Increasing protein in the diet and reducing carbohydrates is a great way for diabetics to help keep their blood sugar levels stabilized. Glucose in the blood is broken down directly from the carbohydrates we eat, so it is best for diabetics to reduce the carbohydrate levels in their diet.
For the carbohydrates that they do eat, they must be sure to consume the bulk in the form of complex carbohydrates which break down much more slowly than simple sugars and prevent spikes in blood sugar.
Complex carbohydrates are found in foods such as whole and unprocessed grain. Simple sugars, on the other hand are found in processed foods like baked goods, white bread, and white rice.
Protein breaks down slowly in the digestive system
Good lean sources of protein can be a diabetics best friend because proteins are broken down slowly in the digestive system which is beneficial for those suffering from diabetes. You may have heard that any meal eaten by a diabetic close to bedtime should be composed mostly of proteins for this exact reason.
Simple carbohydrates can be absorbed into the bloodstream in a matter of minutes, quickly spiking blood levels to dangerous levels for diabetics. But it can take meat hours to be broken down in the stomach and the intestines, releasing energy over a longer period of time.
Lean protein with low saturated fat is best for diabetics
The key when it comes to finding the best sources of protein is finding sources that are heart healthy and contain a wide range of nutrients. That means it must contain a low amount saturated fat, which is solid at room temperature and carries the risk of hardening the arteries and increasing the risk of stroke.
Saturated fat is derived mostly from animal products and meat, but not all meat is created equally in this respect. Red-blooded meat such as beef and pork is high in saturated fat and should be eaten sparingly by diabetics. It taxes the liver and kidneys which must process and break down these fats.
A look at some of the best high-protein foods for diabetics
- White meat: white meat chicken is a great choice because it is low in saturated fat and fat overall and is much easier to digest than red meat. Make sure that the meat is prepared sensibly, either baked or sautéed rather than deep-fried.
- Fish: fish are an awesome choice for diabetics because they contains heart healthy omega-3 and Omega six acids and is also very low in saturated fat. Tuna, shellfish, and shrimp are great choices.
- Beans and legumes: these are the favorites of vegetarians everywhere and are perfect for diabetics too. There are very high in protein and also high in soluble fiber which helps to absorb cholesterol and toxins as they pass through the intestines. They will give you a feeling of fullness that lasts a long period of time, reducing appetite.
- Eggs: eggs are an excellent source of protein but they’re also high in cholesterol and saturated fat, so eat them sparingly.
- Soy: soy products are a wonderful vegetable-based source of protein. Replacing cow’s milk with soy milk is a very healthy choice because it contains zero saturated fat and none of the hormones that regular cow’s milk has.
If you’re diabetic, experiment with replacing carbohydrates in your diet with some of these lean protein sources. Test your blood sugar levels to see how they are affected by the change and you should find that you incur more stable readings.