Half of Americans Living with Diabetes May Not Get Enough Protein

Half of Americans Living with Diabetes May Not Get Enough Protein

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A study highlights protein intake as essential.

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AUG. 02, 2021   3 MIN. READ

Like everyone else, people living with diabetes should strive to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. You don't need to cook one meal for yourself and another for the rest of your family. Well-balanced meals, which include lean protein, vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains, are healthy for everyone and help manage blood sugar.

When preparing those meals, it is important to prioritize protein.  Protein is a nutrient that has a minimal impact on blood sugar levels and has the added benefits of helping satisfy hunger. Try to aim for 20-25 grams of protein at every meal and find snacks with higher protein quantities.

study from Abbott and The Ohio State University, published in Nutrients, found half of adults surveyed in the U.S. living with diabetes did not get enough protein in their diet.

The study highlights protein intake as an essential and often overlooked consideration in meeting the nutritional needs of people living with diabetes and its importance in supporting strength and mobility.

This study highlights the importance of the quality of foods in our diet as well as the quantity of nutrients we need daily—both of which have a significant impact on health and mobility, especially for people living with diabetes.

Sara Thomas, Ph.D., R.D.N., research scientist, and dietitian, Abbott

Researchers examined differences in diet quality, nutrient intakes, and functional limitations by protein intake across people with varying glycemic levels. Here is what they found.

  • People living with diabetes who did not consume the daily recommendation of protein on the day of intake reported a higher prevalence of physical limitations, including difficulty completing basic movements, such as stooping, crouching, kneeling, standing for long periods, and pushing or pulling large objects.

  • Adults with diabetes who met protein recommendations had better overall diet quality, more closely meeting dietary recommendations for total daily intake of vegetables, whole grains, dairy and added sugars.

  • People with diabetes who exhibited low protein intake reported
    significantly poorer nutrient density, lower overall diet quality, and consumed 12.5% more carbohydrates, which may negatively impact glucose levels.

“This study highlights the importance of the quality of foods in our diet as well as the quantity of nutrients we need daily—both of which have a significant impact on health and mobility, especially for people living with diabetes,” said Sara Thomas, Ph.D., R.D.N., a research scientist, and dietitian at Abbott specializing in diabetes. “Nutrition education will help people successfully manage a condition like diabetes, emphasizing the need to achieve a well-rounded diet with the right nutrients and avoid foods that are detrimental to optimal health.” 

Abbott developed the Glucerna 30g protein shake made with CARBSTEADY® (a unique blend of slow-release carbohydrates) and 30 grams of protein per 11 fl oz serving, to help people with diabetes more easily meet important daily protein needs. Additionally, the Glucerna Path to Progress program, which encourages people with diabetes to swap poor food choices with more nutritious options, provides people with access to nutrition-focused information and education to support them in successfully managing the condition.

Managing blood sugar is an ongoing process. Your nutrition needs might change during your life, depending on the progress of your condition. Learning as much as you can about diabetes nutrition is the best way to manage your blood sugar and live your best life.

What Is the Glycemic Index? Understanding Low vs. High Glycemic Carbohydrates

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Understanding Low vs. High Glycemic Foods


If you have diabetes, you're probably well aware that some foods elevate blood sugar levels more than others after a meal. This is called postprandial glucose response (PPG response), and it's key to effective diabetes management. To understand how certain foods affect your blood sugar, it can be helpful to know where they land on the glycemic index scale. But what is the glycemic index, exactly, and how does it affect PPG response?

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