Using Protein to Your Advantage with Diabetes

Ginger Vieira Health Guide
  • When I've had to follow low-carb protocols for weightloss sake over a long period of time or over a short period of time for weigh-ins before a competition, protein is my savoir. Not only does it help me burn fat because our bodies have to work so much harder to digest protein than they do in order to digest carbs,  some of it also turns into glucose and we can use that for energy.


    When you eat a portion of protein over 20 grams (that is every portion for me), about 50% of that can be converted to glucose! Which would need some insulin to cover that glucose. If you eat a really huge chicken breast, you're going to getting at least 30 grams of protein, which means you'll need to cover about 15 extra grams of carbohydrate that have nothing to do with the potato or rice on your plate.

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    FOR EXAMPLE: When I eat low-carb, I often eat 45-60 grams of protein at a meal for my powerlifting training, and I almost always take 3-4 units of insulin. You would think because there are no carbs in this, I wouldn't need so much insulin. But I use a 10 to 1 carbohydrate to insulin ratio, so %50 of 60 grams of protein would be 30 grams of glucose in my blood; therefore, I will need at least 3 units of insulin. If I've added ketchup or vegetables to this I'll add another unit. Even if I add almonds, I'll take 4 units because fats will slow down the absobrtion of my meal.


    These are things I've figured out by taking notes and checking my blood sugar often, like a science experiment.



    So, also during these low-carbs phases of my training, I am sure to have some low blood sugars. And I want to treat that low blood sugar with as little carbs as possible because 1. It'll mess up that anabolic state I've put my body in, burning fat for fuel and using protein as it's primary source of energy. 2. Carbs will spike my blood sugar if I eat too much and then I'll have to take insulin...etc.


    Instead, I will eat that 60 grams protein meal, almonds, veggies, etc. And take NO insulin for it. If it's not a mealtime, I'll have a low-carb protein shake that has about 4 grams of carbs and 30 grams of protein. That will end up treating my body like 20 grams of true carbs.


    This DOES raise my blood sugar. The catch is: it takes longer, it's not nearly as satisfying and you have to be patient.


    Patience is the hardest part, I know, because you feel really lousy and you just want get your glucose back up.


    I challenge you to reduce the carbs in your diet, (which means you must reduce your overall insulin intake, too), and increase the lean healthy proteins. See how this changes your insulin needs, your blood sugar stability and your understanding of what your blood sugar really needs to stay in range.


    For more information on nutrition, weight management and blood sugar control, see the articles listed here: "5 Guidelines to Starting a New Diet."




Published On: November 09, 2009