Diabetes and Dietary Macronutrients

In this article, we will understand the relationship between diabetes and dietary macronutrients.

Before we get to the link between macros and diabetes. Let us understand macronutrients.

What are dietary macronutrients?

Macronutrients are the nutrients needed by the body in large quantities to obtain energy. Primary macronutrients include carbohydrates, proteins and fats. These nutrients are not only required to produce energy but are also important to carry out and maintain the basic functions of the body.

Macros are considered to be essential nutrients which means that they are not produced within the body or are not produced enough by the body. Hence, they need to be supplied from external sources.

The amount of macronutrients required by a person depends on their age group, weight and health condition.

What is the need or importance of macronutrients?

We require a balanced diet consisting of all macronutrients for optimum health and functioning of our body.

Let us look at the 3 primary micronutrients, their function in the body, sources of consumption and their role in diabetes.


These are the chief sources of energy for the body. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose for assimilation and release of energy in the body. During exercise, when energy is in demand, our body uses carbohydrates as the main source for extracting energy. 

Carbohydrates are not only the main source of energy but also play a crucial role in maintaining heart, brain and muscle function along with regulating body temperature and digestion of food.

Major dietary carbohydrate sources include

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes
  • Dairy

Carbohydrates and diabetes:

Let us look at how carbohydrate consumption needs to be managed in patients suffering from type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes: In type 1 diabetes, since insulin is deficient, the amount of carbohydrate consumed which directly leads to a spike in blood glucose levels needs to be maintained by insulin that is administered externally. 

Type 2 diabetes: In type 2 diabetes, the body is unable to regulate glucose levels due to insulin resistance or the cells not responding to the insulin that is secreted in the body. Since the amount of insulin is already high in the blood for not being utilised, it becomes important to maintain normal blood glucose by lowering carbohydrate consumption through a low-carb diet.


Proteins are the building blocks of our body because they play a key role in building and maintaining muscle mass and act as the constituent of cell structure along with helping in cell repair and damage.

Proteins are required for all enzyme-mediated or biochemical reactions in the body and also for helping build a stronger immune system. 

Chief sources of protein include

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Eggs
  • Legumes and beans
  • Poultry
  • Dairy

Protein consumption in diabetes:

It is recommended for patients with type 2 diabetes to obtain at least 20-30% of their energy from protein sources because protein-rich food is low in glycemic index which means they reduce the sharp rise in blood sugar, helps in keeping ourselves feeling full for longer periods of time, and aids in easier weight management.


Fats are the essential micronutrients which not only help in releasing energy in the body but also help in insulation, growth and functioning of cells along with acting as the site of absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like Vit A, D, E and K.

Primary sources of fat include:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dairy
  • Avocados and Coconuts
  • Fish
  • Olive oil

Fat consumption in diabetes:

Fat is an important macronutrient that makes for a balanced diet. It is important to know that the consumption of fat affects the level of cholesterol in our body which is also linked to heart health and diabetes. Consumption of good fats or mono and polyunsaturated fat is linked to improving levels of LDL cholesterol and lowering the risk or prevention of heart disease. 

On the other hand, consumption of saturated(eg: high-fat dairy) and trans fat(from processed foods) rich diets increase the risk of heart disease and stroke while paving the way for obesity. It is thus important to include healthier fats in our diet for ensuring the requirement of dietary fat over foods laden with saturated and trans fat.


If you are diabetic, consult a physician to structure your diet catering to your weight, lifestyle habits and health condition for regulating diabetes and maintaining normal blood glucose levels. Remember, a good diet does not just help in the effective regulation of diabetes but can also help in improving overall health, enabling us to manage and even reverse diabetes.