How many times have you heard the term “Mediterranean diet” in the past few years? Too many, I’m sure.
Now I would never disagree with the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet—in fact, I believe it’s a very good way to eat—but it’s not for everybody. And it certainly isn’t for me (at least not without some modifications).
I like to eat a high-protein diet—meaning I like at least 30% of my calories to come from protein. And if you’re a diabetic, new research suggests it might be worthwhile for you, too.
High-protein diets improve blood sugar control, insulin response, and glucose metabolism in type 2 diabetics, while keeping these things stable in non-diabetics—thereby reducing your risk of contracting the disease.
But not all proteins are created equal…
Animal Protein vs. Plant Protein
The most common form of protein is animal protein. This is perhaps self-explanatory, but it’s what is found in meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy—animal sources. But what you may be less aware of is the fact that plants can offer protein, too. Some common examples of plant protein sources include nuts, beans and legumes, green peas, quinoa, tofu, and soy. So if you’ve been shy to try a less meat-heavy diet due to a concern about lowering your protein intake, don’t be; there are plenty of plant sources you can combine with your meat protein sources to give you a healthy, high-protein diet that fights—and may even prevent—type 2 diabetes.
However, there is one difference in these protein sources I’d like you to be aware of and that’s their amino acid complex. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, making them either complete or incomplete. Animal proteins are complete proteins, whereas plant sources are incomplete proteins. Further, your body loses more protein from veggie sources than animal sources during absorption. This means that in order to make your veggie protein sources complete and effective, you have to eat a lot more of them and a much greater variety. Having said that, both types of protein offer health benefits for those with type 2 diabetes, so I wouldn’t toss out plant protein sources for only animal protein sources.
How Protein Benefits Type 2 Diabetics
In fact, a new study looked at 37 people with type 2 diabetes who were each randomly assigned to one of two high-protein diets. One group consumed 30% of its calories from animal protein and the other received 30% of its calories from plant proteins. The remainder of the diets of both groups was made up of 40% carbohydrates and 30% fats. They remained on the diets for six weeks.
The results? Liver fat was reduced in both groups, while insulin sensitivity was only reduced in the animal protein group. However, the plant protein group experienced a greater benefit to overall liver function.
At the end of the day, increasing protein, regardless of the source, has a positive impact on blood glucose metabolism. This is great news for anyone with type 2 diabetes or anyone who is at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
How to Follow a High-Protein Diet to Treat and Prevent Diabetes
So here are three takeaway points I’d like you to follow to better experience the health effects of a healthy diet featuring protein:
1.Include more protein in your diet and ensure you’re getting it from a variety of sources, including plant and animal when possible.
2.Read labels and use available resources to help adequately track your protein intake; 30% of your caloric intake in protein offers measurable benefits, according to the study.
3.While the study shows the impact a high-protein diet has on controlling the effects of type 2 diabetes, prevention is key. To limit your risk of developing diabetes, start following a high-protein diet today.
Source for Today’s Article:
“High protein diets, from both animal and plant sources, improve blood sugar control in diabetic patients,” ScienceDaily web site, September 18, 2015; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150918080629.htm.