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HomeWellnessDietCan whey protein lower glucose levels after a meal?

Can whey protein lower glucose levels after a meal?

A recent study tested the effectiveness of small doses of whey protein with meals on suppressing appetite and improving blood glucose levels.

Whey protein has been found to successfully tackle postprandial glycemia in patients with type 2 diabetes. However, this has been found only when whey protein is consumed in large doses before meals with a high glycemic load.

What is post-prandial glycemia?

Post-prandial glycemia refers to the presence of glucose in the blood after a meal. Glycemic control is an essential part of type 2 diabetes treatment. Poor glycemic control can lead to further cardiovascular conditions and adverse effects including oxidative stress, vascular dysfunction, and inflammation. Researchers have been working to improve postprandial glycemia by studying pre-meal techniques.

A recent study from the United Kingdom, 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.

The study selected 11 males who were previously diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Each participant reported to a lab for three consecutive days in the morning. The researchers randomly categorized the participants into three groups: the placebo control group, the hydrolyzed whey protein group, and the intact whey protein group.

Every morning, individuals consumed whey protein based on their respective category, before having high-macronutrient breakfasts and lunches. Both meals were separated by a three-hour period. Researchers collected and tested blood samples from all participants. Measurements for appetite were determined via visual scales.

Blood glucose levels lowered significantly

The results indicated that there was a significant reduction in blood glucose levels following the breakfast meal and lunch meal in the group consuming intact whey protein. There was a reduced effect of early glucose following breakfast in the hydrolyzed whey protein group. Both the hydrolyzed and intact whey protein groups witnessed an increase in insulin concentration following the breakfast and lunch meals. There was no significant difference in appetite regulation across all three trial groups.

The study concluded 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.

This research is beneficial in providing novel preventative care methods for diabetes and other diet-affiliated conditions. A premeal method of glycemic control is highly valuable to reduce the adverse effects of diabetes. The authors of the study suggest that there is a need for further research on women diagnosed with diabetes to ensure that this treatment is universally applicable.

Written by Shrishti Ahuja, HBSc

Reference: King, D. G., Walker, M., Campbell, M. D., Breen, L., Stevenson, E. J., & West, D. J. (2018). A small dose of whey protein co-ingested with mixed-macronutrient breakfast and lunch meals improves postprandial glycemia and suppresses appetite in men with type 2 diabetes: A randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 107(4), 550-557. doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqy019

Shrishti Ahuja BSc
Shrishti Ahuja BSc
Shrishti is currently working towards her HBSc degree in Medical Science and English Literature from Western University. She enjoys taking on challenging opportunities that allow her to communicate complex scientific concepts to a variety of audiences. Along with the Medical News Bulletin, she is actively involved in the orientation program at her university, is part of a dance team, and enjoys travelling.
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