New research from Israel suggests that whey protein may be more effective than other types of protein in helping Type 2 Diabetes patients regulate their blood sugar levels.
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the body’s ability to break down glucose and regulate blood sugar. Treatment may involve medication, but exercise and dietary changes are also generally recommended as a means of managing the disease.
Foods that break down into glucose more slowly, such as proteins, are typically preferred, since they are less likely to contribute to spikes in blood glucose levels. A dietary regime consisting of a high-calorie protein breakfast, a medium-sized lunch and small dinner has been recognized as a proven successful strategy for weight loss, improved satiety and reduced glucose spikes throughout the day in people with obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
A recent study led by researchers at Tel Aviv University has examined whether it is possible to further improve on this strategy by consuming particular types of protein at breakfast. The theory behind the study was that, while consumption of proteins is known to be beneficial, the extent of the benefit may vary depending on the protein source and quality.
The study investigated whether eating a breakfast of whey protein (a milk by-product from cheese production), opposed to other forms of proteins, resulted in greater weight loss, satiety and reduction of glucose spikes in overweight and obese people with Type 2 Diabetes. The study involved 48 participants with Type 2 Diabetes who were divided into three groups, each consuming a different type of high calorie breakfast. One group ate whey protein such as whey protein shakes, a second group ate other proteins including eggs, soy and tuna, and the third ate breakfast high in carbohydrates or starch.
After 12 weeks, the group consuming the whey protein breakfasts lost the most weight: 7.6 kg (16.7 pounds), compared to 6.1 kg (13.4 pounds) for those on the other proteins, and 3.1 kg (6.8 pounds) for those in the carbohydrate group. The whey protein participants were also less hungry throughout the day, and had lower glucose spikes after meals compared to participants in the other two groups. Authors of the study note that whey protein suppresses the hunger hormone ghrelin, which may explain the greater satiety experienced by the participants in the whey protein group.
The results of the study confirm that, compared with carbohydrates, protein at breakfast provides better management of weight and blood sugar for diabetes patients. The results also suggest that whey protein may provide even greater benefits than other forms of protein.
Written By: Linda Jensen