Protein Love

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 89% of adults with diabetes are overweight.1 Losing weight can help improve insulin sensitivity and glycemic control, reduce the risk of comorbidities related to diabetes, and improve the quality of life.

While weight loss may be part of your diabetes management plan, rapid weight loss/too great of a weight loss can result in a loss of muscle mass. Muscle is metabolically active tissue, and therefore losing muscle can lower your resting energy expenditure (i.e., the calories your burn at rest).

If you are trying to lose weight, you can reduce the loss of muscle mass by consuming a diet with adequate protein and include resistance types of exercises as part of your physical activity regimen.

Why is protein important for a type 2 diabetes diet?

Protein has many essential bodily functions, some of which include: growth, maintenance, and repair of body cells and tissues. Nearly half of the stored protein in our bodies is in the skeletal muscle.

Health professionals have recommended that protein intake while attempting to lose weight be as much as 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram (kg) of body weight. 1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds.2 For many, this will amount to about 25-30 grams of protein per meal (possibly more).

Ideally, protein intake will be spread evenly throughout the day between meals and snacks. Consuming protein after resistance exercise (within 2 hours) can help support skeletal muscle growth while consuming a protein-rich snack before going to sleep may reduce skeletal muscle protein breakdown.3 Many protein-rich foods are also carb-free or low in carbs, making their impact of blood glucose levels minimal.

*It is important to first speak with your physician before making significant diet modifications or initiating a new form of exercise.

What does 25-30 grams of protein look like?

See below for a sample day:

Protein breakfast

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt with ½ cup fresh berries and 2 tbsp slivered almonds
  • 2 scrambled eggs
  • 1 cup of water

Total protein: 25 grams

Protein lunch

  • Turkey Sandwich (3 oz sliced turkey lunch meat with 1 slice cheese) on whole wheat bread (2 slices)
  • ½ cup carrots with 2 tbsp hummus dip
  • 1 cup of water

Total protein: 30 grams

Protein dinner

  • 4 oz salmon
  • 1 cup of roasted vegetables
  • 1 whole wheat dinner roll
  • 1 slice watermelon
  • 1 cup of water

Total Protein: 37 grams

Protein bedtime snack

Total Protein: 8 grams

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