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Whey Protein’s Emerging Health Benefit: Blood Sugar Support

Sports Nutrition

A study shows that consuming a small amount of whey protein before meals has been shown to help people with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugars.

In the study, participants with type 2 diabetes drank a pre-made shot of low-dose whey protein before meals. They were monitored for a week as they went about normal daily life.

To compare the potential benefits of whey protein, the same participants also spent a week drinking a control shot that contained no protein in order to measure the results against each other.

Results from continuous glucose monitoring revealed that glucose levels were much better controlled when taking the whey supplement before each of three meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner). On average, they had two hours extra per day of normal blood sugar levels compared to the no protein week. In addition, their daily blood glucose levels were 0.6 mmol/L lower compared to when they consumed the supplement without any protein.

Dr. Daniel West, senior lecturer and principal investigator of the Human Nutrition Research Centre and Diabetes Research Group at Newcastle University, U.K. said, “While previous studies for a few hours in the lab have shown the potential for this dietary intervention, this is the first time that people have been monitored as they go about normal life.”

He added that the team believes that the whey protein works in two ways—first, by slowing down how quickly food passes through the digestive system and second, by stimulating several important hormones that prevent the blood sugars from spiking so high.

Researcher Kieran Smith, commented, “People were able to stick to the regime and liked the idea of having a convenient, tasty, small pre-made drink that could be carried with them and taken before meals.”

The team intend to further explore the benefits of non-medical interventions running the study on a larger scale and for a longer period of up to six months.

Reference:

Smith K, et al. “Thrice daily consumption of a novel, premeal shot containing a low dose of whey protein increases time in euglycemia during 7 days of free-living in individuals with type 2 diabetes.” BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, 2022; 10 (3): e002820.

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