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Diabetes : Weight loss with protein for people with diabetes

Silke Ullmann, MPH, RD, LDN

Diets rich in protein are an efficient way to lose weight, even for people with diabetes. Protein helps maintain muscle mass during a weight loss regimen, which in turn can help you avoid the dreaded yo-yo effect. Muscles are also the most important organ for energy consumption; therefore, muscle retention and muscle growth are key factors when it comes to losing weight. A higher protein intake also optimizes the so-called thermogenesis (heat production) and can result in a longer and better feeling of satiety.

Protein requirements for people with diabetes
According to age and sex, it is recommended to eat 0.8-1.2 g of protein per 2.2 lbs of body weight. The protein should be of high biological value and free from negative substances. Especially people who want to lose weight or have diabetes should consume sufficient amounts of protein. The renowned Joslin Diabetes Center has recently given a clear recommendation for the most effective diet for people with diabetes, based on the latest scientific findings. According to the Joslin recommendation, a diet for people with diabetes should consist of 30% protein, 40% carbohydrates and 30% fat. The experts there also point out that an effective diet for people with diabetes needs to contain significantly more protein than previously assumed.

Not all protein is created equal
When choosing protein sources, it is important to keep other nutritional values in mind. Animal protein sources, especially red meat, often contain higher amounts of animal fat and saturated fatty acids than desired during a diet. Therefore, plant protein sources, such as legumes or soy, should be the preferred choice, especially as they provide additional healthy nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins and minerals. That being said, you do not need to cut out meat completely. Lean protein sources such as chicken or fish can be beneficial. However, choosing plant protein over animal protein at least half of the time may help you lose weight and maintain muscle mass without having to fear side effects like heart attack or arteriosclerosis.

Jumpstart your weight loss
In order to utilize the power of protein, make sure you consume the adequate amount, but you can also pay attention to the time of day. You may eat the majority of your protein in the morning and in the evening. This schedule will help you stay full for longer and keep you energized after breakfast and improve your fat burning process over night, especially if you also reduce your carbohydrate intake during dinner.

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