Those diagnosed with type-2 diabetes often struggle with regulating their blood sugar levels following meals. University of Missouri found that eating more protein rich foods for breakfast reduces sugar spikes after breakfast and lunch. (1,2)
Eating a protein rich breakfast reduces blood sugar levels after breakfast and lunch.
“People often assume that their glucose response at one meal will be identical to their responses at other meals, but that really isn’t the case,” said Jill Kanaley, professor and associate chair in the MU Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. “For instance, we know that what you eat and when you eat make a difference, and that if people skip breakfast, their glucose response at lunch will be huge. In our study, we found those who ate breakfast experienced appropriate glucose responses after lunch.” (1,2)
Kanaley and her team monitored participants, with type-2 diabetes, glucose levels, insulin and gut hormones. The participants then had either a high protein or high carbohydrate breakfasts, and lunch included a standard amount of protein and carbohydrates. (1,2)
The team found that when participants consumed a larger amount of protein at breakfast, their post meal glucose levels were lowered. Following lunch, their insulin levels were slightly elevated which demonstrates that the participants’ bodies were appropriately functioning to regulate blood sugar. (1,2)
“The first meal of the day is critical in maintaining glycemic control at later meals, so it really primes people for the rest of the day,” Kanaley said. “Eating breakfast prompts cells to increase concentrations of insulin at the second meal, which is good because it shows that the body is acting appropriately by trying to regulate glucose levels. However, it is important for type-2 diabetics to understand that different foods will affect them differently, and to really understand how they respond to meals, they need to consistently track their glucose. Trigger foods may change depending on how much physical activity people have gotten that day or how long they have waited between meals.” (1,2)
Kanaley recommends that those with type-2 diabetes should eat more protein, but clarifies that it is not necessary to consume extreme amounts of protein to reap the health benefits. “We suggest consuming 25 to 30 grams of protein at breakfast, which is within the range of the FDA recommendations,” Kanaley said. (1,2)
Whey protein, peanuts and peanut butter help stabilize blood sugar and control appetite.
A 2005 study found in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants experienced an improved insulin response when whey protein was added to their mashed potatoes and meatballs. (3)
Another study tested the immediate and second meal impacts of peanuts on glycemic response in obese women with type 2 diabetes. The study compared blood sugar levels and appetite levels of participants who consumed peanuts or peanut butter for breakfast, with those who did not. The levels were checked after three hours and then again at lunch. Participants who consumed peanuts or peanut butter reported lower appetite up to 8 to 12 hours later and experienced lower blood sugar levels after eating a high carbohydrate lunch! When comparing peanuts and peanut butter, peanut butter had a stronger effect on lowering blood sugar. The high protein and high fiber mixed with healthy oils all work together to impact appetite and blood sugar. (4)
Vegetarians and vegans can increase breakfast protein by adding beans, lentils, chia seeds, spirulina, nuts, eggs, and yogurt to their breakfast menus.
If you are vegetarian or vegan try tofu, beans or lentils, chia seeds, oatmeal, smoothies with spirulina added, edamame and sweet potato hash, peanut butter and apples, protein flour based pancakes and waffles, nuts and nut butters, eggs, yogurt, or cheese. These foods will give an extra protein boost to start your day and help keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range. Chia seeds are a great way to increase protein levels as one serving of chia seeds contains 4.4 grams of protein not to mention the wealth of other nutrients they provide. (5)
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