There are a lot of controversies around protein, and the impact it has on your body and condition. However, just like a few other myths, the fact that protein intake may affect insulin levels is not true. We asked Celebrity Nutritionist and Founder of Superfood Café, Saanchi Nayak for her inputs on protein intake for people with diabetes. Here’s what she has to say.
Why does your body need protein?
Irrespective of whether you have diabetes or not, you require the same amount of protein, and it is not harmful. Your body needs insulin to use the protein that you eat. Unlike carbohydrates, digesting proteins does not lead to a major blood sugar level rise. However, you should be careful about the form of protein which is consumed. Simple carbs are easy to digest and hence lead to a faster rise in blood sugar levels and insulin secretion. Hence, if the protein is bound with simple carbs such as corn syrup, concentrated juices, brown or raw sugar for taste, then it is imperative that people with diabetes avoid it.
People with diabetes (and without renal disease) can be advised to consume an extra serving of protein rather than carbohydrate at meals or for snacks. Also, eating protein and vegetables before a carbohydrate meal leads to lower post-meal glucose and insulin levels. There is another reason why protein intake is important for those with diabetes. People tend to lose muscle mass with age, and those with diabetes lose it faster. Adding more proteins to your diet will help here as well.
How does protein consumption help people with diabetes?
Protein bound with healthy fats is proven to help insulin sensitivity. The combination of protein and fats helps slow down the release of glucose from the carbohydrates.
For example: whole eggs, milk and milk products such as cheese and yoghurt; non-vegetarian foods including fish and seafood, chicken and other poultry; are all complete protein foods with a healthy amount of fat.
Try to include some plant-based protein from beans, nuts, or tofu, even if you’re not a vegetarian or vegan. You’ll get nutrients and fibre that are not present in animal products. Thus, the key is to include a combination of animal and plant-based protein in your daily diet. Remember, a balanced diet is the key to overall health, and this rule applies to people with diabetes too.