What Are Protein Foods For Diabetics

Healthy Eating And Diabetes

Top 5 Worst and Best Protein Rich Foods For Diabetics

Created on August 13th, 2018 · Last updated on April 6th, 2019 ·

Medically reviewed by Shahzadi Devje, Registered Dietitian & Certified Diabetes Educator

Oh my gosh nutrition and diet information – is everywhere!

And each expert tries to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you. Right?

And we seem to be accepting of self-proclaimed gurus, who dispense such advice.

Everyone has heard the intense focus on how much you eat. The calorie narrative has been beaten into our psyche, and we accept it without a second thought.

While how much you eat does affect blood sugars, weight, and energy level – it’s certainly not the holy grail of health and effective diabetes management.

Let’s focus a bit more on the often overlooked benefits of what you eat and drink and how you eat and drink it.

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 .

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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How Many Carbs Can I Eat If I Have Diabetes

What should your daily carb intake be? Although lower is generally better, exactly how many carbs you can tolerate is somewhat individual.28

You and your friend may both have diabetes. Yet after eating an identical meal, your own blood sugar may be higher or lower than your friends an hour or two later. More importantly, one of you may now have a blood sugar level above the normal range.

Dairy Foods And Alternatives


Milk, cheese and yogurt have lots of calcium and protein in great for your bones, teeth and muscles. But some dairy foods are high in fat, particularly saturated fat, so choose lower-fat alternatives.

Check for added sugar in lower-fat versions of dairy foods, like yoghurt. Its better to go for unsweetened yoghurt and add some berries if you want it sweeter. If you prefer a dairy alternative like soya milk, choose one thats unsweetened and calcium-fortified.

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High Protein Chocolate Overnight Oats With Almond Milk

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If youre looking for a healthy, high-protein breakfast or snack, youll love this recipe for High Protein Chocolate Overnight Oats with Almond Milk! It has 20 grams of protein and is full of flavor.

Take a look at that beauty! Doesnt it remind you of chocolate pudding?

It might look like chocolate pudding , but this recipe is much healthier than your regular sugar-loaded chocolate pudding.

In fact, its completely free of sugar and, thanks to the addition of Greek yogurt and protein powder, has plenty of protein .

This recipe is a great high-protein breakfast or snack that will keep you full for hours. Youll prep everything the night before, which only takes about a minute. Then, place it in the fridge overnight to work its magic and wake up to a ready-made, delicious breakfast!

I should tell you that the chocolate flavor isnt super intense. The recipe is chocolatey, but not overwhelmingly so. I actually prefer it that way because the flavor pairs well with the suggested toppings of berries and sliced almonds.

What To Watch Out For

Calories and carbohydrates can also hide in extra toppings such as candies, nuts, and granola. These can contribute to blood sugar increases.

Youre better off choosing your favorite plain yogurt product and adding in the desired toppings yourself. That way, you can control the serving size and added sugars. Try a combination of fresh blueberries and sliced almonds. You can also add ground flax seed, chia seeds, and sliced strawberries.

As for artificial sweeteners, new research is leading experts to advise caution, especially for people with diabetes and insulin resistance. While they were originally marketed as a way to help people curb their sweet tooth and manage their weight, recent research suggests that artificial sweeteners may actually promote weight gain and changes in gut bacteria.

If you want to steer clear of artificial sweeteners, fresh fruit continues to be a healthier and more natural way of sweetening your yogurt. You can even mix in unsweetened applesauce as a quick way to naturally sweeten your yogurt.

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Protein And Your Health

Protein is one of three essential macronutrients the other two are fat and carbohydrate. These are needed in large amounts to maintain health and vital functions.

The body uses protein to build, repair, and maintain most of your body’s tissues and organs. Proteins are also necessary for immune system function and help some additional physiological processes as well.

What About High Protein Low Carb Diets

High Protein Diet Benefit Diabetics

High protein, low carb diets have become a popular form of rapid weight loss. The American Diabetes Association does not recommend high-protein diets as a method for weight loss at this time. The long-term health effects of such diets are unknown for people with diabetes. The best bet: Choose a weight loss diet that includes all the food groups.

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Protein Snacks For Diabetics

For diabetics, the objective is to adopt healthy eating habits. One of the habits that they need to inculcate is to consume small servings at regular intervals. This brings a balance in the energy supply, without causing fluctuations in the blood sugar levels. For achieving the health goals, it is essential to have nutritious snacks in correct amounts. Also, these snacks should not elevate the blood sugar levels.

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Tips For Incorporating Protein Into Your Daily Diet

Some easy ways to get a bigger protein hit into your day include:

  • Make your own trail mix using whole grain cereal, nuts and seeds
  • Add soft tofu to a soup to make it creamier
  • Add a bean salad or bowl of vegetarian chili to your dinner
  • Snack on hummus with fresh vegetables
  • Put some peanut butter on your celery sticks

Remember that including some protein in your meals every day is a good move towards maintaining a healthy diet. Pay attention to your protein sources to ensure that you reap all of the benefits that protein has to offer.

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Raw Or Cooked Vegetables

Nutrition Facts 100 g cooked broccoli: 35 calories, 0.4g fat , 0mg cholesterol, 41mg sodium, 7.2g carbohydrate , 2.4g protein.

Fresh broccoli, cauliflower or even dill pickles make a crunchy snack with or without hummus or other dips. Get creativeadd vegetables to skewers with a drizzle of vinaigrette. Remember, any non-starchy vegetable can easily be roasted to make an easy-to-eat snack, too.

Will Eating Too Much Protein Damage Your Kidneys

Diabetic Diet: The Best Proteins To Eat

You might have heard or even been told that people with diabetes should limit protein intake. The truth is, if you have full kidney function, it is not necessary to restrict protein. Keeping your glucose levels and blood pressure within your target range is the best way to prevent kidney damage.

What about people with diabetes and kidney disease? In the early days of diabetes care, people with diabetes and chronic kidney disease were advised to follow a low protein diet. We now know reducing protein intake in individuals with mild kidney disease does not change kidney disease progression. In fact, a low-protein diet may lead to malnutrition. Simply put, such a diet may do more harm than good. If you have kidney disease and diabetes, ask your healthcare professional how much protein they recommend that you eat.

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What Vegetables Are Good For People With Diabetes And Which Arent

Vegetables are an important food group to include in any healthy diet, and a diabetes diet is no exception. Veggies are full of fiber and nutrients, and nonstarchy varieties are low in carbohydrates a win for people with diabetes who want to gain control over their blood sugar level, Massey says.

As for packaging, frozen veggies without sauce are just as nutritious as fresh, and even low-sodium canned veggies can be a good choice if youre in a pinch. Just be sure to watch your sodium intake to avoid high blood pressure, and consider draining and rinsing salted canned veggies before eating, per the ADA. If possible, opt for low-sodium or sodium-free canned veggies if going that route.

Follow this general rule: Aim to fill one-half your plate with nonstarchy veggies, as recommended by the NIDDK. And if youre craving mashed white potatoes, try mashed cauliflower, Massey suggests.

Best veggie options, according to the ADA:

  • Greens, like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard
  • Cruciferous veggies, like broccoli and cauliflower
  • Cucumbers

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Beef Pork Veal And Lamb

Its best to limit your intake of red meat which is often higher in saturated fat and processed meats like ham, bacon and hot dogs which are often higher in saturated fat and sodium. If you decide to have these, choose the leanest options, which are:

  • Select or Choice grades of beef trimmed of fat including: chuck, rib, rump roast, round, sirloin, cubed, flank, porterhouse, T-bone steak or tenderloin
  • Lamb: chop, leg or roast
  • Veal: loin chop or roast
  • Pork: Canadian bacon, center loin chop, ham or tenderloin

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The 3 Best Types Of Snacks To Eat If You Have Diabetes

  • The best snacks for diabetics are high in protein, fiber, or healthy fats and lower in carbohydrates.
  • If you have diabetes, you should try to avoid starchy or sugary snacks, which can cause your blood sugar levels to rise.
  • Read on to learn about the best and worst snacks for diabetics.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, nutrition and wellness expert with a private practice based in New York City.
  • This story is part of Insiders guide to Diabetes.

To regulate blood sugar levels and stay healthy, people with diabetes must carefully manage their diet by eating the right foods, ideally in the right amounts at the right times.

This can make snacking tricky at best and dangerous at worst, since abnormal blood sugar can lead to confusion, loss of consciousness, and in severe cases, seizures.

Heres what you need to know about which snacks are considered healthy for someone with diabetes and which ones to avoid.

How To Make High Protein Chocolate Overnight Oats With Almond Milk

Best Protein Sources For Vegetarian Diabetics

I love this recipe because its so simple to prepare AND means that you wake up to a breakfast thats ready to eat. There arent many better ways to start your day!

Step 1: Blend Greek yogurt, protein powder, cocoa powder, Stevia, and almond milk thoroughly .

Step 2: Pour into a glass or bowl and fold in the oats.

Step 3: Cover and place in the fridge overnight.

Step 4: Take out of the fridge and stir with a spoon until the consistency is even.

Step 5: Sprinkle almonds and berries on top before enjoying .

And enjoy!

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How To Choose A Diabetes

First things first, ask yourself: Am I really hungry? Theres a delicate balance between eating throughout the day and grazing at every opportunity, says Stefanski. Between meals only choose to eat if you are physically hungry not bored, not stressed, but physically in need of food. Then, keep these tips in mind when you head for the fridge:

Mind your macros

Eating your macronutrients in a good balance to prevent a low blood sugar is a much better approach then constantly trying to correct it, explains Stefanski.

  • Carbohydrates: Your body digests carbs quickly, which can spike your blood sugar. To avoid this, go for no more than a serving when snacking. Fiber-rich whole grains and vegetables are your friend, since your body digests those more slowly.

Steer clear of counting net carbs when you have diabetes, says Stefanski. While net carbs subtract both fiber and sugar alcohols from the carb count, some sugar alcohols can still raise blood sugar about half as much as a regular carb.

  • Protein: Your body digests protein slowly as well, meaning youll feel fuller for longer. A serving of at least 7 grams should do the trick.
  • Fat: Steer clear of ultra-processed snacks, which tend to be high in saturated fats. If you are including fat within your snack you still need to watch your calories, as they can add up quickly.

Check your timing

Cap your calories

Diabetic Diet: All About Making Calculated Food Choices

There are different types of diabetes, determined mainly by your bodys ability to produce and use insulinthe hormone necessary for getting sugar out of your blood and into your cells where it is used to produce energy.

The symptoms of all types of diabetes are similar, so the steps you need to take to control your blood sugar remain the same. Your diet plays a very critical role in managing your diabetes by keeping blood sugar levels stable throughout your lifetime. You are in control of what you eat, so this is one area you can and should learn to manage wisely.

For people with type 2 diabetes, your pancreas produces plenty of insulin that is not sensed by the cells so your body is unable to properly use the insulin you make. Usually, type 2 diabetes can be controlled well with lifestyle changesparticularly shifting from processed carbs to high fiber foods, and walking daily as needed with the addition of medication.

Some people with type 2 diabetes may also need to begin taking insulin at some point, says Sandra Arevalo, MPH, RD, CDE, a diabetes expert and spokesperson with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It can depend on your age and your individual ability to control your blood sugar with diet and exercise. However, when type 2 diabetes is found early enough and weight loss is achieved, in most cases, insulin is never needed.

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What Diets Are Recommended For A Type 1 Diabetes Eating Plan

Foods to include in a meal plan

  • Insulin-matched whole-grain carbohydrates
  • Nutrient dense, highly colorful foods
  • Low glycemic load diet plans
  • People with type 1 diabetes should follow the same healthy meal plans as all other people interested in preventing chronic disease, However, they must be more aware of the carbohydrate content of their meals so they can match their insulin dose appropriately. In order to do so, there are a few rules of thumb that can be followed.

  • In general, one unit of insulin covers 15 grams of carbohydrate. This is equivalent to 1/2 c of whole grains, 1 c of starchy veggies , or even less of a refined carbohydrate. This is a generality, and each person with type 1 diabetes needs to know his or her personal insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio. The ratio changes depending on the duration of diabetes, level of physical activity, and body weight. Insulin dosing also needs to be adjusted to take into account the blood glucose level before the meal. If blood sugar is above the target level, for example above 120, additional units of insulin are added to further bring it down. Generally, one additional unit will reduce blood sugar by about 50 points, but again, this varies for each individual.
  • When carbohydrates are consumed, they should be low glycemic load.
  • When fats and proteins are consumed, they should primarily come from plant sources.
  • fresh vegetables,
  • plant-fats such as olive oil and nuts,
  • fish such as sardines, and
  • occasional meat and dairy.
  • What Foods High In Protein Are Good For Type 2 Diabetes

    High Protein Diet For Diabetes: Good Or Bad?

    The American Diabetes Association recommends lean proteins low in saturated fat for people with diabetes. If youre following a vegan or vegetarian diet, getting enough and the right balance of protein may be more challenging, but you can rely on foods like beans , nuts and nut spreads, tempeh, and tofu to get your fix, notes the Cleveland Clinic. Just be sure to keep portion size in mind when snacking on nuts, as they are also high in fat and calories, according to Harvard Health. The American Heart Association counts a small handful of whole nuts as one serving. If you opt for unsalted almonds, 1.5 ounces will provide 258 calories and nearly 23 g of fat, per estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture .

    Meanwhile, processed or packaged foods should be avoided or limited in your diabetes diet because, in addition to added sugars and processed carbohydrates, these foods are often high in sodium, according to the AHA. Getting too much sodium in your diet can increase your blood pressure and, in turn, the risk of heart disease or stroke, notes Harvard Health. And heart disease and stroke are two common complications of diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic. Its important to keep your blood pressure in check when managing diabetes.

    Best options, according to the ADA:

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    Best options , per the ADA and the NIDDK:

    • Wild or brown rice

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