Friday, October 1, 2010

Q & A: Protein Needs in a Person with Diabetes

This week, I received the following question from Robert S. at FOODPICKER.ORG:

"Since I've been diagnosed with diabetes, a lot of people have given me advice about how much carbohydrate and fat to eat. I'm wondering about protein. How much protein should I get in my diet and from what foods besides meat?" -Robert S.

Protein, fat, and carbohydrate all play an equally important role in contributing to the body's energy stores. Kudos to you, Robert, for focusing on all three of these groups, rather than just carbohydrates, which is often the (misinformed) tendency of many people with diabetes.

Protein plays an important role in lean tissue maintenance (muscle, babay!) and satiety (tummy-growl suppression). Requirements can vary amongst individuals.

Since the name of the game in diabetes management is consuming a balanced diet, protein recommendations are the same as for a person without diabetes.

Most individuals require about
0.8 g protein per kilogram of body weight.
Example: A 130 lb. individual weighs ~59 kg
59 x 0.8 = 47.2 g protein/day

It is important to remember that varying conditions may increase or decrease protein recommendations. Compromised renal function (kidney disease) may mean eating less protein is best. However, athletes, people healing from a wound or surgery, or those with certain diseases may have increased protein needs. Since diabetes and renal dysfunction are often related, it is a good idea to discuss your needs with your doctor.

Now- the subject of protein sources, Robert, is a hot topic. If you are secretly working with PETA, just know that my beautiful specimen of black Michael Kors leather handbag literally jumped into my cart.

I didn't mean to and I'll never do it again.


The best protein sources can be summed up by one word:
LEAN. Lean proteins can come from either plants or animals.

Healthy Animal-Based Protein Sources:
  • poultry
  • fish
  • pork
  • eggs
  • low-fat dairy

Healthy Plant-Based Protein Sources:
  • quinoa
  • beans
  • nuts and seeds
  • nut butters
  • soybeans
  • lentils

The jury is still out as to which sources are better: plant-based, or animal-based.

Vegetarians argue that a diet rich in plant-based proteins minimizes cholesterol and heart disease.
Many studies strongly support these claims.

Carnivores argue that animal proteins are more biologically available, a fancy term meaning basically that they "do more for you."
A few studies have supported these claims.

I digress.

The best answer, for now, is to
eat lean protein from a variety of both plant and animal sources.

Hope this helps, Robert!
Peace, Love, and Veggies,

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