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Does Red Meat Raise Blood Sugars?

Recently I have heard more and more people use the phrase “I don’t eat red meat because it bad for my blood sugars.” As red meat- along with any other cuts of meat- is a food made up of only fat and protein, eating red meat will have no immediate effect on your blood sugar.

Which nutrients raise blood sugar levels?

Foods can be broken up into three macro-nutrient categories: carbohydrate, fat and protein. Blood sugars increase when we consume:

Carbohydrate

foods- fruits, rice, beans, pastas, breads, milk, and starchy vegetables such as corn, potatoes and winter squash. As these foods are digested into their basic components- glucose is released into the bloodstream. This glucose is what causes blood sugars to raise after eating a food containing Carbohydrates.

Protein

foods however do not have glucose as part of their elemental structure, instead they break down into amino acids. Amino acids aid in building muscle and repairing cells in your body.

Fats

can be either saturated or unsaturated fats and fuel cells providing a required source of energy for our brains for survival.

Red meat’s effect on blood sugar levels

Foods are often a combination of these three macronutrients. Take red meat for example: Beef contains both protein and fat, but no carbohydrates. Where then does the misconception that red meat hurts blood sugars come from?

Red meat is typically high in fats, especially saturated fatty acids. Foods containing fat are higher in calories which may lead to poor weight control if eaten in excess. As mentioned before, fats are essential for brain and cell health, but the American Diabetes Association recommends limiting fats to less than 30% of total calorie consumption with saturated fats making up less than 10% calorie consumption.

Awareness of saturated fats

Saturated fatty acids are the types of fat that stay solid at room temperature like butter, lard, and other animal fats. Eating a high amount of saturated fats in your diet can lead to internal inflammation which contributes to insulin resistance. As weight control and insulin resistance both play a large role in the development of type 2 diabetes, it is no wonder people may think that red meat may poorly affect blood sugars.

If eaten in large amounts over an extended period of time, any food high in saturated fats may contribute to worsening symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Current dietary recommendations suggest limiting red meats to 1-2 times per week.

Key takeaway about red meat and blood sugar

The key takeaway is red meat will not directly raise your blood sugars as it is a source of protein and fats. Including carbohydrates, fats and protein are essential for our bodies to function properly. Limiting saturated fat intake to less than 10% of total calorie consumption will help overall health, weight control, and decrease inflammation in our bodies which plays a role in insulin resistance. If you do choose to include red meat into your diet, choose leaner cuts of meat such as reduced-fat ground beef, or trim some of the fat off of cuts of steak before cooking.

How have your eating habits changed since diagnosis?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Type2Diabetes.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Oliver
    3 months ago

    What about the process of gluconeogenesis and if what you say about sat-fats is true then why is a ketogenic diet away combating type 2 diabetes which is is approximately 75% made up of fats are the majority of which are generally saturated fats? Also why does this study claim that fatty acids don’t cause an inflammatory effect but anti-inflammatatory effect in anything?

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23259689/

  • Kelly Dabel, RD moderator
    3 months ago

    Thanks for commenting Oliver. Great questions. We see lower blood glucose with a keto diet because it removes carbohydrates or greatly reduces them in the diet. It doesn’t address the root cause of diabetes, more so it steps around the insulin resistance that’s happening. Many who eat keto find that they may develop worsened insulin resistance if they start eating carbohydrate foods again. Many have has positive stories to share, especially when they’ve had weight loss which helps with insulin sensitivity. It’s still being studied, but it seems that maintaining that weight loss proves difficult for many.

    There is overwhelming evidence in the Cardiac science field that shows saturated fat intake negatively impacts cardiovascular health and we know that those with diabetes are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease.

    It’s definitely something to discuss with your doctor and maintain close monitoring for the long-term. Best, Kelly, Type2diabetes.com Community Moderator

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