best. Low carbs, low cal, low sugar. It’s just the best stuff for diabetics. I use one at breakfast to make a great start for the day.

I drink one container of Glucerna daily. It seems to help me keep my glucose count within designated bounds, moreover, it is delicious.

My husband is diabetic and I am borderline diabetic. This comes so close to the milk shake and satisfies the sweet craving. It is good weather you are diabetic or not. Really a good product. All flavours are good…

If you have special diet needs, it is nice to have a good “emergency” food on standby.

If you’re a diabetic, this is the snack to get! It doesn’t spike your sugar way high, and it’s not just healthy, but great tasting too. Small, but filling and enjoyable. It takes BORING out of having diabetes! I highly recommend this product.

That said there have been numerous complaints about the size of the bar and the price.

My only complaint is this product is WAY overpriced! They taste great but I can eat one bar in ONE Bite. A more comparable price would be 25 cents each.


Glucerna is a not that expensive in the USA, but considering that many people will rely on these products, it can get pricy if you use it all the time. You can shop around – Glucerna is on sale in numerous shops and stores around the world and prices will vary.

We checked out the prices on Amazon USA and found the original shakes on sale for $32.76 for 24 bottles. According to customers this was cheaper than in the shops and stores.

The snack bars seem pricy though. A box of 6 Nutrition Mini Snacks costs $24.40. A lot of money for a bite-sized snack!
Glucerna is more expensive via Amazon UK.

We saw 24 bottles of Glucerna Shake on sale for a whopping £93.00 – unsurprisingly nobody has purchased this package.
Again, you can probably find Glucerna on sale for a better price if you shop around elsewhere.


Glucerna has been very useful for many people with diabetes because it provides an easy way of managing blood sugar levels. For people with special health issues on top of diabetes it is a very helpful and easy way of caring for people who have problems with eating. In our opinion Glucerna certainly has an important place in health management.

However we would not recommend you to use all the time. A shake is no replacement for healthy ordinary food and if you have diabetes you will probably do better changing your diet and adopting some healthier habits such as unrefined carbs, natural grains, legumes and pulses and fruits.

In addition the range of flavours is extremely limited if you rely on Glucerna alone. Just how long can you drink a meal replacement drink in a choice of four sweet flavours without breaking out and eating something you may later regret! This is not something that is going to work for weight loss either.

All that said, anything that helps manage diabetes is a good thing and if used occasionally Glucerna may be extremely helpful. As customers have said, ‘If you have special diet needs it is nice to have a good “emergency” food on standby’. In our opinion the Glucerna Shakes will fulfil this role but it is no match for a healthy diet.

Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.

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