diabetes and protein

The Power of Protein

Our lovely nutritionist guest blogger Jaz discusses the importance of protein.

(To see more of Jaz's recipes and tips visit her website).


Protein is a macronutrient that your body needs to survive. It is the nutrient that builds and repairs cells as well as keeps your muscles, organs, skin, hair, bones, and nails, strong and healthy. Additionally, protein is associated with the immune system and is a building block for hormones such as insulin and glucagon (we've heard those words in relation to diabetes before!). Without protein, many bodily functions will fail and cause weakness.

In regards to diabetes, carbohydrates are generally the main focus, with good reason as it is the nutrient that raises and lowers your blood glucose levels. While we know it is important to understand blood glucose levels and how carbs affect the highs and lows, it is also paramount to understand the power of protein especially as a diabetic.

To understand a bit more of what protein is, lets break it down further. Protein is made of 20 amino acids, these amino acids are either essential, or non-essential. Furthermore, foods such as eggs, red meat, poultry, fish, cheese, and milk contain all essential amino acids, which means they are a complete protein. Whereas foods like, nuts, seeds, tofu, legumes, and grains do not contain all of the amino acids and are therefore, incomplete proteins. As healthy humans we need to include a mix of complete and incomplete proteins within our diet to make sure we consume all amino acids that the body needs.

For diabetics, combining a snack with protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates may assist in maintaing blood glucose at a healthy level as it takes longer for the body to convert carbs into glucose. However, this evidence is only found in small meals and snacks. With larger meals it is important to assess what and how much you are eating if you are dosing insulin along with it. Health professionals suggest testing your glucose levels a few hours after a big meal in order to monitor how low (or high) your glucose rises. Additionally, health professionals suggest that diabetics eat smaller, more frequent meals that include the five food groups rather than bigger, less frequent meals.

In summary, protein is an important nutrient to include in your diet, it repairs the cells in your body and does not spike your blood glucose. However, if eaten alongside carbohydrates then it may spike your glucose levels and it is important to monitor your levels. If you're concerned about your eating habits as a diabetic, please speak to your preferred health professional.

For a protein rich, diabetes friendly recipe- see below!

Vegetarian Sausage Rolls


*To make it non-vegetarian add 200g minced meat

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons Vegemite
  • Pinch dried chilli flakes (optional)
  • 200g button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • 400g can brown lentils, rinsed, drained
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 150g tasty cheese, cut into 1cm pieces
  • 2 tbps tomato sauce
  • 2 tbps bbq sauce
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 egg
  • 1 packet frozen filo pastry, just thawed
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • Tomato relish or tomato sauce, to serve


  1. Preheat oven to 200C/180C fan forced. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Mix all ingredients except pastry, 1 egg and tomato relish in a bowl then slightly mash.
  3. Cut about 3-5 layers of filo pastry sheets in half. Place one quarter of the mixture in a log shape along one long edge of the pastry. Brush the opposite edge with egg. Roll up tightly to enclose. Repeat with the remaining pastry and filling. Cut each roll into 4 pieces and place, seam-side down, on the prepared trays.
  4. Brush the pastry with egg and use a sharp knife to score lines into the top of the pastry. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with tomato relish or sauce.






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