A high-protein diet can be beneficial in helping stabilize blood sugar levels. However, you should also pay careful attention to the fat content of the proteins you consume. Before starting a new diet for blood sugar regulation, consult your doctor for more information.
Benefits of a High-Protein Diet
Decreasing carbohydrates can help you avoid sharp increases and drops in blood sugar. A 2004 study by the VA Medical Center compared two groups of men, both with untreated type 2 diabetes. One group of men was on a 55:15:30 carbohydrate:protein:fat diet while the other was on a 20:30:50 diet, which doubled protein intake while decreasing carbohydrates. At the end of the study, the men on the high-protein diet had lower serum glucose levels but their serum cholesterol was unchanged. The high-protein diet dramatically reduced circulating glucose levels in five weeks. Although only a preliminary study, it indicated that a high-protein diet could prove beneficial in lowering blood sugar levels.
Weaknesses of a High-Protein Diet
Although high-protein diets may help blood sugar levels, they also risk increasing the fat in your diet, according to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. If you focus only on protein and don't pay attention to the fat content of the protein you are eating, you may increase your consumption of saturated and trans fats, thus increasing your risk of heart disease. In addition, a high-protein diet that is too stringent can lead you to consume less fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Maintaining a Healthy High-Protein Diet
If your doctor recommends a high-protein diet, pay attention to the types of carbohydrates and fats you consume. A high-protein diet doesn't have to eliminate carbohydrates completely if you eat healthy, whole-grain carbohydrates. The American Diabetes Association suggests that people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes eat high-fiber and whole-grain foods to reduce their risk.
The Harvard School of Public Health recommends that you consume lean protein with limited saturated and trans fats. For example, a 6 oz. porterhouse steak has 38 grams of protein but also 44 grams of fat, including 16 grams of saturated fat. In contrast, a 6 oz. serving of salmon has 34 grams of protein and 18 grams of fat, including only 4 grams of saturated fat.
An alternative diet for people with diabetes is carbohydrate counting, according to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. Almost all of the carbohydrates you eat convert to blood glucose within 90 minutes. For this diet, your doctor will recommend the servings of carbohydrates you should eat at each meal or snack. A serving is equivalent to 15 grams of carbohydrates. For example, one serving of carbohydrates equals one slice of bread, 1/2 cup of starchy vegetable, 8 ounces of milk, 3/4 cup plain yogurt or one fruit. Consult your doctor before limiting your carbohydrates, as some health sources recommend that people with diabetes consume 45 to 65 percent of daily calories from carbohydrates.
Food May Not be the Problem
Although eating the right foods can help stabilize blood sugar, you may not be at fault if your glucose levels are difficult to control. People suffering from type 2 diabetes may have a more difficult time controlling blood glucose as the disease progresses. Medication may be essential to help control your blood sugar. This is why it is important to consult your doctor.
- Louisiana Department of Health: Basic Nutritional Information
- New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services: Taking Care of Diabetes
- "Diabetes"; Effects of a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet on blood glucose control in people with type 2 diabetes; M.C. Gannon and F.Q. Nuttall; Sept. 2004.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Diabetes Diet