Is Eating Steak Good or Bad for Diabetics? [2023 Update]

Last Updated on March 12, 2023 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD

As an expert in diabetes, I understand the importance of making healthy food choices. In this blog post, I will evaluate whether eating the steak is beneficial or detrimental to diabetics. I will consider the advantages and disadvantages of consuming steak for those with diabetes, as well as the possible effects it may have on their blood sugar levels.

What is Steak?

Steak is a cut of meat that is usually served as a main dish. It’s generally sliced into thick slices from a cow and it’s normally sliced. The four most popular types of steak are ribeye, sirloin, tenderloin, and flank. Although steak is typically high in fat and calories, it can be a part of a healthy diet for people with diabetes.

In order to make steak a healthy option, it is important to choose lean cuts of meat and to limit the amount of fat and calories consumed in a single meal. Additionally, it is important to include vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats with the steak in order to create a balanced meal.

Can diabetics consume steak?

Yes, diabetics can consume steak in moderation as part of a well-balanced and healthy diet. Steak is a good source of protein and essential nutrients such as iron and zinc. However, it’s important to consider the portion size and cooking method when consuming steak as it can also be high in saturated fat, which can increase the risk of heart disease.

Veggie causing Diabetes

The World Health Organization has classified processed red meat, such as steak, hot dogs, sausages, and beef jerky, as a carcinogen, and the American Cancer Society has found that consuming over 50 grams (1.8 oz) per day increases one’s risk of colon cancer by 18 percent. As a result, such items should be avoided or limited.

The cooking method may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes when consuming red meat. A study published in Diabetes Care revealed that women who boiled, stewed, or pan-fried their red meat may experience lower chances of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those that broiled, barbecued, or roasted it over high temperatures or open flames. Nonetheless, moderation is still crucial.

What kind of steak can a diabetic eat?

When it comes to steak, people with diabetes should opt for lean cuts of meat to limit the intake of saturated fat, which can increase the risk of heart disease. Here are some lean cuts of steak that are suitable for people with diabetes:

  • Sirloin steak: This cut of steak is lean and flavorful, making it a popular choice for people with diabetes.
  • Flank steak: Flank steak is a lean cut that’s also affordable and versatile. It’s best marinated and grilled or broiled to keep it tender and flavorful.
  • Tenderloin steak: Tenderloin is one of the leanest cuts of steak available. It’s also tender and flavorful, making it a popular choice for special occasions.
  • Round steak: Round steak is another lean cut of beef that’s affordable and versatile. It’s best cooked low and slow, such as in stews or slow-cooker recipes.
  • Skirt steak: Skirt steak is a thin, flavorful cut that’s best marinated and grilled or broiled. It’s also an affordable option for people on a budget.

What meats are good for diabetes?

For those with diabetes, skinless chicken breast is a great protein choice. Breast meat has the least amount of fat, making it an ideal option. Incorporate this lean cut of chicken into one of these easy recipes, complete with some of the best vegetables for diabetics, for delicious, healthy meals.


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Fatty fish such as salmon, anchovies, and sardines are also a smart choice for diabetics. Rich in omega-3 saturated fatty acids, these fish have been linked to providing protection against type 2 diabetes. Enjoy a tasty, balanced meal by pairing your salmon with one of the “free food” options for diabetics.

What meats are worst for diabetes?

Given below are some of the worst meats for diabetics:

#1 Marbled steak

Eating a lot of red meat has been associated with various chronic conditions, including diabetes. But, certain cuts of red meat may be worse for those with diabetes due to their high content of saturated fat. Marbling, which is the white fat visible in a cut of meat, is largely composed of saturated fat and has been linked to inflammation and even insulin resistance.

#2 Deli meat

Deli meats often contain high levels of sodium and additives such as nitrates. Studies have suggested that nitrates may interfere with insulin production and may increase the risk of insulin resistance. At the deli counter, inquire about lunch meat choices with fewer additives and lower sodium. Request to see the labels for the various options.

#3 Fried fish

For those with diabetes, fish can be a great source of protein. However, fried fish should be avoided, as it can be high in calories, potentially leading to weight gain, and making it harder to manage diabetes. Additionally, since the carbohydrates in the batter can be hard to measure, it can be difficult to accurately track your carb intake.

#4 Bacon

Eating meat does not directly cause an increase in blood sugar unless carbohydrates are also consumed. However, saturated fat and additives can negatively affect health and impair the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar. Additionally, items like bacon are classified as Group 1 carcinogenic foods by the WHO, meaning they introduce inflammation into the body and increase the risk of diabetes.

#5 Grilled skin-on poultry

Poultry skin, such as that of chicken, contains a high amount of saturated fat. Studies have revealed that high-temperature cooking techniques, such as grilling, can potentially raise the risk of developing diabetes and make it more challenging to manage for people already diagnosed with the ailment. This might be because of the by-products that are formed when cooking at a high temperature.

Final Words

In conclusion, eating steak can be part of a healthy and balanced diet for people with diabetes when consumed in moderation and prepared using healthy cooking methods. It’s important to choose lean cuts of meat, monitor portion sizes, and balance the intake of red meat with plenty of non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, and other sources of protein such as fish, poultry, beans, and nuts. By making informed choices and working with a healthcare provider like me, people with diabetes can enjoy a variety of foods, including steak, while managing their blood sugar levels and overall health.


Will steak raise blood sugar?

The steak itself does not contain carbohydrates, which are the main nutrient that raises blood sugar levels. However, the cooking method and accompanying sauces or toppings may affect blood sugar levels. For example, if steak is cooked in sugary or high-fat sauces, it can cause blood sugar levels to rise. Additionally, consuming large portions of steak can cause a spike in blood sugar levels due to the body’s response to the protein.

Will steak lower your blood sugar?

The steak itself does not have the ability to lower blood sugar levels. However, consuming steak as part of a well-balanced meal that includes sources of carbohydrates, fiber, and healthy fats can help regulate blood sugar levels. This is because the protein in steak slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, which can help prevent spikes in blood sugar levels after a meal.

Is red meat really bad for your health in moderation?

Red meat can be part of a healthy and balanced diet when consumed in moderation. Red meat is a good source of protein, iron, zinc, and other essential nutrients. However, it’s important to limit the intake of red meat as it can also be high in saturated fat, which is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and other health problems.

Is chicken or steak better for diabetics?

Both chicken and steak can be part of a healthy and balanced diet for people with diabetes when consumed in moderation and prepared using healthy cooking methods.

Chicken is a lean source of protein that is low in saturated fat, making it a good option for people with diabetes who need to manage their cholesterol levels. Chicken is also rich in essential nutrients such as niacin, vitamin B6, and selenium.

Steak, on the other hand, is a good source of protein and essential nutrients such as iron and zinc. However, it’s important to choose lean cuts of steak and limit the intake of saturated fat.

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