People with diabetes generally have to be very careful about the foods that they choose and how they cook them. In particular, managing the amount of carbohydrates they eat is important, as individuals who use insulin must balance them against insulin dosages, while those who manage their blood sugars with diet and medication may have to keep consumption of carbohydrates at a minimum to prevent blood sugar spikes.
Protein is therefore an important part of dietary planning for managing diabetes, as it helps people feel fuller and prevents feelings of deprivation. Protein is good for making you feel fuller for longer since the body takes a while to digest it. This can help you manage portion sizes more effectively, making it easier to get carbohydrate amounts right.
It’s also often a good way to add tasty nutrients to a meal.
Unfortunately, not all protein-rich foods are created equal. Hidden carbohydrates in protein-rich foods can be an issue. Many vegetarian sources of protein come with a side order of carbohydrates due to their plant-based origins. In particular, processed vegetarian proteins, such as veggie burgers or nuggets, can have as much as 15 grams of carbohydrates per serving, which needs to be accounted for when you’re planning your diet.
However, beans, pulses, and other vegetable protein foods can give you an excellent infusion of dietary fiber, which aids digestion and helps to regulate blood sugar levels.
Article continues below
Our Featured Programs
See how we’re making a difference for People, Pets, and the Planet and how you can get involved!
Eating more meat isn’t necessarily the answer. The issue with meat is its tendency to come with a helping of saturated fats. While fat also adds to the satiety and general enjoyment of a meal, too much can cause weight gain and other health issues. As managing weight appears to assist with diabetes management, this is not a great outcome.
It’s therefore important to choose very lean cuts where possible. Dairy can have similar issues, unless low-fat versions are used, and milk sugars can affect blood glucose levels.
Choosing poultry or fish as your main protein sources can help reduce the amount of fat naturally, particularly if they are grilled and excess skin is removed. Even fatty fish contains far more good polyunsaturated fats than other types, helping to control your appetite and benefiting heart health.
Stretching a dish with lots of added low-starch vegetables also helps to make your meals tastier and more filling if you want to retain more traditional meat dishes. Try chicken meatballs with peppers, for example, or make traditional meatloaf healthier by removing the sugary sauce and adding lots of tasty root vegetables during cooking. Choosing cooking methods that don’t rely on added fat really helps to reduce the potential excess calories in meat dishes.
Protein servings in America are also often very large compared to peoples’ nutritional requirements. The recommendation is that no more than a fourth of your plate is taken up by protein.
The key to maintaining a healthy diabetic diet is balance. Simply eating more random protein won’t necessarily make managing your carbohydrate intake easier. Once you’ve had your carbohydrate allowance for the day, having a planned, low-calorie, high-protein snack available in case of hunger can be a good idea to keep you on track.Whizzco