Scientists claim whey protein can help prevent diabetes

In the world of sports nutrition, a whey smoothie or energy bar isn’t an uncommon sight. It is used to boost muscle strength and decrease levels of the hormone ghrelin, which controls hunger cravings. Whey protein is produced from milk. It is the pure milk protein without all the fat and sugars. Whey protein is particularly popular among bodybuilders or the general gym devotees. But the use of whey protein isn’t just limited to the fuel bodybuilders use to bulk up.

New research has shown that eating whey protein before breakfast could help control blood glucose levels in people with Type 2 diabetes. A research team from Newcastle University presented their new findings at the Diabetes U.K. Professional Conference in Manchester.

In their first study, the researchers looked at how 20 grams of whey protein before a light workout (30 minutes of light walking) followed by a carbohydrate-heavy breakfast affected 12 obese men. According to the researchers, the combination of the protein and the mild activity significantly helped control blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels usually spike right after eating a meal. When participants consumed whey protein, blood sugar levels were found to be more controlled.

For the follow-up study, the research team gathered 11 men with Type 2 diabetes. They were given 15 grams of whey protein before breakfast, leading to similar improvements in blood glucose levels. Furthermore, participants reported being more full, curbing their desire to have a snack before or  between meals.

Lead researcher Dr. Daniel West explained that spikes in blood glucose levels after eating can contribute to poor cardiovascular health and bad blood glucose management. He added that their research has shown that consuming a small amount of whey protein before a meal could help balance blood glucose levels and may help people to feel more satisfied after their meals.

Have some whey protein before a meal to reduce blood glucose and protect your heart

Diabetes U.K.’s director of research Dr. Elizabeth Robertson said that finding new ways to balance blood glucose levels after a meal is an important area of scientific research to tackle the growing number of people with diabetes. Though, she added that larger scale studies involving a lot more people are needed to test whether anyone with Type 2 diabetes would benefit from including whey protein in their daily diet.

What’s more. Next to helping people avoid high blood glucose spikes, consuming small amounts of whey protein before a meal could also improve heart health. Previous research has found that drinking a protein supplement could help reduce the risk of a cardiovascular disease.

The Daily Mail Online reported on a study by researchers at the University of Reading where whey protein was found to strengthen blood vessels, lower blood pressure, and balance cholesterol. According to them, people taking protein supplements could reduce their risk of developing a deadly heart condition by 80 percent.

Furthermore, high-quality whey protein supplements are an excellent source of many essential nutrients to boost overall health. Whey protein powder delivers a significant amount of the amino acid L-cysteine. Aging people or people with diabetes often are L-cysteine deficient. Lastly, whey has also been shown to promote fat loss since adding more protein to the body facilitates weight loss efforts.

If you always thought people who stash strange powdery stuff in their office drawer are nuts, it might be time to join the tribe to improve blood glucose levels and heart health. While whey will not harm your kidneys or liver, if you have a pre-existing condition you should be careful when increasing protein intake. Talk to your health care provider first.

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