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
- 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 with Corn on the Cob and Grilled Romaine
Focus on these cuts of lean beef:
- Flank steak
- Lean ground 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!
Cheesy Veggie & Ground Beef Quesadillas
Cheesy Beef & Kale Pasta Bake
Homestyle Beef & Bean Chili
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:
- 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…
Sheet Pan Boneless Pork Loin and Potatoes
Grilled Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin
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 High Protein Turkey ChiliView Recipe
Veggie Protein Wraps
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
Easy Chicken Salad with Grapes & Walnuts
Healthy Baked Chicken Fajita Casserole
Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
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!