How Much Protein Does a Diabetic Need Per Day & What are the Good Sources of Proteins for Diabetics?

Protein itself does not affect the blood sugar levels much, but the foods which contain protein can. Typically, diabetics do not require any more protein than non-diabetics. However, at certain times less protein is better for them. To know how much protein does a diabetic need per day & what are good sources of protein for diabetics, go through the following piece of read.

How Much Protein Does a Diabetic Need Per Day?

Protein is 1 of the 3 essential macronutrients required by the body for staying healthy, the other two being fat and carbohydrate. Proteins are required to maintain proper functioning of the body and a strong immune system. Protein is used by the body to build, repair, and maintain most of the tissues and organs. While it is clear that everyone needs protein to maintain good health, it is also important to know how much protein does a diabetic need per day.

Diabetic people with healthy kidneys can get around 15 to 20% of their daily calories from protein. The same amount is suggested for a balanced non-diabetic diet. About 45 to 50% of the daily caloric intake should come from carbohydrates while the rest should be obtained from fat. A person requiring 2000 calories per day needs to have 75 to 100 gm of protein daily. To be more precise, the standard formula of 0.8 gm protein per kilogram of body weight should be used to determine this value. According to medical experts, it is advisable to eat 5.5 oz of protein-rich food per day, which also explains how much protein a diabetic needs per day, provided they have healthy kidneys.

One may expect a switch to high-protein diet to make a difference in blood sugar regulation. According to most of the studies, high protein diet helps, as it results in reduced intake of carbs and fats in a diabetic. This is beneficial to maintain blood sugar fluctuations and manage blood sugar levels in the long run. Thus, the benefit for a diabetic is not due to an intake of high protein but is due to reduced carbs when taking a high protein diet.

However, this does not mean that high-protein diets are right for everyone. It actually depends on an individual’s eating habits and personal situation. Even if a diabetic person takes a high protein diet, it is important to consider the other food nutrients that are consumed along with it. For example, in the studies conducted on high fat and high protein meals, it was seen that for type 1 diabetes patients, the insulin dosage needed to be increased after one such meal. Thus researchers recommend close monitoring of glucose levels, even when taking a high protein diet.

Diabetic Nephropathy

Diabetic nephropathy is a kidney disease and one of the complications of diabetes. People suffering from this condition often need to consume less protein. In such cases, amount of protein that a diabetic needs per day is around 1 gm, or less, per kilogram of body weight. This depends on the severity of the condition and other existing medical problems. A person needs to work with their physician to determine the amount of protein which they need each day. Too much protein can be harmful for the kidneys, but too little protein can lead to malnutrition and unintended weight loss. Hence, it is necessary to strike the right balance.

Good Sources of Proteins for Diabetics

Along with knowing the amount of protein that a diabetic needs per day, it is also necessary to know the best high protein foods. Some of the good sources of protein for diabetics include fish, meat, chicken, seafood, eggs, legumes, dairy products, nuts, and seeds. For instance 1 ½ chicken breast has 29 gm, 1 egg has 6 gm, 1 cup of black beans contains 15 gm, a 3 oz portion of steak contains 26 gm, and 1 cup low fat milk has 8 gm of protein.

With good sources of protein for diabetic, the main concern is the fat and carb content in the foods. Some kinds of carbohydrates are rapidly converted to glucose by the body, which causes a spike in blood sugar levels. Also, the risk of weight gain from high-carb and high-fat foods can further lead to decreased control on blood sugar levels. Hence, for diabetics, it is necessary to have good sources of protein which also have limited amount of fat and carbs.

Doctors recommend having fish as a protein source at least 2 times a week, and also advice limiting the intake of red meat and processed meats like bacon, ham, and hot dogs as these foods are high in saturated fats. Lean meats are a better option for a balanced diet.

Final Word

Diabetics can benefit from a personalized protein intake recommendation. Multiple factors play a role in a well-balanced diet and the amount of protein that a diabetic needs per day may vary. Hence, it is best to take an expert nutritional opinion with medical consultation and regularly monitor blood glucose levels and review the diet as well. While protein does not directly affect blood glucose levels, the other components of high-protein foods can impact blood sugar. So, one should try limiting their protein intake to their need per day and choose good sources of protein that are low in carbohydrates and fats.

Now that you are aware of how much protein a diabetic needs per day and what the good sources of protein for diabetics are, you can plan a protein rich diet. For any existing kidney disease, it is best to limit protein intake and follow medical advice.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 7, 2018

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