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Going the protein way for weight loss and diabetes management
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Going the protein way for weight loss and diabetes management

Having proteins with high fiber is advantageous as it slows down digestion, helping prevent sudden sugar spikes

A combination of proteins and high fiber in the diet slows down digestion, which helps prevent sudden sugar spikes and manage diabetes better.

A protein-rich diet is usually an essential part of weight-loss plans. But it should be accompanied with high-fiber food and exercise if you want to lose those extra kilos in a healthy way.

This is because when you replace carbs and fat with protein, you reduce the hunger hormone and boost several satiety hormones.

The combination of proteins and high fiber has the added advantage of slowing down digestion, which helps prevent sudden sugar spikes and manage diabetes better.

Role of proteins in weight loss

“Protein causes early satiety, which means that you feel full,” says Dr Anusha ND, associate consultant, endocrinology, Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore. “It also activates hormones (glucagon-like peptide 1-GLP 1) which leads to a decrease in appetite.” This further reduces the calorie count.

Dr Pramod V Satya, consultant, internal medicine and diabetologist, Manipal Hospitals, Millers Road, Bangalore, says, “Protein does not have a role in weight loss as such. Reduction of carbohydrates and fat — which are the main sources of energy — is essential to ensure weight loss. Proteins are the building blocks of the body. When carbohydrates and healthy fats are taken in moderation and replaced by plant or animal proteins, it results in weight loss and good health.”

Proteins and diabetes management

Dr Anusha says if people have a protein-rich breakfast they will feel full and it is unlikely they would want to have snacks before lunch.

Weight loss is important for people with diabetes because it helps them deal with insulin resistance; when you lose weight, it may cause insulin to work more efficiently.

Protein-rich foods for weight loss

• Chicken breast (skinless): Vani Krishna, chief nutritionist at Manipal Hospitals, Varthur Road, Bangalore, says 100gm of chicken breast contains 24gm protein and 161.9 kilocalories (kcal). It is low in calories and high in protein, making it good for weight loss. “Chicken contains lean protein that helps one feel full for a longer duration. Krishna emphasises that chicken breast should be eaten grilled, baked or boiled.

• Soybean: “A hundred grams of soybean contains 38gm of protein,” says Krishna. “It is considered a complete protein as it has the essential amino acids that the body needs.” She adds that soybean is also rich in fiber and consuming it in moderation helps in weight loss.

However, dietitian and nutritionist Gunita Kaur from Amritsar, Punjab, points out that eating soybean in excess has a negative impact too as it can cause digestive issues. She adds that it contains oxalate which can lead to kidney stones.

• Egg: Eggs are considered to be one of the best sources of protein — one egg white contains 4gm of protein.

Egg whites are especially rich in all nine essential amino acids which the body needs from the diet. They are low in calories, fat and cholesterol, which lowers the risk of cardiac diseases.

Krishna suggests that along with egg whites in the diet, one should eat an adequate amount of complex or fiber-rich carbs, fat, vitamins and minerals which aid weight loss. Adding egg whites as a post-workout food helps preserve muscle mass.

• Lentils: Dal is a vital ingredient in the Indian diet. One hundred grams of uncooked moong dal contains 24gm of proteins. Krishna says moong dal is a rich source of potassium, magnesium, iron and other trace minerals that help regulate blood circulation and muscle functions. “Moong dal, being also low in GI [glycemic index], prevents blood sugar spikes,” says Krishna.

• Sardines:  Krishna recommends sardines because of their high protein content and nutritional value. One hundred grams of sardines contain 17.5gm of protein. Sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help burn out fat more effectively.

• Cottage cheese (paneer): One of the best sources of protein for vegetarians, paneer is low in carbs and should therefore be a part of their weight-loss diet. One hundred grams of paneer contain 8.8gm of protein.

• Quinoa: Quinoa, a whole grain rich in fiber and protein, helps to support gut microbes. It contains more fiber than other cereals. Up to 90% of this are insoluble fibers (like cellulose), which may be fermented in the gut, feeding you friendly bacteria and promoting better overall health.

Quinoa also provides some resistant starch, which feeds the beneficial bacteria in the gut, promoting the formation of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), improving gut health and cutting your risk of disease.

One hundred grams of quinoa provide 13gm of protein. The glycemic index of quinoa is 53 (low-glycaemic foods have a rating of 55 or less) which will not cause a rapid spike in the blood glucose. Having quinoa also reduces hunger cravings.

•  Green peas: These contain 20gm protein per 100g and are high in fiber and antioxidants. Peas, which are anti-inflammatory in nature, protect the cells from oxidative stress.

Bharathi Kumar, a dietician at Fortis Hospital in Nagarbhavi, Bangalore, emphasizes that along with a protein diet, people need to work out to ensure that they burn calories.

She cautions against having protein in excess as that can affect the kidney due to an increase in uric acid levels. Kumar recommends steamed fish over fried fish.

Her advice to people with diabetes is to have small and frequent meals. Kumar also suggests having a bowl of beans or cauliflower to increase the protein intake for breakfast.

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