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New research shows that a big breakfast with the right ratio of macro-nutrients may help to balance blood sugar levels and make it easier for diabetics to maintain healthy glucose levels.

Diabetes, once it is acquired, is a lifelong condition, with the two primary types being Type 2 diabetes and Type 1 diabetes. There are cells in the pancreas known as beta cells. Their primary function is to produce the hormone insulin. Sugar from the blood moves into cells with the help of insulin, and then it is stored till the time when the body needs it.

With diabetes, blood sugar gets too high because either the body's cells do not respond to insulin properly, or not enough insulin is produced, or both.

The most common symptoms of elevated blood sugar include frequent urination, increased hunger, and increased thirst.

In the United States, 25.6 million people aged 20 and older are diagnosed with diabetes. There are also 215,000 people under the age of 20 in the US who have the same diagnosis. It is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, and every yea, approximately $174 billion is spent on the diabetes care. 

Big breakfasts and diabetes research

Those with diabetes may benefit from eating a big breakfast rich in protein. Studies show that this may have a positive effect on fasting glucose levels, body mass index and insulin sensitivity. The research looked at consuming one-third of the normal daily calories at breakfast while ensuring that this meal is high in protein and fat. After 13 weeks on such diet, those eating a big breakfast had significant decreases in systolic blood pressure and blood glucose levels. Hunger levels were decreased throughout the day and fasting glucose was improved. 

One-third of all study participants who ate a big breakfast were able to decrease the doses of their diabetes drugs. Those who ate small breakfasts had to increase the doses of diabetes medications during the study to regulate their blood glucose levels.

Crafting a big breakfast for diabetes

On average, it is recommended that people consume the amount of food equivalent to 2,000 to 2,400 calories per day, but it is advisable to consult a health adviser to determine how many calories an individual really needs each day. Take your daily caloric intake and divide it by three to determine the amount of calories you need for your breakfast. For example, those eating 2,000 calories per day should eat a 660-calorie breakfast.

It is important that all of the proteins and fats come from healthy sources because foods that are high in unhealthy fats can contribute to the development of various heart diseases.

Lean meats and eggs are a good option and they can be combined to increase protein intake. Certain yogurts can also be combined with fats and proteins, making them an ideal side dish to improve the overall fat and protein intake for breakfast.

Some carbohydrates are most certainly necessary to our body, but should be kept to a minimum. Pay close attention to the proteins and fats you add and count the carbohydrates that are already there before adding any additional carbohydrate options. When you add carbohydrates, stick to complex carbohydrates, such as those in whole grains, because these break down slower in the body for more sustained energy release. When carbohydrates break down slower, they do not cause sharp blood sugar spikes and crash either, allowing you to maintain more steady levels throughout the day. You also should try to get the carbohydrate options that contain fibers to keep you satiated for a longer period of time.

Continue reading after recommendations

  • Rabinovitz, H.R., et al. (2014). Big breakfast rich in protein and fat improves glycemic control in type 2 diabetes. Obesity 22(5): E46-54
  • Wycherley, T.P., et al. (2012). Effects of energy-restricted high protein, low-fat compared with standard-protein, low-fat diets: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 96(6): 1281-98
  • Martin, W.F., et al. (2005). Dietary protein intake and renal function. Nutrition & Metabolism. 2: 25.
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