Protein Do’s & Don’ts For People With Diabetes

pork tenderloinProtein is one of the nutrition essentials needed to maintain a healthy diet. It is used to build and repair body tissue and keep your hair, nails, and skin healthy. It also helps to boost your immune system. Beyond those benefits, research indicates eating lean, high-quality protein can help people with type 2 diabetes lose or maintain weight and manage blood glucose.

In a recent study, participants consumed either a high animal protein diet – including lean meat and dairy foods or a high-plant protein diet for six weeks. The composition of both diets was 30% protein, 40% carbohydrate and 30% fat. At the end of the study, A1C percentage decreased in both groups (the A1C test reflects your average blood glucose level over the past three months). Moreover, insulin sensitivity improved (how sensitive the body is to the effects of insulin) in only the animal-protein diet group.

Maintaining a healthy body weight is important to help prevent and manage type 2 diabetes. Findings from researchers at Duke University show that when obese women consumed a high protein low-calorie diet, including lean pork, as part of a six-month weight-loss diet they lost weight. While most Americans eat the majority of their protein at dinner, this study demonstrates benefits of spreading protein equally throughout the day. The women in the study received 30 grams of protein (about 4 ounces) at each meal with two of the meals including pork.

Choose Your Protein Wisely

Choose protein sources that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol. These include poultry, fish, legumes, and beans. Many people with diabetes mistakenly avoid pork because they think it is high in fat. Choices like tenderloin, low-sodium ham, chops and lean ground pork are low-fat choices that can also be included. These cuts of pork meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines for “lean” by containing less than: