New research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham suggests that, for individuals with type 2 diabetes, the specific type of protein in their diet is less critical than the overall amount of weight lost.
These findings challenge the notion that the type of dietary protein plays a central role in diabetes management.
The study, published in the journal Obesity, involved 106 adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (T2D).
These participants were randomly assigned to one of two dietary groups: a high-protein diet or a normal-protein diet, both of which were calorie-restricted.
In the high-protein diet, participants were encouraged to include lean beef in their meals, while the normal-protein group was instructed to avoid red meat entirely.
Contrary to expectations, the research team discovered that both the high-protein diet (comprising 40% of total calories from protein) and the moderate-protein diet (with 21% of total calories from protein) were effective in improving glucose control, promoting weight loss, and positively impacting body composition among individuals with type 2 diabetes.
Flexibility in Dietary Choices
Lead author James O. Hill, a professor in the UAB Department of Nutrition Sciences, and co-author Drew Sayer, Ph.D., from the UAB Department of Family and Community Medicine, emphasize that these results demonstrate that individuals have some flexibility in choosing a dietary pattern that aligns with their preferences and is sustainable in the long term.
In this context, where two healthy dietary patterns with varying protein and carbohydrate levels were compared, along with the inclusion or exclusion of lean beef, the study suggests that individuals can select a dietary plan that best suits their needs and preferences.
The randomized controlled trial included 71 participants who followed a higher-protein diet. This diet featured four or more 4- to 6-ounce servings of lean beef per week as the sole source of red meat.
Another group followed a normal-protein diet with no red meat consumption. Both diets were calorie-restricted and aligned with the State of Slim weight management program.
The high-protein diet comprised 40% protein, 32% carbohydrate, and 28% fat of total energy.
On the other hand, the normal-protein diet contained 21% protein, 53% carbohydrate, and 26% fat of total energy, which is higher in protein compared to the typical American diet.
All participants had type 2 diabetes and followed the State of Slim weight management program. They also engaged in regular exercise, gradually increasing to 70 minutes per day, six days per week.
The study challenges the prevailing belief that the type of protein in the diet significantly influences diabetes management.
Instead, it suggests that weight loss and overall dietary patterns play a more substantial role. Individuals with type 2 diabetes may have the flexibility to choose a diet that aligns with their preferences while still achieving positive health outcomes.
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The research findings can be found in Obesity.
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