At the most basic level, diabetes—both type 1 and type 2—involve abnormally high levels of blood sugar. Over time, this can lead to serious complications including neuropathy, blindness, as well as heart and kidney diseases. The causes, though, are different for each diabetes type. Type 2 is driven primarily by environmental factors, such as being overweight or obese and following a high-fat, high-sugar diet. This form of diabetes mostly affects adults. Type 1 diabetes, formerly called juvenile-onset diabetes, is an autoimmune disease. The body’s own immune system mistakenly destroys the insulin-producing islet cells in your pancreas. Lack of insulin leads to dangerously high blood sugar levels.
One of the best ways to manage your blood sugar is to eat a balanced diet composed of all three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Still, we know carbohydrates tend to have the most significant impact on blood sugar. In contrast, fat and protein have a more minor effect. Protein’s role in glucose absorption in your body is to slow down or blunt the release of glucose into your bloodstream. While the metabolism of macronutrients is similar, each one has a different impact on blood sugars. To understand this further, remember that protein is broken down into smaller substances called amino acids, which can help with muscle synthesis or be converted into glucose in the liver. While those amino acids may stimulate gluconeogenesis, which is the generation of glucose from non-carbohydrate sources, in the liver they do not impact how quickly the liver releases glucose into the bloodstream in the presence of adequate insulin. In other words, amino acids have a minimal impact on blood glucose levels in healthy people.