The Top Tips for Your Best A1c Yet

Tip 1: Protein – Including some protein, whether plant or animal-based, at every meal, will help with satiation and with post-meal glucose spikes.

Tip 2: Movement – Consistent physical activity and movement each day will help increase your insulin sensitivity. Any type of exercise or movement is suitable!

Tip 3: Portion Sizes – Knowing what and how much you’re eating will help reduce guesswork with insulin dosing or food tracking.


Ben Tzeel a registered dietitian, certified strength and conditioning specialist, joins Diabetes Daily to discuss nutrition, ways of eating, and getting the most out of your diabetes management tools and tactics. He is the owner of Your Diabetes Insider, an online nutrition and fitness coaching business that focuses on individuals living with diabetes. He has lived with type 1 diabetes since he was seven years old.


Why Your Breakfast Matters

People say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Then again, you probably get confused because you hear about people who don’t eat breakfast and do intermittent fasting… and they seem like they’re doing perfectly fine.

So, who do you believe? What do you do? What’s the best thing for you? And most importantly, what’s the best thing for your blood sugars?

At the end of the day, we want to make sure our blood sugar levels are in the best possible place, and breakfast, should you choose to eat it, does play a massive role in that, as it sets the tone for the entire day. So, let’s make sure you’re crushing it at breakfast.

Here are three important considerations that you need to be thinking about when it comes to eating breakfast:

1. Insulin Resistance in the Morning

You might have noticed over time that no matter what you do, you eat something for breakfast that has plenty of carbs in it, and your blood sugar skyrockets. You could be eating cereal, you could be eating some toast–no matter what you eat, your blood sugar just goes to the moon, and it is super frustrating. “Why?” you wonder. “This makes no sense.”

However, here’s the situation: Your body produces a hormone called cortisol, which is not the friendliest hormone in your body. Why? Cortisol induces insulin resistance…and it peaks around 7:00 am. What else happens around 7:00 am? Breakfast.

What do many people eat for breakfast? High-glycemic carbs like cereal. So, if the time of day where you’re most insulin resistant coincides with the time of day where you may be eating the most carbs,  that might explain why your blood sugars spike so much.

What is one thing that you can do to reduce the frequency of that? It’s simple. Consider a lower-carb breakfast option. Now, I’m not saying you have to get rid of all of your carbs at breakfast–I’m just advocating to consider decreasing the amount of carbs you eat at breakfast if you notice you are perpetually having high blood sugars afterwards.

2. Caffeine

What is one of the staples in most people’s early morning meal? Coffee.

Why is that significant to you and your blood sugar? Caffeine can cause the liver to release glycogen, aka stored glucose, into the bloodstream. When that happens, your blood sugar starts to go up, despite coffee not having any carbs on its own (unless you add things to it).

If you’ve been drinking coffee for a while without taking any sort of consideration as to your blood sugars, and suddenly you’re noticing it’s trending up slowly but surely every single time you have it, the coffee could be the culprit and may need to be considered when calculating your breakfast insulin dose.

3. Protein

As a dietitian, I am supposed to tell you to always have a “balanced meal.” You know what that means (*yawn*). Have your carb source, your veggie or fruit, and your protein!

At the end of the day, it’s up to you what you choose to eat. We’ve already covered the carb sources in part #1.

One of the other major components we haven’t talked about yet? Protein, which can actually raise your blood sugar, especially depending on the type of protein that is consumed. Different proteins may affect your blood sugar in different ways.

And if you’re someone who decides to go lower-carb at breakfast because of reason number one, don’t forget this: protein can impact your blood sugar by causing glucose release from the liver.

Think of it like in The Hunger Games, when the Katnis says, “I offer myself as tribute.”

That is what carbs are doing when protein is consumed with it. Carbs protect protein, but especially without the carbs, protein is more likely to trigger higher blood glucose levels. Just another consideration for you to make sure you are having awesome blood sugars early in the day. Isn’t diabetes and metabolism fun?

Read more about how to account for protein in your diet here: How to Calculate Bolus Insulin Dosing for Protein.

With all this information you’re probably thinking, “Well, why even bother eating breakfast at all?” And that’s the greatest thing: you have the choice. You don’t have to eat breakfast if you don’t want to. But, many people do, since it gives them a good boost to start off their day.

So, with these three handy tips, you can hopefully dial in on your blood sugars a little bit more, which will then allow you to be able to have an easier rest of your day. Because remember: the beginning of the day is going to have a major impact over how the rest is going to go.


How to Get More Protein in Your Diet 

Protein is an essential macronutrient made up of amino acids that helps to build bones, muscles, cartilage and skin but it is also responsible for so much more. Protein plays a role in almost every process of a cell, from metabolic reactions, fighting infection, providing us with energy, repairing cells, etc.

There are 20 total amino acids with 9 of them considered essential since our body does not create them on their own; therefore we need to consume them daily. The amount of protein an individual needs is based on many factors and it is best to consult with your healthcare team before making any changes to your diet. Also, if you have kidney disease or other kidney issues,  you should consider that as well.

There are online calculators you can use to give you an idea of how much protein you should take in. Also, if you are an athlete, do strenuous exercise such as lifting weights, or are looking to put on weight or build more muscle mass, you may want to add more protein than the recommended amount.

Many people find it hard to fit in the recommended amount of protein per day. With a few tips and tricks, you can easily be on your way to meeting your protein goals.

Here are 5 ways to get more protein in your diet:

1. Start Your Day Off Right

Many breakfast foods are packed with protein which will keep you satisfied way past lunchtime. Experiment with egg omelets and muffins, protein pancakes, Greek yogurt or even a protein shake and you’ll be well on your way to hitting your daily protein requirement. My favorite protein shake to make is easy: 1 scoop of protein powder, 1/3 almond milk, 1/2 tin Greek yogurt, one tablespoon of your favorite peanut butter (or PB2 for less calories, carbs and fat), a drizzle of sugar-free chocolate syrup and blend with ice.

2. Plan Your Plate

When preparing your meal focus on having half your plate consist of a protein, 1/4-1/2 containing vegetables, and the other quarter for whole grains or other carbs if you so desire. If you’re watching your weight, it’s a good idea to focus on leaner proteins, like chicken and fish, as a lot of fat and calories can come along with some richer protein choices. Keeping this mentality will help you hit your protein goals and also keep you from eating empty calories.

3. Find New Options Online

There are so many health blogs and websites that offer delicious recipes for free. Have you ever had a protein ball? Some can contain as many as 10 grams of protein. It’s a great snack to take on the go, freezes well, and will keep your blood sugars in check too. Also, shop for specialty items, like low-carb flours online. Look out for promotions and special deals to buy in bulk, or save some money if it’s your first time buying — many online shops will offer such discounts!

4. Buy in Bulk

If you’re focusing on increasing your protein, you’ll likely need to add more lean meat, fish or other plant-based protein sources so buying in bulk will help you save money and allow you to meal prep too. Consider prepping and freezing too, it makes deciding what for dinner much easier. Whether you’re going to your local Costco, or finding a great deal on the internet (see above), buying staples in bulk is sure to save you some cash.

5. Preparedness Is Key

If you are actively trying to increase your protein, you are likely tracking what you eat. Preparing meals ahead of time allows you to customize your meals to the exact macros you set. This will also help avoid last-minute food runs that offer little to no nutrition at all. Some great apps to help you track your macros are MyFitnessPal and MyPlate.

Eating more protein will make you feel fuller longer, build and strengthen muscles, along with many other health benefits. Make sure to discuss with your doctor how much protein is right for you and you will be well on your way to a healthier version of you!

Do you find it hard to get in your daily recommended dose of protein? What tips and tricks can you share?


Recipe Roundup: 4 Protein-Rich Recipes from Dietitians

Many people with diabetes follow a high-protein diet for good reasons. It’s low glycemic, which means it doesn’t cause abrupt sugar spikes. It also makes you feel fuller for a longer time, which can help you sustain your energy until your next meal. Studies have also proven it’s good for weight loss, building muscles, and bone health.

All these health benefits made us think of reaching out to dietitians and nutritionists for recipes that are not only protein-rich but also palatable. Here are their suggestions:

Pizza Chicken Foil Packet

pizza chicken foil pack

Photo credit: Abbey Sharp

Insulin dosing for pizza can be tricky, due to its combination of high carbohydrates and high fats, so if you’re craving for some but want to ditch the carbs, this savory meal can be a good substitute. Registered dietitian, Abbey Sharp, says it’s easy to pull this off and can be readily modified depending on what’s in your fridge or what you or your family like on your pizza. To ensure that it’s low in carbs, be sure to use sugar-free sauce.

Salmon Burgers

salmon burger

Photo credit: Alexis Joseph

Packed with omega-3 fatty acids, this salmon recipe is a sure hit for everyone in the family. Hummusapien registered dietitian, Alexis Joseph, offers options to keep the carbs low. Instead of using breadcrumbs to keep the patties together, you can use almond flour. Instead of serving it in a bun with greens, you can chop it up and devour it in a loaded salad. The best part is that these burgers freeze well, making your dinner on busy days a breeze.

Easy Blackened Shrimp

blackened shrimp

Photo credit: Kaleigh McMordie

Is it possible to cook something healthy within 5 minutes? Yes, Kaleigh McMordie, the registered dietitian at Lively Table, proves this with this shrimp recipe. Just place the shrimp in a bowl, toss some lemon juice and blackening seasoning, and cook the shrimp in a non-stick skillet for 2-3 minutes each side. You will have extra blackening seasoning from this recipe, so be sure to store it in an air-tight container for future use.

Miso Chicken – One Pan Meal

miso chicken

Photo credit: Natalie Brady

Baked chicken and vegetables can be boring, but using a delicious dressing or sauce can make a huge difference in your meal. Registered Clinical Nutritionist, Natalie Brady offers her miso sauce as one of your options. Miso, a thick Japanese paste made from fermented soybeans, is rich in protein and nutrients.

What protein-rich recipe do you serve at home regularly? Share them in the comments – we would like to know and try them out!

Recipe Roundup_ 4 Protein-Rich Recipes from Dietitians


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