By : Apeksha Thakkar Clinical Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator and Nutrigenomic Counselor

Importance of proteins in diabetes management

Proteins are one of the 3 major sources of energy, but body uses them only under stress and trauma, in absence of carbohydrates.

Protein can be broken down to glucose less efficiently as compare to carbohydrates, leading to slightly slow insulin spikes. However, most protein sources also come with high content of fats and calories. Medical nutrition therapy plays a key role in managing insulin function. In diabetes, especially Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), insulin insensitivity and resistance are the major cause of concern, due to oscillatory blood sugar levels, it is recommended to calculate protein requirement per kg body weight rather calculating protein requirements percentage wise; simply to avoid protein malnutrition or insufficiency while on calorie restricted diet. In case, if a person suffers from complication of diabetes like diabetes neuropathy, protein intake should be well monitored. For those, who successfully manage normal blood sugar levels (specially T2DM), protein can be to a great help.

Let’s discuss some important, close knit association between proteins and diabetes compliance: -

1. Proteins have thermogenic effect:- Proteins foods help in increasing basal metabolic rate, as they are thermogenic in nature. Protein rich foods help to maintain body weight by maintaining satiety and delaying gastric emptying.

2.  Improve lipid profile:- Due to long standing diabetes, dyslipidaemia could be certainly possible. Good biological protein intake helps in maintaining a healthy lipid profile.

3. Supported development of lean body mass:- Protein intake along with healthy carbohydrate intake helps in building more lean body mass, thus reducing overall fat percentage.

4. Bolsters overall immunity:- Being building blocks of the body, proteins are essential in upgrading overall immune response. In case of diabetes, in most cases the immune response is sacrificed as diabetes is a metabolic disorder, which can cause strain on almost every human organ.

Proteins form an integral part in maintaining healthy range of blood sugar levels. However, protein requirements are highly influenced by other controlling factors and it should be calculated and recommended under a professional health care provider. A meticulous calculation of proteins, can help achieve ideal blood glucose levels, in combination with sugar free protein supplements.

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