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  • Whey Protein and Blood Sugar Benefits
Whey Protein and Blood Sugar Benefits

The Rundown

Whey protein has been found to effectively tackle postprandial glycemia in patients with type 2 diabetes. This has been found only when whey protein is consumed in high doses before meals with a high glycemic load (medicalnewsbulletin).

What is Postprandial Glycemia?

This term refers to the presence of glucose in the blood after a meal. Glycemic control is a crucial part of managing type 2 diabetes and treatment. Poor control can lead to further cardiovascular conditions and adverse effects—from inflammation to oxidative stress and vascular dysfunction (medicalnewsbulletin).

The Study

A recent study “published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, determined if smaller amounts of whey protein, when ingested with high-macronutrient meals, can improve postprandial glycemia and provide other health benefits” (medicalnewsbulletin).

This study selected 11 males who were previously diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. These subjects reported to a lab for three consecutive days in the morning. There were three randomly categorized groups: control, placebo, and hydrolyzed whey protein. Every morning, the 11 males consumed whey protein based on their respective category, before having high-macronutrient breakfasts and lunches. Both meals were separated by a three-hour period.

Results

The researchers found there was significant reduction in blood glucose levels after the breakfast and lunch meal in the group ingesting intact whey protein. There was a reduced effect of early glucose following the breakfast meal in the hydrolyzed whey protein group. Both the hydrolyzed and intact whey protein groups saw an increase in insulin concentration following the two meals. The study established that “small doses of intact whey protein in the amount of 15 grams proved successful in improving postprandial glycemia, increasing insulin release, and prolonging the feeling of fullness in men diagnosed with type 2 diabetes” (medicalnewsbulletin).

What This Means

It turns out that this U.K. study is helpful in providing preventative care methods for diabetes and other diet-related conditions. While investigation is needed for further research on women with diabetes to ensure this treatment is universally applicable, a pre-meal method of glycemic control is highly promising to reduce the adverse effects of diabetes (medicalnewsbulletin).

For the Future

Matthew Pikosky, PhD, RD, vice president, nutrition science and partnerships, Dairy Management Inc., who was interviewed by Nutritional Outlook at the Institute of Food Technologists’ Annual Meeting and Food Expo, commented on this new topic: “Whey proteins promote insulin secretion, so they can help, and there has been some research to show that either taking whey protein prior to a meal or as part of the meal will help cause greater insulin secretion that would lead to better blood glucose management and enhance the uptake of glucose into the cells following a large meal. So there can be some potential benefit there—for instance, for prediabetics who are looking for help better controlling blood glucose levels” (nutritionaloutlook). He also said that blood sugar is still a “fairly emerging area” for whey protein, albeit a promising one. “It’s not necessarily at the point where it’s made it to nutrition recommendations for people managing diabetes or prediabetes or blood glucose to go incorporate whey protein with meals. But I think it’s an area that has shown some promise, and more work is needed to refine that to see how that could be incorporated in terms of a daily meal plan” (nutritionaloutlook).

Beyond the Gym

More research is in fact needed to determine this glycemic controlling method. This one study, however, is one example of just how promising whey protein can be BEYOND its familiar narrative. From workout regimens to weight loss techniques, whey is well on its way to expanding its abilities and proving its versatile efficacy.

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