If you are diabetic, it means that your body does not handle glucose the way it should and your blood sugar (glucose) level is too high. There is a lot of hype about smoothies and shakes.
Today I will share with you some information about protein and we will take a look at the arguments concerning protein shakes and smoothies for diabetics. In the end, we will determine if diabetics should indulge in protein shakes/smoothies.
Some Notes About Protein
Let us begin by looking at protein and making the connection with diabetes. Protein is a macro-nutrient which helps us to have healthy muscles and good health when the right quantity is eaten daily. It plays the following roles:
- Repair muscles
- Rebuild our muscles
- Maintain our muscles
- Helps us to maintain-
- Helps to make up hormones, antibodies, and enzymes
- Keeps us feeling full because they digest slower (for this reason they do not raise blood sugar). Yes, I know there is a lot of excitement in the house at this moment. There is more to come. Please be patient.
Animal, Plant or Both?
Protein is found in our foods. It is present in both animal and plants. There is a lot of arguments about the two and which is good for you. I will get straight to the point here and use my own experiences as a guide. I eat them both. Yes, I eat plant as well as animal protein.
I eat more plant protein than I do animal protein, however. The research and my own experiments have led me to the conclusion that I can have them both, but, moderation is the key. I do exceptionally well on plant proteins, however, if and when I consume too much animal protein, I am permitted to make this error for only one day, failing that my body pays a high price.
The Price is Too High, No Deal
This is what happens when I eat too much animal protein (more than a chicken leg, or 3 to 4 oz. per day):
- I get constipated because I feel full quicker with animal protein and so I make the mistake of eating less of the other foods I need for my daily fiber allowance. This leaves me not going to the bathroom as I should and so I am literally full of “crap.” I tried eating my vegetables first, but I usually have room for the protein and the result is still constipation.
- I feel bloated and generally ill. Again, I am not eating the required amount of fiber and so I have issues going to the bathroom and as a result, I feel bloated and I get constipated.
- I gain weight because I am not eating enough fruits and vegetables. Since changing my lifestyle to whole foods, I eat less than before. The reason is that I full up on fibers and selected animal protein. The result is that I don’t get hungry as often as I did in the past. I now “eat to live and not live to eat.”
- I hate the smell of my fecal matter when I consume too much meat. The bathroom experience is more pleasurable when I eat less meat and more beans and other plant-based proteins. Don’t be upset, these are my experiences.
Is it Really Cheaper by the Dozen?
Let me repeat, I do eat meat and I am of the opinion, based on what happens when I eat animal and plant protein, that the human body needs both. I am also of the view that we live in a world which “supersizes’ everything and so we have grown accustomed to “more is better and cheaper.”
That is incorrect as it relates to our foods and our eating habits. It is a dangerous practice, even as it relates to fruits and vegetables. Moderation is still the key. Diabetics and those wanting to prevent diabetes must practice moderation if we are to become and remain healthy.
So, how do we get protein from plants? Let us take a look at some of the plant foods we can eat for protein.
- All beans are at the top of the list. I like to cook my beans with a little animal protein for balance, but the pot has more beans than meat.
- Nuts and seeds
- Cooked grains
- Most vegetables
It is said that we should eat about 40 to 70 grams of protein each day. This is protein from both plants and animals. Let us take a look at the numbers and trust me when I tell you that we are still talking about protein shakes and smoothies. See below for the amount of protein food in some of the foods we eat:
- Beans – about 14 to 16 grams per cup
- Eggs – 6 to 8 grams per egg
- Grains – 5 to 7 grams for every cup
- Vegetables – 1 to 2 grams for every ounce
- Nuts and seeds – approximately 8 to 16 grams for every half cup
- Most meats – 18 to 27 grams for 3 oz. (about a deck of cards)
Should Diabetics Indulge in Protein Shakes?
So, can and should diabetics indulge in protein shakes? Protein is obviously important for us and it would be almost impossible to eat whole foods and avoid protein at the same time.
Yes, you figured it out (smile). Diabetics can have protein shakes, but, moderation should be the order of the day. Balance is important and so we should try to ensure that we do not eat too much of any one type of food/nutrient and protein is not an exception to this suggestion.
Protein Powders, or Whole Foods?
Before we get too excited, let us take a look at what I am suggesting. I am a supporter of eating whole foods as much as possible and avoiding highly processed foods whenever I can. Yes, sorry, I am not suggesting a wholesale use of anything processed.
Protein powders and shakes have worked for a lot of people, but here is my concern. The amount of added sugar and many times the type of sweetener can defeat the purpose of a changed lifestyle for diabetics.
Read your labels and make informed decisions. If the “healthy shake” you are having contains as much sugar as a soda and it is loaded with artificial ingredients, is it healthy? I like to have a bit of processed shake for my emergency days or vacation, but as a rule, I do not pile them high in my pantry for everyday consumption.
This, however, leads to another discussion about what we should use to make these shakes and smoothies. I prefer to use nuts, seeds, vegetables and whole milk for my protein shakes. Please read this article about NutriBullet recipes for some ideas.
It is important that we understand the essential role that protein plays in our bodies and also the available sources of proteins for us to consume. It was concluded that we diabetics can have some protein shakes and smoothies, but moderation is the key and if and when we can make our own shakes from fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts, then this is healthier than stocking up on the highly processed shakes available on the shelves.
Some of these commercially available protein shakes are loaded with chemicals and sugars and therefore make them less healthy and more poisonous for us to consume for extended periods of time. Let me also add at this point that we should ensure that we use a protein shake to replace a meal and to avoid having both, which could lead to weight gain in the long run.
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