When you have diabetes, protein doesn’t necessarily affect your blood sugar, but food sources with protein may. That’s why protein pills for diabetics can be a better option if you feel like you’re not getting enough from your diet.
We’ll talk more about protein in diabetes and why pills can be a good way to supplement if needed.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
Protein is an essential macronutrient. There are two others—fat and carbohydrates. We all need macronutrients to stay healthy.
Our bodies use protein to build, repair, and maintain our tissues and organs. Protein also affects our hormones and our immune systems.
When you have diabetes, but your kidneys are healthy, you should try to get around 10-35% of your calories each day from protein. This is the same amount recommended for someone who does not have diabetes. You might try to have 5.5 ounces of food rich in protein every day with normal kidney function. Healthy, high-protein foods include meat and fish, seafood, eggs, legumes, nuts, and dairy products.
When you have diabetes and choose high-protein foods, you have to be careful about the fat and carbs they contain.
Some carbs convert to glucose quickly, which can lead to a spike. If you’re getting proteins from high-carb foods, you might have less control over your blood sugar levels.
Choosing quality protein sources like fish and lean meats. Try to limit your intake of protein from red meat and processed meats.
While some people with diabetes might want to follow a high-protein diet, it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference in blood sugar regulation.
With that being said, a high protein diet could have benefits for your diabetes indirectly. If you follow a diet especially high in protein, it could mean that you’re regulating and limiting your intake of carbohydrates. That could help with weight loss and the control of the symptoms of your diabetes.
If you have diabetic nephropathy, you may need to eat less protein. If you have this diabetes-related kidney disease, talk to your doctor.
One way to increase your protein intake without spiking your blood sugar is to use protein pills. Protein pills often come from collagen or bone broth. There’s less of a worry about added sugar or additives like you would have if you instead opted for a protein shake or mix.
Taking a collagen supplement and giving you added protein can help reverse your body’s natural decline in the production of collagen that occurs as you age. When you have diabetes, there’s evidence your collagen levels could go down even faster than they do in people with diabetes.
Collagen is high in glycine, an amino acid that has positive benefits on blood sugar levels and insulin secretion.
If you talk to your doctor and they give you the green light to supplement with collagen protein pills, benefits can include:
- As mentioned, diabetics tend to lose collagen faster than non-diabetics because of high blood sugar and a process called glycation. Glycation means that sugar molecules will attach to the collagen found throughout your body, preventing it from functioning. When you have rapid declines in collagen, it can lead to faster aging, slower wound healing, and stiffening of tissues. Supplementing with collagen can help reduce accelerated aging effects.
- Collagen can help with inflammation, joint pain, and stiffness.
- Gelatin and collagen have been shown to keep blood sugar levels more stable than some proteins.
- We mentioned glycine above, and it’s found in collagen. There’s a link between low blood glycine levels and impaired glucose tolerance. Recent research found that ongoing low levels of glycine are common in people with type 2 diabetes while supplementing can positively affect the secretion of insulin and blood sugar levels. Many types of protein, including meat, have low glycine levels, while collagen has substantial amounts.
As with anything, too much protein can be a bad thing. If you have diabetes, unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you need the same amount of protein in your diet as a non-diabetic. For diabetics with kidney problems, protein intake should be limited, and you should speak to your doctor about how much to include in your diet. Excess protein can cause further kidney damage.
If you would like to integrate more protein into your diet, consider doing so in the form of collagen pills. Collagen is packed with glycine and other important components that can improve your health and reduce symptoms when you have diabetes.
Collagen and other protein pills are likely a better option for you than a protein shake or a powdered mix that can be high in sugar and could have negative effects on your blood sugar levels.