Lean on Protein

In the ongoing debate about what people with diabetes should eat, it often seems like two macronutrients — carbohydrate and fat — hoard most of the attention. Claims that low-carb diets are the answer spark fierce disagreement, while fats — depending on your point of view — are either unfairly demonized or a source of unwanted calories to be avoided. But what about the third major macronutrient, protein? Aside from the fact that it is not carbohydrate — and therefore likely to be a major component of low-carb diets — the potential role of protein in weight management is sometimes ignored.


A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, however, examines the effects of dietary protein — as well as carbohydrates with either a low or a high glycemic index — on maintaining weight loss. As described in a Reuters article, the study — whose participants had already lost at least 8% of their body weight through a calorie-restricted diet — demonstrates that including more protein in the diet, along with choosing carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, helps sustain weight loss. Among the 548 participants divided among eight western European countries who completed the study, those assigned to eat a higher-protein diet — 25% of calories as protein — gained on average 0.93 kilogram (2.05 pounds) less than those assigned to eat a lower-protein diet with 13% of calories as protein. A similar weight difference was seen among those assigned to eat low- versus high-glycemic-index carbohydrates. Not surprisingly, participants in the lower-protein, high-glycemic-index group gained a significant amount of weight on average, 1.67 kilograms (3.68 pounds), compared with a control group that was given no dietary restrictions.

Given that the study examined two different variables — glycemic index and dietary protein — in the same people at the same time, it is conceivable that these two factors could interact and thus affect the results. But as the 2000 article “Protein Controversies in Diabetes” from Diabetes Spectrum notes, protein in the diet has little to no effect on how carbohydrate is digested and converted into glucose. According to the article, protein itself — whether consumed alone or with carbohydrate — also has a negligible effect on the blood glucose level.

What do you think — have you tried increasing protein in your diet to lose weight or maintain weight loss? Did you find success? Was it sustainable? Are there other, more important changes that people should focus on instead for weight loss and weight maintenance? Leave a comment below!

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  • nfrank44

    I have been on a diet for the past 5 weeks. It is 1470 calories a day with 6-8 oz of protein per meal, a lot more protein than I am used to eating. In addition to the high protein, I have drastically reduced the amount of starches I eat and increased the amount of fruit.

    I can say that this diet has done the trick for me. I have consistently lost 2-3 pounds a week and have had to reduce the amount of isulin I take.

    Perhaps a low calorie diet of a different combination would also work. As soon as I get to my weight goal, I will try to add in some of the food I like best and probably reduce the protein to maintain my weight.

  • Susan in Manhattan

    I lost about 140 pounds over a period of 7 years by using diet, only–I have maintained this for three more years now. The amount of food that I ate to lose varied over the years (as I grew thinner. I had to lower my intake to lose); the amount of calories that I have to limit myself to now in order to maintain my weight loss is about 1100-1150.

    Within that, I try to get the minimum amount of protein that my body needs for my age/height…but since protein tends to have the most calories, that’s been difficult- with so few to work with. I can say that, with eating mostly vegetables and fruit–with protein sort of “on the side” for the last decade or so, my doctors say I am quite healthy (A1C ranges between 5.2-5.4 when I am tested every three months and all of the other numerous tests are excellent).

    So, for me, anyway, 2-3 ounces of protein a day for a few days at a time has been fine–then maybe a day of four/five/ then back to 2-3. It did the trick for me.

  • George

    The percentage of digestibility: How long will it take for your body to digest, – calorie content: foods also contain a high amount of calories come from fat and sugar Hionas said the best form of egg white protein . It is 100 percent complete, to include all 27 amino acids. Also, to assimilate very quickly, after only two to three hours to move through your body and all the proteins in humans absorb the muscles at the end . Egg whites contain no fat and carbohydrates. so that the total amount of calories in them (between 20 and 30 each) comes from the protein itself On the other hand, red meat, has a high amount of protein too – but comes at a price Red meat can contain somewhere between 20 and 50 grams of fat in one ounce serving five and fifty-six putting calorie content list. Dont forget to check your protein consumption.