What Meats can a Diabetic Eat? 5 Healthful Meat Options

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you must be careful about your meat choice. Some meats are loaded with cholesterol, saturated fat and also caloric dense. Eating this kind of meat makes you obese and raises your cholesterol level. 

So, it doesn’t mean you can not eat meat. But, choosing lean protein and paying attention to serving size is important. You need to eat sensibly and portion-controlled to make it easier to control your sugar level. 

In this article, you will learn the best meat choices, suggested portion sizes, and the best time to eat with your meal. Make it is for yourself to eat only those meats that control your sugar level. As everyone responds differently to each food, always monitor your blood sugar before and after eating certain meat. 

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1. Chicken or Turkey

Chicken or Turkey

People with diabetes can add chicken or turkey to their balanced diet as they are good sources of nutrients with low calories. These are the best source of lean protein and no saturated fat, which helps you to regulate your blood sugar level. 

Method Of Preparation:

The cooking method also affects blood sugar. That is why grilling, baking, or roasting without excessive oil or breading is generally a healthier choice than frying.

Portion Size: 

It is very important to monitor portion size before consumption. For chicken or turkey, 3-4 ounces (about the size of a deck of cards) is recommended.

Best Time to Eat: 

You can include it as a main protein source for lunch or dinner. Pairing with fibre-rich foods like vegetables, whole grains, or legumes can help stabilise blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates.

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2. Fish 

Fish is a healthy and good protein choice for people with diabetes. It is low in saturated fats, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and a good addition to a balanced diabetic diet. 

There is a list of some of fish that are especially suitable for diabetics:

  • Fatty Fish (Salmon, Mackerel, Tuna, Sardines)
  • Lean Fish (Haddock, Northern pike, Eel)
  • Shellfish
  • Canned Tuna and Salmon
  • Whitefish

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Method Of Preparation:

The nutritional value depends on its preparation method. The best methods are grilling, baking, broiling, or steaming fish as compared to frying. 

Portion Size:

Always be mindful of portion sizes, as eating too much of any food can affect blood sugar levels. You can eat  3-4 ounces with a meal. 

The American Diabetes Association recommends eating fish (mainly fatty fish) twice weekly for people with diabetes is healthy. 

Best Time to Eat:

Fish is a versatile option. You can have it for lunch or dinner. Fatty fish like salmon is especially good due to its omega-3 fatty acids, which have potential heart health benefits.

3. Lean Cuts Of Beef

Lean Cuts Of Beef

People with diabetes can add lean cuts of beef to their diet and limit the intake of unhealthy fats. Lean cuts of beef are a good source of protein and essential nutrients. 

Method Of Preparation:

Cooking methods matter to save nutrients. Choose healthy cooking methods such as grilling, broiling, baking, or roasting. Avoid frying or cooking in excessive amounts of oil.

Before cooking a cut of beef that has visible fat, trim it before cooking to reduce the saturated fat content.

Portion Size:

The suitable serving size of meat is about 3 to 4 ounces for diabetics.

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Best Time to Eat: 

You can eat meat occasionally in moderation. Lean cuts include sirloin, tenderloin, or loin chops. Try to limit red meat consumption to a few times per month. Combine lean beef with non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. It helps create a balanced meal that moderates the impact on blood sugar levels.

4. Vegetarian Meat Substitutes

Vegetarian Meat Substitutes

Vegetarian meat substitutes are also known as plant-based meat alternatives or meat analogues. These products compensate for traditional animal-based meats’ taste, texture, and appearance. They are typically made up of plant-based ingredients and are the magical source of protein for vegetarians, vegans, and individuals looking to reduce their consumption of animal products.

Here are some common vegetarian meat substitutes:

  • Tofu 
  • Tempeh 
  • Seitan
  • Legume-Based Substitutes
  • Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
  • Mushroom-Based Meat Substitutes
  • Processed Plant-Based Meat
  • Jackfruit

Combining plant-based meat substitutes with vegetables, whole grains, and legumes can help you create balanced and nutritious meals.

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Method Of Preparation:

The way these substitutes are prepared matters for the nutritional value. Heating and frying can lose most of the macronutrients. Therefore, grilling, baking, or sauteing with minimal oil is healthier than deep frying or cooking in excessive amounts of fat.

Portion Size:

You can include non-starchy vegetables, with vegetarian meat substitutes, as part of balanced meals. Best to take  3-4 ounces with meal. Combining these substitute help you to stabilise your blood sugar levels.

Best Time to Eat: 

This combination is best for lunch or dinner. The low in saturated fat makes a good choice for diabetics

5. Seafood and Shellfish

Seafood and Shellfish

Seafoods are typically low in carbohydrates and give you healthy lean protein, healthy fats, and essential nutrients, making them suitable for a diabetic diet. They are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. 


Always remember that some people may have allergies to certain kinds of seafood. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of any allergies you or others may have.

Method Of Preparation:

Choose grilled, baked, broiled, or steamed seafood instead of fried. Frying can add extra calories and unhealthy fats.

Portion Size: 

Portion control is the best strategy to manage blood sugar levels. 3-4 ounces is the best serving size for the diabetics.

Best Time to Eat: 

Add shrimp, crab, or other seafood to your lunch or dinner rotation. These are low in fat and calories. The best time to eat them varies and depends on your preferences and diet. 

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What meats should diabetics avoid?

There are following meats a diabetic person needs to avoid.

  • Processed Meats

Include bacon, sausages, hot dogs, and some deli meats. These are high in saturated fats, sodium, and additives. 

  • Fatty Cuts of Meat

High-fat cuts of red meat, such as ribeye steak or T-bone steak, can be high in saturated fats.

  • Fried Meats

Meats that are deep-fried or cooked in excessive amounts of unhealthy fats can increase calorie and fat intake, affecting weight and blood sugar control.

These meats contribute to heart disease and affect blood sugar levels. Therefore, limit the consumption of these meats.

What’s the best lunch meat for diabetics?

The following meats are considered the best and healthier options for a diabetic person:

  • Lean Poultry 

Skinless turkey or chicken breast is a good choice for lunch meats. 

  • Lean Roast Beef 

Lean cuts of roast beef that are lower in fat. Eat them in sliced thin to control portion form.

  • Tofurky or Plant-Based Alternatives

Some plant-based deli slices are lower in saturated fat and calories than traditional lunch meats.

  • Homemade Options

Preparing your lunch meats at home can allow you to control the ingredients.

Can diabetic patients eat beef or mutton?

Being a diabetic, you can include beef or mutton (lamb) in your diet. It is considered a healthy choices. You just keep the basic points in mind:

  1. Lean Cuts

Lean cuts of beef or mutton with minimal visible fat. Trim any excess fat before cooking.

  1. Portion Control 

Always be mindful of portion sizes. A typical serving of meat is about 3 to 4 ounces.

  1. Healthy Cooking Methods

Follow grill, bake, broil, or roast for cooking beef and mutton instead of frying them. Avoid excessive use of oil or added fats.

What foods can a diabetic eat freely?

Well, there is no specific food that people with diabetes can eat freely without considering portion sizes; some foods are usually considered diabetic-friendly when consumed in moderation. These include:

  • Non-Starchy Vegetables
  • Berries
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Lean Proteins
  • Whole Grains

Final Words:

A diabetic can add lean meat, fish, chicken, seafood, and plant-based alternatives. They just need to avoid meats high in saturated or trans fats. It helps to reduce the risk of high cholesterol and heart disease. The most important is to monitor blood sugar levels after eating certain meats and understand how they impact your levels.

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