Diabetes & Proteins – Facts You Must Know

Always it is challenging for diabetics to choose the right staple or carbohydrate option to avoid blood sugar spikes. One simple way to bring down the glycemic index of carbohydrate is to add a protein source to it. Combining protein with high glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates can lower the overall GI of the meal, reducing the impact on blood sugar levels. Let’s learn more about the role of protein beyond muscle building and also its source, portion etc.

Role of protein

Protein is not only an important component of muscle but also of the nervous system, blood vessels, skeleton, skin, hair, nails, antibodies, hormones even insulin, and also found in every cell. Protein also provides energy like carbohydrates, with each gram of protein providing four calories but the body uses protein mainly for tissue repair. A protein-rich food is important for diabetics to prevent muscle loss which is common among diabetics. Protein is essential for tissue repair and wound healing, which is particularly important for individuals with diabetes who may have slower healing due to reduced blood circulation.

How much protein to consume

Recommended protein intake for diabetics is similar to the recommendations for the general population. Protein should provide 12-15 % of the total energy intake and this should ideally be 1 gm/kg. For kidney (diabetic nephropathy) patients too much protein might be bad for your kidneys, but too little protein could lead to malnutrition and unintended weight loss. Personalized protein intake should be considered depending on the individual conditions as many factors play a role in a well-balanced diet and needs may vary for each individual. However, it is recommended that the protein intake should not be less than 40 g/day. For patients with increased creatinine, protein restriction should be advised in consultation with the nephrologist.

Sources of protein for diabetics

Varied sources of protein-rich foods are the key to obtaining all the nine essential amino acids that are required by the body. Proteins from vegetable sources like pulses, soy, grams, peas, nuts, low-fat milk, low-fat curds, fish and lean meats are recommended. Among animal-based proteins, dairy products are beneficial for insulin and incretin secretion and better glucose regulation compared to other animal proteins. Red meat and processed meat are best avoided. Foods like cereal and pulse (4:1 ratio) can improve the protein quality and give satiety such as Idli, dosa, Missi roti, Khichdi, Dhokla, Khandvi etc.

Recent findings

A recent population-based study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research–India Diabetes (ICMR-INDIAB) has made dietary recommendations to reduce carbohydrate consumption and increase protein intake for diabetes remission and prevent the progression of diabetes for newly diagnosed diabetes, and prediabetes.

Protein and fiber promote satiety

Including adequate protein and as well as fiber in your daily diet can help stabilize blood sugar levels. Protein has a minimal impact on blood sugar, while fiber slows down the absorption of glucose, preventing rapid spikes. Protein and fiber-rich foods promote a feeling of fullness and satisfaction, which can aid in portion control and also weight loss. This is crucial for managing calorie intake and blood sugar levels.

You can also include a 100% natural, high-fiber supplement like Actifiber Natural Sugar Control in your diet. Add a sachet of ActiFiber to each of the 2 main meals that have the goodness of fiber and prebiotic which helps in regulating blood glucose levels and keeps us energized between meals too. It dissolves easily with no taste, odour or colour thus blending into your regular diet effortlessly.

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