Sometimes you just don't know what spikes your blood sugar. So you've been a "good diabetic" and gone low-carb and high protein all week long, and you're STILL running over 180 too much of the time? Aaack!

As I was complaining about this lately, a number of commenters jumped in to point out that some of the protein we eat gets converted to glucose as well. Turns out this is correct, but with a number of caveats, that make it unlikely to be the cause of an SUS (sudden unexplained {blood glucose} surge).


In particular:

* protein can convert to carbs in your system through a process called called gluconeogenesis. This takes place in your liver, and to a smaller extent, in your kidneys, I've read. But this process is generally kicked off only in extreme cases of glucose debt, such as during fasting, starvation, or intense, prolonged exercise (none of those would be me)

* according to blogger/diet expert Jimmy Moore, people on extreme low-carb diets do experience BG spikes for just this reason. "If protein is consumed in excess of energy needs, then some of that extra glucose that is created by the liver through the breakdown of protein can indeed lead to the same kind of spike in blood sugar as eating a slice of white bread or white sugar would," he tells me.

* but it takes much more protein (in terms of grams) to raise your blood sugar than it does carbs. I really don't eat THAT much protein, in terms of pure volume of food...

* and if you eat protein along with carbs (as I typically do), the GI impact of those carbs is reduced by the slower-absorbing protein. So why should I spike so much after just a few mostly-protein meals?

* sometimes the fat's at fault. "For example, if you ate pizza the previous night. The fat causes a delayed rise in glucose that could last until the next day, yes," my co-author Dr. Jackson tells me. That seems like an awfully long lag time!

OK, so I get it: "A high-fat diet, in the absence of carbohydrates, typically results in weight loss. Yet your blood glucose does not drop too low, because your liver continues to convert some of the dietary protein into glucose." But since my diet is not consistently low-carb/high fat, and I'm bolusing painstakingly what feels like 14x/day, what is UP with the highs? I know I should be more consistent with my meals, but what's a busy and active PWD to do out in the Real World?

Some sensible advice:

"Opt for a healthy ratio of 30% protein, 15% fat, and 55% complex carbohydrates." Because too much protein may affect your kidneys. (Authorities claim there is simply not enough information about the long-term effects of a high-protein diet.)

Man, all this data is creating some diet anxiety over here. As usual, Dr. J had a nice way of bringing the whole discussion down to Earth: "Just think about it in a food sense, think about meals with a little bit of each type of food. You eat the calories, your body makes glucose, and that's the energy you run on."

"Yes," I replied. "That sounds simple -- if I just didn't need to dose for every gram of carb!!"

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.


This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.