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Protein and Diabetes

I am a type 2 Diabetic. I have been trying to consume between 150 and 200 grams of protein daily, but my doctor told me I’m ruining my kidneys which are apparently more vulnerable to damage because of my condition. I haven’t had any tests done to prove his suspicion, but suppose he’s right and I end up having to drastically reduce my protein intake? How much would cutting back to, say, 50-100 grams a day affect my progress? I’d hate to think of having to adopt a diet that consists almost exclusively of carbs and fat, especially since I’ve been trying to go easy on the carbs to cut up. I’m wondering if anyone out there has any input on my situation. I know most of you aren’t doctors but what do you think?

Well, it would be a good idea to get a second opinion, preferably from a doctor who knows something about sports nutrition. Not that all sports medicine doctors will be any means, but it could be a starting place.

Your doctor may be absolutely right. If there
are kidney problems already, a high protein diet can aggravate them.

On the other hand, your doctor may be ignorant and/or stupid. For example, a few years back I had a strange condition where for about 10 days my body temperature was down around 94 F. I was really out of it, could not concentrate, could not think, had fast pulse, elevated blood pressure. The idiot doctor I went to, after asking me various questions including my diet, announced (no blood tests or anything, mind you!) that the cause was kidney disease caused by my high protein diet: “high protein diets cause kidney disease and this is what is wrong with you, you must reduce your protein intake.”

She was just stupid and ignorant. I did not have kidney disease, nor does a high protein
diet cause kidney disease.

BTW, thyroid levels were normal… it’s a complete mystery what happened.

So that’s an illustration that you can certainly get ignorant advice from a doctor
on this matter, so a second opinion would be worthwhile.

If you have to go to low protein, I guess it would cost you 10-15 lb off the size you might otherwise attain.

I am a physician, and it just so happens that I researched this very topic for a type II diabetic friend of mine a while back. A kidney specialist told me that there is no good evidence that high protein diets cause kidney problems in people with normal kidney function (I do not know if there is any data on the typical bodybuilder diet, but this would suggest that at least 100-150 mg is safe). I think it critical that you get your kidney function tested. You need a good physician (an endocrinologist-preferably one who specializes in people with diabetes). You’ll want to have both a blood test(creatinine) and urine tests for creatinine clearence and protein as well as I believe it is microalbumin. To maintain your kidney health I would urge you to keep your blood pressure under super tight control (my friend had good luck with a drug called enalopril which can be very good for the kidneys. The amino acid arginine taken on an empy stomach will also lower blood pressure although how long it lasts is variable). It is also vital to keep tight control on your blood sugar and to monitor it regularly. Metformin is one drug that can be very good for this purpose. Alas a good endocrinologist will be only partially helpful here as there are many supplements that can lower blood sugar that it is unlikely for an MD to know about. PLEASE find someone competent to help you work with the supplements (some sort of alternative practitioner). Ones that can be helpful to lower blood sugar include chromium, lipoic acid, an indian (ayurvedic) herb gymnema sylvestre, vanadium (be careful here I do not know what the upper safe dose is) and perhaps biotin (high dose). The spice cinnamon can also be helpful. You can find additional information on insulin sensitizing suplements in this week’s column Appetite for Construction http://testosterone.net/articles/150app.html Also check out http://www.lef.org/protocols/prtcl-042.shtml for more information on treating diabetes (but again DO NOT TREAT YOURSELF WITHOUT SUPERVISION).