Does Protein Raise Blood Sugar

Is The Protein In Your Diet Leading To Higher Blood Sugar

Does Protein Increase Blood Sugar? | Barbara McDermott – SHIFT Formula

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Protein is essential to the body, down to the cellular level. Did you know that your nails and hair are made mostly of protein? The body uses protein to build and repair muscle tissue, cartilage, skin, even the blood.

Protein is a macronutrient. This means it is a substance that the body needs in large amounts. Unlike fat and carbohydrates, the human body does not store protein, so it has to be provided to the body through the foods we eat.

Its important to get enough protein, but not too much. Believe it or not, excess protein can actually raise blood sugar! By eating too much protein, you can trigger the body to release glucose into the bloodstream.

For non-diabetics, this is not a serious issue, however, for individuals who do not produce enough insulin, or whose cells are resistant to insulin, this extra glucose in the blood roams free and results in high blood sugar.

Like all things, protein portioning is crucial! So how much protein should we really be eating?

According to WebMD:

Five ounces of protein per day for children age 2 to 6, most women, and seniors

Six ounces of protein per day for older children, teen girls, active women, and most men

Seven ounces of protein per day for teen boys and active men

Keep in mind that these are general guideline recommendations and can vary based on lifestyle and other health conditions. Talk with your physician about how much protein you should be consuming every day.

Whey Protein And Diabetes

Diabetes is a serious health epidemic worldwide. According to the American Diabetes Association, 34.2 million Americans have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, approximately 10.5% of the population. In addition, 88 million Americans have prediabetes, which means they are more likely to develop diabetes in the next five years.

Type 2 diabetes is a disease that is strongly linked to an unhealthy lifestyle. Although there is a genetic component that determines who will develop diabetes, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing the disease and also mitigate its effects by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If you have been diagnosed and are wondering how to control diabetes, one way is to eat a more balanced diet that is lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein.

Do Meals High In Protein Require Extra Insulin

When you eat carbohydrates in combination with protein , it can take longer for your body to convert the carbs into glucose. This can be a good thing with snacks, but for larger meals the effect is hard to predict it depends on the type and amount of carbs and the relative amount of protein and fat in the meal. The classic example is pizza, as you get lots of carbs from the crust alongside protein and fat from the cheese and toppings. You will see glucose levels rise after eating pizza, but glucose could remain elevated for up to six hours, depending on how much you ate.

For people taking mealtime insulin, the effect of the protein has to be taken into consideration. For big meals, some people stretch out the dose by taking less insulin around the time of the meal and then a correction bolus later, or they use their insulin pump to deliver a dual or extended bolus.

In this way, large mixed meals can pose a real problem, because taking too much insulin too early might cause you to go low. Thats why its a great idea to test your blood sugar a few hours after the meal or, if it is available to you, use a continuous glucose monitor to stay on top of your glucose levels.

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More Insulin Or Less Protein

not enough insulinand

  • A. Keep her blood sugars stable and stop metabolising protein to repair her muscles and organs,
  • B. Metabolise protein to build her muscles and repair her organs while letting her blood sugars drift up, or
  • C. Both of the above.

One source of protein loss is hepatic gluconeogenesis, whereby amino acids are used to produce glucose. This is inhibited by insulin, as is the breakdown of muscle proteins to release amino acids, and therefore occurs mainly during periods of fasting .

However, inhibition of gluconeogenesis and protein catabolism is impaired when insulin release is abnormal, insulin resistance occurs, or when circulating levels of free fatty acids in the blood are high. These are interdependent conditions that are associated with overweight and obesity, and are especially pronounced in type 2 diabetes .

It might be predicted that the result of higher rates of hepatic gluconeogenesis will be an INCREASED requirement for protein in the diet.

Exercise And Blood Sugar

173: Does Protein Increase your Blood Glucose Part 2 ...

Exercise can have a big effect on your blood sugar levels because blood sugar is used for energy. When you use your muscles, your cells absorb sugar from the blood for energy.

Depending on the intensity or duration of exercise, physical activity can help lower your blood sugar for many hours after you stop moving.

If you exercise regularly, the cells in your body may be more sensitive to insulin. This will help keep blood sugar levels within normal ranges.

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Should You Use Carbohydrate And Protein To Treat Hypoglycemia

The ADA recommends pure glucose as the preferred treatment for hypoglycemia , although any form of carbohydrate that contains glucose will raise your glucose level. Carbohydrate sources high in protein should not be used to treat or prevent hypoglycemia.

To learn more about nutrition and diabetes, click here. If youre looking for protein-rich meal and snack ideas, check out Catherine Newmans recipes.

About Constance

Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RDN, CDCES, CDN, is a national speaker and author of the award-winning Diabetes Guide to Enjoying Foods of the World, a convenient guide to help people with diabetes enjoy all the flavors of the world while still following a healthy meal plan, and The African American Guide to Living Well with Diabetes. Learn more about Constance and follow her on and .

Whey Protein And Diabetes: Can Diabetics Drink Whey Protein

While eating more high protein foods can help, what about whey protein? Is whey protein good for diabetics?

Adding a low carbohydrate whey protein supplement to your routine is one way to create a healthier, more balanced diet that could help control blood sugar. Whey protein is derived from cows milk. Its one of the easiest proteins for your body to digest, and it can provide quick energy when consumed immediately following your workout.

But, what about whey protein for diabetics? Does whey protein lower blood sugar? Or does whey protein spike blood sugar? Or does whey protein spike insulin?

Thankfully, there is a lot of research around whey protein and diabetes:

Study 1: A 2017 study found that consuming some form of whey protein for breakfast helped diabetics lose 200% more weight compared to those that ate a higher carbohydrate breakfast. Of the 48 participants with type 2 diabetes, the group that had whey protein lost an average of 7.6 kilograms in 12 weeks. Those who ate other proteins lost 6.1 kilograms, while the carb-heavy breakfast group lost just 3.1 kilograms during the study period.

Not only that, but the insulin response was significantly higher in the group that had the whey protein with their meals. This means their bodies had a better control on blood glucose, thanks to the addition of the whey protein powder supplement to their diet.

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Bcaa And Insulin Resistance

In humans, high levels of plasma BCAA, which might partly be derived from dietary protein, are linked to insulin resistance and diabetes via insulin secretion and subsequent hyperinsulinaemia., Although high levels of BCAA can be found in whey protein, the relationship between diet, circulating BCAA and insulin resistance deserves further exploration. A causeâeffect relationship is not established yet and it is still discussed whether plasma BCAA levels reflect long-term protein intake.,

Increased BCAA can also be a consequence of insulin resistance. An important player in this light is BCKD , the rate-limiting enzyme in BCAA oxidative catabolism. BCKD activity is inhibited by insulin, and as a result, BCAA catabolism is inhibited., Elevated plasma-free fatty acid levels, commonly observed in insulin-resistant subjects, reduce BCKD activity as well. Thus, it might be suggested that raised blood BCAA in insulin resistance actually reflects reduced BCKD activity and is a consequence rather than a cause of insulin resistance. However, although in vitro data support this concept, in vivo studies are nonconsistent, as no decrease of leucine oxidation was observed with hyperinsulinaemiaâeuleucinaemia.

Figure 1

Does Wheat Bread Make Your Blood Sugar Go Up

How Does Protein Affect Blood Sugar?

This contains no fiber, and it can cause blood sugar to rise. Even wheat bread may be made with refined wheat and not whole grain. Some brands that identify their bread as seven grain or nine grain only use those grains on the crust, while most of the bread still consists of refined white flour.

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Knowing Blood Sugar Levels

If you have diabetes, the frequency of testing your blood glucose level depends on your treatment plan, so follow your doctors advice on the appropriate times for you.

Common times to check are in the morning, before and after meals, before and after exercise, at bedtime, and if you feel sick. Some people may not need to check their blood sugar daily.

What you eat and what you do for physical activity affect your blood sugar. But theres no way to know what effect they have unless you test your blood sugar.

Blood glucose meters are used to test blood sugar levels so you can see if your levels are within the target range. Your doctor will also work with you on your individualized range.

Will Too Much Protein Kick Me Out Of Ketosis

therapeutic ketosisIf you are managing a condition that benefits from high levels of ketosis then limiting protein may be necessary to ensure continuously elevated ketone levels and reduce insulin to avoid driving growth in tumour cells and cancer. exogenous ketosisendogenous ketosis

  • Endogenous ketosis occurs when a person eats less than the body needs to maintain energy homeostasis and we are forced to up the glycogen in our liver and then our body fat to make up the difference.
  • Exogenous ketosis occurs when we eat lots of dietary fat , and we see blood ketones build up in the blood. We are burning dietary fat for fuel.

endogenous ketosis

Endogenous ketosis
Low total energyHigh total energy
Stored energy taken from body fat for fuelIngested energy used preferentially as fuel
Stable ketone production all daySharp rise of ketones for a short duration. Need to keep adding fat or exogenous ketones to maintain elevated ketones.
Insulin levels are low which allows the release of glycogen from our liver and fat storesInsulin levels increase to hold glycogen in liver and fat in adipose tissue
Mitochondrial biogenesis, autophagy, increase in NAD+, increase in SIRT1Mitochondrial energy overload, autophagy turned off, decrease in NAD+
Body fat and liver glycogen used for fuelLiver glycogen refilled and excess energy in the bloodstream stored as fat.

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Insulin And Muscle Building

Whether your goal is muscle gain or fat loss, stimulating insulin after a workout is beneficial. The reason? Insulin is anti-catabolic which means it stops muscle breakdown. Not only does this present a better environment for muscle growth but also ensures you do not LOSE muscle mass while dieting.

Since we know from above that protein stimulate insulin, consuming a high protein meal after a workout and even a whey shake directly after a workout stimulates insulin which halts muscle breakdown. The insulin also helps shuttle the protein into muscles to help BUILD muscle tissue.

So even on a fat loss diet or low-carbohydrate diet stimulating insulin at key times can be quite beneficial. If your goal is performance or muscle gain you have more leeway to stimulate insulin with carbohydrates around a workout from an overall calorie perspective. But in a fat loss and/or low-carb phase a whey protein shake helps keep calories down while accomplishing the same insulin release.

Guyenet, Stephan. Glucagon, Dietary Protein, and Low-Carbohydrate Diets. Whole Health Source, 1 Jan. 1970,

How Much Protein – Protein and Insulin – How Much Protein to Spike Insulin Levels. How Much Protein / Protein and Insulin – How Much Protein to Spike Insulin Levels.,

S: Selection Of Relevant Studies

How Does Protein Affect Blood Sugar?

There are many human studies available on high protein intake and insulin sensitivity. However, comparing these studies is difficult. This is mainly due to differences in the control diet used, duration of the study, energy balance, that is, with or without weight loss, the source and amount of protein used and differences in the type of subjects included: non-obese, overweight, non-diabetic and diabetic subjects. Comparing studies can be made easier when studies are organized by those factors. For the first part of this overview article, recentâyear 2000 and onwardsâhuman intervention studies were selected in which a dietary protein content of > 20 energy percentage was used and which measured insulin sensitivity. The present review aims to give a broad overview on the subject, but it does not intend to be a complete systematic review. Furthermore, for a better comparison, studies were arranged by the duration of the intervention: short term versus long term . Within these topics, a distinction was made between the type of subjects prescribed the diets, followed by interventions with weight loss. For all studies mentioned, the amount of protein is expressed as En% considering that a high-protein diet refers to a protein content of > 20 En%. For a summary of the studies cited in this overview article on the effect of high-protein diets on insulin action in humans, see .

Table 1 Overview of the effects of high-protein diets on insulin action in human studies

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Protein Spikes Are A Real Thing

Protein has a big impact on your blood sugar levels. Many people with diabetes usually think that carbs are the foods that can cause spikes in their sugar levels. But experts say this may very well be true for proteins too. The only difference here is that the spike may happen hours after your meal and it also depends on the amount of protein eaten. When you eat protein, you take longer to digest it. That is why the effect is not evident immediately. This nutrient can affect your blood sugar levels in different ways. On one hand, it prevents blood sugar spikes immediately after a meal. But then, on the other hand, it can cause delayed spikes.

Protein And Blood Sugar: How Protein Affects Blood Glucose

One of the best ways to manage your blood sugar is to eat a balanced diet composed of all three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Still, we know carbohydrates tend to have the most significant impact on blood sugar. In contrast, fat and protein have a more minor effect. Proteinâs role in glucose absorption in your body is to slow down or blunt the release of glucose into your bloodstream. While the metabolism of macronutrients is similar, each one has a different impact on blood sugars.

To understand this further, remember that protein is broken down into smaller substances called amino acids, which can help with muscle synthesis or be converted into glucose in the liver. While those amino acids may stimulate gluconeogenesis, which is the generation of glucose from non-carbohydrate sources, in the liver they do not impact how quickly the liver releases glucose into the bloodstream in the presence of adequate insulin. In other words, amino acids have a minimal impact on blood glucose levels in healthy people.

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Does Protein Raise Blood Sugar


  • If you are managing diabetes, should you avoid protein because it can convert to glucose and kick you out of ketosis?
  • If youve dropped the carbs and protein to manage your blood sugars, should you eat fat to satiety or continue to add more fats until you achieve optimal ketosis?
  • If adding fat doesnt get you into the optimal ketosis zone, do you need exogenous ketones to get your ketones up so you can start to lose weight?
  • And what exactly is a well-formulated ketogenic diet anyway?
  • the reason that some people may see an increase in their blood sugars and a decrease in their ketones after a high protein meal,
  • what it means for their health, and
  • what they can do to optimise their metabolic health.

What Is Blood Sugar

Does Eating More Protein Raise Blood Sugar?!

Blood sugar, also known as blood glucose, comes from the food you eat. Your body creates blood sugar by digesting some food into a sugar that circulates in your bloodstream.

Blood sugar is used for energy. The sugar that isnt needed to fuel your body right away gets stored in cells for later use.

Too much sugar in your blood can be harmful. Type 2 diabetes is a disease thats characterized by having higher levels of blood sugar than whats considered within normal limits.

Unmanaged diabetes can lead to problems with your heart, kidneys, eyes, and blood vessels.

The more you know about how eating affects blood sugar, the better you can protect yourself against diabetes. If you already have diabetes, its important to know how eating affects blood sugar.

Your body breaks down everything you eat and absorbs the food in its different parts. These parts include:

  • carbohydrates
  • fats
  • vitamins and other nutrients

The carbohydrates you consume turn into blood sugar. The more carbohydrates you eat, the higher the levels of sugar youll have released as you digest and absorb your food.

Carbohydrates in liquid form consumed by themselves are absorbed more quickly than those in solid food. So having a soda will cause a faster rise in your blood sugar levels than eating a slice of pizza.

Fiber is one component of carbohydrates that isnt converted into sugar. This is because it cant be digested. Fiber is important for health, though.

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