How to do Protein counting

It was really hard to make the transition from carb counting to protein counting in the beginning.

It is important to understand how protein is absorbed in your body.


Protein gets broken down in your digestive system by enzymes into amino acids.
These amino acids are reassembled in your body into muscle, nerves, vital organs, hormones, enzymes and neurochemicals.

Sources of protein:

And in smaller quantities:
In legumes (beans and lentils), seeds and nuts

Your body can transform protein into glucose in the liver, initiated by the hormone glucagon. This process is much slower that the process of transforming carbohydrates into glucose.

A high protein diet does not cause kidney disease in diabetics, the real cause is the constant high blood sugars and high insulin dosages to cover a high carbohydrate diet.

According to Dr Bernstein Diabetes is the greatest cause of kidney failure in the USA. Early kidney changes can be found within two or three years after the onset of high blood sugars.

Kidney damage is reversible when blood glucose is brought under control but there is a point of no return where the kidney is so damaged that stabilized blood sugars have no effect on the kidneys. Increase in dietary protein have however been shown to slightly accelerate kidney damage once the kidney have been irreversibly damaged.

How to bolus for protein

When you or your child is diagnosed with Diabetes 1 you might be taught that you do not have to bolus (inject) for protein. The reason probably being that protein requires very little insulin and much of it will be covered with your bolus for whatever carbs you are eating per meal.

When you remove carbohydrates from the diet there is nothing to cover the protein so you have to start injecting insulin for it.

How to bolus (inject insulin) for Protein

Although you will need less insulin in the long run you will need to bolus for all protein intake. Some proteins like dairy also contains lactose which is a sugar and therefore you will need slightly more insulin for it.

Before introducing a low carb diet, Lucca did not have to bolus for something like a glass of milk because he was receiving so much insulin to cover the carbohydrates that it also covered the milk.

Ex: Now we have to specifically bolus for the glass of milk as there are no additional insulin present.

One of the major reasons to follow a low carb diet is for better glucose control. That means that you micro manage your blood sugars far better and previously considered “free” food like nuts and milk are covered more diligently with insulin.

Protein Bolus

Dr Bernstein (in his book Dr Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution) suggests that you bolus ½ a unit of insulin for every 28g protein. This is the method that we are using at the moment.

(Take in consideration that a something like a chicken thigh only 20g of protein per 100g. See a full protein list at the back of the book)

Other Diabetics find it easier to just bolus the protein as carbs minus 50%.

This protein chart helped us to understand the breakdown of protein, carbs and fat in foods like diary and meat. It also helped us in the beginning work out the bolussing for meals without carbohydrates like rice and potatoes.