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Whey protein may support blood sugar management in diabetics

Article-Whey protein may support blood sugar management in diabetics

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Consuming a small amount of whey protein before meals could help people with type 2 diabetes control blood sugar levels.

Consumption of whey protein prior to meals could positively impact blood sugar control in adults with type 2 diabetes, by slowing down how quickly food passes through the gut and/or stimulating hormones that impact blood glucose levels, according to new research published in the BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care (DOI:10.1136/bmjdrc-2022-002820).

Researchers from Newcastle University, England, recruited adults with type 2 diabetes (n=18) for the randomized, placebo-controlled, single-blind crossover trial. During the intervention, participants consumed either a ready-to-drink shot containing 15g of whey protein or a nutrient-depleted placebo beverage 10 minutes before breakfast, lunch, and dinner during a 7-day free-living period. Glucose control was measured by blinded continuous glucose monitoring.

Supplementation reduced the prevalence of daily hyperglycemia by 8% (+/-19%), increasing by approximately 2 hours/day the time spent in euglycemia (normal blood sugar levels). Mean 24-hour blood glucose concentrations were 0.6 (+/- 1.2) mmol/L lower during supplementation compared with placebo, and similar improvements in glycemic control were observed during waking hours.

Dr Daniel West, senior lecturer and principal investigator working within the Human Nutrition Research Centre and Diabetes Research Group at Newcastle University, said in a statement: “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. … As we see growing numbers of people around the world developing diabetes, investigating the potential of alternatives to drugs such as food supplements becomes more important.”

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. They also plan to look at alternative proteins, such as those that come from plant sources like peas, fungi and potatoes to open up options for vegan and religious dietary needs.