Protein and Glucose Levels

High carbohydrate diets often take center stage in diabetes and meal planning discussions. On the other hand, a high protein diet plays an essential part in your health and well-being as a person with type 2 diabetes.

You can find dietary protein in your organs, muscles, neurological system, blood vessels, and skeleton. We're here to explain everything: what protein is, why it's important, how much you should consume each day, the most refined protein sources, and what the science says about type 2 diabetes and protein intake.

What is dietary protein?

Dietary protein is a nutrient that may be found in every cell and bloodstream. Our bodies utilize protein for growth, maintenance, energy, and chemical reactions. Protein makes muscles and helps build bones, hair, nails, and skin. Protein supports our immune system and is used to generate hormones like insulin and glucagon.

What is a dietary protein made of?

Amino acids are the building blocks that make up dietary protein [1]. There are 20 types of amino acids, nine of which are considered essential since the body cannot produce them independently. Each amino acid serves a distinct but critical function in the body.

Your body uses them to make new proteins such as bone and muscle and other substances like enzymes and hormones. It can also use them as a source of energy.

Non-essential amino acids can be produced by your body. There are 11 non-essential amino acids. There are nine essential amino acids that your system cannot make on its own. In order for your body to operate efficiently, you should consume enough of them.

"People with high blood pressure, diabetes - those are conditions brought about by lifestyle. If you change your lifestyle, those conditions will leave."

Dick Gregory

High protein foods

Consuming a range of high-quality protein foods is recommended as part of a healthy diet plan to provide a sufficient amount of dietary protein and amino acids for lean mass or growth, as well as overall diet quality and healthy body weight.

The average person only needs 2 to 3 small servings of meat or other protein items each day. The majority of protein foods have little effect on blood glucose levels.

Lean meat, skinless poultry, shellfish, eggs, unsalted almonds, soy products like tofu, and legumes are all dietary protein sources (dried beans and lentils, chickpeas, four-bean mix, kidney beans). Because legumes include carbohydrates, they may affect your blood glucose levels. Dietary protein sources can be a variety of foods.

Animal protein

Beef, lamb, veal, hog, and rabbit are examples of lean meats.

Chicken, turkey, duck, and goose are poultry rich in animal protein.

Fish and seafood - fish, prawns, crab, lobster, mussels, oysters, scallops, mussels, oysters, scallops.

Dairy protein

Milk, yogurt (mainly Greek yogurt), and cheese are foods rich in protein derived from dairy(especially cottage cheese).

Plant protein

Pistachios, pine nuts, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds — nuts (including nut pastes), and seeds.

All beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas, and tofu are legumes and beans rich in dietary vegetable protein.

Although some wheat and grain goods contain protein, they are not as rich in proteins as meat and animal alternatives.

Protein powders

As previously mentioned, protein powder can be made from animal protein and plant protein. Some protein powders combine protein from various sources; for example, a vegan alternative might include pea, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, and alfalfa protein.

The US Food and Drug Administration did not actually regulate protein powders or other dietary supplements. Minerals and vitamins, thickening agents, processed sugars, sweeteners, and artificial ingredients are standard non-protein components.

If you decide to use protein powder, read the nutrition and ingredients first.

Nutritional value of dietary protein

The amount of all nine essential amino acids in the protein you eat determines whether the dietary protein is complete or incomplete. Complete proteins can be found in animal protein like eggs, meat, fish, poultry, cheese, and milk. All of the essential amino acids are found in them.

The majority of plant protein, such as that found in nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains, is incomplete. They are deficient in some essential amino acids. Corn and beans are plant proteins that lack some necessary amino acids. Corn is poor in lysine, and beans are low in tryptophan amino acids.

Soy protein, a plant protein that contains all nine essential amino acids, is an exception. If you're a vegetarian, you should eat a variety of proteins every day to ensure you get all of the amino acids your body requires.

Protein intake, like carbohydrates, gives the body energy; each gram of dietary protein contains four calories. On the other hand, protein is not the body's primary source of energy. The system primarily uses protein intake to repair body tissue.

Protein intake "package"

When we eat protein-rich foods, we ingest all of the lipids, fiber, salt, and other nutrients that come with it. This protein "package" is what's going to matter in terms of health.

Below, we will show you a selection of meal "packages" classified by protein content and a variety of accompanying components. For example:


A 4-ounce roasted sirloin steak has around 33 grams of dietary protein. It does, however, contain roughly 5 g of saturated fat.


Grilled wild salmon offers roughly 30 grams of protein, is naturally low in salt, and has just about 1 gram of saturated fat in 4 ounces. Salmon and other fatty fish are high in omega-3 fats, which are particularly beneficial to people with cardiovascular risk factors.


Cooked lentils include roughly 18 grams of dietary protein and 15 grams of fiber per cup, with almost no saturated fat or salt.

Protein powder

Protein powder can be manufactured from animal protein like eggs, milk, and plants, among other things ( like peas, soybeans, hemp). The "package" of protein powder depends on its source and method of preparation.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic syndrome in which the body's ability to control and utilize sugar (glucose) as fuel is impaired. As a consequence of this long-term (chronic) condition, too much glucose circulates in the bloodstream. In the long run, high blood sugar levels can cause vascular, neurological, and immune systems problems.

Regarding type 2 diabetes, there are essentially two interconnected issues at work. Your pancreas produces insufficient insulin, a hormone that regulates sugar transport into cells, and your cells do not respond appropriately to insulin, resulting in diabetes. This is also called insulin resistance. Symptoms of insulin resistance are characteristic read on to learn more.

Type 2 diabetes was previously referred to as adult-onset diabetes. However, both type 1 and type 2 diabetes could start in childhood or maturity. Although type 2 diabetes is more common in older people, a rise in the number of obese children has resulted in an increase in type 2 diabetes incidence among children.

Insulin resistance symptoms:
  • Frequent urination can be the result of insulin resistance
  • Increased hunger
  • Tingling sensations in feet and hands
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections

Treatment of type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes has no cure, but decreasing body weight, eating healthily, and engaging in physical activity can help you control it. When diet and exercise are not enough to control your blood sugar, you may require diabetes prescriptions or insulin therapy.

A healthy diet can help you if you have diabetes by allowing you to:

  • maintain good general health
  • achieve target blood fat (fat) levels
  • weight loss
  • prevent chronic kidney disease
  • regulate your blood glucose levels
  • keep your blood pressure in check and reduce cardiovascular risk factors
  • keep a healthy body mass index

Diabetes problems can be avoided and slowed down with daily glycemic control. A diabetic diet, which includes healthy meals, can help people control their blood sugar levels, minimizing the risk of symptoms and consequences.

Dietary protein intake and diabetes risk

When it comes to diabetes risk, the consumption of protein sources matters more than protein quantity. More red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, whereas plant protein intake reduces the risk.

Weight loss

Only when weight loss is achieved will higher protein intake minimize the risk of developing diabetes and maintain metabolic control. An isocaloric high protein diet with a higher branched-chain amino acid intake, on the other hand, may promote insulin resistance, negatively affecting metabolic parameters.

Importance of plant protein

According to a 2011 study, those who ate diets high in red meat, particularly processed red meat, had an increased risk of type 2 diabetes while those who ate red or processed meat infrequently.  The risk of diabetes increased by 12% and 32%, however, for each additional serving of red meat or processed red meat consumed per day by study participants.

The study also showed that replacing one portion of red meat with one portion of nuts, low-fat milk products, or nutritious grains per day reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by 16 percent to 35 percent.

A related study indicated that people eating more animal protein sourced from red meat had a 50% chance of getting type 2 diabetes. In contrast, those who reduced red meat intake had a 14% lower risk of type 2 diabetes during a 10-year follow-up period.

Method of preparation

The way meat is cooked could impact the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Researchers discovered that people who ate red meat and chicken prepared at high heat were 1.5 times more likely to get type 2 diabetes, according to a study that followed the health of about 290,000 women and men.

In addition, frequent users of high heat cooking methods had a greater risk of weight gain and obesity, which could have contributed to the development of diabetes. This study showed that, in addition to the effects of meat consumption alone, cooking procedures might play a role in diabetes risk.

Importance of variety

A 20-year study of the connection between low-carbohydrate diets and type 2 diabetes in women adds to the evidence that the source of protein matters. Low-carbohydrate diets with plenty of dietary fat and protein from vegetables were linked to lower cases of diabetes. Low-carbohydrate diets heavy in animal protein or fat, on the other hand, did not present this benefit.

Biomarker-calibrated protein intake

In postmenopausal women, higher calibrated protein intake is linked to improved physical function and performance as well as shorter rates of deterioration [2].

“The crucial thing to me is being a diabetic doesn’t stop you from doing anything.”

Theresa May

What is the recommended daily amount of dietary protein intake you should consume as a person with diabetes?

The amount of protein intake you require is determined by your age, gender, health, and level of physical activity. People with diabetes consume around the same amount of protein as the general population, which accounts for 15-20% of their caloric intake (typically 1-1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day).

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) doesn't recommend a precise amount of dietary protein intake. Some optimal dietary protein intake advice and goals to aim for if you currently consume less than 15-20 percent of your calories from protein as long as your kidneys are in good shape. If you consume 2,000 calories a day, protein accounts for approximately 300-400 calories or 75-100 g of protein.

If you don't keep track of daily caloric intake, you might use the kilogram calculation above to ensure you're getting adequate protein. Tracking caloric intake and making sure you are in a range of a caloric deficit can help overweight and obese patients with bodyweight reduction.

To begin, divide your current weight by 2.2. If you weigh 170 pounds, you are 77 kilograms. That is also the minimal amount of protein intake suggested for you. Then multiply 77 by 1.5 to achieve a maximum daily protein intake of 116 grams. Consider the following example:

Each day, a 170-pound person would consume 77-116 grams of protein.

Each day, a 200-pound person would have 90-136 grams of protein.

Choose the right protein foods if you are going for a higher protein intake

When it comes to picking proteins for a diet plan as a person with diabetes, the fats and carbohydrates in these items are the most important considerations.

Some carbs, for example, are rapidly turned into glucose, causing an increase in blood sugar. Furthermore, the risk of weight gain associated with high-fat and high-carb diets may result in difficult-to-control blood sugar levels.

The American Diabetes Association recommends eating fish twice a week as a protein source. They also advise minimizing processed animal protein. Like red meat and processed meats such as ham, bacon, and hot dogs, high in saturated fats. For a well-balanced diet, lean meats are the preferable alternative.

What's the link between protein and blood sugar levels?

Protein intake has an insignificant impact on blood sugar levels. Protein, on the other hand, aids in the control of blood sugar levels by decreasing carbohydrate and sugar digestion. Protein's impact on blood glucose appears to occur progressively over a few hours because protein breaks down into glucose more slowly than carbohydrates.

When it comes to protein consumption, though, it's all about finding the right balance. Proteins derived from animal sources and those derived from plants are the two main types of protein. Excessive animal protein in the diet could raise the risk of blood sugar levels rising over time.

Some protein-rich foods also contain carbohydrates, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, which will affect blood glucose levels, but these should still be included as part of a healthy diet. A plant-based protein-rich diet can assist in minimizing this risk.

How does protein raise insulin sensitivity?

Insulin sensitivity is needed by the body to allow glucose to move from the blood vessels into the cells that require energy. It is pretty well known that eating carbs cause insulin secretion.

Most people, however, don't understand that protein intake causes a comparable reaction. Despite their low glycemic index, meat and eggs, which are quite strong in protein and practically carb-free, have a high insulin index. To put it differently, while meat and eggs do not induce a surge in blood sugar like most carbohydrates, they do cause a significant effect on insulin levels.

Additionally, high protein intake typically triggers insulin secretion in the same way, if not more so, than high carbohydrate ones. This is called the insulinotropic effect. Consider the following scenario: beef and fish consumption both produce identical amounts of insulin as brown rice consumption.

To put it another way, meat and eggs did not trigger a blood sugar spike as most carbohydrates do. But they do cause a major increase in insulin levels.

Diabetic Neuropathy

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a term for a long-term illness or condition that causes gradual kidney (renal) function loss.

Is it true that consuming too much protein might harm your kidneys?

You may have heard – or maybe been instructed – that diabetics should limit their protein consumption. If you have a full renal function, you don't need to limit your protein intake. The easiest method to avoid kidney damage is to keep your glucose and blood pressure levels within your goal range.

What about diabetics and others who have kidney disease?

Diabetic nephropathy caused by diabetes mandates a reduction in protein intake. One gram (or less) of protein per kilogram of body weight is recommended in this instance.

Patients with type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease are encouraged to have a low-protein diet in the early days of diabetic treatment. We now know that restricting protein intake in people with mild kidney disease does not affect the course of the disease.

You'll need to consult with your doctor to figure out how much protein you need each day. While too much protein can harm your kidneys, too little protein can cause malnutrition and unwanted weight loss.

A diet low in protein, in fact, can contribute to malnutrition. Simply put, a diet like this could cause more harm than good. If you have diabetic kidney disease or diabetes, talk to your doctor about how much protein you should consume.

Diabetes meal plan with a high-protein intake for weight loss

In this healthy 7-day diabetes meal plan, increase your protein intake to reduce body weight and improve blood sugars.

The diabetes diet's core principles have remained unchanged over time, but as science advances, we learn about new approaches to help control the disease a little more effectively.

People with type 2 diabetes should continue to limit their intake of refined carbohydrates (for better glycemic control) and instead focus on high-fiber complex carbohydrates (such as whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and whole-wheat pasta), dietary fat, nonstarchy vegetables, and lean protein to maintain blood sugar balance and keep their body weight healthy.

Another important aspect, a proper protein diet, has been demonstrated to assist patients with diabetes manage their glycemic control and losing weight by lowering post-meal blood sugar increases and keeping them full, which minimizes overeating and weight gain.

To get the most out of your dietary protein intake, spread it out throughout the day instead of cramming it in one meal. Because losing weight can help with blood sugar control.

Because cardiovascular disease is the most frequent symptom, choosing heart-friendly proteins can help maintain a healthy blood sugar level while preserving our hearts. To improve your health, avoid protein that is heavy in artery-clogging saturated fat, such as bacon, sausage, fried meats, and fatty cuts of red meat, and instead go for lean animal protein and plant protein.

Start with a meal prep

Meal preparation and planning are excellent ways to make better food choices while also saving time and money. Though it may appear daunting initially, there are several tactics you can use to build a long-term meal prepping habit that fits your lifestyle.

Whether you've recently been diagnosed with diabetes or have been managing it for years, this useful meal plan and simple recipes will help you decide what to eat and keep it enjoyable.

Day 1

Breakfast: Kefir and berries.

Lunch: Avocado and egg salad toast.

Dinner: Roasted potatoes and mushrooms with fish.

Snacks: Raspberries and greek yogurt.

Day 2

Breakfast: Omelet with vegetables.

Lunch: Spelt pasta with mushroom ragu.

Dinner: Slow-cooked turkey chili.

Snacks: Almonds

Day 3

Breakfast: Large apple and peanut butter.

Lunch: Green veggie bowl with roasted tofu and cashews.

Dinner: Cauliflower rice salad with avocado cream dressing.

Snacks: Raspberries and greek yogurt.

Day 4

Breakfast: Sweet potato bean shakshuka.

Lunch: Keto quiche Lorraine

Dinner: Grilled chicken kebabs with pistachio gremolata.

Snacks: Almonds

Day 5

Breakfast: Omelet with vegetables.

Lunch: Healthy Nicoise salad.

Dinner: Spelt pasta with mushroom ragu.

Snacks: Raspberries and greek yogurt.

Day 6

Breakfast: Kefir with berries.

Lunch: Shrimp cob salad.

Dinner: Slow-cooked turkey with vegetables. Brown rice.

Snacks: Almonds

Day 7

Breakfast: Omelet and an apple.

Lunch: Green veggie bowl with roasted tofu and cashews.

Dinner: Sheet pan chicken with broccoli.

Snacks: Raspberries and greek yogurt.

Increase your water intake

During this meal plan, make sure you drink enough water. Water, according to science, can contribute to losing weight in several different ways. It may help you lose weight by suppressing your appetite, increasing your metabolism, and making exercise more manageable and efficient.

Furthermore, proper hydration aids kidney function, flushes dangerous organisms from the urinary system, and protects from kidney stones. Kidney stones can be caused by urine that is too concentrated.

A personal protein intake approach

A tailored protein intake recommendation can benefit anyone with diabetes. Many components go into a well-balanced diet, and your requirements may differ from the general guidelines.

We advise you to discuss your protein requirements with your doctor. You can also talk to a qualified diabetes educator, as well as a dietitian or nutritionist that specializes in nutritional therapy for people with diabetes.

“There are so many things you have to watch. It’s a lot of searching, and it can be tedious, but you just have to stick with it.”

Delta Burke

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