High Protein Breakfast Improving Post Meal Blood Sugar?
For those with type 2 diabetes, having persistent post meal blood sugar spikes may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). In addition to the increased risk of CVD, having elevated blood sugars following a meal can make reaching the A1c target of 7.5% or less a real challenge. Research has shown that as your A1c gets closer to the recommended target (7.5%), post meal blood sugars will have a greater influence. The American Diabetes Association recommends blood glucose be less than 180 mg/dL one to two hours after the start of a meal.
Of all the meals, breakfast can be the most challenging time of day to manage post meal blood glucose spikes. In part, this is due to increased levels of circulating hormones in the morning hours, which make us more insulin resistant (Dawn Phenomenon).
There are many variables impacting how much the blood sugar will rise following a meal. The nutrient composition of a meal being consumed is one of the variables we are able to control.
The optimal macronutrient (carbohydrate, protein, and fat) composition of the diet for a person with diabetes has been debated by many and, thus far, has yet to be determined. Of the three macronutrients, carbohydrates have the greatest impact on the blood glucose level, while protein and fat have a more minimal impact on the blood glucose level.
A recent study from The Journal of Nutrition showed how eating more protein at breakfast may help to improve post meal blood sugar spikes. The study included twelve patients with type 2 diabetes. Breakfast meals contained 500 calories with either 35% protein/45% carbohydrate or 15% protein/65% carbohydrate. Results of the study showed that post breakfast blood glucose levels were lower in the higher protein group (35%). One of the ways which protein may help to reduce post meal blood glucose levels is by increasing insulin secretion from the pancreas, which thereby reduces the blood glucose response to carbohydrates consumed.
The American Diabetes Association states that for people with diabetes and no kidney disease, “evidence is inconclusive to recommend an ideal amount of protein intake for optimizing glucose control or improving one or more CVD risk measures; therefore, goals should be individualized”.
You might be asking: What should I do with the above information?
My suggestion would be to take a look at your current breakfast and ask the following questions:
Am I eating breakfast?
- If you answered “no”, then start off with eating breakfast daily.
Do I have a protein in my breakfast?
- If you answered “no”, start off with adding protein to your breakfast. Instead of cereal and toast, try eggs or yogurt and whole wheat toast.
How much carbohydrate am I typically eating at breakfast?
- Eating half as much carbohydrate at breakfast as you eat at lunch and dinner may help improve blood glucose levels. For example, if you typically consume 60 grams of carbohydrate at lunch and at dinner, try decreasing your carbohydrate amount to 30 grams at breakfast. In addition to decreasing the carbohydrate consumed, you would also increase the amount of protein consumed. For example: decrease cereal serving from 1 cup to ½ cup, milk from ½ cup to ¼ cup and add 2 turkey sausage patties.
** These are suggestions I have used in my own personal practice. Make sure to discuss dietary changes with your physician as he/she may want to adjust your diabetes medication.
Looking for some ideas for a protein rich breakfast? Check out the following article from Type2diabetes.com: Low Carb Breakfast Ideas
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