Whey protein is one of the two main proteins found in milk. It's popular among athletes and bodybuilders to improve body composition, or the ratio of fat to muscle in your body. However, whey protein may also have benefits for people with Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease. Evidence indicates that whey protein helps Type 2 diabetics by stimulating insulin secretion and reducing blood glucose levels. Although whey protein is found in certain foods, such as yogurt and ricotta cheese, it's normally consumed in supplement form as a powder and combined with water, milk or juice. Consult your doctor before taking whey protein.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is characterized by high blood glucose levels due to cells rejecting the effects of the hormone insulin or the pancreas not producing enough insulin to lower blood glucose levels. Type 2 diabetes can damage your blood vessels over time, increasing your risk of other diseases such as heart disease. According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include frequent urination, extreme hunger and increased thirst.
One way whey protein improves Type 2 diabetes is by stimulating insulin secretion in your pancreas, which can help lower blood glucose levels, according to the University of Padova in Italy. Researchers discovered that Type 2 diabetics consuming a whey protein-rich meal experienced greater increases in insulin secretion compared with those ingesting a casein-rich meal, according to findings published in the July 2007 issue of "Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews."
Blood Glucose Levels
Whey protein might decrease blood glucose levels after a meal, according to research reported in the July 2005 issue of the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition." Scientists from the University Hospital MAS in Sweden observed that Type 2 diabetics consuming whey protein with breakfast and lunch experienced a significant reduction in blood glucose levels compared with those not ingesting whey with their meals.
Concerns have been raised about protein intake on kidney function, especially in diabetics. Scientists at RMIT University in Australia assigned Type 2 diabetics a high-protein, low-carb diet for 12 months and observed no changes in kidney function, according to research reported in the April 20011 issue of "Diabetologia."
- Mayo Clinic; Diabetes; March 2011
- "Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews; Slow Versus Fast Proteins in the Stimulation of Beta-Cell Response and the Activation of the Entero-Insular Axis in Type 2 Diabetes; P. Tessari, et al.; July 2007
- "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition"; Effect of Whey on Blood Gucose and Insulin Responnses to Composite Breakfast annd Lunch Meals in Type 2 Diabetic Subjects; A.H. Frid, et al.; July 2005
- "Diabetologia"; The Effect of High-Protein, Low-Carbohydrate Diets in the Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes: a 12 Month Randomised Controlled Trial; R.N. Larsen, et al.; April 2011