New research has linked whey protein with better management of blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes, potentially opening the way for new management tactics.
Whey protein is often used by dedicated gym goers and athletes, as it can boost overall fitness and stimulate muscle growth, due to its high protein content. However, it also stimulates a hormone that is generated in the gut, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which can help combat the effects of type 2 diabetes.
The study, carried out in Israel and published in the journal Diabetologia, found that people with type 2 diabetes who were only taking sulphonylurea or metformin, who drank a whey protein mix before breakfast had a lower blood glucose level after eating.
15 participants with type 2 diabetes, who only took either of the aforementioned medications, were given two standardised high-glyceamic-index breakfasts on two separate days. They were given 50g of whey protein mixed in 250ml of water to drink beforehand on one of the days and 250ml of water as a placebo on the other day.
The participants then had several blood glucose tests over the next 180 minutes after eating. It was found that on the whey protein day, blood glucose levels were reduced by 28%, and insulin response was significantly higher.
Professor Daniela Jakubowicz who worked on the research at Tel Aviv University, said: “Consumption of whey protein shortly before breakfast increased the early and late post-meal insulin secretio, improved GLP-1 responses and reduced post-meal blood sugar levels.”
Treatment involving whey protein would be cheap and easy to administer, according to Professor Jakubowicz and the research has been cautiously welcomed by diabetes experts. However, it has been stressed that any treatment involving whey protein would only be supplementary and could not be used as a replacement for exercise and a healthy, balanced diet.

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