is the insulin response to protein dose dependent?
The observation that protein requires insulin initially appears to conflict with a number of studies and anecdotal evidence that suggest protein does not have a significant effect on blood sugar.   
I think there are two issues to consider.
Firstly, a healthy non-diabetic will be able to deal with the blood glucose rise caused by gluconeogenesis due to protein, hence the overall blood sugar rise may not be significant. The extension of this argument is that almost any level of protein intake is a good thing. I haven’t however seen any real discussion around on the insulin effects of eating a diet high in protein diet.
However type 1 diabetics certainly do see a rise in their blood sugar levels that they need to cover with insulin. Without insulin to blunt the glucogenic effect of the protein, the blood sugar rise from the fast acting protein is not dissimilar to what you would see from carbohydrates.
The picture below shows how a well controlled type 1 will give small additional boluses as they see they blood sugar rising due to protein. This is sometimes called “sugar surfing”. While this approach provides good blood sugar control wouldn’t it be even better if a type 1 diabetic could better predict the insulin requirements before the meal to proactively predict the blood sugar rise rather than just reacting to the blood sugar roller coaster?
If you’re metabolically healthy the blood sugar rise and insulin secretion due to gluconeogenesis after a large protein meal may not be cause for concern. However if you are not metabolically healthy and / or are aiming for nutritional ketosis moderating protein to manage excessive gluconeogenesis may be something you want to do.
Secondly, the degree of gluconeogenesis appears to be dose dependent. If you exercise intensely and the amount of protein you eat is moderate then your body will likely shuttle protein to your muscles for growth and repair as the highest priority.
If you are not active, and you eat a large amount of protein then excess protein will be converted to glucose in your blood stream, raise insulin levels and be sorted as fat.
So while the effect of protein on your blood sugars and insulin is dependent on a number of factors, allowing for about half the insulinogenic effect of carbohydrates from protein appears to be a reasonable starting point..[next article… is sugar really toxic?] [this post is part of the insulin index series] [Like what you’re reading? Skip to the full story here.]