Eat this before training: healthy proteins for diabetes

Виктор Литвиненко

Eat this before training: healthy proteins for diabetes
Healthy proteins for diabetes. Source: https://ru.freepik.com/author/freepik

Low blood sugar is the same pathological disorder of carbohydrate metabolism as high blood sugar. The hypoglycemic syndrome is life-threatening and is considered one of the most common causes of death in patients with diabetes who receive insulin.

Despite the benefits of physical activity for diabetes and weight management, diabetics are at increased risk of hypoglycemia during and after exercise. However, this can be minimized with special nutrition, experts say. According to a new study, researchers recommend that patients with type 1 diabetes eat protein 3-4 hours before exercise.

Physical activity without risk

Diabetes and weight control largely depend on daily physical activity and regular exercise. However, many patients with type 1 diabetes limit themselves or do not engage in even moderate exercise at all because they fear hypoglycemic attacks during and after exercise.

Numerous clinical studies have shown that nutrition can help regulate blood sugar levels during and after exercise. However, while there are already established recommendations for carbohydrate intake, the role of protein in controlling blood sugar levels during exercise has not been well researched.

Based on the new study, the authors suggest that pre-exercise protein intake among adolescents with type 1 diabetes may mitigate hypoglycemia during and after exercise, reducing its risk. Experts recommend consuming a protein shake or a healthy protein meal 4 hours before exercise.

More protein - less risk?

For adolescents with type 1 diabetes, regular physical activity improves blood sugar, insulin sensitivity, and other health indicators, but the risk of hypoglycemia is a major obstacle.

American researchers from the University of North Carolina evaluated the relationship between protein intake and glycemia in the 4 hours before moderate to vigorous physical activity, during and after exercise.

The average age of the 112 study participants was 14.5 years. Their physical activity records and 24-hour dietary data were collected at the beginning of the study and 6 months later.

The results of the study showed that:

  • patients who consumed more than 10 g and up to 20 g of protein before moderate to vigorous exercise had a -4.8% reduction in hypoglycemia compared to those who consumed less than 10 g of protein.
  • In those who consumed more than 25 g of protein before exercise, the researchers recorded a decrease in hypoglycemia by -5.3%.

Healthy proteins for diabetes

According to the American Diabetes Association ADA, the best protein choices for diabetes include:

  • vegetable proteins (legumes, nuts, nut butter, soy products, protein shakes);
  • fish and seafood 2 times a week;
  • white poultry and rabbit meat;
  • low-fat cottage cheese and eggs;
  • lean beef, lamb, and pork cleansed of fat in limited quantities.

Based on the results of the study, experts concluded that eating high-quality protein before exercise reduces the risk of hypoglycemia during and after exercise. At the same time, the researchers note that the benefits of protein intake on glycemia were observed only during moderate-intensity physical activity. With more intense activity, patients with diabetes may experience different glycemic findings.