Meat and meat substitutes, such as soy products and cheese, are great sources of protein. The biggest difference among foods in this group is how much saturated fat and total fat they contain.
The best choices are the cuts of meats and meat alternatives that are lower in saturated fat and calories.
Dried Beans, Legumes, Peas and Lentils
Try to include dried beans into several meals per week. They are a great source of protein and are loaded with fiber. (Dried beans also count as a starch serving, so don't forget to count the carbohydrate.)
- Dried beans such as black, lima, and pinto
- Dried peas such as black-eyed and split
- Fat-free refried beans
- Vegetarian baked beans
- Soy-based “meat” products like meatless "burger" and "chicken nuggets"
Fish and Seafood
- Catfish, cod, flounder, haddock, halibut herring, orange roughy, salmon, tilapia, trout, tuna, sardines
- clams, crab, imitation shellfish, lobster, scallops, shrimp, oysters
Poultry, without skin
- Chicken, turkey, cornish hen
Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb
- Select or Choice grades of beef trimmed of fat including: chuck, rib, rump roast, round, sirloin, cubed, flank, porterhouse, T-bone steak, tenderloin
- Beef jerky
- Lamb chop, leg, or roast
- Organ meats: heart, kidney, liver
- Veal loin chop or roast
- Pork: Canadian bacon, center loin chop, ham, tenderloin
- Hot dog, sausage or processed sandwich meats with 3 g of fat or less per oz: chipped beef, deli thin-sliced meats, turkey ham, turkey kielbasa, turkey pastrami
- Game: buffalo, dove, duck, goose, or pheasant (no skin), ostrich, rabbit, venison
Tips for Carbohydrate Counters
Meats do not contain carbohydrate so they do not raise blood glucose levels. A balanced meal plan usually has about 2-5 ounces of meat.
All of the plant-based protein foods and any breaded meats contain carbohydrate. It's best to read food labels carefully for these foods.
In general there is about 15 grams of carbohydrate in ½ cup beans, and between 5 to 15 grams in soy based products like veggie burgers and "chicken" nuggets.
For the Plate Method
About ¼ of your plate should come from high protein foods. So 1 chicken breast or about 3-4 ounces of pork loin fits.
If you are having a casserole type entrée like lasagna, about 1 cup will count as your meat and the starch for your meal. Fill the other ½ of your plate with nonstarchy vegetables.
For using the Glycemic Index
Meats do not have a glycemic index because they do not raise blood glucose levels. As with all the meal planning options, include a source of lean protein at each meal.
Last Reviewed: August 1, 2013
Last Edited: August 9, 2013
Guides to Healthy Living
Sign up for our monthly Consumer Books enewsletter and be the first to know about our newest cookbooks and guides on meal planning, nutrition, weight control and self care.
Thank you for signing up!
Check out our FREE program for tips on living with type 2.
Help us raise $1 million for diabetes research and other essential programs.
New tools for meal preparation made easy!
Bee Well for Life gives fitness tips and helps Stop Diabetes!
Great recipes tap the salad bar, deli, and freezer case to get food on the table.
Learn to make delicious vegetarian dishes with this easy-to-follow cookbook.
Celebrate the holidays with Diabetes Forecast! Best deal–order today!
Food is an important part of the African American culture. See our recipes.
Stay on track with our holiday meal planning tips. Recipes everyone will enjoy!
Was your child recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes? Order this free kit.
This personal tracking program is key to diabetes management.
Watch our Stop Diabetes PSA and share with your friends and family.
Recipes for Healthy Living, a holiday survival guide & more!
Get helpful tips for stress-free traveling with diabetes.
Check out our parent mentor volunteer program full of parents just like you!