I have always struggled a little when attempting to cover protein consumption with insulin. Some protein will convert to glucose post meal-time, but how much and when?

I asked my doctor this question about a month ago. His response was worse than unhelpful because it didn’t answer the question and implied there are no rules of thumb for controlling protein. So I did the experimentation myself and it turns out there are some general guidelines to help insulin dependent diabetics stay on top of protein. Admittedly, these guidelines are real loose and possibly not extremely helpful, but they provide a starting point.

  1. Count the grams of protein you are about to consume.
  2. Cut that number in half and treat those grams like carbohydrates.
  3. DON”T try to cover those protein grams along with your carbohydrate grams.
  4. Wait about 90 minutes and check your sugar. This is about when the protein will start to raise blood sugar.

Each person will need to conduct some experimentation because different proteins will affect us all differently. Complex proteins like steak and eggs may take longer to start raising blood sugar than more simple ones like those from vegetable sources.

Also, if you are trying to eat lots of protein because you’re an athlete or you are just trying to put on some lean muscle mass, try experimenting with amino acid supplements which I have found have little to no effect on blood sugar.

To support the ideas in this post, here is a TED talk given by Dr. Sarah Hallberg on reversing type 2 diabetes. Take note of a slide she puts up roughly graphing the time and intensity with which fat, protein, and carbohydrates effect blood sugar.

One last piece of advice would be to avoid eating a huge chunk of protein at night. If it takes 2-3 hours to see the effects of protein on blood sugar, you might already be in bed by then. In the morning you might wake up to a disturbingly high BG and get your day started on the wrong foot. I’ve had this experience with a large steak too late in the evening. Now, when I try to eat a steak too late, I’ll bring my meter to bed with me and check/dose around 1am to avoid waking up with crazy BG levels.

In fact, I’m about to head into the kitchen right now to correct my BG due to the eggs I ate about 2 hours ago.

Good luck and let me know how things go.


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