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7-Day High-Protein Meal Plan for Insulin Resistance, Created by a Dietitian

To improve your blood sugar levels and decrease insulin resistance.

By Kaly JohnesPublished about a month ago 7 min read

It’s no secret that conditions related to high blood sugar levels, like diabetes and prediabetes, are on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States, about 37 million people have diabetes, with about 90% to 95% of that being type 2 diabetes, and another 96 million people have prediabetes.

As the incidence of blood sugar conditions increases, many of us are turning our attention to insulin resistance. According to an article published in StatPearls, insulin resistance is thought to precede the development of type 2 diabetes by 10 to 15 years. There truly is no time like the present to try and improve or prevent insulin resistance with the ideal goal of staving off the development of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

According to the American Diabetes Association, insulin resistance, sometimes called impaired insulin sensitivity, occurs when a person has a built-up tolerance to insulin. This means the hormone insulin is less adept at moving sugar (glucose) out of the blood and into the cells for energy. As a result, the pancreas makes more and more insulin to overcome the decreased sensitivity. Over time, the pancreas can’t keep up with the increased demand for insulin, leading to elevated blood sugar levels and a likely eventual diagnosis of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

When it comes to insulin resistance, prevention is key. The sooner we can implement lifestyle changes, the better the results will be. In this meal plan, we focus on protein, a nutrient that promotes stable blood sugar levels, preventing blood sugar spikes when paired with carbohydrate-containing foods. Each day provides at least 90 grams of protein (and 28 grams of fiber) to support healthy blood sugars and decrease the risk of insulin resistance. Because the ADA recommends weight loss as a strategy to improve insulin resistance for people with overweight or obesity, we set this plan at 1,500 calories per day, a level where many people will lose weight. We included modifications for 1,200 and 2,000 calories per day for those with other calorie needs. As with all meal plans, this is meant to serve as a framework for a healthy eating plan. Feel free to swap out a meal option or choose a different snack (ideally one containing protein or fiber).

How Can You Improve Insulin Resistance?

Though factors like family history and genetics can play a role in developing insulin resistance, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk. Nutrition strategies are beneficial, like aiming for regular meals and snacks to promote stable blood sugar levels and prevent eating too much, which could be caused by skipping meals. Opting for a high-fiber, high-protein diet, cutting back on refined low-fiber carbohydrates (such as white flour), and reducing added sugars can also help.

While all these strategies can benefit your blood sugar levels, the ADA states that one lifestyle intervention is “probably the best way to combat insulin resistance,” and it’s exercise. Physical activity improves insulin resistance by making the body more sensitive to insulin. It helps move glucose out of the blood and into the muscles for energy, lowering blood sugar levels. The ADA recommends an ideal goal of 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise, such as a brisk walk. If that seems like a daunting goal, don’t fret. Research shows that walking after each meal for just two minutes can significantly improve blood sugar levels.

The Best Way to Exercise If You Have Type 2 Diabetes, According to Science

High-Protein Foods to Focus On:

Fish

Shellfish (shrimp, mussels, clams)

Poultry (chicken, turkey)

Lean red meats, such as tenderloin, pork chops, flank, chuck roast

Beans and lentils

Soy (edamame, tofu)

Tempeh

Seitan

Nuts, including natural nut butters

Seeds

Eggs

Dairy (yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese)

How to Meal-Prep Your Week of Meals:

Make Spring Green Soup with Chicken to have for lunch on Days 2 through 5.

Prepare a double batch of Cinnamon-Toasted Oats to have with breakfast throughout the week.

Day 1

Salmon with Smoky Mayo & Quinoa Pilaf

JACOB FOX

Breakfast (421 calories)

1 serving Spinach & Egg Tacos

A.M. Snack (62 calories)

1 medium orange

Lunch (395 calories)

1 serving Cucumber-Chicken Green Goddess Wrap

½ cup blueberries

P.M. Snack (128 calories)

½ cup low-fat cottage cheese

¾ cup blackberries

Dinner (483 calories)

1 serving Salmon with Smoky Mayo & Quinoa Pilaf

Daily Totals: 1,489 calories, 70g fat, 93g protein, 129g carbohydrate, 28g fiber, 2,109mg sodium

Make it 1,200 calories: Change breakfast to 1 serving Spinach & Egg Scramble with Raspberries, change A.M. snack to ⅓ cup sliced cucumber, and omit cottage cheese at P.M. snack.

Make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 cup low-fat plain kefir to breakfast, ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to A.M. snack and 1 serving Massaged Kale Salad to dinner.

Day 2

Crispy Smashed Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic & Parmesan

PHOTOGRAPHY / BRIE PASSANO, STYLING / SAMMY MILA / HOLLY RAIBIKIS

Breakfast (356 calories)

1 cup low-fat plain strained (Greek-style) yogurt

1 serving Cinnamon-Toasted Oats

½ cup cherries (fresh or thawed from frozen)

A.M. Snack (176 calories)

¼ cup unsalted shelled dry-roasted pistachios

Lunch (409 calories)

1 serving Spring Green Soup with Chicken

1 medium apple

P.M. Snack (131 calories)

1 large pear

Dinner (437 calories)

1 serving Baked Pork Chops

1 serving Crispy Smashed Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic & Parmesan

Daily Totals: 1,509 calories, 58g fat, 118g protein, 145g carbohydrate, 31g fiber, 1,507mg sodium

Make it 1,200 calories: Change A.M. snack to 1 plum, omit apple at lunch and change P.M. snack to 1 medium orange.

Make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 medium orange to A.M. snack, 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to the apple at lunch and ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to P.M. snack.

Day 3

5973120.jpg

Breakfast (339 calories)

1 cup low-fat plain strained (Greek-style) yogurt

1 serving Cinnamon-Toasted Oats

½ cup raspberries (or fruit of choice)

A.M. Snack (62 calories)

1 medium orange

Lunch (409 calories)

1 serving Spring Green Soup with Chicken

1 medium apple

P.M. Snack (263 calories)

1 medium banana

1½ Tbsp. natural peanut butter

Dinner (415 calories)

1 serving Roasted Chicken & Winter Squash over Mixed Greens

Daily Totals: 1,487 calories, 54g fat, 103g protein, 162g carbohydrate, 28g fiber, 1,469mg sodium

Make it 1,200 calories: Omit apple at lunch and change P.M. snack to ½ cup low-fat plain kefir.

Make it 2,000 calories: Add 3 Tbsp. chopped walnuts to breakfast, ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to A.M. snack and 1 serving Everything Bagel Avocado Toast to lunch.

Day 4

3759206.jpg

Breakfast (339 calories)

1 cup low-fat plain strained (Greek-style) yogurt

1 serving Cinnamon-Toasted Oats

½ cup raspberries (or fruit of choice)

A.M. Snack (219 calories)

1 serving Cottage Cheese Snack Jar

Lunch (409 calories)

1 serving Spring Green Soup with Chicken

1 medium apple

P.M. Snack (131 calories)

1 large pear

Dinner (391 calories)

1 serving Cumin Chicken & Chickpea Stew

1 serving Simple Cabbage Salad

Daily Totals: 1,489 calories, 45g fat, 116g protein, 170g carbohydrate, 30g fiber, 2,072mg sodium

Make it 1,200 calories: Change A.M. snack to 1 plum and change P.M. snack to 1 clementine.

Make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 medium banana to A.M. snack, 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to the apple at lunch and ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to P.M. snack.

Day 5

a recipe photo of the Salmon Orzo Casserole with Lemon Dill

STACY K. ALLEN, PROPS: JULIA BAYLESS, FOOD STYLIST: ANA KELLEY

Breakfast (356 calories)

1 cup low-fat plain strained (Greek-style) yogurt

1 serving Cinnamon-Toasted Oats

½ cup cherries (fresh or thawed from frozen)

A.M. Snack (131 calories)

1 large pear

Lunch (409 calories)

1 serving Spring Green Soup with Chicken

1 medium apple

P.M. Snack (117 calories)

1 cup blackberries

½ cup low-fat plain kefir

Dinner (507 calories)

1 serving Anti-Inflammatory Lemony Salmon & Orzo Casserole

2 cups mixed greens

1 serving Italian Dressing

Meal-Prep Tip: Reserve two servings Anti-Inflammatory Lemony Salmon & Orzo Casserole to have for lunch on Days 6 and 7.

Daily Totals: 1,520 calories, 53g fat, 99g protein, 178g carbohydrate, 29g fiber, 1,699mg sodium

Make it 1,200 calories: Omit Cinnamon-Toasted Oats at breakfast, omit apple at lunch and omit blackberries at P.M. snack.

Make it 2,000 calories: Add ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds (shelled) to A.M. snack and add 1 avocado, sliced, to the side salad at dinner.

Day 6

Balsamic Chicken Pasta Bake with Zucchini Noodles

Breakfast (318 calories)

1 serving Strawberry-Banana Green Smoothie

A.M. Snack (62 calories)

1 cup blackberries

Lunch (479 calories)

1 serving Anti-Inflammatory Lemony Salmon & Orzo Casserole

1 medium bell pepper, sliced

2 Tbsp. hummus

P.M. Snack (95 calories)

1 medium apple

Dinner (553 calories)

1 serving Balsamic Chicken Pasta Bake with Zucchini Noodles

2 cups mixed greens

1 serving Italian Dressing

Daily Totals: 1,507 calories, 54g fat, 92g protein, 174g carbohydrate, 28g fiber, 1,699mg sodium

Make it 1,200 calories: Omit hummus at lunch, change P.M. snack to 1 plum and omit mixed greens with Italian Dressing at dinner.

Make it 2,000 calories: Add ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted pistachios (shelled) to A.M. snack and 1 avocado, sliced, to the side salad at dinner.

Day 7

Maple-Roasted Chicken Thighs with Sweet Potato Wedges and Brussels Sprouts

Breakfast (318 calories)

1 serving Strawberry-Banana Green Smoothie

A.M. Snack (131 calories)

1 large pear

Lunch (411 calories)

1 serving Anti-Inflammatory Lemony Salmon & Orzo Casserole

⅓ cup blackberries

P.M. Snack (219 calories)

1 serving Cottage Cheese Snack Jar

Dinner (437 calories)

1 serving Maple-Roasted Chicken Thighs with Sweet Potato Wedges and Brussels Sprouts

Daily Totals: 1,516 calories, 43g fat, 101g protein, 193g carbohydrate, 28g fiber, 1,566mg sodium

Make it 1,200 calories: Change A.M. snack to 1 clementine, omit blackberries at lunch and change P.M. snack to 1 plum.

Make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 large hard-boiled egg to breakfast, ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds to A.M. snack and 1 serving Massaged Kale Salad to dinner.

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About the Creator

Kaly Johnes

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    Kaly JohnesWritten by Kaly Johnes

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