The Consumption of Protein for Diabetics and Finding the Best Protein Powder
The exponential growth in cases of diabetes has been one of the most alarming health trends of recent years. This is a tendency that is reflected across the world, and which has been growing rapidly since the turn of the century. For example, in May, 2009, a study from the University of Belfast, published in The Lancet, predicted that cases of diabetes were expected to rise 70% by 2020. In reality, as 2020 appeared on the horizon, cases of type 2 diabetes rose 41% in just three years.
The worldwide trend certainly represents an epidemic. The Daily Health Bulletin reported in March, 2011 that 280 million people worldwide (approximately 6.5% of the world’s population) is diabetic. A May, 2004 study for the WHO found that “the total number of people with diabetes is projected to rise from 171 million in 2000 to 366 million in 2030”. In reality, the World Health Organization reported that this figure had already been exceeded by around 15% in 2014.
Finally, in June, 2011, a study in The Lancet demonstrated that the number of adults with type 2 diabetes has more than doubled in the last thirty years, soaring to almost 10% of the world’s population.
What this means is that any human being, anywhere in the world, has never been more likely to suffer with diabetes. This is particularly true as type 1 diabetes can be a genetically inherited condition, meaning that as it becomes more prevalent, the chances of undesirable genes being passed on from one generation to the next is elevated.
It is also clear that diet has been the central factor in this diabetes epidemic. Several culprits have been identified, with the amount of added sugar in modern food being an obvious candidate. But the fact remains that more and more people are coping with the reality of being diabetic and the challenges that this entails. And this can have a massive impact on every area of your life, as well as the way that you need to train and eat in order to get healthy.
Type 1 and 2 Diabetes
Before going any further in this article, it is important to establish the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. There are only these two distinctive variants of the condition, yet many misconceptions and mischaracterisations continue to surround both Type 1 and Type 2.
Type 1 diabetes is often diagnosed in childhood, and thus, as mentioned previously, is passed on genetically. There is no association between Type 1 diabetes and any other health conditions, such as being overweight or obese. When Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed, individuals suffering with the condition often have higher ketone levels than is normal.
Treatment of Type 1 diabetes tends to focus on insulin, with injections being the usual course of treatment. Indeed, it is impossible to control Type 1 diabetes without taking insulin, meaning that although Type 2 diabetes is also serious, the Type 1 condition is generally considered to be more debilitating.
Conversely, Type 2 diabetes is usually diagnosed in those over the age of 30, and is indeed associated with excessive amounts of body weight in particular. People diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes often experience high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and the condition is usually initially treated without medication or tablets, instead of addressing certain aspects of the diabetic’s lifestyle. Medical treatment can often be ramped up, though, as Type 2 diabetes develops and becomes cemented within an individual.
While Type 2 diabetes is certainly a serious condition, it is sometimes possible for the immune system to correct itself in the case of Type 2 diabetes, meaning that patients can come off medication, and may even cease to suffer with the symptoms associated with the condition. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that Type 2 diabetes is no longer present, rather that it is a more easily treatable condition than Type 1 diabetes, and one that will tend to wax and wane somewhat.
The Development of Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. This means that it emanates from the body mistakenly attacking itself, via the immune system. Those suffering from Type 1 diabetes will experience the immune system incorrectly targeting insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreatic system. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for this condition, and it is one that continues to grow in prominence. However, by treating the condition with insulin, Type 1 diabetes can be managed effectively.
Interestingly, Type 2 diabetes is completely different. Those suffering with Type 2 diabetes don't experience any autoimmune response, with the condition being characterised by the body losing its ability to respond appropriately to insulin - often described as insulin resistance. The body then compensates for this insulin deficit by creating an excess. However, it isn't always possible to produce a satisfactory amount, and the strain placed on beta cells by this level of insulin production can destroy them, further diminishing production of this important substance.
Challenges of Being a Diabetic
There is no doubt that the daily reality of being a diabetic is extremely challenging, not to mention the fact that the condition also carries long-term health implications. However, the good news is that medical science has developed a wide variety of treatments that make it possible to manage diabetes, and still live a completely normal existence.
Firstly, it is essential for anyone suffering from diabetes to be constantly aware of the way that their bodies operate. Those with Type 2 diabetes need to monitor blood sugar levels regularly and take appropriate action on a daily basis. First and foremost, Type 1 diabetes sufferers must use insulin in order to ensure that their bodies operate satisfactorily.
Aside from these daily logistical challenges, there are also a wide variety of serious health conditions associated with both types of diabetes. High blood sugar levels can seriously damage the body, meaning that diabetics can often experience serious, and even life-threatening, health problems.
Chronic conditions associated with diabetes include retinopathy of the eyes, problems with various limbs, heart attacks and strokes, kidney failure, nerve damage, gut disease, and a wide variety of related conditions, including cancer. A Hyperosmolar Hyperglycaemic State, caused by severe dehydration and very high blood sugars, is another serious health problem faced by those with Type 2 diabetes. And diabetic ketoacidosis, where a lack of insulin and high blood sugars leads to a build-up of ketones, can also result in death.
What this means is the way that diabetics fuel their bodies is of absolutely critical importance.
Diabetes and the Consumption of Fats and Carbohydrates
Everyone should attempt to eat a balanced diet, but in the case of diabetics this becomes even more important. We all need to follow a healthy, balanced diet that is low in fat, but balancing fats and carbohydrates becomes even more important for those dealing with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. It should be noted that fat is associated with cardiovascular disease, which is the biggest killer of people in the world bar none. As diabetics are at an increased risk of cardiovascular health problems, it is even more important for them to make healthy food choices.
Nonetheless, a diet completely devoid of fat would not be a healthy one, as the substance plays an important role in the functioning of the anatomy, and even brain functions. It is therefore important for diabetics to include a small amount of fat in their daily diet, as this substance performs a wide range of important functions.
- supply energy for cells;
- providing a fatty acids that are not manufactured by the body;
- transporting fat-soluble vitamins;
- playing an important role in the protection of vital organs;
- being used in the production of hormones.
Nonetheless, it is also important for diabetics to closely monitor the amount of fat that they are consuming, as, aside from the cardiovascular risk, fats also contain a high number of calories, and are almost inherently associated with obesity. It goes without saying that being overweight is extremely dangerous for those suffering with diabetes, and thus the level of fat being consumed should be carefully monitored.
The same also applies to carbohydrates, not least because carbs spike blood sugar; obviously an extremely important facet of this food group for diabetics to understand. When those suffering with diabetes consume foods high in digestible carbohydrates, blood sugar levels can surge in a fairly short period of time. Any diabetic digesting a large quantity of carbohydrates will also require a high dose of insulin or diabetes medication in order to control their levels of blood sugar, and over a long period of time this is unsustainable.
And particularly for those with Type 1 diabetes, reducing carbohydrate consumption can significantly reduce the amount of insulin that sufferers need to inject. This can have a significant impact on the long-term prognosis of their condition.
The Keto Diet
With this in mind, many have advocated low-carb diets for those dealing with diabetes, and many studies indeed support this approach to managing the condition. One of the most popular diets that has become a talking point in recent years is the keto diet, which is intended to induce a mild to moderate ketosis in those consuming it (this refers to a condition in which bodies burn ketones and fat, rather than sugar, as its main source of energy).
Keogenic diets have been prescribed for those suffering with diabetes for many years, and they do result in the blood sugar level and total amount of digestible carbohydrates being significantly reduced.
Due note however that if you are taking insulin for type 1 diabetes you must consult your physician before beginning the keto or any other diet program to ensure it is safe for you.
Numerous scientific studies have indicated that restricting carbohydrates to less than 50 grams per day can significantly reduce blood sugar levels, promote weight loss, and improve levels of beta cells in people with diabetes; obviously, all of which can be extremely helpful in managing the condition.
Another advantage of the ketogenic approach to diet is that improvements in those suffering with diabetes have been noted to occur very quickly. Getting the body into a state of ketosis is relatively easy if one is disciplined with diet and dietary intake, and this can also help diabetics suffering with obesity to turn around their weight problems in a relatively short timeframe.
Of course, as diabetics still need to consume some carbohydrates, it is also important to understand precisely what food should be avoided, and what are good sources of carbs. There are many enjoyable carbohydrate-based foods that only have a minimal impact on blood sugar, but others cause it to spike rapidly, and should either being completely avoided by diabetics, or severely rationed.
Thus, those dealing with diabetes on a daily basis should generally avoid the following especially in large quanties:
- Bakery products - such as loaves of bread, muffins, rolls, and bagels
- Grains, including pasta, rice, corn, etc.
- Potatoes, yams, and taro
- Legumes, such as peas, beans, and lentils
- Milk and any form of dairy product that is sweetened
- Many fruits
- Sweets, such as cakes, cookies, savoury pies, and ice cream.
- Snack foods, such as pretzels, chips, and popcorn
- Juice, soda, sweetened iced tea, and other sugar-sweetened drinks
- Many types of alcoholic beverage, particularly beer.
Note that if your are following a strict ketogenic diet none of the above foods should be consumed.
There are healthy and beneficial foods included in the list above, but the fact remains that they do not constitute an optimal part of diet for anyone needing to manage blood sugar levels by consuming fewer carbohydrates. And there are healthy sources of carbs out there, such as lentils, apples, blueberries, unsweetened yogurt, oatmeal, quinoa, papaya, and wholegrain pasta.
The message here is that fat and carbohydrates should not be eliminated completely, or even neglected, but they must be managed extremely carefully, and diabetics should consume them in smaller quantities than is possible for the rest of the population, while choosing their sources carefully.
How much Protein Should Diabetics Consume?
So if you've been paying attention to the previous sections then you should be clear that it is extremely important for diabetics to consume a balanced diet. This also applies to protein, even though this critical dietary substance doesn't have a huge influence over blood sugar levels. However, it doesn't necessarily follow that those suffering with diabetes should consume more protein than is the case for normally adjusted individuals.
As a general rule, it is accepted that diabetic should acquire around 20% of daily calories from proteins. However, diabetics looking to build muscle and train can afford to consume slightly more protein than average, without any particularly deleterious health effects. Research indicates that increasing protein consumption doesn't seem to have any appreciable impact on how sugar is digested or absorbed, or on blood sugar and insulin requirements. Again, always consult your physician before beginning an exercise program if you are diabetic.
This means that it is possible for a person with diabetes to utilise a high- protein diet, although medics are sceptical about any therapeutic benefits that this may have. It's fine to consume more protein than the average, but diabetics doing so shouldn't necessarily expect superior health outcomes, they should merely understand that it is safe to do so in moderation.
Good protein choices include plant-based foods, such as black, kidney, and pinto beans. Hummus and falafel are also extremely healthy, while almond butter, cashew butter, or natural peanut butter are also excellent choices. Oily fish, including catfish, cod, flounder, haddock, halibut, orange roughly, and tilapia, and lean meat, particularly poultry, can also be considered healthy sources of dietary protein.
And, lastly, protein powder is an excellent and intensive source of protein for those intending to undergo a program of training, so in this next section we will assess some of the protein powders available for those suffering with diabetes.
Best Protein Powder for Diabetics
Isopure Zero Carb
This is an excellent choice for diabetics, as it is dubbed a ‘keto friendly’ protein powder, based on “100% Whey Protein Isolate”. This product comes unflavoured, but there is also a vanilla version for those looking for something a little tastier.
With twenty-five grams of protein including in each serving of this product, it can be considered a very high-quality protein source, and one that has attracted a good deal of positive reviews. Furthermore, Isopure Zero Carb is definitely suitable for diabetics because, as its name suggests, this protein powder delivers a zero-carb formula.
Elsewhere, the product also helps tackle obesity by limiting calories to around 100 per serving, while it's also about glucose lactose free. The general consensus of opinion on this protein powder is that it strongly supports an active lifestyle, and can be used at any time of the day, helping diabetics achieve their training goals, and making the whole process easier from a logistical perspective.
BlendItUp Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder Smoothie Mix
This non-GMO product is popular with those looking to pack in some protein, without consuming non-natural ingredients. With virtually no carbs and zero sugars also included, it is also an ideal protein powder for diabetics.
One point against this protein powder is that it is entirely flavourless, with no other options available, which may be discouraging for some consumers. But this does mean that artificial flavours, gluten and sugar are conspicuous by their absence.
Some reviewers have complained about the consistency of drink that BlendItUp Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder Smoothie produces, but overall the critical response to the product has been highly positive.
This grass-fed protein powder is ideal for any diabetics wanting to build muscle, train hard, be fit and healthy, and participate in such activities as yoga, strength training, calisthenics, and martial arts.
Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder Keto Friendly
Isopure Zero Carb is another keto-friendly product, which delivers a protein-packed powder with zero carbs. This product delivers is packed with a massive protein punch of 25 grammes per serving, yet supports weight management goals by only including 100 calories per serving.
Diabetics will also benefit from this protein product, as Isopure Zero Carb is entirely free from carbs. The manufacturers note that the product fits in well with the keto diet, fully supporting any dieter's ketogenic macros.
This has been a very popular and successful product, but it does have one drawback. Some reviewers have observed that the powder struggles to dissolve, leading to an unpleasant drink to consume. Indeed, this is such a common complaint that it must be taken seriously. Iso Pure has always noted how well there protein dissolves so while this could be due to the bag not being sealed properly and moisture getting in having a blender for your protein shakes will ensure no mixing issues.
Metabolic Nutrition Protizyme, 100% Whey Protein Powder
This is a highly regarded and very successful protein powder, which purports to be ideal for professional athletes and the health-conscious alike. However, it is notable that protein powder only has 1 gram of surgar. While this isn't disastrous for diabetics, it does suggest that there are better solutions available on the market.
Nonetheless, the commitment of the manufacturers to natural ingredients is admirable, with no gluten, no GMO products, no lactose, no soy protein, no aspartame, preservatives and additives being included in this powder.
Another big plus point is that Protizyme 100% Whey Protein Powder comes in five different flavours, which has certainly found favour with reviewers. The company also offers a money-back guarantee, while the powder has packed tonnes of protein into relatively small servings.
Protizyme 100% Whey Protein Powder has a lot of positives, but diabetics may wish to consider certain issues associated with the product as well before purchasing.
Perfect Keto Protein Powder
This protein powder is based on 100% grass-fed collagen, with each serving including 5 grammes of pure MCT oil powder. This makes for a quality product, which fully supports the state of ketosis, consisting of 70% C8 and 30% C10 fatty acids.
Diabetics have been particularly considered by the manufacturers as well, with the powder using 1.5 grammes of acacia fiber, in order to ensure that no blood sugar spikes result from its consumption.
However, one downside of Perfect Keto Protein Powder is that many reviewers report an unpleasant aftertaste, which could be of concern to some consumers.
But this protein powder still offers plenty to diabetics, and definitely merits consideration for those diabetes sufferers wanting to pack in some protein.
Slimfast Diabetic Weight Loss, Vanilla Milkshake Mix
Slimfast are intrinsically associated with diet drinks for slimmers, but this milkshake mix is also intended to offer a tasty treat for diabetics, while also being sugar-free and supporting a weight-loss programme.
And it does a pretty good job. Its special formula helps manage blood glucose, while Slimfast has packed 10 grammes of protein into this product, which is also completely free from added sugar.
While this product isn't as established as some of the others mentioned previously, and not everyone that reviewed it relished the taste, this is a good option for diabetics looking to lose weight, without damaging their health.