Consuming whey protein – a popular protein among sportsmen who want to build muscle – before a regular breakfast reduces the blood sugar “spikes” common after meals rich in carbohydrates.
It also is believed by Israeli and other researchers in an Israeli-Swedish study to improve the body’s insulin response. The research was conducted by Prof. Daniela Jakubowicz and Dr. Julio Wainstein at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, Prof. Oren Froy of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Prof. Bo Ahrén of Lund University and colleagues.
It was recently published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.
The scientists noted that protein consumption is known to stimulate the production of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), a gut hormone that in turn stimulates insulin production.
Thus the researchers hypothesized that stimulating GLP-1 production by consuming whey protein before a meal would improve the body’s blood sugar control following a meal.
The study included 15 people with well-controlled type 2 diabetes who were not taking any medications except for sulfonylureas or metformin (oral diabetes drugs). These participants consumed, on two separate days, 50 grams of whey powder mixed in 250 ml water or a placebo (250 ml water), followed by a standardized high-glycemic-index breakfast in a hospital setting. The breakfast contained three slices of white bread and sugar-containing jelly; a meal designed to produce the maximum post-meal glucose spike. A blood sample was taken 30 minutes before the meal, and the whey protein or placebo was served at that point. Further blood samples were taken when the meal was served and at 15, 30, 60, 90, 120, 150 and 180 minutes.
Patients were randomized to consume either the whey protein or the placebo, but the crossover design of the trial meant that all participants ate both the whey protein and placebo, with two weeks between visits. This design also means that the study was statistically powerful despite the small number of participants.
The results showed that over the whole 180 minute post-meal period, glucose levels were reduced by 28 percent after whey protein preload compared with no whey protein. Insulin and C-peptide (a building block of insulin) responses were both significantly higher (by 105% and 43%, respectively) in the whey protein group. Notably, the early insulin response (meaning within the first 30 minutes following breakfast) was 96% higher after whey protein than with placebo. This is especially important since the loss of early insulin response is the most important deficiency in diabetic individuals and a major contributor to the post-meal rise in blood glucose. Additionally, both total GLP-1 (tGLP-1) and intact GLP-1 (iGLP-1) levels were significantly higher (by 141% and 298%, respectively) with whey protein pre-load.
The authors concluded that “consumption of whey protein shortly before a high-glycemic- index breakfast increased the early and late post-meal insulin secretion, improved GLP-1 responses and reduced post-meal blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetic patients.
Whey protein may therefore represent a novel approach for enhancing glucose-lowering strategies in type 2 diabetes,” they wrote.
Such treatment would be cheap and easy to administer, with patients able to use any brand of whey protein concentrate without added sugar or other nutrients, the researchers said. Based on the findings of this study, the authors are considering conducting a long-term clinical trial to discover if the beneficial effects of whey protein on blood sugar, insulin and GLP-1 are long lasting.
DON’T SIT TOO MUCH – AND HELP YOUR HEART
Just sitting too much can lower levels of heart-lung fitness; being sedentary for just two hours at a time can be just as harmful as 20 minutes of exercise is beneficial to the body. This was discovered by cardiologists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, who recently published their findings in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
They examined the association among fitness levels, daily exercise and sedentary behavior, based on data from 2,223 participants in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Sedentary behavior involves low-energy activities such as sitting, driving, watching TV and reading, among others. The findings suggest that sedentary behavior may be an important determinant of cardiorespiratory fitness, independent of exercise.
“Previous studies have reported that sedentary behavior was associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular outcomes; however, the mechanisms through which this occurs are not completely understood,” said study author and internal medicine specialist Dr. Jarett Berry. “Our data suggest that sedentary behavior may increase risk through an impact on lower fitness levels and that avoiding sedentary behavior throughout the day may represent an important companion strategy to improve fitness and health, outside of regular exercise activity.”
The team analyzed accelerometer data from men and women between the ages of 12 and 49 with no known history of heart disease, asthma or stroke and measured their average daily physical activity and sedentary behavior times. Fitness was estimated using a treadmill test, and variables were adjusted for gender, age and body mass index. The findings demonstrate that the negative effect of six hours of sedentary time on fitness levels was similar in magnitude to the benefit of one hour of exercise.
“We also found that when sitting for prolonged periods of time, any movement is good movement and was also associated with better fitness,” said cardiology researcher Dr. Jacquelyn Kulinski. “So if you are stuck at your desk for a while, shift positions frequently, get up and stretch in the middle of a thought, pace while on a phone call or even fidget.”
To stay active and combat sedentary behavior, the Texan cardiologists recommend taking short walks during lunch and throughout the day, using a pedometer to track daily steps, using the stairs instead of the elevator, hosting walking meetings at work and replacing a standard desk chair with a fitness ball or even a treadmill desk, if possible.