Picture of Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD

Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD

Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD, the founder of Milk & Honey Nutrition, is a diabetes dietitian (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) renowned for combining her knowledge of diabetes and culinary expertise into easy-to-follow recipes and articles!


What Meats Can People with Diabetes Eat?

Article Overview

what meats can people with diabetes eat

In this article, we’ll answer the question “what meats can people with diabetes eat,?” and provide healthful tips for incorporating meat into your diabetes routine. 

There’s not one right way to eat when living with diabetes, since different things work for different people. Many people choose to follow a plant based diet, but that doesn’t mean you have to if you find yourself wanting to enjoy meat and wondering what meats can people with diabetes eat?

Does meat cause diabetes?

Before we dive in, let’s address a common myth I see floating around the internet. 

No, eating meat does not cause diabetes. 

As a registered dietitian, people ask me all the time what the best way to eat to both prevent and manage diabetes is. And, it’s important to remember that there’s not one way that’s best. We are all unique and different, and different things work for different people. If you want to enjoy meat while living with diabetes, you absolutely can. 

Survey data tells us that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is lower among people who follow a plant based diet. So, it’s understandable that some people would assume that means eating meat (and other animal foods) will lead to diabetes. 

But, this is not necessarily the case. 

Additional research shows us that it’s more likely that the reason for a lower risk of type 2 diabetes in people eating a plant based diet is because of the higher amounts of fiber in a plant based diet. And this makes sense because people who follow a plant based diet consume more fiber than other groups of people. 

So, you can absolutely still enjoy meat as part of a balanced blood sugar friendly eating pattern if you’re living with diabetes. But, we also need to focus on eating enough fiber

Don’t worry though… I link to some delicious meat recipes, that also incorporate some fiber-rich veggies, below. 

Is meat good for diabetes?

Meat can provide a high quality protein source at both meals and snacks to help promote stable blood sugars. Protein can help promote stable blood sugars when consumed alongside carbohydrates by slowing down how quickly your body digests carbohydrate. 

What meats are good for diabetes?

People living with diabetes need to be mindful of saturated fat intake. So, the best meats for diabetes are those that are lower in saturated fat. When we try to answer what meat can people with diabetes eat, we are focusing on meats with less saturated fat…

  • Lean beef
  • Lean pork
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Wild game

We’ll elaborate on which cuts of meat each of these categories includes below. 

Red meat and diabetes

Red meat encompasses a wide variety of meats, cuts, and flavors. And, while some varieties have more saturated fat and should be consumed in moderation, there are many cuts of lean red meat that can be incorporated into a healthy diabetes eating pattern on a regular basis.

Is red meat bad for people with diabetes?

Certain cuts of red meat should be consumed in moderation, while others (lean cuts) can be consumed more often. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on beef, but people with diabetes can also eat other lean varieties of red meat like lamb loin chops and ground venison. 

grilled lamb loin chops

Grilled Lamb Loin Chops with Corn on the Cob and Grilled Romaine

Whether it’s Easter Lunch or a typical weekend cookout, grilled lamb loin chops made with American Lamb are the perfect way to enjoy springtime outside!
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Focus on these cuts of lean beef:

Can people with diabetes eat steak?

There are many cuts of lean beef that make great steaks. Look for these different varieties next time you’re at the grocery store or butcher:

  • Strip steak (boneless)
  • Flank steak
  • Top sirloin filet
  • Eye of round steak
  • Strip filet
  • Tenderloin steak

Can people with diabetes eat hamburgers?

Hamburgers can be part of a nutrient dense blood sugar friendly meal. Focus on using lean ground beef, and add on your favorite veggie toppings. You can go bun-less if you want to, but you certainly don’t have to! Choose a fiber rich bread and enjoy!

Diabetes ground beef recipes

Lean ground beef tends to be the most cost effective way to incorporate lean beef into your weekly routine… and offers a wide variety of recipe potentials!

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Cheesy Veggie & Ground Beef Quesadillas

These Cheesy Veggie & Ground Beef Quesadillas are the perfect, easy weeknight meal filled with lots of veggies and flavorful ground beef!
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Cheesy Beef & Kale Pasta Bake

This cheesy ground beef pasta recipe is the perfect weeknight meal and is so delicious!
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beef and bean chili with gluten free cornbread

Homestyle Beef & Bean Chili

The best beef and bean chili you'll ever make and it comes together in under 45 minutes!
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Is pork good for diabetes? 

Much like beef and other cuts of red meat, people often assume pork is off limits. Unless you have a food allergy, or are avoiding pork as part of your religious tradition or culture, you can enjoy all cuts of pork as part of a balanced diet. 

Higher fat cuts of pork should be consumed less often than lean cuts, but can still be consumed along side other nutrient rich foods like veggies, grains, and legumes. 

Lean cuts of pork include:

  • Tenderloin
  • Boneless loin roast
  • Boneless loin chop
  • Extra lean ham

Is ham good for diabetes?

While most ham is higher in saturated fat and sodium than other pork options, you can purchase extra lean ham if desired. 

Can people with diabetes eat hot dogs?

Who doesn’t love a good hot dog? Much like hamburgers, there’s some great high quality options out there. And, when combined with some veggie toppings and nutrient dense sides, hot dogs can be part of a balanced meal.

Can people with diabetes eat sausage?

Yes, sausage can be eaten in moderation as part of a well balanced diet. Sausage is often made from pork, though it can be made from other meats like turkey and chicken. Try to focus on lower sodium, leaner sausage options when choosing sausage.

*Unrelated to diabetes, remember that processed meats should be consumed in moderation for other health reasons like cancer prevention and GI health. This includes lunch meats, sausage, bacon, hot dogs, etc. 

Diabetes pork recipes

Try some of these delicious lean pork recipes…

pork loin roast with onions and potatoes on wooden cutting board

Sheet Pan Boneless Pork Loin and Potatoes

This Sheet Pan Boneless Pork Loin and Potatoes recipe is perfect for everything from a special occasion to an easy weeknight dinner!
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pork tenderloin with bacon and green beans and peach barbecue sauce

Grilled Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

This Grilled Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin recipe is super simple to prepare on the grill and a sure crowd pleaser!
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Is turkey good for diabetes?

Turkey can be part of a balanced diet while managing diabetes. Both light and dark meat can be included. 

If you’re looking for ways to cut back on saturated fat, consider choosing white meat cuts and removing the skin before eating. 

Diabetes turkey recipes

Here are some of my favorite diabetes-friendly turkey recipes.

gluten free chili with turkey cheddar cheese and limes in two bowls

Gluten Free High Protein Turkey Chili

View Recipe
Thai Veggie Protein Wraps stacked on a plate

Veggie Protein Wraps

This recipe is so versatile and can be served as a warm salad, cold salad, or as awrap. It's even great as a relish on top of salmon or turkey burgers. 
View Recipe

Is chicken good for diabetes?

Just like turkey, chicken and other poultry can be included in a diabetes friendly eating pattern. You can bake, air fry, or sauté lots of yummy recipes! 

Diabetes chicken recipes

chicken salad with grapes and walnuts

Easy Chicken Salad with Grapes & Walnuts

Easy Chicken Salad with Grapes and Walnuts is a protein-packed recipe you must add to your lunch and dinner recipe rotation!
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chicken fajita casserole on spatula with white baking dish

Healthy Baked Chicken Fajita Casserole

Who doesn't love an easy and delicious chicken fajita casserole recipe that's ready in no time?!
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chicken bacon ranch pasta salad in white bowl

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

I’ve got your new go to favorite party recipe for Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad!
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What meat can people with diabetes eat? Best meats for diabetes

At the end of the day, if you want to include meat in your diabetes nutrition plan, you absolutely can alongside other fiber and protein rich foods. 

Focus on leaner cuts of meat for more frequent consumption, and save higher saturated fat cuts for special occasions or less frequent consumption. 

Some of my personal favorite lean meat cuts include:

  • Pork tenderloin
  • Lean ground beef
  • Flank steak
  • Skinless chicken thighs
  • Turkey breast
  • Lamb loin chops

And, regardless of how you prepare them, don’t forget to pair your meats with fiber rich veggies, grains. Nuts, seeds, and legumes!

what meats can people with diabetes eat

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